Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

More J-Roll Drama at Phillies Camp

I am sure most of us have heard about the Jimmy Rollins – Ryne Sandberg drama at Spring Training this week. To recap very quickly, J-Roll was being J-Roll and let fly a “Who cares?” when asked about the team’s offense. And then Sandberg let fly a telling, “No comment” when asked about Jimmy bringing positive energy to the club. Rollins was benched for 3 straight days (Mon.-Wed.) without having spoken to Sandberg until Thursday.

Before I offer my thoughts on the situation, I will tell you a little story from Spring Training 2009. I make it a habit to arrive to all games, even Spring Training games, many hours early. That is when some of the most entertaining and interesting things happen. Before one 2009 spring game in Bradenton, FL against the Pirates, I witnessed some real J-Roll being J-Roll behavior.

As the team was stretching on the field, manager Charlie Manual was pacing about, looking annoyed. And one player was noticeably absent from the field: Jimmy Rollins. About 20 minutes into this, Rollins suddenly appeared jogging across the field. When the team noticed him, everyone, mid-stretch, stopped what they were doing and began clapping and cheering for Rollins as he approached. It was group sarcasm, although in good fun, to congratulate Rollins for finally showing up.

As I was right up against the fence where they were stretching, I saw and hear nearly everything that happened next. Manual sauntered over to Rollins with his irritated, head-tilted, almost twitchy swagger that we have seen many time over the years. Usually you saw this when Manual was about to confront an umpire.

As Manual berated Rollins, wagging finger and all, Rollins slouched over like a 5 year old getting yelled at for stealing a cookie. He even pouted. Rollins then made various hand gestures to explain how he got stuck in traffic and then got turned around, etc… A lot veteran players these days don’t like taking the team bus to spring away games, so it was not too unusual that Rollins drove himself. Still, everyone else was on-time.

022509a1Ryan Howard then wandered over and put his arm around Rollins to comfort him, again, like a 5 year old whimpering after being punished. Manual just kept talking. It was very clear that this was not the first time Rollins broke the rules. And as we all know, it would not be the last.

But under Manual, Rollins got used to being “scolded” and then simply going about his business after some comforting words from a few teammates. This has been a decade-long pattern. So does it really surprise anyone that in this most recent incident Sandberg decided to give Rollins the silent treatment? When you were a kid, what was worse? Getting yelled at or being ignored and having to wonder what you did wrong? The silent treatment doesn’t work on everyone; however, I am sure Sandberg felt like at the very least, he needed to try something different than what Manual had done.

I have heard a lot of criticism of Sandberg the last few days for not speaking to Rollins right away. Personally, I think giving Rollins days to stew over what was going on may have an effect going forward. Although Rollins did nearly hang himself in the media afterwards with comments like, “Well, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. It doesn’t make it right, but he’s the manager so he gets to have the last say.” I am sure that did not endear him to Sandberg at all. But as the new manager, Sandberg is going to have to think outside the box when dealing with player issues, especially with those players who have become used to a very different style of management.

How will J-Roll react now that he and Sandberg have put the issue to rest? Time will tell.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

I’m Back – Can the Same Be Said for the Phillies?

After a very long vacation from blogging, I’m back. I have just a quick list of excuses for my absence. For starters, I have experienced a complete life “do-over.” After some hair-raising experiences including the deaths of 3 friends/family, I changed jobs, relationships, bought a house and am going back to school to work on my Master’s degree. Change is good. Trust me on this one.

Change for the Phillies thus far this offseason, however, has been minimal. It was less change and more resurrecting history when the Phils signed Marlon Byrd, Bobby Abreu (minor league deal), Larry Bowa (bench coach) and Charlie Manual, rehired as an advisor. Not to mention dumping Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews in favor of Matt Stairs and Jamie Moyer in the broadcasting booth. And don’t forget Mike Schmidt on air for Sunday games. It’s a reunion!

Did you realize there are now no less than 4 Phillies managers back with the 2014 team? The current manager, obviously, is Ryne Sandberg. Former managers on staff also include Manual, Bowa and Dallas Green (front office). That is incredible. If you want to be with a team for life, sign with the Phillies!

With all of these blasts from the past, the season will at the very least be interesting to watch. But my initial impressions so far in watching Spring Training games are not too encouraging. The offense is still in hiding, as it has been for about 3+ years now. Ok, I know it is only Spring Training, but the Braves have no problem putting up 8-9 runs a game right now so why can’t the Phils? Also, many pitchers, like Cole Hamels, are already or still hurt. But hey, the defense looks pretty good J

Of the few moves the Phillies did make this offseason, I actually like the return of Marlon Byrd. He did well with the Pirates last year, he has been open about his previous suspension and above all, he has something to prove. I love his attitude so far and he appears to have at least brought some smiles back to camp.

Beyond that, not much stands out. Ryan Howard has proclaimed his perfect health. That is nice, but we will have to wait to see if results follow. Howard will be under even more pressure this year now that he and the team are adamant that he is 100%. If he falters early, I shudder to think of the reaction from the press and the fans. They will tear the Big Piece into little pieces. I do not envy his position.

I have begun counting the days until the first real pitch of the season to see what this team really has to offer. Is the winning team back or just a rerun of last year? More thoughts on Spring Training to come…stay tuned.

The Inning From Hell

The 6th inning of Sunday’s Phillies Tigers game was officially the worst baseball I have ever seen in my life.  In fact, there is no point in even discussing the rest of the game that resulted in a 4-12 Phillies loss.  This team has fallen far into the deepest recesses of hell…

That one hellish inning included 3 Phillies errors, 8 runs scored by the Tigers, all of which were unearned, a Tigers grand slam and 2 runs scored on walks.  Rookie Steve Susdorf committed one of the three errors in his first major league start; this was a day he’d probably like to forget, along with the rest of us.

Veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins described it best after the game, telling reporters, “That was embarrassing. … If there’s a bottom, this has to be it. I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week, culminating the way they did today.”

And although the trade deadline is just days away, I cannot imagine the Phillies will get much of a return on anyone they plan to dump.  Jonathan Papelbon has done his best to ruin any chances of the Phils getting a good return for him in a trade.  His salary is ridiculous, his attitude is deplorable and he has blown 5 saves in the last month and a half.  He is worth nothing in a trade at this point, unless a team is desperate.

And frankly, nearly everyone else on this team has rendered themselves useless in a trade after this horrific 8-game losing streak.

So what do the Phillies do in the midst of watching this franchise ship sink?  They spend $48 million on an unproven Cuban defector.  The Phillies signed right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a six-year deal with incentives that could push the total salary to nearly $60 million.

I liken this move to what someone with a gambling addiction does…keep betting higher, despite a long, ugly string of losses (ie: Ryan Howard’s extension, Chad Qualls, releasing Jason Grilli, trading Cliff Lee, Papelbon, etc…). Ruben Amaro Jr. is still gambling away this team’s future and it is hard to watch.  I hope I am wrong.  Maybe this guy is worth every penny of that $48 million. But with a track record of contract busts, the odds are not in favor of the Phillies.

Welcome to Hell, Phillies fans.

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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Dead Men Walking: The 2013 Phillies

In their 4th consecutive loss on Wednesday night, I do believe the Phillies finally rolled over and died.  They did not just lose 4 games, they were slaughtered in the ugliest and most painful manner possible.

Every problem this team has had this season was glaring in last night’s 3-11 drubbing, courtesy of the Cardinals.  It was a proverbial highlight reel of all that is wrong with the 2013 Phillies.  First, the starting pitching has been wildly inconsistent.  John Lannan had 2 solid outings in his last few attempts; but last night, he was run out of the game after only 4 innings with 4 runs allowed.  In the 4th inning, Lannan walked the opposing pitcher who then proceeded to steal second base and score after a single from the next batter.

Next, the defense was pitiful.  John Mayberry Jr. summed up 2013 defense with a Little League play in the 5th inning that allowed 3 runs to score.  He dove for a ball that he had zero chance at catching in the air, only to watch the ball sail past him into deep center field.

And then there was the awful bullpen performance.  J.C. Ramirez allowed 5 runs in one inning of work.  Jake Diekman added 2 more for the Cardinals in the 8th.

And how about that offense?  What offense, you may ask yourself.  Exactly.  The Phillies have scored 4 runs total in their last 3 games.

But the whipped topping on this sh@!! sundae has got to be all of the injuries.  Domonic Brown was pulled from the line-up with concussion symptoms.  Ben Revere, the hottest hitter in June and July, went down earlier this month with a broken foot due to a foul ball.  Ryan Howard is out with knee issues.  Roy Halladay is recovering from shoulder surgery.  And the list goes on…

The trade deadline is less than a week away.  If GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has half a brain, he will begin selling as many players as he can and give this team some hope for the future.  And if he wants anyone to attend games for the rest of the year, he should scratch Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee off any possible trade list.  Anyone of the other veterans are fair game, in my humble opinion.

In the meantime, all we can do is wait for the hammer to fall…

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Pettibone, Umpires Frustrate Braves in Loss to Phillies

The Atlanta Braves did not think it was very sunny in Philadelphia after losing to the Phillies by a score of 7-3.  Even in blinding sunshine and near 100 degree temperatures, it was a dark day for the Braves.

Rookie pitcher Jonathan Pettibone was outstanding against a heavy-hitting Braves line-up.  Freddie Freeman was so frustrated after striking out at one point that he smashed his bat into the ground, picked it up and then smashed it again.  And B.J. Upton was thrown out of the game after mouthing off to the umpire about calling him out on strikes in the 5th inning.

Pettibone went only 5.1 innings, likely due to the excessive heat.  It was obvious he was getting tired.  But he did manage to leave with only 1 run allowed.

Both the Phillies offense and defense were solid.  Domonic Brown had 2 hits, including his 23rd homer of the year.  Darren Ruf, starting for Ryan Howard who is now on the DL, had a hit, a walk and scored twice.  Carlos Ruiz added 2 hits as well.

The only defensive snafu was when Michael Young, who has been not great at third base lately, nearly ran over Jimmy Rollins going after a pop-up:

And for the most part, the Phillies bullpen held steady.  J.C. Ramirez allowed 2 runs in the 6th; those were his first runs allowed since being called up.  Aside from that, things were mostly quiet from the 6th inning on.

The Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Braves with this win today.  Still, with Howard’s future uncertain and a very young and inexperienced bullpen, this team is going to have to annihilate the Nationals this week to keep GM Ruben Amaro Jr. from breaking up the team.

Here is the Photo Album from today’s game, including shots of Roy Halladay actually throwing pitches before the game!  The Doc may not be done just yet…

Game time Monday night is 7:05pm.  John Lannan will pitch.

Phillies Lose Series to Mets

The Phillies completed an embarrassing weekend series against the Mets today with a 0-8 loss.  They lost 2 of 3 in the series and the only reason they won on Saturday was due to another Kevin Frandsen miracle in the form of a walk off homer after the team blew a 7-1 lead.

In his second start since coming off the DL, John Lannan struggled to get through just 5 innings, allowing 4 runs on 3 walks and 8 hits.  Below is a photo of Lannan pitching and another photo I took today which seems to express how Lannan felt his outing went:

In the top of the 5th inning, the Mets had some extra help against Lannan in the form of creative umpiring.  Ben Revere caught a fly ball, took a few steps with it securely in his glove and as he transferred the ball to his hand, it slipped to the ground.  The runner was allowed to advance to third and was called safe.

In the official MLB rules, a catch is defined as follows: “If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught. In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.  Rule 2.00 (Catch) Comment: A catch is legal if the ball is finally held by any fielder, even though juggled, or held by another fielder before it touches the ground.”

Revere had the ball long enough to be a catch.  Manager Charlie Manuel argued to no avail.  That was the turning point of the game as 3 runs scored right after that call.  Here are a few shots of the event:

Of course, the Phillies offense was no help at all either.  There were many bewildered looks at the plate, swings and misses and various other miscues.  Every mistake seemed inflated as they began to pile up; much like Ryan Howard’s inflated back side as a result of my viewing angle and his standing next to Chase Utley:

See, even in a 0-8 rain-soaked loss, I still managed to have a small bit of fun ;o)

J.C. Ramirez had some fun as well; he made his major league debut and struck out all 3 batters he faced.  Sadly though, the fun ended there.

The team starts a West Coast road trip tomorrow in San Diego.  In the meantime, here is the Photo Album from today’s game, including a Cole Hamels pre-game bullpen session and pitcher warm-ups.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Home, Sweet Home for the Phillies

After an abysmal road trip where the Phillies lost 7 out of 10 games, this team had to be relieved to be back in Philadelphia last night.  They took an absolute beating from the Brewers, Twins and the Rockies.  If you Google the meaning of “bad baseball,” this road trip should be used as an example.

But things looked a tad brighter after last night’s 5-4 walk-off win against the NationalsJohn Lannan returned to the rotation after a knee injury and pitched well; Ryan Howard finally broke out of his home run drought; and Domonic Brown seems to be getting hot again.  He even delivered the game-winning RBI single in the 9th.

Despite the win though, I simply cannot stop thinking about the awful road trip.  In particular, I am greatly disturbed by the events that have taken place at and around third base and home plate lately.  Most of these little disasters seem to revolve around veteran third-baseman Michael Young.

I hate to keep picking on Young, who seems like a very nice guy, and maybe some of this is not his fault at all.  Did you notice that Young got thrown out at home plate THREE times in the last 6 games of the road trip?  My question is, does he run home on his own or is Ryne Sandburg sending him?  I understand being aggressive, but Young is one of the older and slower players on this team.  This is not the guy you send on a close play.

I have begun leaning towards Sandburg’s lack of experience coaching third base as the issue, especially after last night.  Because it appears he got Howard into a similar jam.  He was sending Howard home and quickly changed his mind, signaling for Howard to stay at third.  But his momentum was already heading home and Howard got tagged out at third.  Sandburg is a Hall of Famer…I get that.  So he should know that you cannot stop a moving train.  Either make the decision quicker or take your chances that Howard will bowl over the catcher at home.

Then again, guys have been getting tossed out on the base paths all over the place all by themselves.  Young also got thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double last Tuesday.  He also had a bad fielding error and hit into 2 more double plays on this road trip.

None the new players Ruben Amaro Jr. brought in this year, including Michael Young, are holding up their end of the bargain.  Delmon Young is hitting only .231; Mike Adams has a 4.13 ERA and cannot seem to pitch a clean inning; Ben Revere has started out super slow, although he is improving.  And Revere is young so he has a lot to learn yet.  Lannan has been ok, but the injury was a huge setback.

As for the returning Phillies, too many of them are hurt or under producing.  I hate to be such a downer after a rare Phillies win, but this team is just so frustrating!  Who are they?  Are they going to get any better?  Will some of these guys ever be healthy?  Your guesses are all as good as mine.

Maybe another win tonight will improve my mood?  Hope so!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Painful Math: Adding Up the 2013 Phillies Season So Far

It is a very good thing that I already have a college degree. Because this Phillies season is giving me many compelling reasons to hate math, which is generally not a good thing where school is concerned. If I had to walk into a calculus class right now, I may run screaming from the room instead.

Call it a math hangover. Or just call it the 2013 Phillies season, which has been a statistical nightmare.

For example, let us discuss OBP. It is really too bad that the on-base percentage statistic does not include how many times a player wiped himself and others off the bases after getting on. If it did, Michael Young’s .355 OBP would not look so great. Young has hit into 13 double plays in 57 games. He has more double play balls than he has RBI’s (11) even though his .355 OBP leads all starters on the team. This is a frightening statistic.

Did you also know that Ryan Howard, making $20 million this year, has hit only 1 home run in his last 103 plate appearances? With 7 homers total on the year in 59 games, Howard is averaging 1 home run every 8.5 games. Say Howard plays 145 of 162 games this season; at this rate, he would end the year with 17 home runs. That means the Phillies are paying him $1.2 million dollars per home run. Ouch.

Erik Kratz has 8 home runs in 43 games, more than Howard. And now, he is on the disabled list after hurting his knee this weekend. So one of the guys picking up the slack is now gone. Not to mention, the Phillies are on their 3rd string catcher with Carlos Ruiz still out as well.

And how about Mike Adams, who was supposed to be the savior of the 8th inning for the Phillies? He has already been on the DL with back pain and is now suffering from a mystery bicep issue. Despite coming off surgery in the off-season for thoracic outlet syndrome, the Phillies still paid aging, injury-prone Adams $12 million for 2 years.

Adams has given up runs in 5 out of his last 7 appearances; that is a rate of 71%. His ERA has ballooned to 3.92. Plus, no one has any idea when or if he will be pitching again. He has pitched in only 23 of 64 games so far this season.

And here are a few random stats, just to add to the misery: 10 out of 16 position players on the roster have batting averages at or below .250; that is 63%. The team average is .247. Only 3 teams in the National League have a worse team ERA than the Phillies 4.15. And with 38 errors on the season, the team fielding percentage is .984.

There is plenty more disturbing data where this came from, but I must stop here before my head explodes. The Phils just got swept out by the Brewers so I think we have all been tortured enough for now.

Put down the calculator…no matter how hard you try to change it, this math adds up to a very bad season.

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Phils End Skid Behind Lee and Brown

The Phillies ended a 3-game losing streak today with a 7-5 win over the Brewers thanks to some key contributions.  And although they nearly blew it in the end, those 7 runs, all scored in the first 2 innings, kept them in the game.

4 of those 7 runs were driven in by Domonic Brown, who is still on fire after a scorching month of May.  He fell just a double shy of hitting for the cycle.  He and Ryan Howard did their special home run dance after his 3-run homer in the 1st inning to celebrate:

And the hits kept coming…both Jimmy Rollins and Freddy Galvis collected 2 hits apiece.  Erik Kratz and John Mayberry Jr. each drove in runs.  The Phillies took a 7-0 lead all the way into the 8th inning.

On the mound, Cliff Lee performed his usual magic for 7 straight innings.  He struck out 11 batters and appeared to be cruising until the 8th.

Dehydration set in and Lee started giving up hits.  He wound up putting 3 runners on base before he was pulled in favor of Justin DeFratus.  But even with 2 outs in the inning, DeFratus could not manage to escape unscathed.  The Phillies gave up runs in the 8th inning in every game of this Brewers series and this day would be no different.  After an almost grand slam that was overturned by replay, the Phils left the 8th inning with only a 7-4 lead.

In the 9th, Jonathan Papelbon was nowhere to be seen.  He had apparently taken ill and was not available to pitch.  Antonio Bastardo took the mound and allowed another Brewers run as the crowd began to panic.  But he finally got out of the inning and the Phils walked away with the win despite the late-inning drama.

Prior to the game, Kyle Kendrick’s father was honored for the Phillies Father’s Day celebration.  His very pregnant wife and daughter were there as well, which was really cute.

To see the rest of my photos from the game, check out this Photo Album.

The Phillies will start a 3-game series with the Marlins tomorrow night at 7:05pm.  Kendrick will pitch.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Brown’s Bombs

Hitting five homers in his last four game, Domonic Brown is on fire…and it is about time.  The Phillies have been waiting for Brown to explode and reach his potential for years now.  It looks like he may be right on track now.

Fresh off his first Player of the Week honors, Brown may now be in the running for Player of the Month.  He has been the one bright spot in an otherwise drab Phillies season so far.  Brown’s efforts have helped the Phillies win the last 2 games against the Red Sox, but can the Phillies keep up the pace?

The team lost another player yesterday due to a family issue; Michael Young was placed on the bereavement/family emergency list and will be gone 3-7 days.  There was no clarification beyond that.  And Chase Utley is progressing slower than everyone had hoped after an oblique injury.  With many other Phils on the DL as well, it will not be easy for this team to keep their heads above water.

Brown’s recent performance has been a big boost.  Erik Kratz looks like he is finding his groove as well.  But clutch hitting on this team is still not happening much.  With 1 out and the bases loaded last night in the 7th, Ryan Howard struck out and John Mayberry Jr. then popped out.  With 1 out and 2 runners on in the 6th, Freddy Galvis ended the inning by hitting into a double play.  These examples are the exact opposite of clutch hitting and sadly, it happens more often than not.

Last night’s win was the result of good pitching and 4 solo home runs.  I stress the “solo” part because no one seems to want to hit with runners on base.  For example, the Phillies had 4 stolen bases in the game, but none of those runners scored.  The team left 8 men on base and went 0-6 with runners in scoring position.

Still, it was a win so we’ll take it.  But Brown’s bombs are not going to carry a team; he is going to need a tad more help.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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