Larry Bowa – Bench Coach
Steve Henderson – Hitting Coach
John Mizerock – Assistant Hitting Coach
Bob McClure – Pitching Coach
Juan Samuel – First Base Coach
Pete Mackanin – Third Base Coach
Rod Nichols – Bullpen Coach
Jesus Tiamo – Bullpen Catcher
Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick, Roberto Hernandez (Cole Hamels (late April)) – Starters
Justin De Fratus, B.J. Rosenberg, Jake Diekman, Mario Hollands, Brad Lincoln, Jeff Manship, Antonio Bastardo, Jonathan Papelbon (Closer) – Bullpen
Carlos Ruiz, Wil Nieves (Backup) – Catchers
Ryan Howard (1st), Chase Utley (2nd), Cody Asche (3rd), Jimmy Rollins (Shortstop), Cesar Hernandez (Utility), Jayson Nix (Utility) – Infielders
Dom Brown (Left Field), Ben Revere (Center Field), Marlon Byrd (Right Field), John Mayberry, Jr. (Utility), Tony Gwynn, Jr. (Utility) – Outfielders
During the off-season, after the Phils had picked up Cliff Lee via free agency, everyone in the country were talking about the Phils four aces (Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels), while also thinking that the Phils would likely trade away Joe Blanton (they didn’t), although the other four would come out to support the fifth member of the starting rotation during spring training, but the pleasant surprise during the first nine games of the season has been the performance of the bullpen, who have been rather stingy with both the hits and the runs.
Roy Halladay, the staff ace, have had two good starts, having a record of 1-0, as he has gone 13 innings, giving up only one earned run on eleven hits and one walk, while he has struck out 13, for an ERA of 0.69 and a WHIP of 0.92.
Cliff Lee, the present no. two man, has also pitched two games, a spectacular start against the Astros, and a start against the Braves where he lost his control. His record is now 1-1, as he has pitched ten and a third innings, giving up nine earned runs on fourteen hits and a walk, while he has also hit two batters, as he has struck out fourteen, for the team lead, for an ERA of 7.84 and a WHIP of 1.45.
Roy Oswalt, the no. three man, have had two good outings for a 2-0 record, making him the present team leader in wins. He has pitched twelve innings, giving up four runs, of which three were earned, on ten hits and three walks, while also hitting a batter, while he has struck out eight, for a 2.25 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.08.
The team’s no. four starter, Cole Hamels, in his two start, had a bad start against the Mets, before bouncing back against the Braves this past Sunday. His record is now 1-1, as he has gone nine and two-thirds innings, giving up six runs on eleven hits and three walks, and one hit batter, while he had struck out eleven, for a 5.59 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.
Joe Blanton, the team’s fifth starter, will be making his second start of the season tonight, after having been taken out of his opening start, as he allowed his pitches to come up against the Mets in the fifth inning. His record is 0-0, as he looks for his first win or lost, as he had so far gone four and one-thirds innings, giving up seven runs on ten hits and two walks, while hitting a batter, while he has struck out six, for a high ERA of 14.54 and a WHIP of 2.77, both presently highs among the starters. He hopes to bring both down during his start against the Nationals.
So far, the five starters have a combine record of 5-2, as they have pitched 49.1 innings, giving up 27 runs, of which 26 were earned, on 56 hits and 10 walks, while hitting a total of 5 batters, while striking out 52 batters. They have also given up all three of the home runs allowed by the Phils’ pitchers (Oswalt, Lee and Blanton with one each).
Meantime, the bullpen has shown itself to be better than expected, as they have allowed only six runs, only five of which were earned, and one inherited runner to score, in their combine total of 30.2 innings.
Their long man, Kyle Kendrick, has appeared in three games, with a 0-0 record, as he has given up a run on four hits and three walks, while striking out a batter in five innings of work, for a 1.80 ERA.
Antonio Bastardo has been on fire as he has appeared in three games, with a 1-0 record, as he has so far given up no runs in four and two-thirds innings, giving up only two hits, while striking out nine batters, for an ERA of 0.00.
The Phils’ other lefty in their bullpen, J.C. Romero, appeared to have regain his 2008 form as he has pitched in five games, for an 0-0 record, as he has given up a run on three hits and a walk in four innings, while he has strucked out three, for a 2.25 ERA.
After having a bad year in 2010, Danys Baez seems to have recovered nicely this year, as he has appeared in five games, for a record of 1-0, as he has given up an unearned run on six hits and a walk, as he pitched a total of five innings, while striking out two, for an 0.00 ERA.
Second year man David Herndon is the only reliever who doesn’t seem to be pitching well in the early going, as he has pitched in five games, for an 0-0 record, going six innings, as he has given up three runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out a batter, for a 4.50 ERA.
The Phils’ eighth inning pitcher, Ryan Madson, is doing well, as he had an 0-0 record, as he has pitched in three games for a total of three innings, giving up no runs on a hit, while he has struck out four, for an 0.00 ERA.
Their present closer, Jose Contreras. has been lights out, as he has appeared in three game, for an 0-0 record while converting both of his save opportunities, as he has gone three innings, giving up no runs on two hits and a walk, while he has struck out four, for an 0.00 ERA.
The bullpen has appeared in all nine games, for an 2-0 record, as they have given up a total of 23 hits and 8 walks, while striking out 24 batters. The good work of the bullpen help give the Phils a team ERA of 3.49 while the team’s WHIP is at 1.21. If this continues, especially once the starters have hit their stride, this could become a very dangerous team, even if the offense has its mid-season slump, as the pitching should keep them within striking distant during most games.
…the day has arrived when pitchers and catchers are suppose to arrive. And for the Phils, it means that one of the best starting rotations in the major leagues will have arrived in Clearwater, along with what should be one of the most rested bullpens during the regular season because their first four starters (Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels) should, on most days, be able to reach at least the seventh inning before Uncle Charlie would need to call on the relief corps. Of course, that will depend on the Phil’s offense, since several players (Utley, Rollins, Howard, etc.) are expected to have comeback years after the down year that the team’s offense had last season, while the Phils will be trying to break in rookie Dom Brown, as they plan to use him in a platoon situation with Ben Francisco in right field.
A lot of my fellow Phillies fans are already predicting the Phils to have a large number of wins this season because of our Fantastic Foursome on the mound. Me, I’ll be happy if they break the team’s record of 101 wins, while spanking the Giants during the two times that the two clubs will meet this year.
It seems that several things had occurred as far as the Phils are concerned.
First, on December 2, the Phils tendered contracts to outfielder Ben Francisco and pitcher Kyle Kendrick to keep them from becoming free agents. Kyle Kendrick will likely be fighting with Vance Worley for the fifth starter’s spot during spring training, while Francisco will be involved in a platoon situation with Dom Brown, as…
on the following Sunday, December 5, it was announced that Jayson Werth had signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals. Although he was expected to leave, Jayson’s signing with another team within the NL East came as a complete surprise to everyone, including Phils manager Charlie Manuel, as everyone had expected him to sign with an AL team, like the Red Sox or the Tigers. Well, Jayson, congrats on the money, but be prepared for a lot of boos, after being given some respectful cheers the first time you come to town in a Nat uniform. (The Nats? I hope you know what you’re doing Jayson.) As for the Phils’ compensation in draft picks, they will get a player in the draft between the first and second rounds, and then a player from the second round, as the Nats’ first round pick did not fall among the first 15 players of the draft.
The next day, December 6, the Hall of Fame Expansion Era Committee announced that it had elected ex-Phil General Manager Pat Gillick (2005-2008) to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Gillick, who was also the GM for the Blue Jays, who won World Series Championships in 1992-1993, to go along with the Phils’ 2008 World Series Championship, as well as being the GM for both the Baltimore Orioles and the Seattle Mariners, in 27 years as a GM, had 11 teams enter the post-season.
The next day, December 7, it was announced that journalist Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News (also formerly on the Philadelphia Bulletin) will receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the BBWAA, for 50 years of meritorious contributions to baseball writing. He will be given the award during the induction ceremonies at Cooperstown, NY, on July 25, 2011.
Then, on December 8, the Phils announced that they had signed former Cardinal relief pitcher Dennys Reyes to a one year deal for $1.1 million, with a $1.35 million option for 2012. Reyes, who has pitched in the major leagues for fourteen seasons out of the bullpen, will be joining his eleventh team when he joins the Phils, as he finished 2010 with a 3-1 record with an ERA of 3.55, as he pitched in 59 games, with a save, as he struck out 25 batters, while walking 21. The Phils will likely be using him as their left handed specialist out of the bullpen, to compliment Antonio Bastardo.
On the 9th, the Phils took three players in the Rule 5 Draft, with the first one, Michael Martinez, an infielder, coming from the Nats organization, via their Syracuse Triple-A affiliate. Phils’ GM Ruben Amaro Jr. jokingly commented that picking him up was the Phils way of getting back at the Nats for taking Jayson. (I just hope the last laugh ain’t on the Phils with this one.) The Phils would also pick up Chris Frey from the Rockies organization and Justin Friend from the A’s in the minor league part of the Rule 5 Draft. I guess it’ll be a while before we see if any of these guys pan out with the Phils.
Also during the week, the Phils brought Dom Brown back from the Dominican League, as they did not think that he was getting the seasoning that they thought he would need to be ready for spring training. Instead, they plan to do it during spring training itself, to get him ready for the regular season.
Lastly, the Phils had announced on Saturday that shortstop Jimmy Rollins had on Thursday undergone minor surgery on his left wrist. They also announced that he should be able to participate in spring training next year.
Last Friday, the Phils announced that the operation on Placido Polanco’s left elbow, to remove bone spurs and to repair the lateral extensor tendon, was a success and that they expect him to recover in six to eight weeks, in time for him to prepare for spring training.
The Phils are still waiting to hear back from Jayson Werth and his agent, Scott Boras, on what Werth is looking for, contract wise.
Speaking of contracts, the Phils announced on Tuesday that first base coach Davey Lopes is leaving. Lopes says that he’s leaving because the team isn’t offering him what he thinks he is worth, based on what he does for the ballclub, besides his first base duties, as he is the main reason that the team have had a highly successful stolen base percentage. In fact, they have lead the league during the four years that he was with the team. His input will be missed. Good luck wherever you land, Davy.
The Phils, this off-season, will be looking to add some new blood to the bullpen, as well as looking for a strong right handed bat to replace Werth, if they are unable to resign him. They will also be, according to Ruben Amaro, Jr., be looking to improve the way the offense operates. (I hope they do, as that was a major handicap this past season.)
With the signing of Carlos Ruiz to a three-year contract worth $8.85 million dollars and the earlier signing of Shane Victorino to a three-year deal worth $22 million dollars, the Phils have signed all four players that were originally arbitration eligible.
Last Friday the Phils announced that they had signed their center fielder, Shane Victorino, to a three-year, $22 million dollars deal, which buys out the final two arbitration years and his first year of free agency. Victorino, who, in 2009, batted .292 with 39 doubles, 13 triples, 10 home runs, 62 RBIs, and 25 stolen bases, will be with the ballclub until 2012. He and the Phils both hope that he will build on his success in both 2008 and 2009.
Carlos’ deal involved three years worth $8.85 million dollars, with a fourth-year club option worth either $5 million dollars or a $500,000 buyout, plus performance incentives based on games started, pending a physical. As with Victorino, the signing take care of the remainder of his arbitration years plus, possibly, his first year of free agency. In 2009, Ruiz batted .255 with 43 RBIs and a career-high 9 home runs. Although he has batted .246 in four years with the Phils, he is a .303 hitter during the playoffs.
There is also a report that the Phils have signed Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies pitcher Jose Contreras to a one-year deal worth about $1 million dollars, to add him to the presently weak bullpen. Contreras, if he has been signed, will most likely be taking Chan Ho Park’s position in the bullpen as long reliever and spot starter. In 2009, for the White Sox and the Rockies, Contreras went 6-13 with an ERA of 4.92 in 28 games (23 starts), striking out 106 batters while walking 53 in 131 2/3 innings of work. Career-wise, he is 71-63 with a 4.61 ERA.
Last December, the Phillies had traded catching prospect Jason Jaramillo to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ronny Paulino, who they hoped would be able to challenge, if not win, the second catcher job from fan favorite Chris Coste. Sadly, for Paulino, his spring training average would show otherwise as he batted only .194 (6 for 31) in thirteen Grapefruit League games with only two doubles and a home run while striking out twelve times. Although Coste didn’t do any better with his at-bats, the Phillies have decided to go with the known quantity instead of the unknown and had put Paulino out as trade bait several days ago. Last night they got a nibble as the Giants had traded to them left-handed relief pitcher Jack Taschner for Paulino.
Although Taschner is having just as bad a spring pitching for the Giants in the Cactus League (6.23 ERA in eight and two-thirds inning), the Phils thinks that he is the man that they need for their bullpen right now. While pitching for the Giants last year, Taschner went 3-2 with a 4.88 ERA in fourty-eight innings as he appeared in 67 games. Career-wise, in four seasons in the big leagues, all with the Giants, Taschner has a career record of 8-4 with a 5.01 ERA in 140 innings as he pitched in 178 games, all in relief.
With the trade, the Phillies now have two left-handers coming out of the bullpen as they wait for J.C. Romero’s return from his soon to be served 50 games suspension. The trade may also have an influence on the battle for the final spot in the starting rotation, as its more than likely now that the left-hander J.A. Happ will either be declared the winner of the battle, over right-hander Chan Ho Park, or he will be sent down to the Lehigh Valley Triple-A team and will be the first pitcher to be called up if any of the members of the starting rotation is either injured or have a melt down. Only time will tell.
My thoughts on the trade? I think it’s a good strategic move on the Phillies’ part. The Phils have moved someone who they saw during spring training couldn’t cut it while getting in return a temporary, veteran, second left-handed arm to go along with their left-handed relief specialist Scott Eyre while they wait for J.C. Romero to come back from his enforced exile, thus preventing the kind of situations with Eyre like had just happened to him this past Thursday against the Yankees. Hopefully, Traschner will be good enough during that 50 games period that he makes it hard for the Phils to let him go when that happens. I would just love to see what the Phils will do if that happens. 🙂