Crazyness ….

It’s almost like it’s been a full moon all week long, from 19 innings to a hitter pitching and a pitcher hitting.

Utley's first 2011 at bat

Chase Utley's first at bat in 2011

It’s all good though, especially as the Phillies managed to win 5 of the last 7 games, and get Chase Utley back in the line up.

During the last 7 games they dropped 1 out of 4 to the Reds at the Bank and then this past weekend travelled to New York and dropped 1 out of 3 to the Mets at CitiField.

It’s Memorial Day, and the Phillies are in the nations capital to play a 3 game set against the Nationals and a chance for Jayson Werth to remember and realize he really wasn’t and isn’t that good.

The week ahead sees a new month and the chance that the Phillies may actually be able to put a line up together that includes all the everyday players for the first time this season.

The question has to be asked is it more crazyness or a sign of the times, the Indians, the Diamondbacks, the AL East and the AL West. Most teams this week will have completed the first third of the season, are the Indians and Diamondbacks real or will we see a return to past years during the next third of the season, and who will emerge as the leader in the AL East and West because right now a week could turn either division upside down.

Lets hope June brings more excitement with maybe just a little less crazyness.

Inter-league Weekend ….

It was the first round of  inter-league play for all but the Rockies and Brewers. The Phillies hosted the Texas Rangers and even with the offensive slump taking grip on the club they managed to win 2 out of 3 games.

Rangers at the Bank

Rangers mound gathering

MLB tried to spin this weekend with what seemed like the marketing outcome of a creative think tank of people definitely not smarter than a 5th grader. The unimaginative naming and hyping of some of the inter-league games left more than a little to be desired.

For me the highlight would have been watching Cliff Lee pitch against the Texas Rangers on Saturday night, this I was soon to find out would not happen as Fox deemed it a requirement to blackout the game on MLBTV and force feed me the Yankees and Mets on regular television.

It is time MLB and the television networks primarily Fox, became more fan friendly with the blackout rulings, so that everybody has a chance to watch any or all of the out of market games, not just the ones they want to force feed us.

The Phillies will now play host to the Cincinnati Reds who just spent the weekend getting thoroughly stomped on by the other Ohio MLB team who everybody thought would be showing their true colors by now.

A break from losing ….

It seems the road trip that just ended with a 4 game losing streak was some of the worst batting stats seen since the 60’s by the Phillies. Some may look on it as a bad thing, and by no means does the 2-1 victory over the Rockies in any way constitute the end to the offensive slump. Placing a positive spin on this, with so many of the last few games being decided by 1 or 2 runs against quality teams, I can’t help but wonder what might have been had the Phillies been Swinging hot bats.

Another game against the Rockies tonight, followed by inter-league weekend when the Texas Rangers come to the Bank.

Swept….

Well the new blog stuff is active, I see comments for both good and bad as with everything, mostly I like the iPhone app from WordPress although it may get tough to blog from my phone sometimes.
The STL Cards managed a 2 game sweep of the Phillies, which wasn’t hard during this moment of anti-offense it could be worse the Phillies could be battling the Mets for bottom spot.
On the brightside they’re heading home let’s hope it improves the batting performances….

Mets Mashed …..

Things best left unsaid have prevented me from boring the living hell out of everyone withdec2010avatar.jpg endless rambling posts. I do try to stay up to date on some of the blogs that I have for some time enjoyed. Since Mike from the ‘Brooklyn Trolley Blogger’ poked me with a comment, since the Mets are at the Bank for the weekend, I thought I would point out some useless data for this season between the Mets and Phillies for Mike to consider as this weekend unravels ….

The teams have met 4 times so far this April
A total of 48 runs have scored, averaging 12 runs per game
The Mets have scored 16, averaging 4 runs per game
The Phillies have scored 32, averaging 8 runs per game
The Phillies have won 3 out of the 4 games, in each of the 3 wins they have scored at least 10 runs.
What does all this mean…. the Mets still suck ….. sorry Mike, but it could be another long season for you, on the bright side it’s getting warmer and there’s plenty of baseball to play, especially now the wedding is out of the way and the draft will soon be done, it’ll be baseball, baseball, baseball ….

A Medal to Celebrate – Stan ‘The Man’ Musial

Stan ‘ The Man’ Musial, a baseball legend and a hero, received
the Medal of Freedom yesterday with 14 other people. Like so
many baseball players of his era, Stan ‘The Man’ managed to put up some
incredible numbers on a baseball field in addition to taking a break to serve in
the Navy for his country, during World War II.

It was fitting that ‘The Man’, although born in Pennsylvania,
most believe is a St Louis native by right for giving his career to the benefit
of the Cardinals, received this medal on the City’s birthday, it was February
15th, 1764 when the City was established.

I am sure there are many Cardinals fans who hope Pujols takes
some note of this event and realizes it doesn’t have to always be about the
money, sometimes you have to give back to a community that has adopted you into
their hearts.

Phillies Rotation Press Conference

The last few days in the build up to spring training and the
gathering of the Phillies starting rotation, headlines have been broad and
varied, the speculation of what is expected of this starting rotation has all
but handed the Phillies a trophy without a pitch having been thrown. What has
surprised me is those blogging for pure pleasure and fun, seem to have had a
much better grasp on reality than those who get paid to be objective for a
living, those same people who complain about how they went to college to do what
they do and bloggers are trying to do it without any formal training.

These reporters get the benefit of being paid to go to spring
training and give us reports on what is going on, they also manage to get
insider information on teams and players, so when the Phillies announced they
would have the starting rotation in the Bright House Field lunch room after workouts
on day 1, I like others anticipated watching an exciting press conference.

Finally all the waiting for Phillies fans came true today at
1:30 pm, all sitting together at one table ready for questions were the…

Phillies, Phantastic Phour, Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, Lee, Blanton

….the ‘Phillies 4 plus one’. This was one of those occasions when
those paid reporters get the advantage over us mere average bloggers, they get
to ask the questions that this group of players will answer. For us we have to
hope they ask the questions we want the answers too.

This was not the case with this press conference, for me the
questions were somewhat dumb, almost appeared insulting that the Phillies had
gone to all the trouble of putting these guys together for a flurry of mediocre,
somewhat amateurish questions.

For me there was a lot of this press conference that actually
made me wonder whether the college degrees of these so called reporters are
actually valid.

I wasn’t paying to much attention to who was asking the
questions, but more, on what the players had to say, the answers clearly showed
the players had more intelligence than those posing the questions, these are 3
moments that stood out….

  • Joe Blanton or Cole Hamels reminded one reporter Joe hadn’t lost his World
    Series ring, when they aimed a question at Cole Hamels as being the only one
    with a ring.

  • Roy Halladay explained that the group had only been together
    socially for about 2 and half hours, when asked how they all socially
    connected outside of baseball.

  • Cliff Lee, in response to a question, reminded the reporters
    it was them, the reporters who speculate and predict, not the group of
    pitchers sitting at the table.

If only it was going to be that easy for these guys to out-smart
their opposition during the season.

The next big spring training deadline is Wednesday at 1 pm, when
the St. Louis Cardinals and Albert Pujols have agreed is the deadline for
contract negotiations, if no deal is done before then, Pujols is reported to
have said he will file for free agency at the end of the year.albert pujols, cardinals

If they don’t make a deal, I personally don’t think it’s
anything to panic about, the facts are that Pujols hasn’t been outside of Missouri
since before high school, he obviously likes it there, he’s around all those
others that like to thump the oldest best seller. He also knows that the
Cardinals have a habit of coming in with the right offer when it is crunch time,
after all, they reportedly upped his original signing bonus out of high school
from $10K to $60K to secure him into their farm system.

The only thing that I would consider as a possible note to panic
about is the fact that the Cardinals just turned down his request of $300Million
for 10 years. Now I know the guy is good, but $30Million every year till he’s
41, no one is that good. Although if he was to move on at the end of the year it
is possible that someone like Texas may meet his demands, or even the Red Sox
may ante up enough to make his move east, and then there is always the biggest
fear of all Cardinal fans, would he go north to Chicago and the Cubs
organization.

As we saw with LeBron James last year this could be another
flopped ‘Decision’ hyped up by the media.

Baseball or Bieber ?

Just in case you think spring training and the grapefruit league
games are unimportant, the Phillies spring training games at Bright
House Field
sold out almost as quick as tickets for the new Justin
Bieber
movie. The speed at which tickets sell out is about the only
similarity between the two, we saw last year he can’t throw a baseball, he can’t
wear a baseball cap and he can’t keep his pants up long enough for it not to be annoying
to those watching. So to all those Bieber fans, remember, if you want to
get close enough to a real celebrity with class and talent your probably better
off going to a spring training game, they’re real, longer than a movie and can
be more addictive and fulfilling.

The anticipation is nearly over, tomorrow we see baseball
players actually in some elements of team uniforms as pitchers and catchers do
some stretching and warm ups, who knows we may even hear…..

 

phillies, pitchers, catchers, spring training, bright house field, clearwater, florida

….’Let’s play catch’ a couple of times. The media will get an added bonus, following Monday’s workouts,
the Philadelphia Phillies will have all five proposed starters in the media
lunch room at Bright House Field together, this is the only time the five are
proposed to be together for a media circus. One on one’s will be accommodated,
but it seems the emphasis this year is on workouts and team first, the media
will get one on ones if and when it doesn’t interfere with the teams
preparations.

Other players will continue to arrive, if
they haven’t already. We truly are at the final stages that everyone has
anticipated since last November, the sound that really tells us baseball is
here, is not only the thud as balls hit leather, it’s that crack as the first balls
get hit with a bat.

As happy as we all are that spring is finally here, there is
still that final anticipation following that first audible command from the home
plate umpire, on April 1st "Let’s play ball"

The Outer Limits

The infield and the starting pitchers are fairly well set, maybe
not in stone, but as long as nothing drastic happens I think we know who to
expect at each of the positions around the diamond and who’s going to be on the
mound.

The end of 2010 saw some personnel changes, the most prominent
was that of the Phillies right fielder, he chose to pad his bank balance and
take the easy route of soaking in some of the atmosphere with the Washington
Nationals, I think we’ve pretty much covered everything about the deal, the main
factors being more money, less pressure. Personally I half expected the Phillies
to try and trade him in July and maybe go for someone that they could tie up for
a few years, for less money, there are some who I am sure people would like to
get, but lets be realistic, I would have suggested Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland are
easy to trade with and it seems the Phillies have a pretty good rapport with
them, as history tends to show.

Still that didn’t happen and we go into spring training looking
to see what will emerge as the right side side of the Phillies outfield, I
believe we shouldn’t act out of desperation like some would have the Phillies
do, the is enough talent in the club house to fill the role and secure the
Phillies…

Phillies, Victorino, Ibanez, Francisco, Outer Limits, Phillies Outside

….Outer Limits.

Shane Victorino is without a doubt one of the top
centerfielders in the majors, he has always had solid defense, sometimes is
prone to being a little hot headed, but he seemed to keep that in check during
the 2010 season. Although with that came a slight drop off in production, the
upcoming season needs the ‘Flyin Hawaiian’ to get back his production, we need a
solid .290+ AVG with a .350+OBP and he needs to get back to 100+ Runs for the
season too.

Raul Ibanez caused those early doubters to start
calling for his head, making the same claims about him as they have done towards
Jamie Moyer, he’s too old, too slow etc. etc. These are the same doubters
that called for Charlie Manuel’s head back in 2007, the same doubters who wanted
to trade Hamels in 2009, the same doubters who wanted to give away the farm and
more to keep Werth. These are the people I said yesterday should sell their
Phillies gear and buy Nationals gear, so they can follow a team that will make
stupid choices. Ibanez started the 2010 year off slow, he had hip surgery prior
to spring training, so he never completed his normal rituals, no excuse admittedly,
but still I think this year he’ll prove his critics wrong and be able to handle
the 5th or 6th spot in the batting order and we’ll see him cover the ground in
left field without issue.

Ben Francisco is who I have placed in right field,
he may not get the same sort of playing time that Abreu got or even Werth, but I
certainly think he has done enough to give him the chance to shine, he has a
better record than Werth had when he was given the chance. If Francisco does get
the majority of playing time then we should expect 12 to 15 homers, with at
least 80 runs and as many RBI’s.

There is the chance for Gload and Mayberry to fill in at
different times to allow Francisco rest days. A lot of people seem to feel it’s
time to bring Brown up permanently and give him the job of filling Werths shoes,
personally I think he needs at least to stay in the minors till September time
again, he needs work on his swing, because it isn’t quite ready for the bigs, he
needs to get more familiar with running correct routes in the outfield, if he
doesn’t, he’ll get demoralized quickly and those same early screamers will be
calling for him to be traded or sent back to the minors.

All that said, I’ll still hold out hope that come July the
Phillies may be able to consider squeezing the Indians into trading Shin-Soo
Choo, who knows they may want a Kendrick or some other pieces that we can give
up.

 

Inner Circle and the Michael Young Saga

Most MLB teams are constantly tweaking their active roster in an
effort to find the best mix that suits the club and gives the best results as a
collective, be it offense or defense they have to compliment each other to the
fullest. I believe the Philadelphia Phillies have finally put together a group
of players around the diamond that fits that description. 

It all started back 2004, Rollins was already well established
as the short stop, it was towards the end of the season when the then 1st
baseman Jim Thome got injured which gave Ryan Howard his debut, for Howard there
was no looking back, it was a year earlier we first saw Chase Utley come out to
play, but it wasn’t till 2005 that the 3 of them would have the majority of
starts at their respective positions. It was then between late 2005 and early
2007 that Carlos Ruiz finally took over the full time catching spot from the
Phillies favorite Mike Lieberthal, after a mix of Pratt, Borajas and Coste.

I’ve already covered expectations for Jimmy
Rollins
and Carlos
Ruiz
in the upcoming season, the other 3 members of the infield are as
important if not more so for this team to once more be the top contenders in the
NL East, it is for that reason they must continue as a collective group and
remain the Phillies….

Phillies, Phillies Outside, inner circle, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Polanco, Ruiz

….inner circle. I believe the final piece of
this puzzle was Polanco, who many wanted to move to 3rd base back in 2005, and
trade David Bell, that wasn’t to be, but as the saying goes ‘what goes around,
comes around’ and Polanco returned last year to play the hot corner and add
stability and consistency to that role.

Polanco can mix it up with the best of them, he
handles himself with solid defense and is a nice fit with his sure fire offense,
given the optimistic view that he’ll stay healthy we should see him hitting in
the number 2 spot and hopefully end the year with about a .300 avg and hopefully
a .350 OBP.

Howard had big shoes to fill, but then again he
has big feet. Following Jim Thome, Howard has excelled at 1st base. He
has consistently improved his defense and since he has reach milestones with his
offense quicker than any other player, it’s fair to say he is one of the top 1st
basemen. I am by no means laying claim to him being the best, with Pujols
and Votto out there it would be hard for anyone else to claim the number
1 spot at 1st base. Ryan does need to find his stride and swing his bat the way
we expect, he’s had time to adjust, he spent most of last season adjusting, it’s
time for him to once more dominate the offense in the National League and take a
shot at breaking the club home run record for the season, in addition to keeping
his SO’s down and keeping his RiSP up.

Utley is the one Phillies infielder that could conceivably
put up the argument as the best 2nd baseman. The last couple of years has shown
that he isn’t Mr. Invincible, that he can get hurt and not play through it, his
only down side is when trying to play through and injury he can have a
concentration lapse at the most inopportune time. Providing Chase can reproduce
some sort of similarity to the type of numbers he put up between 2005 to 2009,
then coupled with the rest of this inner circle the Phillies should have a
killer infield.

The Michael Young Saga – Fans at times really amaze me as well as
leave me shaking my head thinking WTF are they drinking or smoking. It was made
known via ESPN that the Phillies front office made a brief call to the Texas
Rangers to get the scoop on Michael Young, according to the story
on ESPN.com “One source said the discussions were
“brief” and amounted essentially to “tire kicking” on the part of
the Phillies.” 

This not only prompted a slew of blogs and reports to be posted
with ‘Tire Kicking’ in the title it generated a range of comments from Phillies fans
to such a point it has prompted me
to actually even mention the brief communication between the Phillies and
Rangers. I read and heard
things like, ‘maybe if we offered Ibanez and Brown, and what if we could send
Utley and Rollins, or include Blanton, I even heard someone hyping Young as if he was the modern day
Babe Ruth but better.’

Now anyone with a brain or even half of one (human of course,
maybe) knows Young is
good, but not that good, in fact if you haven’t smoked anything or drank
anything or you haven’t consumed any type of mind bending hallucinatory drug
that could or would impair your judgment and you would still consider or suggest
a deal for Young that included a member of the Phillies infield or didn’t
include the Rangers eating at least 70% of Young’s salary for the next 3 years,
then I would suggest you go straight to the nearest asylum and check yourself
in, or start using one the many means of hallucinatory drug consumption methods,
because you obviously need some sort of help. Alternatively you could cut your
loses and trade all your Phillies gear for Nationals gear and go follow a team
that will pay huge sums of money for a player that is over hyped.

It all reminds me of a recent post I read by a fellow MLBlogger,
Wrigley Regular called Radio
GM’s
,
I thought it was funny.

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