Results tagged ‘ Shane Victorino ’

Phillies Get Young

Adding veteran infielder Michael Young to the Phillies roster does not actually make the team younger, but it does fill the hole at third base.  Young is owed $16 million in 2013 and the Rangers are reportedly picking up at least $10 million of that.  The Phillies sent right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher, Lisalverto Bonilla to the Rangers.

Lindblom had little to no impact when he came to the Phillies in July of last season in the Shane Victorino trade.  He had a 4.63 ERA in 26 games with the Phillies, so this seems to be a good move.  And Bonilla is a prospect who probably has a future as a middle reliever.  This was also not a bad price to pay for the return.

As for Young, he is no so young (36), but may still have some ammunition left.  A 7-time All-Star, Young is the Rangers’ all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and triples.  He has hit over .300 7 times in his career, with the latest being in 2011.

2012 was not a great year for Young as the Rangers severely reduced his playing time.  Young had graciously moved all over the infield in prior years, playing 2nd, short and 3rd, to accommodate his team.  But he felt slighted when he was bumped down to basically a DH and utility role, despite hitting .338 in 2011.  As a result, the relationship with Young and the Rangers was strained and he wanted out.

Young’s performance suffered as a result; he hit only .277 with 67 RBI in 2012 which is a steep drop-off from his usual numbers.  The Phillies are banking on this change in scenery to have a positive impact on Young.

The likelihood of Young bouncing back to 2011 form is high.  He is a starter once again, which should make him happy.  This is also a contract year for him and his final chance to show he can still be an impact player.  Young will be 37 in 2014; getting a descent contract at that age is not easy.  He will need to impress in 2013 in order to make that happen.

So Young will fill the void at 3rd, with Kevin Frandsen filling in as needed, which should be a good thing for the Phillies.  Young is also touted as a great clubhouse guy, which is also a perk.  He joins another new edition, Ben Revere, who will take over in center.  And I have it on good authority that Revere will be loved in Philly.  Take it from the Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota, R.T. Rybak, who told me, “You’ll love him.”

Welcome, Revere and Young!

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Young photo by Keith Allison

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!

Sign of the Apocalypse? Ruiz Suspended for Stimulant Use

Well, at least it was not steroids.  Still, the news that the Phillies’ beloved catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended 25 games for violating the league’s drug policy does sort of feel like the end of the world may be upon us.  Is the Phillies 2013 season already going down in flames?  Oh Chooch, say it ain’t so!  I am so depressed…

The stimulant Ruiz took was Adderall, which is an amphetamine used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).  College students use it to improve focus and stamina.  For ADHD, it helps alleviate symptoms and allows patients to behave “normally” (if there is such a thing as normal).

Many major league baseball players are prescribed this type to drug for ADHD and they are granted an exception from MLB.  A good example would be our old pal Shane Victorino, who has struggled with ADHD since childhood.  He even wrote about it in his book that was released last year, “Shane Victorino: The Flyin’ Hawaiian.” 

Another Phillie, Kevin Frandsen, was suspended in 2011 for a different amphetamine, Ritalin, while in the minors.  These pills have become more common over the years among athletes looking for a “mental” boost instead of a physical one, like steroids.  There is much debate over whether or not amphetamines really offer any serious edge, but Ruiz’s numbers this past year do seem suspicious.  He had career highs in many categories including batting average, home runs and slugging percentage.

Know what else is a stimulant? Caffeine.  So can players just drink jugs of coffee before games to get a similar effect?  And how about energy drinks, like 5-Hour Energy or Monster?  While these are not nearly as strong as Adderall, it does raise some interesting questions.  Does feeling more “awake” enhance baseball performance?  And if so, how much?

There have been a number of studies which can be found in scientific journals, but the results are varied and, therefore, inconclusive.  An article at LiveScience.com reviews a journal entry by six scientists from top universities who advocate the use of amphetamines by healthy people.  But the review serves to show an opposing view, noting the dangers of drug dependency and side effects.  So even scientists cannot seem to agree on the subject.

Whatever the individual opinion on the subject, the end result is the same.  There will be no Chooch for the first month of the season.  Worse, players are only given a suspension for use of amphetamines after their second failed test.  This means Ruiz knew he was to be retested, and still did not stop taking the drug.  Chooch, you are killing me, man!  What the *%*^@!!??

This is a crippling blow to the Phillies, who are already in a tenuous situation as this team continues to age.  The window of opportunity for wins with this core group of players is closing fast.  Of course, Erik Kratz will be there to fill in, but with so many questions going into the 2013 season, this is a huge setback.  Will Chase Utley be healthy?  How about Roy Halladay?  Can the team sign a solid outfielder?  And the list goes on…

I need a stiff drink right about now.  Spring training has not even begun, and I already feel the weight of impending doom upon us.  Hey, isn’t the end of the world nearly upon us?  December 21, 2012 is less than a month away and, according to the Mayan calendar, we are all as good as gone.  Is Chooch the first sign of the apocalypse or do the Phillies just have a black cloud over them in 2012?  And could the Angels signing of Ryan Madson, who the Phillies should have gone after this offseason, be apocalypse sign #2?  I officially hate the Mayans for prompting this silly discussion.

Let us all hope that 2013 has better luck in store for all of us.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Halladay Strong in Phillies Win Over the Reds

This has not been an ideal year for anyone in the Phillies organization, especially Roy Halladay.  After landing on the disabled list earlier in the year, Halladay struggled to regain his usual form.

In a 6-2 win over the Reds, Halladay finally looks like he is healthy again and back on his usual game.  Over 7 1/3 innings, Halladay allowed just 1 earned run and struck out 5 batters.  The offense provided him with some runs to seal the deal.

The two big blasts of the day came from Erik Kratz and Chase Utley.  Kratz smashed a 3-run homer in the 2nd inning and Utley added 2 more runs with another bomb in the 3rd inning.  Kratz now has 9 homers in only 38 games with a slugging percentage of .611.  How this guy was stuck in the minor leagues for so long is a mystery.

Another mystery, at least to certain sports talk show hosts, is John Mayberry Jr.  With another multi-hit game against the Reds, Mayberry continues to hit at a torrid pace.  Critics are always on him, saying he is not an everyday player.  But he is showing us right now, as he did at the end of last season as well, that he is an everyday guy.  Why?  Because when he starts every game, like he does now, he hits.

In contrast, when the Phillies used Mayberry as a platoon guy, like they did at the start of last year and this year, he struggles.  When he plays regularly, he hits.  Mayberry hit .271 in July and .290 in August because, after the Shane Victorino trade, he has become a regular in the line-up.  Now this is just my 2-cents, but I say let the guy play center next year.  He has earned it.

And there is my rant for your Phillies off-day.  Play resumes tomorrow at 7:05pm when the Rockies come to town.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Fire Sale Still Burning

In an unexpected move today, the Phillies traded Joe Blanton to the Dodgers after he cleared waivers.  The Phils will get either cash or a “player to be named later,” which is usually a low-level minor leaguer.  Blanton will join Shane Victorino along with many other players to join the Dodgers just this week.  At least he will have company.

While the Dodgers are trying to buy a winner, the Phillies are trying dump a losing season.  This last trade of Blanton clears about $3 million more in salary this year, which must be an attempt to avoid paying the luxury tax.

Blanton was as surprised as the rest of us by the move.  He was slated to start tonight’s game against the D-Backs and instead, wound up packing his bags just hours before first pitch.

It also looks like the Dodgers tried to claim Cliff Lee off waivers today, but Ruben Amaro Jr. says they will pull him back.  However, with the rate the Dodgers are throwing money around, do not be surprised if Amaro is maybe planning a trade instead to squeeze a little more out of L.A.  Just a thought…a very scary one.

So is the fire sale over?  Amaro had better be careful to avoid burning this team straight down to the ground…

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

New Phillies Fitting in Fast

The newest additions to the Phillies after a few call-ups and trades are fitting in well with this team.  In some ways, that is very good.  In other ways, not so much.

Here are a few 2012 Phillies bad habits exhibited in last night’s game against the Nationals that they will need to get out of quickly:

- Kevin Fransden, a call-up, commited an error at 3rd base, becoming the 4th different Phillies player to do so at the hot corner this year.  The 3rd base error total is now 13.

- Both Fransden and the newly acquired Nate Schierholtz left a runner stranded on 3rd base with less than 2 outs in the inning.

- Josh Lindblom, acquired from the Dodgers, gave up a hit to the 1st batter he faced.

- Domonic Brown, called-up from Triple-A, went 0-4 on the night.

But luckily, the bad habits did not break them.  In fact, each new player had at least one very nice moment as well:

- Fransden recovered after his error and played good defense.

- Schierholtz went back-to-back with Jimmy Rollins for his first home run as a Phillie.  Rollins had 2 homers in the game.

- Lindblom struck out the 2nd batter he faced.

- Despite going 0-4, Brown had a good day in the field.  He threw out a runner going home with a very strong toss.

Another guy who had a great day was Erik Kratz…again.  This guy is making a strong case to be the back-up next season.  Kratz took that toss from Brown and created a brick wall in front of home plate to save a run.  He also threw a runner out who was trying to steal second and caught a very tough foul pop-fly.  At the plate, Kratz recorded 1 hit and a walk.

And Vance Worley survived the 1st inning blunders and wound up having a great night.  He pitched 7 strong innings without allowing an earned run.  Looks like the Vanimal is back!

So the big question now is, can this new-look, last place Phillies team actually SWEEP the 1st place Nationals?  After the last 2 games, it looks like they actually have a shot.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

And in case you missed it, here is the full-page ad Shane Victorino took out in the daily news to thank Phillies fans:

No Shane, thank you!

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A New Era of Phillies Baseball Begins

Now that the dust has settled on baseball’s trade deadline, there is a lot of information to absorb and process.  And for the Phillies and their fans, there are a lot of emotions involved as well.  I think Ryan Howard summed it up best when he told beat writer Todd Zolecki, “Shane’s been here for a long time. Like I said, (he) was a very big part of this club. It is weird not seeing his face. It’s weird not seeing Hunter. But that’s how baseball works sometimes.”

“Weird” is an excellent description.  Everyone expected major change because of this backwards Phillies season, but it is still strange to see a guy like Shane Victorino in another uniform after being such an integral part of this team for so long.  He was indeed the “personality” of the team as well during their better days; loose, fun and fiery.

Shane was also open, honest and easily approachable, something many fans really appreciated.  I had the great pleasure of spending time with him and his wife Melissa on several Phillies Cruise’s and can tell you they are wonderful, generous people.  I wish Shane and his family all the best; they will be missed.

As for Hunter Pence, his energy will be missed.  But honestly, I won’t miss his free-swinging and awkward plate approach; it totally stressed me out!  But I am sure he will be a big help to the Giants; best of luck to him!

So what did the Phillies really get in return for all these moves?  Well first, they dumped some salary which will help keep them under the luxury tax this year.  They also got 5 new players; 2 major leaguers and 3 prospects.

The 2 major leaguers who will join the Phillies today are right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and outfielder Nate Schierholtz.  Lindblom has a 3.02 ERA in 48 games this year and should be able to help out the bullpen right away.  Schierholtz is a platoon player and lifetime .270 hitter.  He will be a huge defensive upgrade over Pence, but an offensive downgrade.

The 3 prospects are right-handed relief pitcher Ethan Martin, catcher Tommy Joseph and right-hander Seth Rosin.  Martin was the #7 prospect in the Dodgers top 20 and a former 1st round pick.  He is probably a few years away from the majors.

Joseph is an interesting prospect; he was #5 in the Giants top 20 and a 2012 Futures Gamer.  He is highly touted as a power-hitting run producer with a strong arm.  He will likely either take over for Carlos Ruiz after the 2013 season or be used as trade bait in the off-season.  Ruben Amaro Jr. has already gotten calls from other teams about him.

And finally, Rosin was #19 in the Giants top 20 with a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90’s.  He has a 4.31 ERA so far this season.

These are obviously not mind-blowing pick-ups, but Amaro seems to have gotten as much as would be expected by these moves.  So now we get to see if Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. have what it takes to be everyday players.  How these 2 guys play will determine many off-season moves for the Phillies.

In the meantime, this team still will keep on playing.  Oddly enough, yesterday’s moves seem to have given the Phillies a little spark as they routed the 1st place Nationals 8-0.  Now that the pressure is off and they are not expected to climb out of this huge hole, we may see some better baseball.

Mayberry looked like a new man last night with 2 hits and a walk.  New Phillie Kevin Fransden played amazing defense at 3rd base and whacked a 2-run homer.  And Juan Pierre had 3 hits, although that is not unusual for him.

But the most exciting play of the game was a 2-run inside-the-park homer from Jimmy Rollins.  He sped around the bases so fast, he scored standing.

All of a sudden, the Phillies had everything working.  Even the pitching was going well as Cliff Lee finally notched his 2nd win of the year with 7 scoreless innings.  Now that is the Lee we have been missing lately.

So here are the new Phillies…for now.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, just for spite, they could sweep the Nationals?  Ok, maybe I am dreaming…but still hoping for better baseball ahead!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Victorino and Pence Are Gone as Trade Deadline Passes

In an odd twist of fate, Shane Victorino was sent back to the team that rejected him…twice.  In 2002 and 2005, the Dodgers placed Victorino in the Rule 5 draft; the Phillies finally gave him a shot by selecting him in the 2005 draft.

In exchange, the Phillies got right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom (pronounced Lind-bloom) and Double-A right-handed relief pitcher Ethan Martin.

The second trade involved sending Hunter Pence to the Giants in exchange for catching prospect Tommy Joseph, outfielder Nate Schierholtz and Class A right-hander Seth Rosin.

Here are some reactions from Victorino and Pence:

Domonic Brown was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and back-up catcher Brian Schneider was activated off the DL to fill the spots for now.

I will have my reaction sometime later while I take time to digest the moves.  I can tell you it is a little sad to see these guys go, but after the year this team has had, it was expected.

More later…

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