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Archive for the 'Off-Season Action' Category

Phillies: Off-Season 2010 - 2011

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

After taking a long rest over the past 2 months since the Phillies’ season ended, it’s time to start talking about off-season events.

Tim Lincecum          Giants Win 2010 World Series         After 56 Years

Everyone knows that the Texas Rangers beat out the New York Yankees in 6 games in the ALCS and that the San Francisco Giants subsequently downed the Rangers in the 2010 World Series to emerge as MLB Champions.  For the Giants, it was their 1st World Series Title in 56 years, since 1954 when they swept the Cleveland Indians in 4 games.  The Giants had gone to the World Series two other times since moving to San Francisco, in 1962 when they lost by 4 games to 3 to the Yanks, losing game 7 by a 1-0 score as Giants slugger Willie McCovey slammed a liner snagged by Yanks 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson with a 2 out runner on 3rd base to nail down the title, and in 1989 when they were swept by one of their state rivals, the Oakland Athletics.

And I’m sure that all ML Baseball fans know by now that 3 icons of the sport passed away in the off-season, 2 of them  Hall of Famers.

Sparky Anderson                Sparky Anderson

Former Phillies 2nd baseman Sparky Anderson, who went on to lead the Cincinnati “Big Red Machine” of the 70’s to four World Series appearances, winning two Titles, and later leading the Detroit Tigers to a World Series Title in 1984, defeating the  San Diego Padres in 5 games.   Anderson passed away at 76 years old in Thousand Oaks, Calif. from what was reported to be complications of dementia.

Ron Santo              Ron Santo

Early this month, former Chicago Cubs great 3rd baseman, and later 21 year broadcasting veteran Ron Santo passed away in December in Arizona.  It was reported that Santo died from complications from bladder cancer.
Bob Feller              Bob Feller
In mid-December, Hall of Fame former pitching ace for the Cleveland Indians, Bob “Rapid Robert” Feller passed away from acute leukemia at a hospice in Ohio.   Durring his Hall of Fame career, he amassed six 20 plus win seasons with the Indians and led them to two World Series appearances — in 1948 when they won the Title and in 1954 when they were swept by the then New York Giants.

Cliff Lee      Cliff Lee

Jayson Werth       Jayson Werth

Finally, all Phillies fans must know by now that rightfielder Jayson Werth went via free agency signing with the Washington Nationals for a reported $126 million over 7 years and that lefthander Cliff Lee, the hero of both the 2nd half of the Phillies 2009 season, as well as the post-season, has returned to the Phils, reportedly spurning more lucrative offers from the Yankees and Texas Rangers to return to the Phillies’ friendly confines.  Lee reportedly signed a 5 year, $120 million deal with the Phils.  There will be more commentary on those major signings in subsequent posts.

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Halladay/Lee Trades: Will Phillies 3-Peat to World Series?

Friday, December 25th, 2009

The Roy Halladay and cash for 3 prospects deal between the Phillies and the  Toronto Blue Jays, and the Cliff Lee for 3 prospects deal between the Phils and the Seattle Mariners (with the Mariners flipping a prospect each with the Oakland A’s) was actually two trades but historically, the huge 4 team deal will be seen as one and will rank high in the MLB all-time trade records.

A lot of ink has been spilled as to why the Phils foiled all of our dreams by trading lefthander Lee.  Our dreams of a Halladay, Lee top of the rotation all went for naught over an alleged ceiling on the Phils payroll budget and perceived need to replenish a Minor League system depleted by last season’s trade for Lee and the deal for Halladay.

Lee, whose short stint surely will go down in MLB annals having won his first 5 starts, completing 2 of them, going eight innings in a 3rd and seven innings each in the 2 others.  He struggled a bit in September, but then went undefeated in 5 post-season starts winning 4 of them, including a sensational 6 hit, 10 strikeout World Series opening win over the Yankees in the Bronx.  I can’t recall a pitcher in my 50-some years of baseball consciousness who accomplished what Lee accomplished in a mere 2 months of regular season and in the post-season.

It would have been a sight to behold; Halladay, Lee, a hopefully rejuvenated  Cole Hamels with Joe Blanton and lefthander J.A. Happ providing the balance of the starting rotation.   The prospect of Halladay joining Lee at the top may well have eased the pressure on the bullpen immensely allowing for flexibility regarding the set-up and closer spots.  Both Halladay and Lee are capable of complete games with every start.  Halladay’s got 49 CG in his 12 season career, 25 of them in the past 3 seasons alone.  Lee notched 10 CGs over his last 3 seasons, 13 for his career.

In looking at the respective careers of Halladay and Lee, Halladay looks on paper to be the superior pitcher.  But the Philies fates in 2010 ride to a large extent on whether Hamels recovers his 2008 magic, whether Happ can at least equal his rookie year performance, whether Blanton can continue to pitch effectively, whether Brad Lidge’s efforts in 2010 more closely resemble 2008 than 2009 and whether the Phils can add some further depth and efficiency to the bullpen.  If Hamels falters, the second-guessers will have a field-day ripping Amaro Jr. for trading away Cliff Lee.

We eagerly anticipate spring training and the 2010 season.  It’s great to be a Phillies fan and know that we’re not hoping futile hopes and pipe-dreams.  Checkout this Phillies Nation piece on Phillies fans’ perspective on the coming 2010 season — makes for enjoyable reading.

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Phillies Off-Season Action: Who’s Here, Who’s Not

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

      Placido Polanco           Roy Halladay         Cliff Lee

After blogging straight through from the inception of this blog in April, 2006 through the end of the 2009 World Series, I decided to take some time off with the end of the Series on November 4.

While resting from blogging, I did try to keep on top of the Phillies’ frenetic off-season action leading up to the recent vintage “Mother of Blockbuster Deals” — where super-star pitcher Roy Halladay was acquired from the  Toronto Blue Jays for 3 top prospects while trading last year’s ace and post-season undefeated lefthander Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for 3 Mariner top prospects.  Phillies fans, who had fond visions of a monster Halladay/Lee top of the rotation had those dreams dashed.  But more about the Halladay/Lee moves in a subsequent post.  But for now, here is a pretty comprehensive list of reports following the ebb and flow of the Halladay/Lee Deal:

To begin, it appears that the Phils have parted ways with erstwhile starter/ reliever Brett Myers and let reliever Clay Condrey go to free agency. 

They signed free agent infielder Placido Polanco, who incidently preceded current incumbent Chase Utley at 2nd base.  Polanco  played some 3rd base during his stay with the Phillies and the consensus is that the Phils acquired an important cog here.  In my estimation, Polanco’s offensive stats reflect an offensive upgrade over Pedro Feliz at 3rd base.  Their respective 2009 offensive production in homers and RBIs are close to even, although career-wise Polanco averages more games played per season than Feliz while striking out less and drawing more walks.  Polanco’s career batting average is 50 points higher than Feliz and is  although, career-wise Feliz has 45 homers more than Polanco.  Defensively, they are both on a par.  I like the flexibility of Polanco in the lineup availing the Phillies consisted small-ball possibilities as well as the power of Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Utley and Jayson Werth.

The Phils also signed utility players Ross Gload and Juan Castro as well as  Brian Schneider to spell 1st string starting catcher Carlos Ruiz.

The top 4 of Phillies starting rotation shapes up at this early point as Halladay as the ace with lefthander Cole Hamels followed by Joe Blanton or young 2009 Rookie of the Year contender lefthander J.A. Happ, depending on manager Charlie Manuel’s preference as to the #3 and #4 spots.  It appears that ageless lefthander Jamie Moyer, youngster Kyle Kendrick and possibly Chan Ho Park battling for the 5th spot.  Here’s hoping that Hamels is able to comeback to his 2008 form which won him MVP in both the NLCS and the World Series and that Halladay’s work ethic has a positive rub-off on the rest of the pitching staff.

Consensus has it that Moyer has the edge due to the size of his contract and so it may well be that Kendrick and Park may again join Ryan Madson, a hopefully healthy and straight J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, closer Brad Lidge and some young hopefuls. 

The big challenge for the Phils will be ascertaining of Lidge is able to return to something approximating his 2008 form rather than his disastrous 2009 and making an insurance move to spell him should he again falter.  A steady, consistent bullpen, with Halladay completing games often enough to keep the ‘pen rested spells a 100 win season and a sure 4th straight trip to the post-season.  Go Phillies!

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Phillies Tune-Up for Opening Day Splitting With Tampa Bay

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Joe Blanton pitched 5 quality innings on Friday in his final tune-up for the regular season, with Tampa Bay scoring single runs in the 1st and 4th innings.  The Phillies bullpen was nearly perfect shutting the door on the Rays over the final 4 innings while infielder Jason Donald drove in the winning run with a bases-loaded rightfield single as the Phils edged the Rays by a 3-2 score in Pat Burrell’s return to Philly game.

In Saturday’s game, ace lefthander Cole Hamels was pounded for 6 Tampa Bay runs on 6 hits in 5 innings, although Hamels struck out 7 while walking 1 and Rays starter Matt Garza was rocked nearly as bad giving up 4 runs on 6 hits in 4 innings as Tampa Bay came out on top in a 9-7 slugfest.

Burrell, sporting a Tampa Bay uniform in 2009 after spending the previous 9 years with the Phils, was emotional about his return to Philadelphia. The  AP recap for Yahoo sports reports;

The Phillies treated their former outfielder to a five-minute video presentation on PhanaVision before Friday’s game.

Burrell watched from the dugout as his career played out before his eyes, to the tune of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love is.” An emotional Burrell came out of the dugout to thunderous applause and tipped his cap.

“I didn’t know they’d bring out the archives,” he said. “It was pretty special. I didn’t anticipate that. It was definitely emotional, something I’ll never forget.”

Upon his 1st inning plate appearance, Burrell was yet again loudly cheered and again tipped his cap to the fans.

The AP recap continues that Burrell;

lined an RBI single for Tampa Bay’s first run. He went 1-for-3 with a walk, and delighted the 39,338 by swiping his first stolen base [in the 6th inning] since 2004.

“I couldn’t believe I was safe,” Burrell said.

“We’re going to miss Pat,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He was here for a long time and everybody liked him. Pat was a big contributor and played a big role of leadership. We’re going to miss him and wish him all the luck in the world. If he had to leave, I’m glad he’s in the American League. At the same time, life goes on for the Phillies.”

The Phils notched a run in the 6th inning and, trailing 2-1 going into the 9th inning, they sent out closer Brad Lidge who pitched a perfect 9th inning.  The Phils tied the game in th 9th before Jason Donald’s bases-loaded walkoff single won the game.  Lidge notched a win in his final tune-up while reliever Winston Abreu, who gave up 2 hits and loaded the bases before Donald got his game-winning hit, was charged with the loss.

On Saturday, Hamels was pounded for 4 runs out of the starting blocks in the 1st inning as Burrell, in an unusual lead-off spot in the batting order, solved Hamels for a lead-off homer and 1st baseman Carlos Pena went yard on Hamels with 2 men on later in the inning.

Hamels recovered to pitch scoreless ball in the 2nd through 4th innings as the Phils knotted the game in the 4th as rightfielder Raul Ibanez and 3rd baseman Greg Dobbs each slammed 2 run homers off of Garza.

But a tie is as close as the Phils got as Tampa Bay went ahead with 2 more runs off of Hamels.  The Phils got 1 run back as Jason Donald, replacing  Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, slugged a 2 out solo shot — 6-5 Rays.

The Phils and Rays trded 2 runs each in the 7th with the Rays pounding lefthanded reliever J.C. Romero in his final pre-season appearance.  We won’t be seeing Romero for a while as he begins serving his 50 game suspension on opening day.  The Rays added an insurance run in the 9th.

Garza, although being pounded in the 4th inning, was awarded the win and Hamels was charged with the loss.

In other news, lefthander J.A. Happ, who lost out to Chan Ho Park for the 5th rotation spot, made the opening day roster and will be assigned to the bullpen.  The Phils now have 3 available lefthanded relief arms with Happ,  Jack Taschner and Scott Eyre as Romero serves out his 50 game suspension.

A couple of days ago, this blog noted that the Phils were looking at veteran outfielder Gary Sheffield as a possible additional righthanded bat off of the bench.  On Friday, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reported that Sheffield has signed a deal with the Mets and may get to play everyday in rightfield.  Sheffield would have been a good match for the Phils off of the bench, but, as a starter and a position player in rightfield, he’s old and slow afoot.  Look for the Phillies talented and slugging lefthanded hitters such as Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to give a rightfielder Sheffield fits and rack plenty of extra-bases.

For all of Friday’s and Saturday’s results of spring training play,  click here and here.

Sunday is opening day and the Phillies open the season hosting the Atlanta Braves.   Brett Myers will start the opener for the Phis against Atlanta’s Derek Lowe.  The teams have Monday off and resume play on Tuesday as Joe Blanton is opposed by 23 year old Jair Jurrjens.

For all of Sunday’s opening day games, click here.

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Moyer Blasted as Nationals Beat Phillies in Slugfest

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Lefthanders Jamie Moyer and Scott Olsen were both pounded for 9 runs apiece on Thursday as the Phillies and Nationals combined for 8 homers in an ugly game which ended with Washington on top by a 12-10 score.

Moyer lasted 4 innings in a dog of a performance which saw him give up 9 runs, all earned, on 11 hits including 3 homers, 2 of them to 3rd baseman  Ryan Zimmerman, while walking 2 and striking out 3.  Fortunately for the 46 year old veteran, this was exhibition and not his regular saeason debut next Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves. Hopefully he got this clunker out of his system before the season begins.

Olsen didn’t fare much better giving up 9 runs on 10 hits, including 3 Phillie dingers — a 2 out, 2 run homer by 1st baseman Ryan Howard in the 1st inning, his 10th of the spring, a solo shot by 3rd baseman Pedro Felix leading off in the 2nd, and a 2 out, 3 run shot by rightfielder Matt Stairs in the 6th inning.

The 2 teams combined for a total of 29 hits for the game as newly acquired lefthanded reliever Jack Taschner was charged with the loss having entered a 10-10 ballgame in the 8th inning and getting pounded for back-to-back 1 out solo homers.

3 Nationals relievers closed the door on the Phils giving up but 1 run on 2 hits in the final 3 innings with lefthanded reliever Joe Beimel pitching the 7th inning and being credited with the win and Garrett Mock notching a save for his work in the 9th inning.

For all of Thursday’s results of spring training play, click here.

Having completed their regiment of Florida exhibition games, the Phils head back to Philadelphia to entertain their World Series opponents the  Tampa Bay Rays for Friday and Saturday pre-opening day tune-ups.  Joe Blanton gets the call to start on Friday as Philadelphia will honor Tampa Bay designated hitter Pat Burrell before the game.
It would appear that
Chan Ho Park would start in Saturday’s game.

For all of Friday’s and Saturday’s scheduled exhibition games,  click here and here.

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Yankees Beat Phillies as Drabek, Happ Pounded

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

The Phillies scored single runs in the 2nd and 3rd inning off of C.C. Sabathia and 3 more runs in the 9th.  But, in-between, the New York bullpen blanked the Phils limiting them to 3 base-runners in 4 1/3 innings while the Yanks offense pounded Kyle Drabek and J.A. Happ for 8 runs in 5 innings to win on Wednesday by an 8-5 score.

Rightfielder Jayson Werth reached Sabathia for a solo homer to left in the third inning — his 6th dinger of the spring.   Jason Ellison got a start in leftfield and went 2 for 2 with an RBI and shortstop Jimmy Rollins and centerfielder Shane Victorino both doubled.   Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez were both rested on Wednesday.

1st baseman Mark Teixeira and DH Hideki Matsui both homered and did heavy damage against Drabek and Happ in the 3rd and 4th innings while driving in 5 of the 8 Yankee runs as the Bombers scored 1 in the 1st inning, 4 more in the 3rd, 2 in the 4th and capped their scoring with 1 more in the 5th inning.

Sabathia, who gave up 2 runs on 6 hits, including Werth’s homer, while walking 1 and striking out 5 was credited with the win while Drabek, charged with 5 runs, 4 earned on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 1 in 2 1/3 innings, took the loss.  Happ fared a little better giving up 3 runs on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 1 — but only confirming management’s choice of Chan Ho Park for the 5th starter role to begin the season.

Closer Brad Lidge, Mike Koplove and lefthanded reliever Scott Eyre all got some work in closing out the Yanks over the final 3 innings only allowing 2 baserunners, both on walks.

For all of Wednesday’s results of spring training play, click here.

The Phils close out their Florida exhibition schedule by entertaining the  Washington Nationals at Clearwater on Thursday as lefthanders tangle with veteran Jamie Moyer being opposed by Scott Olsen for the Nationals.

For all of Thursday’s scheduled exhibition games,  click here.

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