Category Archives: Philadelphia Phillies

Hamels tosses gem, Phillies complete sweep of Reds

Yes a Phillies win.  And yes a four game sweep of the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds.  All is good in Philly.  Right?  I don’t mean to get personal in a post game wrap up but this four game sweep doesn’t really make me feel any better.  Yes, don’t get me wrong, a sweep is exactly what the Phillies needed going into the All-Star break.

However, playing against such a potent offense like the Reds you would think a sweep means the Phillies were back to their normal ways of smashing the ball and putting up crooked numbers.  Not the case.  Except for the ninth inning Friday night, every inning the Phillies have scored in this series has only been the one run.  It did work don’t get me wrong.  But nothing is fixed.  The starting pitchers, minus Kentucky Fried Blanton, really stepped it up.  The trio of Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels threw a combined 23.1 innings and allowed only 14 hits and one earned run.  It was exactly what the Phillies offense needed only supporting their efforts with six runs over those three games.

The one good thing about the offense is they are putting the ball in play only striking out four times in this game.  Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz each had a walk and a hit while Jimmy Rollins contributed the other two hits including an RBI single in the third inning scoring Ruiz for the only run of the game.

That was all Hamels would need.  He didn’t allow a run for the first time in his 18 starts this season.  This does not mean he is back to his ’08 form yet but he is getting there.  He worked out a bases loaded with no outs jam in the fourth.  Hamels only struck out three but was able to trust the defense with balls in play.  He also had three walk throwing 112 pitches.

After escaping a jam in last night’s game, Brad Lidge came in for the ninth to record the final two outs for his sixth save of the season.  He needed only five pitches to end the game.

Worth noting: The Mets beat the Braves 3-0 which puts the Phillies 4 1/2 games behind the Braves and only a 1/2 game behind the Mets.

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Oh the Memories

Ah Memorial Day.  Maybe one of the most wrongly celebrated days in modern American history.  This is a day to honor those who fight every day to make sure we can have our cookouts and beer binges on this last day of May.  It is for those men and women who have given our lives so we can have this extra day off and to shorten our work week.  So Thank You to all military personnel who day in and day out fight for us!

Now, for me, on this Memorial Day I will be remembering something else along with the brave souls in uniforms.  I remember a day when crooked numbers were plentiful and joyous fans by the handful would pour out of Citizens Bank Park onto Broad Street.  I remember the Philadelphia Phillies as one of the most offensively scary teams in all of baseball.

This is something the town of Philadelphia has not seen in awhile.  The Phillies have lost six of their last eight and have only scored seven runs in those eight games.  They have been shut out of five times including three in a row to division rivals the New York Mets.  Now the good news is they Phillies had a big enough lead to where there are still sitting (barely) on top of the division by half a game.

That half game lead over the Braves makes this series, which starts today, very important.  The Phillies have grown accustomed to sitting on top of the division this year and most of last season.  But unless the bats wake up they might be looking up to their rivals instead of down.

The Phillies are hitting .186 since May 22 and have not hit a home run in 54 innings.  They have not scored a run in 69 of the last 74 innings.  The normally dangerous 3-4-5 hitters of the Phils Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth are a combined 11 for their last 84.  Werth went 0-4 last night with four strikeouts.  And for you beard fanatics counting at home thats 0-17 since he shaved the beard.  Bring it back Jayson, bring it back.

The Phillies are playing the Braves for three games, then after a four game set with San Diego they will welcome back Florida for three games.  If the bats don’t get to work, the Phillies could be bottom of the barrel after those 10 games.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this.

Follow me on Twitter @kierancarobine

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This Valdez not sunken, lifts Phillies to walk-off win

It was bound to happen soon enough.  I mean Cole Hamels is human.  We all know that from last season’s World Series hangover where we saw Hamels struggle all year and in the playoffs.

Hamels has been working on new pitches to add to his arsenal this season.  He is mixing in a curve and a cutter to go along with his fastball and change-up.  And so far this spring they have been working.  In over 10 IP, Hamels has only given up 5 hits and 2 earned runs while striking out 9.  Today against the New York Yankees he lasted only 4 innings surrendering 9 hits and 6 runs.

Lucky for him some guys new to the Phillies uniforms helped bailed him out.  After Hamels gave up a first inning run, the Phightins came right back with a five spot in the bottom half thanks to a two-run home run from new third baseman Placido Polanco and a three-run double from catcher Dane Sardinha who later hit a solo shot to tie the game up at 7-7 in the bottom of the eighth.

Hamels really got into trouble in the 4th inning giving up a triple to Ramiro Pena, who finished 2 for 4, and a two-run homer to Mark Teixeira to give the Yankees a 7-5 lead.  Teixeira would go on to finish 4 for 4 and Hamels would barely finish the 4th inning.  His day was done after recording the final out to end the 4th.

The Phillies then brought in a Rule 5 pick up David Herndon who has not given up a run in eight innings pitched this spring.  He pitched two scoreless innings to keep Philadelphia in the game.  Antonio Bastardo then came in with a little of the same not allowing a run in two innings while striking out three.  Michael Stutes pitched a scoreless ninth to set of some more Philly dramatics.

Wilson Valdez hit a two out, two-run walk off home run scoring Greg Dobbs for the Phillies.  It still is Spring Training but a win is a win.

On a side note – Sardinha was catching today for the regular everyday start Carlos Ruiz who was out with the flu.

The Phillies are 9-7-1 this Spring.

Follow me Twitter @kierancarobine

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NL East Preview: Phillies

Well here we are.  Just about 2 weeks and some change from Opening Day for Major League Baseball.  Teams are shortening up their rosters and pitchers are lengthening their innings.  All the prep work, all the sweating, the BP, the stretching.  It’s all about to pay off.

So what can you expect from the Phillies this season?   This is the question that Crashburn Alley asked 16 Phillies Bloggers.  We were asked about Cole Hamels and company to see how well we thought our beloved Phightins would fair this season.  You can check out Crashburn Alley’s site to see what everyone had to say.  Below you can read how I responded to the questions.  Hopefully this will stir up some conversation.

  1. How concerned are you about Cole Hamels going into 2010?

When a pitcher comes off a frustrating year there is always going to be a little bit of concern.  Last season Hamels showed some his 2008 form but had problems putting together a string of good starts.  I think what happens is, is that a lot hitters now are making the adjustment better than before.  What I mean by this is a pitcher is going to use what works for him.  And with Hamels it was his fastball and then his amazing change-up.  Now, Hamels could throw the off speed pitch in any count so it kept hitters guessing.  But last year the hitters were jumping on first pitches and ‘need to throw a strike’ pitches, so he got roughed up a little.  Mid-season is hard to incorporate a new pitch especially when you aren’t comfortable throwing it.  The curve was giving him a lot of problems, and then was causing discomfort in his elbow so that was out.  I think for this season, we will see his wins up and ERA down.  He has always been a strikeout pitcher so I am not worried about those numbers.  His fastball is showing life this Spring, his change-up is still nasty and he is liking the way his curve and cutter are progressing.  My biggest concern for Cole Hamels this season is how to get a fitted hat on his big head in 2011 once he regains his domination this year.  Hamels cockiness is as much a problem as it is a blessing.  He needs that edge.   Too many times last year you could see his frustration on the mound when he didn’t get calls or his defense got soft.  Be cocky yet humble, and be great with no mercy.

2. Give the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee mega-trade between the Phillies, Blue Jays, and Mariners a letter grade and explain your grading process.

Well obviously now that Roy Halladay has a 0.90 ERA through 15 innings this spring Cliff Lee just got tossed in the third inning of his game, I would have to say the Grade is an A.  And I think throughout this season it will stay that way.  The major characteristic of this trade that we need to look at is how it affects the Phillies farm system.  I, personally, do not feel they replenished it properly.   But only time will tell.

3. What should the Phillies do about Jayson Werth and his impending free agency?

I think it is very possible to resign Jayson Werth after the season.  Raul Ibanez will be a FA after the 2011 season.  It is very possible to sign Werth to a heavy ended contract to save money while Ibanez plays out his final year as a Phillie.  Also, Werth has never seemed like the kind of guy that was worried about money but you never know.  The Phillies are a good fit for him.  They are the only team that stuck with him through his injuries and gave him a real chance to play every day.

4. Jimmy Rollins says he wants to hit .300, accrue 200 hits, score 150 runs, steal 50 bases, and commit 3 or fewer errors. Give us your AVG, H, R, SB, and E predictions for Rollins in 2010.

AVG .293

H 183

R 130

SB 45

E 5

Jimmy is good.  But those numbers are out of this world.  Would I love to eat my words?  Of course.  Do it up Jimmy.

5. Is the duo of Ryan Madson and Danys Baez reliable back-up for ailing closer Brad Lidge?

Absolutely.  I think Brad Lidge is feeling good and confident about this upcoming season.  Baez is an established pitcher who has pitched in bug games before.  Madson has gotten hit this spring training but I feel he will make the right adjustments to get the job done.

6. Which team in the NL East worries you the most?

The Braves remind me of the Phillies of 2005 and 2006.  Their prospects (the good ones) are all maturing at the same time it seems.  Tommy Hanson is a very good pitcher and it is only a matter of time before we see Jayson Heward in the lineup for Atlanta.  And that day will most likely be opening day this season.  Heward has unbelievable power and does all the little things correctly.

7. Teams have been approaching Ryan Howard with a steady diet of left-handed pitching and breaking balls and by employing the shift on the right side of the field. Will this trend continue in 2010, or will Howard make the appropriate adjustments?

I think Howard will make the right adjustments but never quite be completely comfortable at the plate against lefties.  His bat is so heavy that there is always a chance of him becoming off balance out on the front foot.  But that is ok, I think.  He can keep putting the ball to the opposite field.  This season we should see his batting average rise while his strikeout numbers go down.

8. Placido Polanco is making the switch from second base to third base. How good will he be defensively?

Polanco has a great glove.  The biggest different between second and third is reaction time.  I am not worried about his glove work but am a little concerned with his arm.  He definitely does not have the arm strength Pedro Feliz had.  Other than that, whatever other flaws come with him switching positions, his bat will make up for it.

9. Who should win the #5 spot, Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick?

For baseball’s sake, Kyle Kendrick would win the #5 spot for the Phillies.  He has showed great command this spring and is still getting better.  He is, however, giving too many warning track power fly balls.  He would definitely need to keep the ball down more.  Now with that said, I think Moyer will likely get the nod.  There is no way Charlie Manuel is going to justify putting an 8mil a year almost 50 year old in the bullpen.  It is just not going to happen.  Unless they release Moyer, Kendrick starts in the pen.

10. The bench was great in 2008 but disappointing last year. Will the additions of Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, and Juan Castro help?

I think the addition of Smalls, Hambone and Squints would have been a better bench than 2009.  These are great pickups for Rube and company.  Brian Schneider is a legitimate starter on another team and to have him as a number 2 is awesome.  Ross Gload and Juan Castro are not going to hit .325, but if they can hit for situation then they will suffice perfectly.

11. Will J.A. Happ come close to his 2.93 ERA from 2009?

A sub-3 ERA from J.A. Happ would be incredible.  I am not buying into the whole ‘last season was a fluke’ thing or that it was based on luck.  I think Happ is number 3 starter at best right now in his career.  I also think a sub-4 ERA is very doable and we could very well see his win total rise from last year.  Prediction 14-8, 3.69 ERA

12. The Phillies essentially swapped Chan Ho Park for Jose Contreras. Thumbs up or thumbs down and why?

Thumbs way down.  Park got into some trouble last season, but kept his composure.  He stayed in games, or better yet, he kept the Phillies in games.  From what I have seen this spring, Contreras just looks ‘content’ to be pitch.  I hate the words ‘content’ and ‘hungry’ but that is not what the Phillies need in their pen.  They need a Major League pitcher ready to rock.   I don’t think Contreras is that guy.

13. Which Phillie(s) is/are we most likely to see dealt by the July 31 trading deadline?

I think there is a very good chance we could see Brian Schneider and/or Ross Gload get traded.  Depending on how well they do in spot starts/at bats, they could seem attractive to teams suffering from injury behind the plate and in the field.

14. The Phillies have had one of baseball’s best defenses for several years running according to most metrics. Does this trend continue?

Of course.  With Ryan Howard showing up early to Clearwater to work on fielding and the addition of Polanco the defense has definitely gotten better this season.

15. What will the team get from Domonic Brown this season?

Barring injuries to the current team, the Phillies will get a September call up and monster Minor League season from Brown this season.

Predictions

Phillies W-L, place in division: 99-63 1st in NL East

Playoffs: (Do the Phillies reach the post-season? If so, how will they fare? Be specific.)

Phillies will beat LA in NLDS, as will St Louis over Atlanta(WC).  Phillies will then beat StL in NLCS 4 games to 2.  In WS they will beat Boston in 7 games.

Team MVP: Chase Utley

Team Cy Young: Roy Halladay

Biggest Rookie Contributor: John Mayberry Jr

Breakout player: (can be the same as above) Mayberry Jr

Under-the-radar: (player who is underappreciated by fans and media) Carlos Ruiz

Feel free to send in your own answers to the questions above.

Follow me on Twitter @kierancarobine

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Shining a Light on Manuel

Let there be light.

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.

Since my good friend, Andy, here at Philliesmania.com has poetically dubbed me KC Sunshine I thought it only fair to let it shine.  We are a package deal.  Sunshine is like Ben Francisco to my Cliff Lee.  Ouch, too soon?

Anyways, it’s got something to say.  It is time to shed some light on different aspects of the Phillies.  And throughout the rest of Spring Training I will take a look and break down the Phightins leading up to the big day.

Today’s Sunshine Spotlight is on the boss, the leader, good old country boy himself Charlie Manuel.  It is impossible to look at a team without first taking a peak at their fearless leader.

Manuel is an old school dude.  He has played in the Majors but his real success came during his time in the Central and Pacific Leagues of Japan.  He would go on to be one of the best foreign players Japan has ever seen.   In 1979 he was awarded the MVP, the first American to win in 15 years, hitting .324 with 37 homes runs and 94 RBIs.

During his time in Japan he hit 189 homers, played for three different teams, once used a football facemask attached to his helmet for hitting, and had three metal plates inserted in his head after he was beaned during the ’79 season.  Yes, the season he won the MVP.  Dude’s got heart.

After Japan Manuel came back to the states and continued with that success coaching in the minor league systems of the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians.  He won over 50% of his games coached, was named Manager of the Year three times and coached the IL All-Star game in 1993.  There was a 1993 Phillies reference I wanted to make there but for some reason my fingers won’t let me type it.  Nice job Mr. Carter.

Since arriving in Philly, Manuel has been winning.  But with no World Series titles, he wasn’t exactly winning over hearts.  The city of Brotherly has been waiting, and not very patiently I might add, for a championship.  And not just a baseball one.  The city hasn’t seen one of their four major sports teams win a title since the 76ers won the NBA championship in 1983.

Well jump to current day and this Spring Training.  Manuel has led the Phillies to three consecutive NL East crowns, two NL pennants and two straight World Series appearances.  And as I am sure you all know, World Series Champions in 2008.  Thanks to the Nutrisystem Meal Plan, he is now 56 pounds and leading the team in sliding drills.  Ha, ok no sliding for Charlie but still he is looking good and feeling good.

But don’t worry; Manuel is the same old school kind of guy, keeping it simple.  Losing weight was for the offseason.  For this season?

“Same old thing — get to the World Series and win, that’s our goal.”

Follow me on Twitter @kierancarobine

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Ok first week…

Well the first week is over and it was not as bad as I thought it would be.  I did my exercising, ate a lot of chicken and rice and drank tons of water.  It helps that I work inside a recreation center.  Seeing fit people and people trying to get fit is definitely motivation.  

The hardest part is making sure you make time to exercise.  Because you know the food part will always be there.  I mean, does it look like I have ever skipped a meal?  Anyways, the key is to find times in your day to do something.  That can be running before or after work, or it can be something as easy as doing push-ups while watching Gossip Girl or Sportcenter.  Or while watching the Phillies make it into the World Series (an entirely different story altogether, go Phils).
So I am feeling energized, I am feeling better.  This healthy lifestyle is working for me, if not growing on me!  So if anyone is doing the same thing with me, keep on keeping on!!
KC Out

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Mixed Emotions

I sit here in the middle of a tough Sunday night loss to the Bears and Game One of the NLDS series against the Brew Crew torn between a mixture of dismay and excitement.  The game Sunday night left a nasty taste in my mouth when the Eagles ran the ball three consecutive times from inside the 5 yard line with a back up RB only to be stuffed each time.  Didn’t Andy Reid learn anything for Week 2 and the Jets.  When you have an accurate and consistent quarterback, not to mention one that run well, why not try a play action roll out to a TE or just take it in?  OK, that was 2 days ago, I think I am finally over it.

Tomorrow night will be the next big attempt for the Phillies to win a postseason game since Game 5 of the ’93 World Series.  Because we all know, well most of us, what happened the next game.  Joe Carter, Mitch Williams, need I say more.  And I am sure we all remember last year’s improbable sweep handed down by the Rockies.  Well, this season we are the Rockies.  In a sense finishing off the season on a high note and winning the division on the second to last day as opposed to last year waiting until the last minute.  Thanks guys, I am not sure my Uncle Mortey’s heart medicine would have done any good after another one.
So Game 1 tomorrow afternoon.  Hamels on the mound.  Should be exciting!!
KC Out

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