Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

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

Trading Places: Phillies Out; Nationals In

Watching the Phillies win a game against the Nationals last night and seeing the Nationals celebrate instead was like being in the Twilight Zone.  Not many teams get to pop the champagne after a loss.  But before the game even ended, the Nats were celebrating as the Braves lost, making Washington the new National League East Champs.

It was quite a role reversal for the Phillies who, prior to this disastrous year, won that title 5 years in a row.  Sadly, they have officially traded placed with the Nationals.

It was a somber win that will guarantee the Phillies a winning record to end the season.  But even that small accomplishment cannot make-up for the fact that the Phils have missed the playoffs and will go quietly into the off-season with many questions.

Perhaps less of a question now is Kyle Kendrick, who appears to finally have his act together.  He pitched 7 scoreless innings last night and should be a starter next season.

Kevin Frandsen continues to hit, with 2 singles last night, even with a stress fracture in his leg.  Still, he does not appear to be an option for 3rd base next year, despite his efforts.

Rookie Darin Ruf keeps slugging away and his triple last night scored the Phillies only 2 runs.  But his future is also uncertain, as are many futures of players on this team.  Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are hurt again; Roy Halladay had a bad year.

The Phillies still have many questions left to answer.  And they still have 2 games left to play.  Game time is 7:05pm tonight.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Playoff Elimination: Check; Howard Injury to End Season: Check.

The end of this Phillies season seems to be a long, painful check list of unfortunate events.  And there are still 4 games to go, so the list may not yet be complete.  Let us see where we are so far:

- The Phillies have been eliminated from the playoffs.

- Ryan Howard dropped a warm-up bat on his toe and broke it, ending his season.  That makes 2 straight seasons that will end with a Howard limping off the field.  Maybe the Phillies need to invest in a lot of bubble wrap?

- Rookie pitcher Tyler Cloyd has been shut-down early with a “tired arm.”

- In what seems like an attempt to get the media to talk about anything other than the worst Phillies season in a long time, the Chase Utley 3rd base experiment has been deemed “over.”  He will not play 3rd base.

- Speaking of 3rd base, the Phillies have absolutely no idea who will play there in 2013.

- Last night, Roy Halladay pitched fewer than 6 innings for the 6th time this season and gave up more than 3 runs in a game for the 9th time, unofficially announcing to the world that getting old sucks.

- For the 6th time in his career, Jimmy Rollins will end the season with at least 100 runs scored.  However, he will also finish having batted well under .250 for 4 out of the 6 months of the season.  He also came in 4th in all of baseball in fly ball outs and 2nd in the National League.

I think those were enough depressing thoughts for the day.  On a happier note, despite Halladay allowing 4 runs in 5 innings last night, the Phillies did pull out a 9-5 win over the last place Marlins.  5 players had a multi-hit game, including Utley who picked up 3 RBI.

The win puts the Phillies dead-even at 79-79 for the season with 4 games to go.  The goal in these last several games should be to finish above the .500 mark.  They will go after the Fish one more time today at 1:10pm.

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Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

Howard’s 300th; One Win and a Loss Against the Braves

The Phillies won their 4th straight game Friday night in the opener against the Braves that included a pre-game salute to Chipper Jones.  Jones will retire after 19 years with the Braves after this season.  The Phillies gave Jones a painting of one of many home runs he hit in Citizens Bank Park.

Jones received a number of salutes while the Braves traveled to away games this year.  And to thank the Phillies, Jones went 0-for-4 in the home teams’ 6-2 win over his Braves.  Thanks, Larry.  And Happy Retirement ;o)

However, the tables were turned on Saturday afternoon.  The Braves found their bats and Roy Halladay hit another brick wall.  Clearly, not all is well with Halladay as he claims.  He has had only a few good starts since coming off the DL; the rest have been very un-Doc like.

This afternoon, Halladay did not even make it through 2 innings.  His final line had 7 earned runs in 1.2 innings on 5 hits and 3 walks.  It was ugly.  Charlie Manuel looked on in disbelief before he finally ran out to the mound to lift Doc from the game.

With the Cardinals win today, the Phillies could ill afford any more losses.  But the offense was weak today against the Braves pitching.  The only excitement came when Ryan Howard hit a milestone home run; it was the 300th of his career, putting him in 2nd place behind Mike Schmidt all time for the Phillies.

Howard has now hit a home run in 4 straight games.  Seeing his bat wake up again is a pleasant site.  However, the Phillies are still in a dire situation as far as the playoffs are concerned.  The loss today knocks them back to 4 games out of the Wild Card behind 3 other teams with only 10 games to go.

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Howard head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Annihilate the Mets in Finale of 3-Game Sweep

On Thursday night, the Phillies gave the Mets a spanking and then some.  It was an outright stomping to the tune of 2 touchdowns and a safety.  If you are not a football fan, that is the baseball equivalent of 16 runs.

The 16-1 pummeling began with an 8-run 1st inning.  The Phillies went all the way through the line-up, batters 1-8, before a single out was recorded by the Mets.  The starting pitcher was lifted from the game 7 batters in and his final line read 7 earned runs and zero innings pitched…ouch.  The next pitcher who came in hit Erik Kratz with a pitch to force in another run.

This was the first time the Phillies had their first 8 batters reach base to start a game since 1975.  It was also the first time since 1912 that they scored at least 8 runs in the 1st inning while on the road.  Know what else happened in 1912?  The Titanic sank.

For the Mets, this was a game to forget, if they can.  For the Phillies, it was a nice opportunity to bump up their batting averages and stats.  Here are those than benefitted the most from the Mets’ ineptitude:

That is a lot of hitting.

With 2 outs in the 9th the night before, Ryan Howard hit a 2-run homer to win the game.  And with 2 outs in the 9th last night, Howard smashed a Grand Slam home run, adding insult to injury for the Mets.  The Phillies scored 7 runs in that final inning.

Rookie pitcher Tyler Cloyd quietly had a great game in between all the offensive fireworks.  Cloyd gave up only 1 run on 3 hits over 8 innings.  He was the only starter in the game who did not get a hit for the Phillies, but since he pitched well, he is forgiven ;o)

Despite the sweep of the Mets though, the Phillies are still 4 games out of the Wild Card race as the Cardinals keep winning.  They are running out of games quickly.

Of the 12 remaining games, the next 3 are at home against the Braves.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

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Bookend Homers Launch Phillies Over the Mets

On Wednesday night, the Phillies won the game over the Mets in 2 bookend innings, the 1st and the 9th.  In between, not much happened.

Jimmy Rollins led the game off with a solo home run.  That turned out to be the only hit for the Phillies until John Mayberry Jr. singled in the 8th.  It was also the only run of the game for the Phils until there were 2 outs in the 9th inning.

In between, Cole Hamels allowed 2 runs over 6 innings and hit the 200 strike-out mark for the season with 10 on the night.  But although he pitched well, the Phillies were not hitting….at all.

Suddenly, with the game on the line, Chase Utley drew a 2-out walk in the 9th.  Ryan Howard stepped to the plate for what appeared to be the probable end of the game.  Howard has looked like a blind man at the plate recently.

Even Howard’s body language has spoken volumes about his struggles.  Staring up at the sky in frustration is a familiar look for him after an out.  But what we have witnessed in the last several weeks is different.  Howard’s head droops down in defeat as he solemnly jogs to 1st base after a weak ground-out.  This is beyond frustration.

But Mets pitcher Josh Edgin had the cure for what has been ailing Howard.  It was an up-and-in fast ball, right in the Howard happy zone.  Edgin tossed him a cookie and Howard sent it screaming into the seats.  The 2-run last minute blast gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead, which Jonathan Papelbon nailed down in the bottom half of the 9th.

Whether or not that home run will break Howard’s sad spell at the plate remains to be seen.  But it certainly could not hurt.

The Phillies will try to sweep the Mets tonight in a make-up game that was previously rained out on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:10pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Houston: The Phillies Have Problems

Just in case the Houston Astros were previously unaware, it should be clear today that both teams, especially the Phillies, have serious problems.  What problem could be bigger than being the Astros, the worst team in baseball, you say?  The answer is: Being beaten in 3 out of 4 games by the worst team in baseball.  And all that happened while the Phillies hopes for the postseason continue to quickly dwindle away.

I had said previously that it would take a miracle for the Phillies to make the playoffs this year.  I stand corrected.  It will actually take 3-4 large miracles, including the complete collapse of several other teams in the National League who are ahead of the Phils in the Wild Card race.  Quick, someone call a priest; Last Rights may be in order shortly.  The Phillies are on life support.

Bad plays, errors and walks plus a sporadic offense contributed to the embarrassing losses against the Astros.  Worse, 2 of the 3 losses came against starting pitchers who began each game with an ERA above 5.00, including yesterday’s shut-out loss and today’s 7-6 disaster.

Roy Halladay gave up 3 runs in 6 innings, but the Phillies still had the lead when he left the game.  And then, for what feels like the 1,000th time this year, the bullpen blew it again.  The 4-run 7th for the Astros included an error and 3 walks, one for each Phillies pitcher, although 1 was intentional.

The offense left runners stranded all over the place, 8 in all, while going only 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.  Jimmy Rollins had 3 hits and Ryan Howard picked up 2 RBI, but only after being humiliated by the Astros twice; they intentionally walked Chase Utley twice to get to Howard.

With 15 games remaining, the Phillies cannot afford more than a loss or two until the end of the season.  Plus, they need a lot of other teams to lose as well.  It does not look good, folks.

The Mets are up next.  Game time Monday night is 7:10pm.

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The Phillies Are Optimists

The Phillies have definitely been playing better lately.  They are 3 games back in the race for the 2nd Wild Card spot with 17 games left to play.  And so early this morning, the Phillies decided to send out Postseason ticket invoices to all of their season ticket holders in the hopes of making a run.

I wonder how many fans will actually bite?  Will you or will you not shell out $400-$500 or more for 2-3 playoff tickets that the Phils may or may not play?  If they do not play, the Phillies will kindly keep your money, without accruing interest of course, and apply it towards next year’s season ticket bill.

Today, I am asking myself that very question.  Let us examine the recent evidence.  On Thursday, the Phillies dropped a depressing game to the worst team in baseball.  Many rookies were involved in the loss, making it slightly more understandable.

Then last night, the team put a whooping on the Astros and won by what was still too close a score for me, 12-6.  Jimmy Rollins led off the game with his 20th home run of the season.  He is now the Phillies season leader in homers, not typical for either a lead-off hitter or a shortstop.  In fact, only 11 other shortstops in baseball history have had 20 home run seasons 4 times or more, like Rollins.

Hits from Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and John Mayberry Jr. turned that 1st inning into 4 huge runs to start the game before Cole Hamels even stepped onto the mound.  Hamels was not super-sharp, but 3 earned runs over 7 innings was sufficient.

Mayberry continued to pound out hits and went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI.  Howard also had 3 RBI on 2 hits.  Another big blow came from Domonic Brown with a 2-run mega-long homer in the 7th.  He hit the ball so hard the Astros pitcher actually fell to his knees in a semi-Wayne’s World gesture of, “We’re not worthy!”  Ok, maybe not…he was probably just depressed.

Still, with all that offense, the Phillies committed 3 errors in the game which allowed 3 unearned runs to the Astros….again, the worst team in baseball.  That kind of sloppy play is what might keep them from making the postseason.

So will you be digging deep into your pockets for potential postseason tickets?  We have, according to my invoice, until 9/21/12 to decide.  That is 5 more games; 2 with the Astros and 3 with the Mets.  Decisions, decisions…

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Playoff Hopes: Fool’s Gold or the Real Deal?

Out of the 9 Phillies Opening Day 2012 starters, 6 have landed either on the disabled list or with another team at some point during the year.  And that does not even include Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the DL.  So basically, 8 out of 9 regular starters missed a lot of time this year.  The only one who avoided either a trade or the DL was Jimmy Rollins.

It is fitting then that a 2-run shot from J-Roll last night led the team to a 3-game sweep of the Miami MarlinsCliff Lee did his part as well, allowing just 1 run, which was unearned due to an error, over 7 innings.

The win has placed the Phillies only 3 games back in the Wild Card race, which is something not many people saw coming.  This team was beaten up so badly throughout most of the year and played so poorly that a possible playoff run, until now, seemed impossible.  Here is a look at the Wild Card standings:

But even after a 7-game win streak, is all this new playoff hope just fool’s gold or can the Phillies really sneak in the backdoor?  Consider this:  6 of those 7 games in the streak came against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Marlins and the Rockies.  Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies lost a series to the Mets, who are also pretty bad.

Then again, the momentum of a 7-game win streak could be enough to help elevate the Phillies performance and confidence to the point where they can start stomping on good teams as well.  But we are not going to know if that is possible for a while as the Houston Astros are next on the agenda.  With a record of 45-98, the Astros are by far the worst team in all of baseball.  Losing even 1 of the 4 games against the Astros would be a tragedy.

So maybe this series could be a descent barometer after all.  Because if the Phillies struggle against the Astros, I think the faint light of playoff hopes would be markedly dimmed.  But if they beat the crap out of the Astros, as they very well should, then go ahead and keep the light of hope burning.  Then we can all say, “Watch out National League!  Here come the Phillies…”

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