Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’
The aching cries of Phillies fans everywhere were heard in a collective scream today of “Nooooooo!!!!” as the news broke about Chase Utley. While this is not a huge shock after the injury to his thumb earlier this week, the news still hurts.
Utley will have surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb today. The Phillies first said it was a sprain but after visits to 3 different doctors, it is a tear that needs to be fixed.
The recovery time is said to be about 6 weeks, which sounds like a very conservative estimate to me. But Utley has healed quickly in the past after other procedures, like his hip surgery, and everyone knows he will dedicate himself fully to getting well as soon as humanly possible. Whatever happens, the Phillies are now without their number one player until at least mid-August.
I am going to sit in a corner for a while and cry, maybe eat some Ben & Jerry’s and then watch the movie Titanic for the 50th time or so. But after that, we should all pick ourselves up, dust off and start preparing for a very interesting season. Ruben Amaro Jr. is going to need to get help…fast. This will be the true test of Amaro’s ability to manage a team. We are all waiting to see what he does.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies squandered an opportunity for a series win today, losing to the Reds by a score of 3-4. Roy Halladay has now lost 6 of his last 9 games, even though he has pitched at a 3.19 ERA during those 9 games. He did not have his best stuff today, allowing 2 big homers and 13 hits in an 8-inning complete game. But as has been the case all year, the offense did little to help him out.
It looked like the back-up players might carry the team for the second day in a row when 3rd string catcher Dane Sardinha hit a 3-run homer in the 4th inning. Wilson Valdez had 2 hits again and Greg Dobbs had a hit and a walk. But with both Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez going 0 for 4, no Chase Utley or Placido Polanco, the offense did not get anything else done.
Games like these are when the Phillies are going to feel the full effect of having 7 players on the DL. The injuries are out of control and as a result, this is going to be a very rough ride for the rest of the season.
Yesterday, Brad Lidge said that the Phillies players were going to have to “step-up” during this trying time. I found that comical after Lidge became the only player yesterday who did not step-up. However, he has a point. The question remains though, can these bench guys get the job done?
Once the team has a better idea of how long Utley and Polanco will be out, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is going to have some very serious decisions to make. Can they go out and get a descent infielder while still adding to the pitching depth? All Phillies fans can do right now is hang in there and hope that this team can weather the storm.
The Phillies are on their way to Pittsburgh now for a 4-game series. The first game is Thursday night at 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Jimmy Rollins officially announced his return to the Phillies tonight with a 2-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th against the Indians.
It was J-Roll’s only hit in two games since coming off the DL. Things looked grim going into that inning as Rollins was just 0 for 4 before that homer, but he hit it when it counted the most and gave his team a 7-6 victory. Welcome back, Jimmy!
Prior to that, the Phillies offense did score some runs, but they still seem to be butting heads with the usual problems; leaving men on base, hitting into double plays and swinging at bad pitches. Both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez hit into double plays, the worst of which was by Ibanez in the 6th inning. With two runners on and no outs, Ibanez tapped one back to the mound and they did not score that inning.
But Howard had 2 hits on the night and Jayson Werth had 3, including a homer. Brian Schneider hit his first homer of the year in the 7th and there were a couple extra base hits in the game as well. The Phillies went only 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position, but with J-Roll playing the hero, it was enough to win the game.
The pitching was also interesting as the magical see-saw adventures of Kyle Kendrick continued tonight.
When Kendrick steps to the mound, you just never know what tricks he might pull out of his hat next. This evening’s tricks included allowing two 2-run homers to Shin-Soo Choo. Kendrick lasted just 4 innings with 5 runs allowed, although 1 run was unearned after a Chase Utley error.
With Kendrick, the only thing that has been consistent is his inconsistency. And with rumors floating that the Phillies are looking for a starting pitcher, it appears they are growing impatient with not only Kendrick, but JA Happ as well. Happ has not been progressing as quickly with his rehab as the Phillies would like. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Courier Press, “”It’s the first time he’s ever had this time off, and (he needs to) come back and cut it loose and get back to that old form. He’s going to have to get to that point or he can’t perform here.” Those are strong words from an obviously frustrated GM.
Another player was injured tonight as well; Chad Durbin came up with a right hamstring strain at the beginning of the 9th inning. According to Charlie Manuel after the game, the injury is “pretty serious.” Not good news; all we can do is hope he will be okay.
In other news, Greg Dobbs did clear waivers and has been sent to AAA to work on his swing. Hopefully, Dobbs can get back into shape and help out later in the year. I know a lot of people have been complaining about Dobbs, and not without cause, but I am rooting for him to return to his 2008 form when he was probably the best pinch hitter in the league. I have been fortunate to speak with Greg on a number of occasions and he is as nice a guy as you could ever hope to meet. He is great with the fans, unselfish when giving his time and has a good heart. For all those reasons, I wish him well and hope we might see him again soon.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Many Phillies fans are left wondering today where our team has gone. Because the one hit wonders from Saturday night’s loss to the Red Sox must be imposters. Seriously? ONE hit all game? Wow. Who took my Phillies, locked them in a closet and put these schmoe’s on the field? I am not amused.
But the bad day for the Phillies batters had much to do with both the Red Sox defense and the pitching performance of Daisuke Matsuzaka (say that 5 times fast). He was pitching a no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings until Juan Castro, our hero, hit a bloop single into no-man’s land. Many Phillies, like Jayson Werth, hit the ball hard but they kept hitting right at the Sox fielders. Matsuzaka caught a Werth liner that whizzed right at him basically in self-defense.
As for the Phillies pitching, Kyle Kendrick lasted only 4 2/3 innings, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. The only Phillies pitcher to have gone less than 5 innings this year was…well, actually, it was Kendrick. So, at least he sucks on a consistent basis. There is comfort in that….not.
Jimmy Rollins was put back on the DL on Saturday, which is why Castro was in the game to save them from the embarrassment of a no-hitter. J-Roll has a Grade 1 strain in the same calf that he was on the DL for most of the season so far. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says it is not as serious as the first one, but I guess we won’t know until the 15 days is up.
So the Phillies still have a shot to win the series with Roy Halladay on the mound today. Game time is 1:35pm; I will be there and hopefully, I can get some photos before the rain comes down. Check back for that later.
Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
With the rainout on Wednesday night, the pitching rotation is now set-up so that Roy Halladay will actually pitch on the same day his Bobblehead figurine will be handed out to fans at Citizens Bank Park. On Tuesday, May 18th, we will get a double treat; the bobblehead and some great pitching :O)
So while Halladay’s Denver homecoming was spoiled by a loss to the Rockies during Wednesday’s day game, maybe the baseball Gods have decided to make up for it. This could be a really fun game. Remember in 2008 when Shane Victorino hit a walk-off home run on his bobblehead day? While I don’t think Halladay will hit any homers, the crowd should be really excited and create some positive energy.
In the spirit of bobblehead day miracles, I have re-outfitted Halladay’s figurine a few different ways. First, we have the Victorino-inspired look, HulaHalladay followed by Super-Halladay and HalladAngel:
So while we have Halladay to look forward to on Tuesday, we also have Brad Lidge to stress-out about, maybe for the rest of the year. Lidge had an MRI on his sore elbow and it did not show any structural damage, but did reveal inflammation in the lining of his elbow joint. The area where he had the surgery appears to be healing just fine. That is the extent of what the Phillies have said about it.
On the surface, this seems like good news. What I can tell you from own experience is that this condition is called “synovitis.” The most common cause is some form of arthritis. Treatment usually consists of anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone injections and sometimes surgery to remove the inflamed lining. The problem with this type of issue is that it is usually persistent and generally only gets better with rest and treatment.
He may feel better in a few days, pitch again, and have the exact same issue come right back. It can be managed, but in my opinion, this may be a sign that Lidge will not be very effective in 2010, if at all. Keep in mind, the Phillies are not saying this, I am. And because I am not a doctor, I could be way off base here. But based on my experience with the exact same issue, I know how painful it can be.
So should Phillies fans be in full-scale panic mode? Maybe not; but Ruben Amaro Jr. had better be weighing his options and looking for bullpen help.
Photoshopping by Jenn
Phillies fans were taken by surprise this afternoon as it was announced that Ryan Howard will be with the Phillies through at least 2016 with a contract worth about $125 million dollars. Howard was already on-board through 2011 and here is how the remaining years will pay out: $20 million a year for 2012-2013; $25 million a year for 2014-2016 plus an option for 2017 worth $23 million and a $10 million dollar buyout.
There is a limited no-trade clause attached as well, plus award bonuses. Needless to say, Howard will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Not he isn’t worth the money; Howard leads all major league players in home runs with 222 and RBI’s with 650 since 2005. He also has a National League MVP award under his belt and was named the NL Rookie of the Year in 2005.
What is surprising about the deal is both the timing and Howard’s willingness to commit. It is the end of April and the Phillies are in the middle of a West Coast road trip; so, the timing is weird. Plus, it was almost assumed by most experts that Howard would want to test free-agency, in search of a bigger paycheck. And while the paycheck here is plenty large, it is still nice to see that Howard wants to stay in Philly.
The only possible drawback I see is this: Remember all these years past when the Phillies used Pat Burrell’s large salary and long contract as the excuse for not resigning key players or not going out and getting players to improve the team? Oh yeah, that. While GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is set on winning, let us all hope that the financial commitment does not translate into a boat-load of excuses later.
Imagine when Chase Utley’s contract comes up for renewal in 2013, as an example. Is Howard worth losing Utley, the best overall player and most dedicated member of the team (in my humble opinion, of course)? Nope. But, I promise not to panic until it comes to that ;o)
In the meantime, congratulations to Ryan! Now go hit some more homers….please and thank you :O)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In his much anticipated start to 2010, Cole Hamels had a fairly good day in an 8-4 win over the Nationals. He only managed to get through 5 innings with 2 earned runs and one unearned, but for his first start of the year, it was not bad. When he led off the game by walking the first batter on 4 pitches, fans cringed for a moment. But Hamels bounced back and did not have trouble again until the 3rd inning; he walked 2 more batters with 2 outs then allowed an RBI single. 2 runs scored that inning and his pitch count began to rise.
It did appear that the home plate umpire was squeezing the pitchers on both sides, which did not help matters. So with 103 pitches thrown by the end of the 5th, Hamels was done for the day. His arm speed looked good today, but his control still needs some work. Overall, it was a good first effort and hopefully the next start for Hamels will be even more productive.
Ryan Howard extended the 4th inning for Hamels a bit with an error on a ball to first that probably should have ended the inning. But Howard made up for the blunder by smashing a 2-run homer in the 5th. That is 2 games and 2 home runs for Howard; and for good measure, he hit an RBI double as well. Chase Utley had 2 hits, a walk and an RBI, in typical Utley style. Even Hamels joined the RBI party with a single to score Shane Victorino in the 4th.
After Hamels left the game, Chad Durbin did an outstanding job and went 2 scoreless innings. Danys Baez did not fare as well in the 8th, allowing 2 hits and a run in 1/3 of an inning. Antonio Bastardo came in to get the 2nd out and Ryan Madson struck out Ian Desmond for the 3rd out. Madson got the ball for the 9th as well and closed out the game for his first save of the year.
In these 1st two games of 2010, the Nationals pitchers have walked 17 Phillies batters. As our fearless TV announcer Gary “Sarge” Matthews said, “You don’t want to walk batters.” That is our Sarge; King of the Obvious. If the Nats can keep up this streak tomorrow, the Phils may just sweep this first 3-game series.
Roster Moves and Injury Updates
The Phillies also made a pitching move today, picking up Nelson Figueroa off waivers after the Mets let him go. He went 3-8 with a 4.09 ERA in 16 games last year for the Mets. Figueroa pitched for the Phils in 2001 and according to GM Ruben Amaro Jr., he will join the club tomorrow and a roster move will be made to make room. Look for Andrew Carpenter to be sent to AAA; Figueroa will take the long-man role in the pen.
In injury news, JC Romero is going to make a rehab appearance Thursday in Clearwater. Brad Lidge is not as far along, but he will toss a bullpen session tomorrow. Joe Blanton threw 60 pitches today from flat ground, which went well, but his recovery time is still projected to be about 3-6 weeks.
So tomorrow the Phillies will finish up in DC at 4:35pm with Kyle Kendrick starting in place of the injured Blanton. Then they are off to Houston for 3 games. There is no official word yet on who will start the Phillies Home Opener on the 12th, but if they follow the regular rotation, it looks like it will be Hamels.
Photo by Jenn
In the 3rd inning of today’s Phillies-Pirates match-up in Bradenton, FL, Placido Polanco tripped on the pitcher’s mound trying to catch a pop-up. He limped off the field and is said to have a right knee strain. Initial reports are that it is not serious and Polly should be back in action in 3 or 4 days. This is first real injury for the Phillies in camp thus far and we hope it is the last.
Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire
The other interesting news came from Buster Olney of ESPN this week; he claims that his “sources” had reported that the Phillies were talking about swapping 1st baseman with the Cardinals.
That’s right, in Olney’s alternate universe, Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols would trade places. Perhaps Olney’s “sources” were aliens from Mars? Or maybe it was just the little voices inside his head who yearn to see Olney locked up in a padded room?
The odds of this sort of swap happening are astronomical; it is not even a fair trade. No offense to Howard, but clearly Pujols is the better overall player. Yes, Howard is from St. Louis, but this is no reason for the Cards to think they would get him cheap. And the Phillies could never afford Pujols. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was so perturbed at the news, he flat out called Olney a liar. “It’s ridiculous,” Amaro said. “It’s unequivocally false. It’s unfair to Ryan. It’s unfair to the organization to have to answer the questions.”
Despite all the drama, the Phillies went on to win today by a score of 5-1. Roy Halladay gave up his first run of Spring and also walked two batters; all this means is we now have proof that the man is not a robot. I think we can all live with the 1.00 ERA.
While the starting pitching looks good, some of the relievers do not. JC Romero will not be ready for Opening Day so one of the young lefties will need to step up to fill the void. However, neither Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona or Mike Zagurski have looked ready to do so thus far. Bastardo has allowed 3 runs over 2 innings of work; Escalona has 5 runs allowed in 3 innings; and Zagurski only made 1 appearance. He is still trying to get back in the groove after Tommy John surgery. One of these three lefties will need to show that they can do the job and right now, it does not look good.
Pet Peeve of The Week
So many MLB teams these days have radio and TV announcers that leave a lot to be desired. Realizing that Philly fans were spoiled for decades with the great Harry Kalas, it may be an unfair comparison. However, during the Phillies-Pirates match-up today, a Pirates announcer took “unprofessional” to a new level. Tim Neverett, hired in December 2008, does play-by-play for the Bucos. And today, he did not win any brownie points from Philly fans.
In the middle of the 4th inning, Neverett began praising the team’s mascot, the Pirate Parrot and mentioned how he was harassing Philly fans in the stands. He went on to say, “I think the Parrot likes this. There’s no better group of fans to tease than the Philadelphia fans…(pause)…Because there’s no worse fans. The same people who boo Santa Claus are now getting it from the Pirate Parrot.”
First of all, the Santa Claus incident was in 1968 at an Eagles football game. Get over it. Secondly, there are “no worse fans?” Seriously? Apparently, Mr. Neverett must be a world traveler who has first-hand knowledge of such things. While I am not going to waste time comparing Philly fans to experiences I have had elsewhere, I will say that such a general statement is both ignorant and rude.
A small segment of fans of ANY team are bound to be obnoxious and disruptive. That is human nature. You expect to hear this sort of prejudice from those obnoxious fans, not from the radio announcer who is being paid to be objective and professional. You want rude? Ok then, BOO YOU Mr. Neverett! You should be ashamed.
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Photos by Jenn
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that relief pitcher Chan Ho Park wanted to remain with the Phillies in 2010. Instead, Park wound up signing with the Yankees for 1.2 million, a great deal less than the 3 million the Phillies had offered earlier in the off-season.
Park stated, “Philadelphia was the No. 1 choice. I had a tough time leaving there. I had much support from fans and community, and I had the best teammates there…”
The question then becomes, why did he and his agent, Jeff Boris, turn down the Phillies offer if he wanted to stay there? Park made 2.5 million in 2009, so the 3 million was not only a raise, but likely to be the best offer he received. In the recent past, there has been what appears to be a string of mismanaged deals by baseball agents who become greedy and over estimate their clients’ value. This certainly looks like one of them.
By the time Park and Mr. Boris realized this deal was a gift from an appreciative team who liked Park very much in 2009, it was too late. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has a no-nonsense style of dealing with contracts. If he feels a player is not committed, he moves on. Amaro was not going to wait for Park to change his mind and quickly signed Danys Baez and Jose Contreras.
And if we believe Park was sincere in wanting to return, then why would Mr. Boris not jump on the one year deal? Another agent notorious for his hard-handed tactics is agent Scott Boras who recently took outfielder Johnny Damon on a fairly stressful ride through free agency. Damon wanted to stay with the Yankees but Boras handed down a $13 million dollar ultimatum to the Yankees, which frankly, was a lot more than Damon was worth and he should have known that. The Yankees scoffed at the gesture and Damon wound up signing with the Tigers for $8 million.
Damon told the NY Daily News, “I let Scott do his work…That’s why he’s there. In the end, I think he did a great job. It’s funny, though. Every time I’m a free agent, I’m always on a new team.” He said a mouthful there. Mr. Boras has a habit of burning bridges and this latest stunt was no exception.
Another player who may or may not have been burned by his agent this off-season is former Phillie Cliff Lee. Although agent Darek Braunecker denied any wrong doing back in December, the fact that the trade happened so quickly and right after talks with Braunecker makes you wonder if he did give some sort of indication that Lee would not accept certain terms (ie: less than 2 years, a certain dollar amount, etc…). Again, this is only speculation, but knowing the Phillies GM Amaro’s straightforward style, if Braunecker said anything at all to make Amaro question Lee’s commitment to the Phillies, it is easy to see why that could have triggered a fast trade.
Obviously, the depletion of the farm system played heavily into the trade, but was that the only consideration? What happens behind closed doors, we will never know, but it does make you stop and wonder. How much input each of these players had in the conversations with teams and their agents is also unknown, but based on the players reactions, maybe these agents need to think more about their clients well-being and less about their own pockets? But again, this is just one gal’s humble opinion :O) We will miss Park and Lee and I wish them the best!
In other Phillies news, both Brad Lidge and JC Romero threw off the mound during Spring Training on Sunday. Each pitcher is taking it slow, but making descent progress. Lidge appears to be slightly ahead of Romero as far as being ready, but both are still hopeful about Opening Day.
As for the rest of the pitching crew, here is the week’s schedule for when games begin on Wednesday:
- Wednesday vs. Florida State: J.A. Happ, Phillippe Aumont, Yohan Flande, Drew Naylor, Joe Savery, Jesus Sanchez and David Herndon.
- Thursday vs. Yankees: Roy Halladay, Kyle Kendrick, Jose Contreras, Andrew Carpenter and Sergio Escalona.
- Friday at Toronto in Dunedin: Cole Hamels, J.C. Ramirez, Ryan Vogelsong and Antonio Bastardo.
- Friday at Toronto in Dunedin (B GAME): Jamie Moyer, Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson and Scott Mathieson.
- Saturday at Pittsburgh in Bradenton: Joe Blanton, Danys Baez, Ehren Wasserman, Mike Zagurski, Bill White and B.J. Rosenberg.
- Sunday vs. Tampa Bay: Happ, Aumont, Naylor, Sanchez, Herndon, Flande and Savery.
Thanks to Todd Zolecki at The Zo Zone for posting the list!
Photos by Jenn
Last night, 6-ABC Philadelphia aired a special report on the Phillies Off-Season. The report covered the weddings of Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, Jamie Moyer’s charity work, Chad Durbin’s business venture, the Phillies Cruise and Charlie Manuel’s weight loss. The Phillies Cruise coverage is about 3 minutes into the program and you can see five of my photos featured in that portion of the report with my name listed underneath:
And here are still shots of the photos as they aired in the report:
Special thanks to Scott Palmer and Scott Nickle at the Phillies and Beth Widhson at Holland America for including me in this project :O)
Earlier this week, there were a few very “minor” signings that occurred. The Phillies picked up veteran outfielder Freddy Guzman on a Minor League contract. He will not be invited to Spring Training. And veteran right-hander Oscar Villarreal was also given Minor League contract on Thursday. Villareal is coming off Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2009 season. He was with the Astros in 2008, the Braves from 2006-2007 and the D-Backs three years prior to that. With many question marks still in the bullpen, another in inexpensive, yet experienced arm hanging around is a good idea.
And if you have not seen it already, check out my report on the new Fantasy Baseball tools from Bloomberg Sports. The tools are available for pre-order now at mlb.com and will be ready to use on 2/18/10.
So the countdown to Spring Training continues…only 6 days until the truck rolls out and 13 days until pitchers and catchers report!
Photos by Jenn