Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

Halladay Finds His Mojo Against the Cards

The Roy Halladay we have all been waiting to see returned last night in an 8-2 win over the Cardinals.  It began with his last start against the Marlins and then Friday night, he continued to improve in an impressive 7-inning effort.

The game was called due to rain after the 7th, so this will go in the books as a complete game for Halladay.  He allowed only 2 runs, both solo homers.

But the really encouraging part was seeing Halladay get angry.  Not the fiery red-faced, frustrated sort of anger; this was his old competitive fire, finally burning once again.  He got mad in situations that most would just shrug off; for example, Ben Revere made another amazing catch in center field, but Halladay was visibly annoyed that the batter was able to hit the ball that hard, even though it turned into an out.

Halladay also had no issues trying to intimidate first-year major league umpire, Alan Porter, by staring him down or barking at him when he didn’t get the call he wanted.  Porter had blown a fair/foul call the day before that put the Phillies in a hole, so no one was sad to see Roy giving him a hard time.

Seeing Halladay back to his old, grouchy self is a very positive sign.  For some pitchers, this might mean the guy is getting frazzled; but for Halladay, being grouchy means he is on his game, ready to compete.  When good is not good enough for the Doc, you know he is feeling confident.

Just as exciting as seeing Halladay find his mojo again was seeing the Phillies offense finally get some hits.  The Phils busted out for 5 runs in the first inning, which was triggered by Chase Utley drawing a 2-out walk.  And thank goodness someone walked, because I was getting beyond tired of hearing every single sports reporter whine about the lack of walks.  Now they can all get back to whining about Ryan Howard

Howard did not play last night due to a sore groin and he is day-to-day.  Kevin Frandsen filled in at 1st base and drew the 2nd walk of the game for the Phillies and scored twice.  Freddy Galvis started his second consecutive game in left field and made one of the weirdest diving catches you will ever see.  His hand actually did a 360-degree turn on the ground, with the ball in the mitt.  Of course, I cannot find a video of it anywhere…but it does look like we may have another outfielder.  This guy looks like he can play anywhere…amazing.

So the real question tonight is will the Phillies offense come to play two days in a row?  Cliff Lee hopes so; he takes the mound at 7:05pm tonight.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

A Tale of Two Pitchers

While Cliff Lee is pitching like a man at the peak of his career, Roy Halladay seems to be in a free fall.  With an 8-3 pounding of the Mets last night, Lee has started the season off with a 2-0 record.  Halladay, on the other hand, has begun with 2 awful losses.

Even the offense seemed pumped to perform for Lee.  The Phillies even hit 3 home runs in 1 inning to support their ace on the mound.  Ryan Howard, Michael Young and John Mayberry Jr. all went yard for the first time this year.

Lee gave up only 2 earned runs and nearly pitched a complete game, coming just one out shy.  Manager Charlie Manual decided his pitch count was high enough at 106 and had Mike Adams finish off the game.

On the exact opposite side of things, Halladay looks like a little lost boy out on the mound searching for home.   His 2-7 loss to the Mets on Monday was especially difficult to watch.  Halladay allowed 7 runs in only 4 innings before being chased out of the game.  The Mets looked like they were taking batting practice off him.

Obviously, there are a lot of problems here.  But I would like to point out one issue that I have not heard anyone else mention.  Keep in mind, I am not a doctor and this is just an observation on my part; I have no inside knowledge here.  The Doc looks like he needs a doc.

The temperature at game time on Monday was 72 degrees, which dropped into the mid-60’s by the 2nd inning.  And yet, Halladay was sweating so profusely that it looked like rain coming off the brim of his cap.  His face was not just red; it was almost purple.  And this is not a new observation.  Halladay has been exhibiting the fire-faced sweats since Spring Training.

During the spring, they blamed it on the flu or some kind of virus.  I think it is safe to assume he no longer has this virus.  Still, in 65 degree weather, at night, Halladay looked like he might pass out on the mound.  This is a problem that I think might go beyond age or mechanics.  I am seriously beginning to think he may be ill.

I could be totally off base here, but I am worried about the guy.  I cannot help but wonder if the medical staff has done any blood tests or if a proud man like Halladay would even submit to such testing?

This very well could just be Father Time catching up to a man who dominated the pitching world for so long.  Maybe he is just out of bullets.  Maybe the fire-faced sweats are just a combination of the usual work that goes into pitching and a boat-load of stress.  And maybe he will figure out how to locate his pitches again and all will be well with the world.  I hope that is the case.

Perhaps I am just grasping at straws here for an answer.  And I am sure no one wants Roy Halladay to figure out what the issue is more than Roy Halladay.  In the meantime, all we can do is watch and hope for the best.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Home Opener Disaster for Phillies

The day began so promising for the Phillies.  The sun was shining, people were smiling and the Home Opener was upon us:

The festivities continued with the traditional patriotism, Leap Frog jumpers falling from the sky and team introductions.  Retired Phillies Mike Schmidt and Dickie Noles joined their former rival from the 1980 Phillies-Royals World Series, George Brett on the field for some pre-game pitches.  All was well with the world…

And then the game started.

The Phillies actually looked like the World Series champs of old for about 4 innings.  Domonic Brown and Erik Kratz hit home runs; Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were hitting; and by the end of the 3rd inning, the Phillies had a 4-0 lead.

And then it all went downhill….fast.

Kyle Kendrick, who was solid to start the game, began getting hit hard by the 5th inning.  By the 6th inning, Kendrick was out of gas and pulled from the game.  But not before the Phils intentionally walked Billy Butler to load the bases with 2 outs.  This may have been the one call that sent the game into a real tailspin.

Because once the bullpen took over, all hell broke loose.  All 3 of those runs scored, thanks to Jeremy Horst.  Additional damage was done by the pen later, as the Royals scored in every single inning from the 5th on.

Ben Revere got called out when he looked safe (see photo)…Brown dove for a ball in the outfield and missed…it was a total disaster.

By the 8th inning, fans were scurrying to the exits like a herd of deer running from a hungry cougar.  It was ugly.

With this 4-13 loss, the Phillies have now dropped 3 of their first 4 games, allowing 29 runs in those 3 losses.  They seriously need a win tonight.

John Lannan makes his Phillies debut tonight at 7:05pm.  Best of luck to him…he’ll need it.

And here is the Photo Album from the game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Weekend Prelude to Opening Day

The Phillies hosted two exhibition games this weekend, signaling the end of Spring Training and the start of the regular season on Monday. As they have the past several years, the Phillies planned a number of special events and surprises on Friday and Saturday.

Friday began with the On-Deck Reception, hosted by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. There were players signing autographs, several Q & A sessions with players and coaches, and an on-field introduction of the entire team:

I personally got autographs from Domonic Brown (and a photo as well), Erik Kratz, John Mayberry Jr. and Antonio Bastardo. This was my first time attending this particular event and it was well worth the effort. The only bummer of the day was I discovered that the autofocus on my very expensive camera had died :O( Ugh. So I apologize in advance for 2 days worth of so-so photos, as I had to use my mediocre eye sight to manually focus a very large lens.

The prior to the evenings game, players wandered around the stadium greeting fans and some stopped for photos. I had my picture taken with John Lannan, Antonio Bastardo, Humberto Quintero and hitting coach Wally Joyner.

Cliff Lee started the game that night and looked ready to go for the season. But his real highlight was helping Cole Hamels man the Phanatic’s hot dog shooter between innings:

To be honest, the game was rather boring, so the hot dog-interlude was a very welcome distraction. The Phils lost 1-0.

More fun was happening prior to Saturday’s game as well. After some very stealth stalking on my part, I managed to get photos with a few new guys and a Hall of Famer: Mike Adams, Ender Inciarte and third-base-coach/HOF guy, Ryne Sandburg. That was pretty awesome. Both exhibitions games were well worth the trip because of these little extras.

The game itself, however, did not go well against a very potent Blue Jays line-up. The Jays beat up on Kyle Kendrick, who gave up 5 runs in 3 innings. John Lannan took over for the next 3 innings and held the Jays to 1
more run. It was not quite out of reach for the Phillies though until very late. Here are a few highlights:

And Cliff Lee finally got his turn at the helm of the hot dog cannon, with Hamels “feeding” the device:

The end result was a 10-4 loss. But luckily, the game did not count.

The Phillies announced the Opening Day roster afterwards. There were not too many surprises there:

Rotation (5): Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan.

Bullpen (7): Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes.

Catchers (2): Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero.

Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.

Outfielders (5): Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Ender Inciarte.

Inciarte is a Rule-5 guy; they have to keep him on the roster or offer him back to the D-backs. Only 22-years old, he has never played above High-A level. He offers some depth in the outfield for now. Plus, he is adorable, so I approve ;o)

So here we are, finally! Opening Day! Game time is 7:10pm Monday night in Atlanta.

And here are the links to my photo albums from the weekend: Friday’s On-Deck Reception and Exhibition Game and Saturday’s Exhibition Game.

Go Phillies!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Betancourt Released; Phillies Walking a Very Tight Rope

Despite a superb spring, Yuniesky Betancourt has been released.  In his contract, March 24th was designated as the deadline for the Phillies to either keep him on the big league roster or let him go.  They chose to let him go even after Betancourt hit .447 with 14 RBI with 3 doubles and a home run in 47 at-bats.

This means that both Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen will make the team as utility infielders.  I am a little confused by this move, but not in the way you may be thinking.  I like Frandsen; while there is no guarantee he will have a solid year like he did in 2012, he has paid his dues and earned a spot on the team.

Galvis still has options and therefore, could have started the year in Triple-A and worked on his offense where he will get many more at-bats.  If Betancourt did not work out, they could have released him and then brought up Galvis.  That would have given the Phillies more options.  As it stands now, they are walking across a very tight rope with little room for error.

And then there is the big question mark lingering in the air that no one seems to want to discuss.  Galvis was suspended 50 games last year for using performance-enhancing drugs.  Of course, like every player who tests positive, Galvis denies using PED’s.  But what if he were to test positive again?  Betancourt is gone and the options for the Phillies are now very limited.

I certainly hope nothing of the sort would happen, but think about Carlos Ruiz.  No one saw that one coming either.  Ruiz made the same mistake twice and so it follows that Galvis could fall into the same trap, as could anyone else for that matter.  You also have to wonder how each will perform without the use of PED’s.

I will not be popular for pointing this out, but it had to be said.  Galvis seems like a nice kid with a boat-load of talent and he can play multiple positions.  I think he will be a big contributor to the team.  So I am not saying letting Betancourt go in favor of Galvis was necessarily a terrible idea; in fact, I am glad I did not have to make that decision as it had to be a very tough one.  But Betancourt would have given the Phillies more wiggle room.

A Ruf Life

Speaking of not being popular, this one will not earn me any new friends either.  I think the Phillies should trade Darin Ruf.  Now, hear me out before you freak. 

I was really rooting for Ruf this Spring, but it became obvious that he is not an outfielder.  The Phillies sent him back to Triple-A to work on it, but I have to say that it just does not look like he will ever be ready to play left field.  Just look at him; he is built like a first baseman, or if he played football, a linebacker.  Ruf does not have the body-type to run down balls in the outfield.  He can improve, but to what extent?

First base is clearly where he belongs, however, Ryan Howard is not going away anytime soon.  And Ruf’s value will not be much higher than it is right now, which is why this is the time to trade him when the Phillies will get the most in return.

If the outfield does not pan out for Ruf, what do you do with him?  Ruf will be 27 years old in July; the clock is ticking…

Boom Goes The 3-4 Combo

In consecutive Spring Training games, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have hit back-to-back homers.  With the rate these two are hitting, is anyone else getting nervous?  I mean, we do not want them to run out of bullets before the season even starts, right?  Both Utley and Howard have gotten a ton of playing time this spring.  Perhaps it is time to stop pushing their luck and rest them before anyone gets hurt or worn out?

It is extremely uplifting to see Utley and Howard back in action and, more importantly, healthy!  So this is nervous excitement talking here, but pretty please, can we just give it a break until Opening Day?  Dear Phillies, please do not wear out this wonderful 3-4 combo before April 1st.  Thank you in advance.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Magic Moments of Phillies Spring Training

The first official Spring Training game for the Phillies will take place on Saturday.  I am excited for baseball!  But there is also a little sadness that I cannot be in Clearwater this year to enjoy the first crack of the bat under the warm Florida sunshine.  If you are lucky enough to be heading south, enjoy it!

Spring Training is a magical moment in time where players are generally happy, relaxed and having a good time.  The fan-friendly atmosphere and nice weather draws big crowds each year.  And while the games are interesting, they really don’t mean much.  The real reason to head to Clearwater is to mingle with other fans, chat with players, get autographs and photos and, most importantly, get a closer look at how major leaguers behave when their guard is down.

You may notice a lot of smiles, laughter and silly hijinks.  To demonstrate, and also to get you in the Spring Training frame of mind, here are some of my favorite photos and moments from years past in Clearwater:

First up, the normally quiet and reserved Chase Utley laughs out loud and on another occasion, poses and smiles for me:

Jimmy Rollins waves hello and later attempts to play golf with his bat and ball:

Phillies alum Mike Schmidt has some fun with Reggie Jackson; Charlie Manuel jokes around with his players:

Remember Fan Fest?  For some reason, the Phillies have cancelled this annual tradition of meeting players and getting autographs.  But it was amazing while it lasted.  Here are Chad Durbin and Kyle Kendrick signing and posing for me:

I attended a few Team USA games while in Clearwater.  The most memorable moment was watching Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter of the Yankees field balls side-by-side during warm-ups.  The second photo is Chooch, Carlos Ruiz, making an odd face at batting practice:

Here we have the Big Man, Ryan Howard, yucking it up on the field and later doing his impersonation of an airplane (or maybe he was just playing 1st base?):

And finally, just me and my camera hanging out by the field before batting practice.  You can see how close fans can get to the field:

Are you ready to pack your bags yet?  Wishing I was….sigh.  Maybe next year :O)

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Phillies Night Before Christmas 2012

 

The Phillies Night Before Christmas

 

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

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

The bats were stacked in the clubhouse with care,

In hopes that a Championship soon would be there.

-

The Phillies were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of trophies danced in their heads.

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

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

-

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

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

Away to the window he stumbled, half asleep,

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

-

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

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

When what to his wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh filled with ballplayers in good cheer.

-

With his General Manager and ace pitchers in tow,

He knew in a moment it must be Ruben Amaro.

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

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

-

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

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

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

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

-

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

From the shouting and cheering of each happy fan.

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

Down the chimney, Ryan Howard came with a bound.

-

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

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

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

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

-

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

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

And with thunderous joy, the fans clapped their hands,

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

-

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

“You guys are the best ballplayers of all!”

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

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

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Photoshopping and re-wording by Jenn Zambri Photography

2012 Phillies Photo Tribute

Drum roll please….

Here is my annual Phillies Photo Slideshow!  The slideshow includes all original photos that I took during the 2012 season; it includes players, coaches, fans, the Phanatic, and more.  Enjoy!

Phillies Holiday Shopping List

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy shopping, everyone!

 

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Amaro photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The 2012 Phillies: A Season to Forget

The torture that was the 2012 Phillies season is finally over.  And sadly, it ended just as I predicted before the season even began; without a playoff bid.  I was hoping to be wrong about that.

Since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, each year they have taken exactly one step backwards.  So this year, missing the playoffs seemed like their destiny.  They lost the World Series in 2009; lost the NL Championship Series in 2010; lost the NL Division Series in 2011; and now, the next logical step has arrived.  The Phillies will go home early without even a sniff at a post-season run.

Remember happy days like these?:

For now, they are gone :O(

The first casualties of the 2012 disaster are already accounted for.  Bench coach Pete Mackanin, hitting coach Greg Gross and first base coach Sam Perlozzo have all been given their walking papers.  More fallout is probably on the horizon, but it will probably involve players, not coaches.

So who else should stay and who should go?  Here are some thoughts, starting with the offense:

In 195 at-bats, Kevin Frandsen hit .338, which led the team.  And for an entire month, he played with a stress fracture in his leg, yet he still kept hitting.  I say put him at 3rd base and get a back-up in case of injuries.

If the Phillies do not re-sign Juan Pierre, they are insane.  He hit .307 in 394 at-bats, led the team in stolen bases with 37 and he is the best bunter you can find anywhere.

Bring Shane Victorino back!  After a depressing second half with the Dodgers, his price will go down, possibly to the point where the Phillies can afford to resign him.  John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown can platoon and then the Phils need another outfielder or two.

Needs to Go:  Nate Schierholtz, Ty Wigginton, Michael Martinez.  Martinez is good defensively, but hit only .174 in 115 at-bats.  They can find a better utility guy.  And we are stuck with Laynce Nix for one more year unless someone is willing to trade for him…not likely.

Back-up Catcher:  In – Erik Kratz; Out – Brian Schneider.

Relief Pitching:  Jonathan Papelbon stays and probably Antonio Bastardo.  I will also put in votes for Jeremy Horst and Phillipe Aumont.  The maybes are Jake Diekman and Justin DeFratus, although DeFratus needs to be 100% healthy, which I feel is still in question.  Michael Stutes may return, but no one is sure in what condition.

Please Go Away:  Josh Lindblom – trade him (if anyone wants him).  He has been awful.  This team needs some veteran help in the pen.

Please Come Back: Ryan Madson!

As for starters, unless someone’s arm falls off, stick with the usual 5: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay (pray he gets healthy), Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick.

And of course, all the usual suspects, like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, etc… will be back.  But will they be healthy?  That is the looming question.

To give an idea of how badly the injuries hurt the team this year, consider this: I may be missing some, but by looking at the team stats, at least 49 different players made an appearance for the Phillies this year, rotating in and out of the 25-man roster.  Also, only 2 players of those 49 reached 400 or more at-bats; Rollins (632) and Mayberry (441).  That is scary.

So the season is over and the healing (quite literally) shall begin.  Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about this season?  Feel free to leave comments below. 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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