Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

Amaro is OUT – Finally!

Apparently, the Pope’s impending visit to Philadelphia has already brought blessings upon us.  In preparing the proverbial landscape for the Holy Man’s visit, the Phillies finally released GM Ruben Amaro Jr.  It is a papal miracle!  I was tempted to go back to being a practicing Catholic after hearing the news, but the whole “thou shall not do anything fun” is still kind of in the way of that transition ;)

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While I am thrilled that the Phillies may be making an attempt to move into the correct century with their baseball operations logic, I feel a little bit sorry for Amaro who spent practically his entire life with the team.  He grew up in the area, his Dad played for and coached for the Phillies; Ruben also played for the Phillies and was even the bat boy as a youngster.  That is a lot of time spent in one place.

But my sympathy has to end there.  He made so many bad, disastrous moves over the years that it is hard not to rejoice at this news.  Remember the Cliff Lee trade in 2009?  What a mega-disaster that was!  The Phillies probably would have gone the distance in 2010 if they had both Lee and Roy Halladay in the rotation.  Instead, Amaro squandered that opportunity and got 3 horrible “prospects” who contributed nothing…except a cocaine arrest (Tyson Gillies) and multiple tantrums when they did not get their way (Phillippe Aumont).

The HUGE, ridiculous contracts given to Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon were just a few other terrible moves Amaro made.  Not to mention letting Ryan Vogelsong go in 2010 (he is now a multiple World Series champ) and trading Hunter Pence for next to nothing (he is now also part of the Vogelsong / Giants dynasty).  And don’t even get me started on the $12 million he threw away on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez who has been so bad in the minors that the Phillies finally took him off the 40-man roster.  This year, he spent most of his time on the DL and in the lousy 5.2 innings he did pitch in Triple-A, he ended up with a 14.29 ERA.

Sure, he had some good moves over the years.  But ultimately, Amaro ran this team straight into the ground.  They now sit in last place in all of baseball with little sign of improvement in the near future.  Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock will fill in for Amaro until the new GM is chosen.  Let us all hope the Phillies are smart enough to find a modern GM, instead of another blast from the past.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Sweep for Christmas in July

Instead of coal in their stockings, the Phillies received a 3-game sweep of the Marlins for their Christmas in July celebration today.  Considering they started the second half of the season as the worst team in baseball, this is nothing short of a miracle.  Please wake me if I am dreaming…

It looked like a sure win today early on as the Phils exploded for 5 runs in the second inning.  There was a lot of staring at home runs (Ryan Howard and Freddy Galvis) and celebrating.  Even Cole Hamels had a hit in the inning.
071915 offenseBut the warm fuzzies wore off quickly as Hamels bombed in the 3rd inning.  The fielders were awfully busy while Hamels struggled to get by. 071915 fielding

Ultimately, Hamels took the 3-run lead the Phillies spotted him and handed those runs right back to the Marlins.  By the end of the inning, Hamels had 76 pitches and would not return to the game.
071915 HamelsIn his defense, it was hotter than hell today.  The temperature was 93 degrees at game time and got hotter as the game went on.  It even looked for a minute like we may lose the home plate umpire, who needed assistance getting cool. 071915 umps

So it would take 5 bullpen arms to finish the game after Hamels’ early exit.  Both Elvis Araujo and Luis Garcia pitched perfect innings.
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But then Ken Giles blew a save in the 8th inning, where the Marlins took a 7-6 lead.  Giles was all over the place which sent many of the few fans in attendance streaming towards the exits, myself included.  I was melting by then and not sure if I’d make it to the car if I stayed much longer anyway.

But luckily for the Phillies, Jeff Francour decided to play Santa Claus today and unwrap a 2-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th inning to give the Phillies an 8-7 win.  I enjoyed the hit from the comfort of my air-conditioned car, which made finding the energy to celebrate a bit easier ;)

The Phillies take on the Rays tomorrow.  Game time is 7:05pm.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Halfway through 2015: Down the Rabbit Hole

A recent article in The New Yorker described going down the rabbit hole as “a bizarre and disorienting alternate reality.”  That perfectly describes how many Phillies fans feel at the halfway point of the 2015 season.  We followed the Phillies here and have now fallen into the proverbial, Alice in Wonderland-esque rabbit hole.

This team is such a departure from that of the 2008-2011 teams that watching them really does feel like a bad acid trip.  The Phillies are dead last in all of baseball with a 29-62 record.  Their closer, Jonathan Papelbon, cannot stop yelling to the media about how badly he wants to be traded.  Cole Hamels is pitching like a man who has given up on life.  And their manager, Ryne Sandberg, ran screaming from his duties, despite the obvious detriment to his career by doing so.

Sad Phillies (2)But the most depressing part of the season has been the lightning fast decline of Chase Utley’s career.  According to the general manager, Utley is no longer the starting second baseman, even after he comes off the disabled list.  This is officially the end of Phillies baseball as we knew it.  Indeed, an alternate reality that is painful to watch.

But even with Utley’s downfall, there was no reason to think the Phillies would be THIS bad, as in 62 losses bad, the worst half way mark in team history.  There is a lot of young talent here, like Maikel FrancoBen Revere is hitting .297 with 21 stolen bases and 45 runs scored.  Ryan Howard has hit 15 home runs and has 45 RBI, which is really pretty good considering he is on the tail end of his career.  Papelbon has been perfect in saves, although he has had limited opportunities.    But most of the pitching has be atrocious.  Even so, this team should have won more than 29 games, given their talent.

Perhaps Pat Gillick’s pre-season declaration about this team not being able to compete for several years has created a culture of losing?  And not only that, but the team seems to have accepted this.  They are not showing any fight, maybe because they simply expect to lose.  They are just collecting their fat paychecks and then going home.  And if this attitude continues, attendance will continue to drop to levels where you can hear crickets chirping.  Hopefully, the Phillies will emerge from their slumber in the second half and at least put on a good show.  Then again, that could just be the psychedelic acid talking.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Fall…Again

Well, it is official.  This is the worst start to a season that the Phillies have had since the 10-22 start in 1997.  Today’s loss to the Mets gives the Phils an 11-21 record, which is spectacularly awful.  They have been bad in all areas; pitching, offense and defense.  Even the bullpen, which was supposed to be the highlight of this team, has been sub-par.

But just to keep us watching, there are a few glimmers of hope here and there; but none of them long-lived.  When pitcher Chad Billingsley smashed a solo homer today in the 3rd inning, the small crowd exploded.  While it was very exciting, Billingsley crushed the celebratory atmosphere in the top of the 4th by giving that run back to the Mets, who continued to score until Billingsley was finally pulled in the 6th.
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Even with the 1-5 deficit, the Phillies kept pushing for a comeback.  A string of hits in the 7th inning brought the Phillies to within 1 run of the Mets.  But Jeanmar Gomez proceeded to give the Mets 2 more runs in the 8th.  The 4-7 hole was one the Phillies meager offense simply could not climb out of.
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Here are some burning questions I would like answers to.  Why does Ryan Howard insist on first-pitch swinging in critical situations?  Is he giving Darrin Ruf lessons?  If so, he should stop.  Will Ben Revere invent a new outfield spot, since he has already played all 3 current spots this season?  Maybe Ryne Sandberg could move him to the outfield stands next just to be annoying?  Revere could catch all the home runs this staff keeps giving up.  Next, has the bat boy quit?  Because Odubel Herrera was seen shagging fouls and discarded balls from the dugout throughout the game.  And finally, how much worse will this team get?  Oh wait, maybe don’t answer that one…

On a lighter note, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there!  Darrin Ruf’s mom, dad and wife joined him on the field before the game, which was a bright spot of the day.
051015 Ruf Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Braves Blunders Help Phillies to a Series Win

On Friday night, the Braves committed 4 errors, allowing the Phillies to squeak out a 1-0 win.  Then after a loss on Saturday, the Phillies collected another win today, which was in part thanks to another unearned run gifted to them from the Braves.

The bigger story though in today’s game was the pitching of Jerome Williams.  He hung in there for 6 2/3 adventurous innings, allowing 3 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks.  By keeping the damage to a minimum, Williams also kept the Phillies in line for the 5-4 win.
2015.04.26 pitch catch

The Phillies had a few missed opportunities in the field, but for the most part, they played a clean game.  In fact, the even laid down 3 successful sacrifice bunts, two of which were by Williams.

Freddy Galvis is still on fire.  With 3 hits in this game, his average is up to .361.  And Ryan Howard seems to be ready to climb out of the major funk he has been in.  Howard actually got through a game without a strike out and also hit a 3-run homer.
2015.04.26 offense

And although Jonathan Papelbon came close to blowing the save, he managed to claw his way to 3 outs in the 9th.  So the Phillies got a win for the Phanatic on his birthday.  He must be one happy green Galapagos monster today!
2015.04.26 bday

By the way, has anyone else noticed that since the Phillies began going downhill after 2011 that the Phanatic’s birthday cake has gotten significantly smaller?  I guess the decreased attendance is taking its toll…lol
2015.04.26 cake
As for the rest of us, it was nice to see a series win after what has been a very rough start to the season.  Tomorrow begins a 4-game series with the Cardinals at 8:15pm.  The Cards are in first place in their division with 12 wins.  The Phillies are in last place with 12 losses.  This should be interesting…

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Settle for Series Win Instead of Sweep

Despite their struggles, the Phillies actually had a good shot at sweeping the Nationals today to end the 3-game series.  But they apparently had one thing working against them: Ryan Howard.  I hate to be so blunt about it, but Howard absolutely stunk up the ballpark today.  He struck out to end an inning 4 times, all with runners on base; and 3 of those 4 times, he had runners in scoring position.  One would think after more than 10 years in the majors, he would learn to stop swinging at balls in the dirt; no such luck.  Howard is now batting .150 only 6 games into the season.

But on to more positive things… Sean O’Sullivan got the spot start today and rewarded the Phillies for their confidence in him.  O’Sullivan lasted 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk.  Overall, he looked good and kept the team in the game.
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Odubel Herrera, the rookie Rule 5 pick, continues to wow fans with his speed and hustle.  After hitting the walk-off winner in last night’s game for his first major league hit, Herrera collected 2 more hits today plus an RBI and a stolen base.
041215 Herrera

Cody Asche also had another great game with 3 hits, an RBI and a walk, putting veterans like Howard to shame.  Asche is batting .429.  Eventually, Darren Ruf replaced Howard in the game and began with a home run in the 7th to put the Phillies in a 2-2 tie, just like the night before.
041215 Ruf

But unlike Saturday’s game, the Phillies could not come back in extra innings to win.  Although, they never stopped trying, which was nice to see.  Even after the bullpen allowed 2 runs in 10th, the Phillies scored in the bottom of the inning and then fell just short of the win, losing by a score of 3-4.

So there have been several encouraging signs to start the season, even though overall, this team is probably not going far with the youth they have and the dried up veterans.  But it was a good game with some energy, which the Phillies have been missing the last several years.

Also, I just want to give kudos to pitcher Jerome Williams.  Going back to last year, Williams is always out engaging with the fans and signing autographs, unlike most of the players.  Today, he even scooped up what appeared to be a 3 or 4 year old fan out of the stands and played catch with him.  He then literally picked the kid up and handed him back to his parents.  It is a rarity to see a major league player truly appreciate his position and give back to the fans to consistently.  The Phillies are lucky to have him!
041215 Williams

So the team is off to New York for an early game tomorrow against the MetsCole Hamels will pitch and the game starts at 1:10pm.

And here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Bye Bye Byrd-ie

Birdie ed copyThe deconstruction of the Phillies continues as they have now shipped Marlon Byrd to the Reds in exchange for minor league pitcher Ben Lively.  The Phillies will pay part of Byrd’s $8 million salary to complete the deal, but no specifics were given.  While Byrd struck out a lot last year, he was one of the few power bats in the lineup, hitting 25 homers and collecting 85 RBI.  However, at 37 years of age, the Phillies figured getting younger in the outfield was a good move.

Lively, 22, went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA between class A and AA ball last season.  He was also named the Reds’ minor league player of the year.  So it does appear this was a good move for the Phillies, although the payoff is probably years away as Lively continues working in the minors.

This move also means we will have at least one more year of Domonic Brown to endure.  In my opinion, the Phillies should have traded him years ago when he was actually worth something.  The only thing he has proved over the last several seasons is that he is inconsistent at the plate and a defensive liability in the outfield.   In fact, the Sporting News ranked him as the worst left fielder in all of baseball last year.  Well, at least he came first in something ;)

The Phillies, however, may not be done moving pieces around.  There are still many, many Cole Hamels rumors and certainly, a lot of room for improvement.  Now, if only some team would get really desperate and take Ryan Howard off their hands.  That is my New Year’s wish.  I should probably make another, more likely wish, right?

Oh well!  Happy New Year, everyone!

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Byrd photo by Jenn Zambri

Jimmy Rollins Goes West

J-Roll says hi crIt took the departure of Jimmy Rollins to wake me from my offseason slumber.  And it was indeed a rude awakening.  The trade of Rollins to the Dodgers signals the end of a Phillies era, which is sad.  It also seems that more big changes are on the way.

I do think the trade was the right move, but that does not make it any less depressing.  During his 15 years with the team, Rollins provided fans with exciting moments, frustrating moments and everything in between.  He became the team’s all-time hits leader, won an MVP and helped bring Philadelphia a World Series.  If you follow this team closely as I have done over the years, watching J-Roll head to the west coast is akin to a family member moving away.  Love him or hate him, life will never be the same without Rollins.

The Phillies Phollowers official mascot, J-Roll Smurf, was hit the hardest.  He immediately took to the phone to call his agent and make sure he was not also being shipped out.  A blue uniform would totally clash with his blue skin.  It is not a good look.  J-Roll Smurf then drown his sorrows in sugar by raiding the cookie jar.  I have assured him he will always have a home here, as will the real Rollins.


It has not yet been announced what the Phillies will get in return for J-Roll, but it is assumed to be two minor league pitchers.  The Phillies acquired another new pitcher yesterday when they traded Antonio Bastardo to the Pirates for another lefty, Joely Rodriguez.  Rodriguez went 6-11 with a 4.84 ERA in 30 games this past year with Double-A Altoona and is considered to be one of their top prospects.

The question now is who will the ax fall on next?  Many hope it will be Ryan Howard, but who wants him, really?  His contract is too large and his production too little.  Cole Hamels may be next, but the Phillies have to hit a grand slam with that trade if it happens or risk losing the fan base.  And I do not even want to mention Chase Utley…I cannot imagine a Phillies team without him.

We now wait and see what will happen next.  In the meantime, I wish Jimmy the best and hope the move works out for him.


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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Papelbon Implodes in Shocking Phillies Loss

The day started out so well.  It was sunny outside, people seemed happy…even Chase Utley was smiling on the field during warm-ups.  Anyone who follows this team knows what a rare moment that is.  It just seemed like a good day where a sweep of the Marlins was totally possible.  Heck, there was even breakdancing during the game!  It was all going well until the 9th inning…
091414 Utley

Before that frightening 9th inning, starting pitcher, David Buchanan pitched very well, allowing only 1 run on a solo homer through 6 1/3 innings.  Although, he did almost have his head taken off while attempting to bunt, which was a bit scary.
091414 DavidB

But baseball carried on and the Phillies racked up hits, stolen bases and Ryan Howard even showed patience at the plate, drawing a walk in the 4th inning.
091414 Misc

I finally got to see Maikel Franco play in person.  He had an interesting day that included a broken bat RBI single where he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.  He also had this play at third where he bobbled the ball, recovered and still got the out:
091414 Franco

By the 9th inning, the Phillies had a 4-1 lead.  But then Jonathan Papelbon came into the game.  Granted, he has been mostly good all season.  And anyone can blow a save…it happens (unless it is 2008 and you are Brad Lidge).  When one blows a save however, that person should expect to get boo’ed.  In fact, that person should boo themselves for sucking on that occasion.  Instead, Papelbon decided to look into the crowd as he walked to the dugout and grab his crotch demonstratively in reply to the boo’s.  After the game, he said he was “adjusting” himself.  Really?  And he could not wait 10 more steps to do so?  I am not buying it.

His attitude just sucks.  And his response was way out of line.  After ejecting Papelbon for the gesture, umpire Joe West grabbed Papelbon by the shirt and shoved him.  I cannot wait to see the blow back from that…stay tuned.

So the Phillies will ride this smelly, stinky 4-5 loss all the way across the country to San Diego where they start a 4 game series with the Padres tomorrow.  For now, here is the Photo Album from today’s game which includes the happier moments.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

A New Staff Ace for the Phillies?

Is Jerome Williams for real?  After 3 starts with his third team of the year, Williams has 2 wins for the Phillies and a 1.77 ERA.  He has out-pitched everyone on the Phils starting staff, including Cole Hamels.  And on top of that, he even laid down a perfect safety squeeze in the 2nd inning, collecting only the 2nd RBI of his major league career.  Williams has officially resurrected his previously dead career.  And the Phillies went on to beat the Cardinals by a score of 7-4, taking 2 outs of 3 games in the series.
082414 Williams

Another bright spot in this otherwise miserable season has been Ben Revere.  All the Revere haters have now been silenced.  Despite his weak arm, Revere worked hard and has improved his defense and is also now batting .314.  He is in a 1st place tie for the best average in the National League with Justin Morneau.  Although he can be frustrating at times, I had faith in Revere because he is a positive guy who always hustles and gives his best effort.  The same cannot be said all of the Phillies outfielders.  Keep it up, Ben!  I am rooting for you!
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Speaking of the outfield, can anyone tell me WHY Domonic Brown is still starting?  Have we not yet seen enough?  Whether he feels he is or not, Brown appears lazy and distracted in left field.  His batting average is down to .226.  It is time to give someone else a shot…it has been time for a while now.   You have to wonder who is really calling the shots with the line-up; Ryne Sandberg or Ruben Amaro Jr.?  If it is Sandberg, I have to seriously question his judgment.  If it is Amaro, then Sandberg needs to stand up and explain to his GM that this is HIS team to run.  Because this is getting very old.

Aside from that annoyance, the Phillies offense finally put some runs on the board, which was a nice change for a Sunday afternoon.  Everyone except Ryan Howard had a hit and Jimmy Rollins smacked a 2-run homer.
082414 offense

The Phillies start a 3-game series with the Nationals Monday night.  Maybe they can spoil the Nats 1st place fun?  In the meantime, here is the Photo Album from today’s win.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography


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