Philadelphia Phillies star 1B Ryan Howard has suffered a minor setback in his rehab from left achillies tendon surgery. While the tendon is intact a surgical suture became infected and a foot and ankle specialist Mark Myerson cleaned out the area Monday February 27th. Howard is on antibiotics and Phillies head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan has consulted doctors specializing in infectious diseases as well as Myerson to determine how to proceed with Howard. The slugger will remain inactive for at least a few days while the new wound heals. The team remains prepared to open the season without Howard and GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. stacked the club with several veteran options including future Hall of Famer Jim Thome and super sub Ty Wigginton capable of playing 1B in the offseason. John Mayberry, who is also a candidate to be the everyday left fielder, can also pitch in at 1B. The key here is getting Howard healthy and to have no in season set backs once the season heats up.
The 2011 Philadelphia Phillies saw a 102-60 season fall apart with a devastating defeat at the hands of the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Divisional series. With any defeat, changes are made and while the Phillies are still based on pitching and defense(Team walked the fewest batters in MLB, topped NL in fielding percentage), the team made some moves to bolster the bullpen and depth of the roster. The achilles tendon injury suffered by star 1B Ryan Howard will be monitored closely in camp but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has stockpiled options for skipper Charlie Manuel at that spot. Lets look at the position battles the 5 time defending NL East Champions face as they enter Spring Training.
1- LeftField- The team let Raul Ibanez walk in the offseason and they do not lack candidates to pick up the slack. OF-1B John Mayberry Jr. who hit 15 homers and slugged .513 in 267 at- bats in 2011 has to be a the lead candidate to be the everyday LF. But he is also likely to draw some starts at 1B while Howard continues to recover from a catastrophic last play of the season tendon tear. Domonic Brown is one of the top young players in the organization and continues to hit in the minors(.294 career average) but has posted only a .236 BA in 91 ML games. Injuries in last season’s camp hurt his ability to win the LF job in 2011. LH bat Laynce Nix, who hit 16 homers for the Washington Nationals in 2011, and speedy Juan Pierre would be more bench, platoon type options at this point in their careers. Phillies fans need to be patient here,remember the team traded for RF Hunter Pence at the 2011 trade deadline and will have him for the entire 2012 campaign. He is a very good all around player who will hit .280-20-90 in a bad year with some speed and a good glove in RF. Having Pence from day 1 gives this team another player that pitchers will have to deal with.
2-Howard’s Health- Howard’s 30+ homers and improved defense will be missed but reports have been positive medically on his recovery. Amaro, however, added 2 veteran options to ease the burden on his slugging 1b and provide some pop off the bench as well. Versatile Ty Wigginton can play some 3b in addition to First and 2B , he hit 15 home runs in 401 at bats for Colorado in 2011. Future Hall of Famer Jim Thome, who ranks 6th all time in home runs, played 3b and 1B earlier in his career but has appeared in 4 games at 1B since 2005! Thome has a long standing relationship with Manuel, who served as his hitting coach while they were part of the Cleveland Indians organization. This will be a position of strength by midseason when Howard is 100% and the others fill in as role players, particularily Thome, who can still hit balls out of YellowStone Park. Wigginton can also spell veteran Placido Polanco at 3B and not embarrass himself when he needs a day off.
3- Relief Roles- The team lost long time closer Brad Lidge and fill-in closer,top set up man Ryan Madson to free agency but signed the #1 closer on the free agent market in Jonathan Papelbon to earn saves. Youngsters LH Antonio Bastardo and RH Michael Stutes really pitched great in 2011 while veteran Jose Contreras was outstanding when healthy but had elbow surgery in September 2011. Amaro signed low risk, high reward options like Dontrelle Willis, Chad Qualls, Dave Bush, Brian Sanches and Pat Misch to compete for bullpen roles. It is important to remember that this team is loaded in the rotation and threw 18 complete games in 2011. No other NL team had tossed more than 7! This is an area where the Phils can afford to gamble and cut costs. They did and still should be very good out of the pen in 2012.
The Phillies signed Hunter Pence to a one year deal and he was the last arbitration eligible player that the Phillies needed to sign. He’ll make $10.4 million plus there’s some incentives. That’s exactly in the middle of the $11.8 million he was asking for and the $9 million the team wanted to give him.
Pence is a great hitter and it’ll be interesting to see what he can do for the Phillies for a full year. 2011 was a breakout year of sorts and he posted his best OPS (.871) since his shorter rookie year. His home runs went down a notch but he had a career high 38 doubles. He also did it all with a .370 OPB and he’s shown some durability by playing in at least 154 games the past four seasons.
The Phillies signed veteran outfielder Juan Pierre to a minor league deal and he’ll get an invitation to spring training. Pierre brings his 554 career stolen bases and his 2,020 career hits to the Phillies and he’ll have to contend with having a part time role if he even makes a team. The last time he played part time was way back in 2008.
With Pierre, you know what you’ll get. About a .270 batting average, some steals, some caught stealings (he’s lead the league seven times in that including the past two seasons) and not a lot of power. He also rarely strikeouts out but he also doesn’t walk much. He’s only 29 steals from cracking into the top 20 all time and he’s eighth all time in caught stealing.
Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies got an early Christmas present as the team and long time shortstop Jimmy Rollins reached agreement on a 3 year,33 million dollar deal December 17th 2011. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 1996 amateur draft, the Oakland, California native is a 3 time all star and gold glove winner while ranking among the top five in many franchise records including games, hits, runs, doubles, triples and stolen bases. The deal also includes a versting option for a 4th year at 11 million, all total the contract should keep him in Philadelphia thru the 2015 when the 2007 National League MVP will be 37. Interesting to note that the Phillies signed Rollins boyhood friend LHP Dontrelle Willis to a contract December 15th 2011.
Here are the top 10 prospects for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011-2012 according to the latest issue of baseballamerica.com(Dated November 14-27th)
1- Trevor May, RHP
Scouting Grades(Based on a 20-80 scale with 50 representing a major league average)
2- Jessica Biddle, LHP
3- Sebastian Valle, C
4- Jonathan Pettibone, RHP
5- Phillippe Aumont, RHP
6- Freddy Galvis, SS
7- Justin Defratus, RHP
8- Brody Colvin, RHP
9- Jiwan James, OF
10- Maikel Franco, 3B
ESPN’s Jayson Stark and CSNPhilly.com’S Jim Salisbury are reporting that the Phillies have signed ex Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to a 4 year $50 million that includes a vesting option could make the deal worth $60 million. The deal is pending a physical and almost assures that long time Philadelphia reliever Ryan Madson(current free agent) will be wearing another uniform in 2012.
The Philadelphia Phillies brought back a familiar face November 5th when they signed slugging 1B Jim Thome to a 1 yr, $1.25 contract. Thome, played for the Phils from 2003-2005, totaling 96 home runs in 361 games and has hit 48 bombs the last two seasons as a part time player. Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel has a long standing relationship with the slugger, as he served as coach for the Cleveland Indians when Thome broke into the majors during the 90s. The future hall of famer has not played the field regularly since 2007 but is viewed more as an insurance policy for the injured 1B Ryan Howard(Achilles tendon surgery) and a key lefty bat of the bench.
MADSON, CUDDYER NEWS: Numerous reports have the Phillies and reliever Ryan Madson close to a deal as a off November 9th. The terms floated are 4 years at 44 million total. The team has also been in contact with Boston Red Sox free agent closer Jonathan Papelbon, a 4 time all star. Additionally, the Phillies hosted free agent OF-INF Michael Cuddyer of the Minnesota Twins November 7th but no word on a contract offer. As I type, not much information on free agent Jimmy Rollins. Cross the Atlanta Braves off the bidders for Rollins, as GM Frank Wren told MLB Network Radio the team would not pursue top free agent SS Jose Reyes(Formerly of the New York Mets) and Rollins November 9th.
While putting behind their shocking defeat in the National League Division series to the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, The Philadelphia Phillies continue to build towards 2012. This team won the NL East for the 5th straight year and a 102 games overall while battling injuries to position players and pitchers all season. They have elite pitching and with some of the veteran bats like 2B Chase Utley entering 2012 fully healthy, the offense should be improved. Mid season acquisition RF Hunter Pence will also be on the team from day 1 and that is a positive. The team has 2 major issues entering the free agency, offseason period, #1 Whether to resign long time Phillies, SS Jimmy Rollins and closer Ryan Madson, and #2 the Health of 1B Ryan Howard(Left achilles stadium) and 3B Placido Polanco(Double sports hernia surgery).
FREE AGENCY: The Phillies must resign Rollins or find another shortstop. The team could sign a veteran for short term with Philadelphia’s Minor League Player of the Year, SS Freddy Galvis, not to far away from the majors. Would Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. want to try to win another Championship with a rookie at a vital defensive position? Someone like Orlando Cabrera or Yuniesky Betancourt makes sense if the longest tenured Phillie walks. Madson is going to get a big deal from some team. He is too good, too durable and too proven. Whether he gets that contract in Philadelphia is another story. The closer market has some big names like San Diego Padres Heath Bell, Boston Red Sox Jonathon Papelbon and Milwaukee Brewers Francisco Rodriquez available. Amaro wants to keep Madson but has stated publicly that the Phillies would sign a frontline closer to fill the job. The team has money cleared for this spot after the team declined ex closer Brad Lidge’s option this week. Meanwhile, their is an opening in left field with veteran Raul Ibanez about to file for free agency. John Mayberry Jr. is a good bet to man this spot but the talented youngster might need to play some first base early in 2012 due to Howard’s health. Amaro prefers that top prospect Domonic Brown play the season at Triple A. Look for the Phillies to sign a veteran OF who can play all 3 spots and come off the bench.
POLANCO, HOWARD UPDATES: No further updates on either veteran but I believe that Amaro will sign someone who can compete with Polanco at 3B. He has had issues staying healthy for the past 2 seasons in Philadelphia and after hitting .398 in April, he batted .243 for the rest of the season. That is not good when you offer very little power or speed plus he turned 36 this month. Howard is a huge presence for this team and an elite power bat but I think Mayberry could fill in ably at this spot for a month. Ideally, both Polanco and Howard are healthy from game 1 to 162 but the Phillies would be wise to have contingency plans in place entering the 2012 campaign.
The Philadelphia Phillies declined 2012 options on veteran pitchers Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge October 25th but are not closing the door on both returning in 2012. Each pitcher was paid a buyout, Oswalt 2 million, Lidge 1.5 million. RHSP Oswalt,34, had a mutual option of $16 million and was 9-10 with a 3.96 ERA in a season that saw him battling back issues while former closer Lidge had a $12.5 million option and has suffered through two injury marred campaigns. However, Lidge,34, pitched very well in a set up role in 2011, going 0-2 with a save and 1.40 ERA in 19 and a third innings. The “stuff” was great as he averaged 10.7 Ks per 9 innings. Lidge was a member of the Phillies from 2008-2011 and had arguably the greatest relief season EVER as the closer for the 2008 World Champion Phillies , converting all 41 of his regular season then 7 in the playoffs and World Series. The veteran would like to test the market and see if their is a closing job open but would also consider returning to the Philly as a set up man. The team’s main focus in the offseason is bringing back free agent closer Ryan Madson while possibly adding another bat to the offense.
Philadelphia Phillies star 1B Ryan Howard had surgery on his completely torn left achilles tendon October 12th in Baltimore, Maryland. Howard was injured on the last play of the shocking game 5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. A foot and ankle specialist performed the operation and the team reported the surgery to be successful. The recovery period for this type of injury is usually 5-6 months which would be around the start of the 2012 season. Howard will be immobilized 1 to 2 weeks and should be able to bare weight and strengthening in around a month, dependent on his progress.
Things went from bad to worse for the Philadelphia Phillies Saturday night with the news that star 1B Ryan Howard ruptured his left achilles tendon the team’s Game 5 ALDS loss October 7th. An MRI confirmed the Phillies worst fears and The slugging first baseman cannot have surgery until the swelling goes down. The team will not have a timetable for his return until after the procedure but they cannot guarantee Howard will be ready for Spring Training. It would not be a surprise if the 1B misses the first couple months of the 2012 season.
OTHER MEDICAL NEWS: RF Hunter Pence and 3B Placido Polanco will have MRIs on their sports hernias and then determine the best course of action. Polanco has battled his for most of the 2nd half and is expected to have surgery. Pence kept his injury quiet and will get a better idea whats next after the exam. Meanwhile, LHSP Cole Hamels will have a minor surgical procedure next Friday October 14th to remove loose bodies from his throwing elbow. He will also have an operation the following week to correct an inguinal hernia. Reserve 1B Ross Gload, a free agent in 2012, will have his right hip re-examined by a hip specialist. The veteran is a likely arthroscopic surgery candidate.
The Philadelphia Phillies drive to the 2011 World Series was derailed Friday night by the St. Louis Cardinals and RHSP Chris Carpenter October 7, 2011 as the visitors rode an incredible performance by the veteran to a 1-0 series clinching win. A stunned sell out crowd at Citizens Bank Park in downtown Philadelphia saw their 102 win team held to 3 hits by Carpenter while their own ace, Roy Halladay was done in by the first two batters of the game. After a leadoff triple to center by SS Rafael Furcal to lead off the game, sparkplug OF-INF Skip Schumaker doubled down the right field line for the game’s lone run. CF Shane Victorino had two of the Phillies 3 hits(one double) as the Carpenter threw a masterful 110 pitch complete game to end Philadelphia’s World Championship dreams.
This was an incredible game and pitching duel between two former teammates(Toronto Blue Jays from 1998 -2002) and very good friends in Carpenter and Halladay, tough to see either pitcher lose. Very similiar to the classic duel 1991 World Series game 7 matchup that featured Minnesota Twins SP Jack Morris vs. Atlanta Braves John Smoltz, ironic that Smoltz’ was part of the MLB announcing team calling this game. Halladay was outstanding after the 1st inning hiccup and threw 8 strong innings(6 hits,7 Ks, 1 intentional walk) to keep the Phillies in the game. The Phillies ace was never more dominant than in the top of the 8th. With the season in the balance, he struck out RF Lance Berkman and retired LF Matt Holliday on a fly ball to left with the bases loaded.
As great as the Phillies pitching has been all season, this was not a strong offensive team and people who follow this club day to day know it. Carpenter completely shut the door and Philadelphia hit two balls really well all night, a 4th inning drive by LF Raul Ibanez(I thought the ball was gone when he hit it) and 2B Chase Utley’s 9th inning warning track shot to center. The 13 year pro and Exeter,NH native threw 70 strikes among his 110 pitches and appeared to be in complete control from the 1st inning on. With the victory, the Cardinals move on the face the Milwaukee Brewers who defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 10 inning of game 5 in the National League Championship series starting Sunday October 9th.
NOTES: Season ending blog within the next week, tough pill to swallow a sudden loss like this. I went thru a very similiar scenario at Shea Stadium in New York vs this same Cardinals team in 2006,sitting in my seats for 45 minutes post game. 6 months of work, gone in 3 hours. Just a tough thing.
RYAN HOWARD UPDATE: The loss is bad enough but it appears that Phillies slugging 1B Ryan Howard suffered a serious injury to his left leg attempting to run out the last out of the defeat. Nothing official yet but some media outlets are reporting he tore his left achilles tendon. This type of injury requires tons of rehab and Howard battled bursitis in the tendon late in the season, receiving a cortisone shot prior to the playoffs. The Phillies 1B struggled throughout the series average wise(.105) but hit a home run and had 6 rbi in 5 games after hitting .253 with 33 homers and 115 rbi with 75 walks in 152 games.
3B David Freese hit a go ahead 2 run double in the 4th then crushed a two run shot to center for insurance as the St. Louis Cardinals rallied to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 at Busch Stadium in Missouri. The Cardinals win sets up a deciding game 5 in the National League division series after both clubs split 2 home games. Edwin Jackson threw a workman like 6 innings for the win, allowing 5 hits and 2 runs while striking out 4 and walking 1. Philadelphia scored two runs in the first on rbi hits from 2B Chase Utley and RF Hunter Pence but the Phillies offense could not solve the St. Louis pitching puzzle until the 8th when a wild pitch allowed PR Michael Martinez to score from 3rd. Jason Motte, the 5th Cardinals reliever, earned his 2nd save of the series with a clean ninth.
GAME NOTES: Phillies RHSP Roy Oswalt was the loser, allowing 6 hits and 5 runs over 6 frames. He threw 15 1st pitch strikes to 26 batters he faced and the Cardinals were very aggressive, attacking early in counts and putting good swings on fastballs… Cardinals LF Matt Holiday(Inflamed tendon in right middle finger) returned to the starting lineup after missing the 1st 3 games of the series and was 1 for 3 with 2 runs scored… Phillies 1B Ryan Howard had a tough day, striking out 3 times. He has 10 games with 3 strike outs in post season play and is the runaway career leader in that category. The good news for Ryan? 3 of the next 4 players(Tied for 3rd with 5 each) on this list : Duke Snider, Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter are either in Cooperstown(Home of the Baseball Hall of Fame) or will be(Jeter)…. Cardinals 2B Skip Schumaker left in the 5th inning with a cramp in his hamstring. St. Louis sparkplug was getting IVs postgame and should be good to go in game 5… Strange scene in the 5th with Schumaker at the plate. A Squirrel ran onto the field and across the homeplate area in the middle of Oswalt’s delivery. No harm or foul but Oswalt was upset and did not want the pitch to count.(Called a ball) The veteran did appear to pull up a bit while delivering the ball.
NEXT GAME: NLDS- Game 5, Friday, October 7th,8;37 pm, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
Phillies RHSP Roy Halladay(19-6,2.35) vs Cardinals RHSP Chris Carpenter(11-9,3.45)
People expect LHSP Cole Hamels to be good(1.82 career ERA in the League division series) but a pinch hitter helped steal the southpaw’s spotlight with a 3 run homer as the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 October 4 at Busch Stadium in Missouri. Hamels threw 6 shutout innings while OF Ben Francisco hit a 3 run homer in the 7th with 2 outs vs Cardinals LH Jamie Garcia, who was the tough luck loser. Garcia allowed 6 hits and 3 runs over 7 innings and had the game under control before Francisco’s homer. The win gives the Phillies a commanding 2-1 lead in the best of 5 series and they can eliminate the Cardinals October 5th with veteran Roy Oswalt set to face St. Louis starter Edwin Jackson. If St. Louis survives they would then face Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay October 7th in Pennsylvania.
Hamels battled out of jams all night(5 hits, 3 walks, 117 pitches) while St. Louis stranded 14 runners. The resilient Cardinals rallied for a run in the 7th and 9th but Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel was ultra aggressive, summoning closer Ryan Madson for his first multi inning save of the year after the Cardinals staged an 8th inning rally.” I figured the game was on the line, and we had to stop them.” Manuel said. Madson got an huge inning ending double play to end the 8th.
GAME NOTES: Cardinals LF Matt Holiday(Inflamed tendon in right middle finger) remains unable to start but collected a pinch hit single in the 8th…. St. Louis 1B Albert Pujols and 2B Ryan Theriot each collected 4 hits to pace the Cardinals. They become the 11th and 12th players in Cardinals history to do so in the postseason…. Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins had two more hits and is 7 for 12(.583) in this series. The former NL MVP was the only Philly to reach double figures in hits…. Cardinals, once the biggest speed team in the sport, hit into a National League record 169 double plays in 2011
NEXT GAME: Wednesday, October 5th,2011, 6:07 PM
Phillies RHSP Roy Oswalt(9-10,3.69) vs. Cardinals RHSP Edwin Jackson(12-9,3.79)
The Philadelphia Phillies appeared set to go to St. Louis with a 2-0 series lead after scoring 4 runs in the first two innings but a gutty Cardinals team battled back to capture the vital 2nd game of the National League Division Series 5-4 October 2nd at Citizens Bank Park in Pennsylvania. What makes this comeback even more impressive was the fact that The Phillies ace Lefty Cliff Lee was on the mound. The southpaw allowed a career high 12 hits and all 5 runs in six plus innings. “I take full responsibility,” Lee said. ” I had a 4-0 lead and let it slip away.”
Philadelphia managed 5 hits and 4 runs in 3 innings vs. Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, who was pitching on 3 days rest for the first time in his career. However, 7 St. Louis relievers combined to allow 1 base runner the rest of the game! Tough loss for the Phillies who now must win at least 1 game in St. Louis to avoid elimination and force a deciding 5th game back at Citizens Bank Park. SS Jimmy Rollins had 3 of the 6 Philadelphia hits while 1B Ryan Howard continues to drive in runs with another 2 rbi. RF Hunter Pence, playing in his 1st postseason, was 1 for 3 with a run, rbi and walk. Four Cardinals had 2 hits apiece, led by CF Jon Jay, who drove in two runs. SS Rafael Furcal(rbi), 1B Albert Pujols(rbi) and 2B Ryan Theriot(Rbi,2 runs) also collected 2 hits. Huge, huge win for St. Louis who faced the top two starters(Lee and game 1 winner Roy Halladay) on the Phillies with their starting rotation in shambles due to late season charge to catch the Atlanta Braves for the NL Wild Card on the last day of the season.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday, October 4th 5:07 pm at Busch Stadium
Phillies LHP Cole Hamels(14-9,2.79) vs. Cardinals Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia(13-7,3.56)
The Philadelphia Phillies fell behind 3- nothing after a 3 run home run by St. Louis Outfielder Lance Berkman in the 1st inning but Roy Halladay returned to his dominant self, retiring the last 21 batters he faced, leading the Phils over the Cardinals 11-6 at Citizens Bank Park in Pennsylvania on Saturday October 1st. The Phillies exploded for 5 runs in the 6th then added 3 in the 7th and 2 in the 8th while pounding out 14 hits. 1B Ryan Howard hit a 3 run homer while driving in 4 ,veteran LF Raul Ibanez also homered and drove in 3 runs. Cardinals 2b Skip Schumaker was the only St. Louis Player to collect more than one hit while starter Kyle Lohse lasted 5 and a third innings, allowing 7 hits and 6 runs( 5 earned). With the win, the Phillies are up 1-0 in the best of five National League division series.
Halladay’s 1st start of the 2011 postseason was not as good as the 2010 opener, when he tossed the 2nd no hitter in playoff history vs. the Cincinnati Reds, but he clearly hit a switch after the rough 3 hit, run first. He was pulled with the team comfortably ahead 11-3 entering the 9th with the following line: 8 innings, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts. He threw 108 pitches(76 for strikes). Reliever Michael Stutes(1st postseason appearance) struggled in the mop up role, giving up 3 runs before Manager Charlie Manuel summoned closer Ryan Madson to secure the win.
GAME NOTES: Phillies RF Hunter Pence was 2 for 5 with 2 runs and rbi in his first postseason game….Halladay threw first pitch strikes to 20 of 28 Cardinals. He also recorded 13 ground ball outs to 3 fly balls…. Cardinals were 6-3 vs the Phillies in the regular season…. Veteran all star 2B Chase Utley scored 3 runs and collected 3 hits…. Cardinals all star LF Matt Holliday did not start due to a hand injury but pinch hit in the 9th…. Since acquiring Pence on July 29th, the Phillies are 8-0 when they have their complete set lineup…. St. Louis with 10 World Series titles trails only the New York Yankees 27
GAME #2: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2ND, 8:37 PM
Phillies LHP Cliff Lee(17-8,2.40 ERA) vs. Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter(11-9,3.45)
NOTE: Carpenter is going on 3 days rest for the first time in his career. He pitched a complete game shutout vs the Houston Astros to clinch the wild card September 28th.
The Phillies draw the surprising and red hot St. Louis Cardinals in the National League division series, starting Saturday October 1st at 5:07 at Citizens Bank Park. The amazing story here is Philadelphia had a major hand in how the playoff match ups where determined. Due to the Phillies 4-3 13 inning victory over the division rival Atlanta Braves, The Cards passed the Braves on the season’s final day as they defeated the Houston Astros 8-0 . St. Louis presents a formidable challenge to the Phillies but Philadelphia won a franchise win record 102 games and are almost completely healthy for the 1st time all year. The Cardinals had to battle to the season’s final day and they do not have their rotation set like the Phillies. Should be a fun series.
GAME 1 MATCHUP: Phillies RHSP Roy Halladay(19-6,2.35) vs. Cardinals RHSP Kyle Lohse(14-8,3.39)
1st Round: Tigers and Rangers in 4 in the ALDS, Phillies in 4, Brewers over DiamondBacks in 5 in the best series of the 1st rd
ALCS: Rangers over Tigers in 7, Phillies over Brewers in 7
World Series: Texas wins in 6 over Phillies
No reason to panic Phillies fans, even with a the first 8 game losing streak since 2000. It is no coincidence that the team has gone winless since clinching the National League East September 17th. The are the first team in baseball history to lose eight straight games after clinching a division or league title as well as the first to lose eight straight after winning their 98th game. This is a veteran club that is a bit beat up with stars such as 1B Ryan Howard(Left ankle, returned September 24th) and Chase Utley(Concussion, back September 15th after missing 8 days) getting back in the groove. RF Hunter Pence is also battling a left knee strain. Pitching wise, the team is as healthy as it has been all season and that is just the way Philly fans should want it. The top of the rotation- RHs Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and lefties Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels- are lined up and ready to go. Good luck to the rest of the National League! I wonder how much Phillies playoff tickets will be going for?
NOTES: I will update any breaking news regarding injuries and so forth but my next blog will about the 2011 Post season and the Phillies opponent! Great time of the year and why I became a sports writer!
The 2011 Philadelphia Phillies(98-52) clinched their 5 straight National League East title with a 9-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals September 17th. Veteran RHSP Roy Oswalt threw 7 innings of shutout ball while RF Raul Ibanez’ 8th inning grand slam hi-lighted the decisive 6 run rally. CF Shane Victorino added his own home run, driving in 3 runs and scoring 2. Meanwhile midseason acquisition RF Hunter Pence had 2 hits, 2 rbi and 2 walks. This team was supposed to be good and they are better than that. Key position players have missed time and Oswalt had battled injury throughout the season. The team went thru 4- FOUR-closers and still has maintained an excellent bullpen. Pence has helped the offense and backups such as John Mayberry Jr and Wilson Valdez have played like stars at times. This is truly a team, good luck to any team that faces them in October!
PHILLIES NOTES: Phillies have sold out 211 straight games at Citizens Bank Park…. Team has scored 22 runs in their last 9 games and no more than 3 in any of them…..For the first time since August 6th, the Phillies had all of their regulars in the lineup. A good sign heading into the postseason!!!… The team pitching ranks among the 30 ML teams: 1st in ERA, Quality starts and WHIP. 4th in Batting average against…. 1B Ryan Howard leads the team in home runs(33) and RBI(113). Victorino tops the Phillies in batting average(.289), runs(91) and OPS(.878).
PHILLIES WIN TOTALS:
2011- 98(12 Games remaining)
The 2011 Philadelphia Phillies(94-49 entering play September 12th) continue their drive to postseason and can clinch a birth in the playoffs sometimes this week. The magic number(combined wins by the Phillies and losses by the Atlanta Braves) for winning the NL East is 6 with 2 being the digit for a postseason berth(minimum), the National League wildcard. The Phillies have won 4 consecutive National League East titles as well as the World Series in 2008 but many believe the 2011 group is the best of this era. Under their current pace, they would win 106 games. This team is scary good. They win on the road(45-27, Best in MLB), have a deep rotation balanced by a strong relief corps as well as a balanced offense with nice blend of power and speed. The National League has some excellent ball clubs, regardless, this Phillies team will be a tough out in the post season.
PHILADELPHIA ASTROS: It has to be bitter sweet for ex Houston Astros stars and current Phillies RF Hunter Pence and RHSP Roy Oswalt as they can possible clinch a playoff birth in their former ballpark with the start of a 3 game series September 12-14th . Pence admits it is strange to face his old team saying, “It’s very weird,” Pence said. “I’m familiar with the field, but I didn’t kmow how to get to the visitors’ clubhouse, where to park. That whole thing was weird. And just the whole thing, I was like, ‘Man, I’m playing these guys.’ That’s a little eerie feeling.”
MIDDLE INFIELD MASH: Former NL MVP and Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins made his first start September 12th after being placed on the DL August 22nd with a left hamstring injury. He had come in as late game replacement the previous two contests. The Phillies other star middle infielder, 2B Chase Utley remains out after getting hit in the head September 7th. He has a concussion and has remained in Philadelphia to undergo further examination. Meanwhile, Rollins back up, INF Wilson Valdez has missed 2 straight games after suffering his own left hamstring injury September 10th. The team did not have any further update on either as of September 12th.
POST SEASON ROLE FOR VANCE: Whatever role Phillies manager Charlie Manuel puts him in during the postseason, rookie RHSP Vance Worley(11-2,2.92 in 21 games with 19 starts) is fine with it. “If I get thrown into the ‘pen, I get thrown in the ‘pen,” he said. “I know I can throw there. If I’m going to come out of the ‘pen, it would probably be better just sticking with the ‘pen. If they give me another spot start, then they do. But if they’re going to put me in the ‘pen, just leave me in the ‘pen then.” Manuel has not made a decision on the rookie’s role but knows he can help out either starting or in the bullpen. Worley does not care and would not require prep time in the bullpen to get acclimated before the postseason. “I’m just glad to be here,” he said. “I don’t really care what my role is. I’m just glad to be able to contribute.”
The Philadelphia Phillies continue to play dominate baseball and stand at 88-48 entering play September 5th, A huge reason for their success has been free agent signing LHSP Cliff Lee(15-7,2.58), who combines with RHSP Roy Halladay(16-5,2.49) and fellow Lefty Cole Hamels(13-7,2.63) to form a devastating trio at the top of the rotation. Lee’s season has been historic however, due to his particular dominance in two separate months. After going 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA in June, he was 5-0,0.45 in August, becoming the first pitcher in major-league history to have two months with a least 5 wins, no losses and an sub 0.50 ERA. The only two pitchers to do with an ERA below 1.00 in each month were Walter Johnson in 1913(April: 5-0,0.24, July 6-0,0.81) and Bob Gibson in 1968(6-0,0.50 in June and July). Historic to note that earned runs have been tabulated since 1912 in the National League and 1913 in the American League.
PENCE HITS, PHILS PROTEST, MANUEL RED: Phillies RF Hunter Pence hit a deep fly ball to right with the score tied at 2 and runner at first in the 6th September 4th. The ball was at the wall and a fan interfered with Florida Marlins RF Bryan Peterson’s glove inadvertently with a cap. The ball then deflected to the warning track for an apparent double. Both managers came out to argue with Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel thinking it was a homer and his counterpart Jack McKeon wanting Pence called out. After a video review, the umpires sided with the Marlins. A livid Manuel was ejected and the Phillies protested the game, saying the play was not reviewable. Replays are used only to rule on home runs and Crew Chief Joe West said use of replay was appropriate because Philadelphia argued it was a homer. The play was magnified as the Phils failed to score in the inning ,only to lose 5-4 in 14 innings.
PHILS NOTES: Team activated RHP Joe Blanton from the 60 day DL September 5th after he has been out since may 23 due to right elbow inflammation. He will help out of the bullpen and was 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA in 6 starts pre injury, Blanton pitched one scoreless rehab inning at Class A Last Friday August 2nd…Do not look for SS Jimmy Rollins(Hamstring) to be activated immediately when he is eligible Tuesday to come off the disabled list. While the veteran is reportedly doing well, the team will be cautious and the main goal is to get him as close to 100% as possible as October looms.
Hurricane Irene shutdown 4 of National League East’s 5 teams over the weekend and your 4 time defending division champion Philadelphia Phillies are one of the lucky ones. Due to the awful storm, the games on Saturday and Sunday August 27-28 vs the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Park were postponed until September 15th. Although the greater Philadelphia area was hit hard with rain and wind, the baseball club welcomed 2 unscheduled off days and with September 1st(Rosters can expand to 40) approaching, this will help the veteran team more than it will hurt. However, the Phillies do not have another off day for the remainder of the regular season which ends on Wednesday September 28th.
MEDICAL UPDATES ON HAMELS,BLANTON: LHSP Cole Hamels(13-7,2.62 in 25 starts) is good to go in his start Monday August 29th at the Cincinnati Reds after leaving his last start August 12th with a dead arm,according to Pitching coach Rich Dubee . Meanwhile veteran RHSP Joe Blanton(Elbow inflammation) continued his long trek back from his May DL stint with a 30 pitch throwing session August 26th. Blanton threw 15 to the catcher on the plate then 15 full distance. “I felt good today,” he said. “I was really encouraged.”
MASH-BERRY: When you have had the type of success the Phillies have had in recent seasons, you need youngsters to step in and provide an occasional lift. In 2011, big OF John Mayberry Jr. has done just that. Over the last two months, he has hit over .300 while adding 9 home runs and 29 rbi in 97 at bats. With veteran LF Raul Ibanez slumping in August(.175 with no homers and 6 rbi in 57 at bats) and also battling a groin injury, Mayberry Jr. has to be considered for more playing time.
The Philadelphia Phillies(82-44 as of August 23rd) continue to play great ball led by their incredible pitching staff. The arms have carried the club thru injuries in all parts of the club- everyday players as well as pitchers. The Phils pitchers top the 30 MLB team in 3 of the 4 team stats: ERA, WHIP and Quality starts while dropping(!) to 4th in batting average against. Talent and payroll aside, to put up those type of numbers pitching in that ball park in this division is incredible. This team and leadership group of manager Charlie Manuel and GM-Sr VP Rueben Amaro ,Jr. does not get the credit they deserve. Just a great group from top to bottom. I run out of things to say about this team because they are that good. Think of the great 90s Atlanta Braves teams or the early Joe Torre late 90s Yankees teams. They are machine, you just insert the parts and the results happen.
PHILLIES NOTES: Tonight, August 22nd the team welcomed back 3B Placido Polanco(Sport hernia) while placing former NL MVP Jimmy Rollins on the DL with a minor groin strain. Polanco looked good and was 2 for 4 in his return. Rollins, who is a free agent after the season, does not think the injury will linger and should be fine when he is eligible to come of the DL September 6th…. Have to write something about how great Roy Halladay has been at home this season. He is 8-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 14 starts at Citizens Bank Park. He has an incredible 102-8 K to walk ratio as well! One of his losses occurred last week although he K-ed 14 Diamondbacks August 16th in the 3-2 defeat. Halladay gave up 8 hits and the 3 runs while completing his 7th game.
The Philadelphia Phillies continue to play dominant ball(78-41 as of August 15th) and with the recent addition of all star RF Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros, the team’s once dormant offense has noticeably picked up. The Phils have scored an NL high 199 runs since July 1st and are 12-2 with Pence in the starting lineup. The return of all star 2B Chase Utley(missed all of spring training and the first 7 weeks of the season with a knee injury) to full health has also helped tremendously. The pitching has been incredible all season while dealing with injuries from day 1 of spring training. Among the 30 major league teams, Phillies rank #1 in ERA, quality starts and WHIP while “dropping” to 4th in batting average against. This is an incredible team that is both deep and balanced. Good luck to any team that plays them in a best of 7 series.
POLANCO PAIN: All star 3B Placido Polanco continues to battle a painful sports hernia and remains out. The veteran received a cortisone shot last week and is trying to avoid surgery that would put him out 3-6 weeks. Polanco improved enough to field some ground balls during batting practice in the rain before the August 13th game at Citizens Bank Park.
HAMELS MRI: Phillies LH SP Cole Hamels(13-7,2.62 in 25 starts) has complained of a dead arm over the last week or so and the team had an MRI taken of his sore left shoulder Monday. The results are expected back sometime Tuesday. “Right now [a dead arm is] what we think it is, yeah,” Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said Saturday. “The funny thing is, he warmed up in San Francisco and he said, ‘Boy, my arm is heavy.’ So we just talked about angling the ball, and he goes out and he pitches a gem. Then his side session in between then and now was fabulous. His arm rebounded, felt great. So it’s a combination of workload, combination of east-west. Or west-east, whatever you want to call it. Just everything building up.”
PHILLIES NOTES: Former Phillies 1B Jim Thome(2003-2005) became only the 8th player in major league history to hit 600 home runs when he clubbed 2 in consecutive innings on August 15th. Great to see one of the good people in the game reach such a marvelous number…The club signed their #1 pick(#39 overall) in the 2011 draft late in the evening August 14th, high school OF Larry Greene. At Berrien County HS in Georgia, he hit .562 with 11 doubles, a triple, 19 home runs, 52 rbi, 58 runs and 13 stolen bases. The 6’1 225 pounder also earned a football scholarship from the Alabama Crimson Tide before signing with the Phillies.
The Philadelphia Phillies continue to play incredible ball(74-40 as of August 7th) despite injuries throughout both the lineup and pitching staff. Even after losing Sunday July 7th to the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, the team has won 9 out of 10 games and leads the NL East by 8.5 games. The constant? Without question, the Phillies pitching staff. The team ranks 1st(Among 30 ML teams) in ERA, quality starts and WHIP. They really drop off hard to 4th overall in batting average against… LOL. This group features 3 named aces- LHs Cliff Lee(11-7,2.96 ERA in 23 starts) and Cole Hamels(13-6,2.53,24 starts) as well as RH Roy Halladay(14-4,2.55, 23) – however, 1st year starter RH Vance Worley(8-1,2.35 in 13 starts) might be having the best season. The depth of arms continues into the bullpen where they are down to closer #4: 2nd yr LH Antonio Bastardo(5-0,1.49, 8 saves and 9 holds). Think about that. Closer number 4 and he is lights out!!!!! Quickly, ask any, ANY fan of a big market team who their 4th best reliever is. Would they fell remotely confident with that guy pitching the 9th inning? Tremendous job by pitching coach Rich Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel.
POLANCO PAIN: All star 3B Placido Polanco is battling a sore left hip and has returned to Philadelphia to undergo an MRI on Monday August 8th. He has been dealing with the pain for almost a month and seems unlikely to play in the early week series in Los Angeles vs the Dodgers. The injury is unrelated to the back ailment that had him on the DL until his return July 30th,causing him to miss almost 3 weeks.
ROY RETURNS: The 4th ace of the staff, RH Roy Oswalt(Lower back strain) made his first start since June 23rd in the 3-1 defeat to the Giants August 7th. He allowed 12 hits and 3 runs while striking out 4, hurling 93 pitches in 6 frames(60 strikes). San Francisco hitters had some luck in this game as some bloopers found holes, overall, an encouraging start for the veteran Oswalt(4-7,3.84,14 starts).
BENCH BRAWL: The Phillies and Giants clearly do not like each other after playing in the NLCS in 2010 and the bad feelings spilled over into a full fledged fight Friday night August 5th. Giants reliever Ramon Ramirez hit Phillies CF Shane Victorino, one of the club’s leaders, in the back with a first pitch fast ball and started to walk to the mound. SF catcher Eli Whiteside blocked him and then tackled Polanco as the benches emptied. A lot of pushing and wrestling but not much damage. Victorino was pulled out of the pile a couple of times and even went after Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens. Ramirez, Whiteside and Victorino were all ejected and the teams did not have any other issues throughout the weekend.
The Philadelphia Phillies found their replacement for Jayson Werth(Left as a free agent after 2010) in right field Friday July 29th with a major trade, acquiring All Star OF Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros. The price was costly as they shipped out 3 prospects(2 among the top 40 in Baseball,according to mlb.com rankings) and a player to be named,the 3 headed to Houston are: 1B-OF Jonathan Singleton(#37), RHPs Jarred Cosart(#38) and Josh Zeid . Pence provides Philadelphia a long coveted right-handed bat, who has posted good numbers all season(.309 batting avg, .356 On base, .471 slugging percentage with 11 home runs, 62 rbi and 7 stolen bases) . He is making $6.25 million this season and will be under club control til 2013. The 1st place Phils have been a bit hamstrung at the spot all season with an early spring training injury to top prospect Domonic Brown setting the tone. Ben Francisco has shown to be a 4th outfielder , so an everyday player was needed for this spot. Look for the Phillies new right fielder to bat 5th in the lineup,in a related move, the team sent Brown down to Triple A Lehigh Valley.
Rest easy Philadelphia, the “Doc” does not need to see a doctor! Roy Halladay(12-4,2.55), the staff leader on and off the field, returned to his normal dominant form July 24th ,leading the Phillies to a 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres. After leaving his last start July 16th in the 4th inning with heat exhaustion, he pitched 8 innings in the 94 degree heat at Citizens Bank Park allowing 8 hits and 3 runs(2 earned) while striking out 8 and walking 1! His ridiculous K to walk ratio on the year is now 147(Ks) to 19!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope Philly fans realize how good this guy is and more importantly, how good this rotation group is. It is almost impossible for this club to have a sustained losing streak with the quality of starting pitchers they present on a daily basis. When Vance Worley(6-1,2.02 in 10 starts) is your #4 starter, you are good! Not hard to see why this team is 64-36 as of July 24th.
LIDGE RETURNS: The team welcomed back veteran RP Brad Lidge(Shoulder) from the DL July 22nd after he had missed the entire season. The 9 year major leaguer did not blow a save in the Phillies World Championship run in 2008(41 for 41) but will not close for the team, according to Manager Charlie Manuel. Both Ryan Madson(8th inning,17 saves,3 holds) and Antonio Bastardo( 8 saves in as many chances) have pitched great and will keep their roles. Look for the player friendly Manuel to ease Lidge back into the flow and the veteran will play a key role late in the season.
RYAN RIGHT: I always talk about Manuel and the underrated job he does with this club, look no further than the July 23rd 8-6 win vs San Diego. He rests(Only for the 2nd time all season) 1B Ryan Howard(Team leading 19 homers,75 rbi), who was in a post All Star Break 3 for 26 funk, and had only 3 extra base hits in all of July. “He needs some time in the batting cage.” was Manuel’s pre-game quote. But the slugger came off the bench for a huge game tying pinch hit homer in the 6th. Plain and simple: Players love Manuel and anytime you want references, google his name and future hall of famer Jim Thome(about to hit 600 homers).
OSWALT, POLANCO UPDATES: Veteran RHSP Roy Oswalt(Back inflammation) threw a 40-pitch bullpen pre game July 24th and had no issues. He will start a rehab game for AAA Lehigh Valley July 27th. “I feel good.” said Oswalt, who has been on the DL since June 24th. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. wants to see the veteran at 100% health wise before determining a date for his return. 3B Placido Polanco(Bulging disk in back) took 40 swings pre game July 24th and hopes to be able to start a rehab assignment in the middle of the week. The all star was DL-ed July 15th and received an epidural injection on July 21st to help the healing process.
The 2011 Philadelphia Phillies continue to play winning baseball, standing at 59-35 as of July 17th. This team has tremendous, tremendous high end talent(OBVIOUSLY!!!) but one of the hidden strengths of this ball club during this season has been the contributions of the entire roster from man #1 to #25. You can talk about SPs Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels but names like Vance Worley(5-1, 2.15 ERA in 11 games, 9 starts) and Antonio Bastardo(18 game scoreless streak snapped Sunday July 17th) have been huge for this pitching staff. Back ups like INF Wilson Valdez as well as OFs Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr(recently) have also filled in, contributing both offensively and defensively to the success of the club. This is a team and you begin to realize that the more you follow them on a day to day basis like I do.
MASH UNIT: Lets run thru the health issues with 3 of the Phillies stars. 1st, all star 3B Placido Polanco(Bulging disk in his back) has participated in batting practice for two days(Friday and Saturday,July 15th and 16th) but is sore and not sure if he will come off the DL Wednesday July 20th. He was planning on resting Saturday. CF Shane Victorino(Sprained thumb) was progressing well in his rehab as a DH and was set to play the field Sunday July 17th. If all goes well,he could rejoin the big club as early as Monday July 18th. Former closer Brad Lidge(Shoulder) continues to work in almost a spring training type mode to rebuild arm strength. He is probably looking at a late August return. Veteran RHSP Roy Oswalt(Back) is scheduled to throw off a mound Tuesday and again Friday. Team doctors say he is progressing well.
MARTINEZ THE MAN: 28 year old rookie INF Michael Martinez hit his 1st ML homer(3 run shot) while driving in 4 runs in the 8-5 win over the New York Mets Sunday July 17th. The rule 5 pick up from Washington is a defensive specialist who was hitting .213 in 89 at bats prior to the game.
Philadelphia Phillies 3B Placido Polanco will miss the All Star game this Tuesday July 12th due to a bulging disk in his back. The veteran has not played since July 4th and will use the break to rest and treat the injury. Polanco(.274,4 home runs, 39 rbi) will go to the game in Arizona but will not participate in the contest. With the time off he hopes to be ready for the start of the 2nd half this Friday in New York vs the Mets. Polanco’s back has been bothering him for about a month and he is taking anti-inflammatory oral medication to deal with the pain. If their is no improvement by the end of the week, The Phillies medical team would consider injections as the next treatment option.
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