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. 🙂
After trailing for most of the game, the Phillies came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays, 7-6, thanks to a three-run ninth inning.
Chan Ho Park started the game for the Phillies, and produced a not too good outing which may hurt his changes in his battle with J.A. Happ for the last spot in the startingrotation. Park pitched four innings, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out four Blue Jays. Robert Mosebach, who is fighting for a spot in the bullpen, follows, giving up a run on two hits and a walk in one inning of work. Chad Durbin follows him with a 1-2-3 inning, getting two strikeouts. Ryan Madson follows with a scoreless inning of his own, giving up a hit. Gary Majewski pitches two innings, giving up two runs on four hit and a walk as he strikes out a batter, while picking up the win, thanks to the Phillies scoring three runs in the top of the ninth. His spring training record is now 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA.
The Phillies’ bats collected thirteen hits today, with Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz leading the way with two hits each, with one of Werth’s two hits being a solo home run. Miguel Cairo, Jason Ellison, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Eric Bruntlett, Rich Thompson and Chris Coste each got a hit, with Utley’s hit being a two-run home run. Utley would knock in three runs in the game, while Bruntlett knocks in two and Werth and Thompson knocks in a run each. Both Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino returned to the lineup after their stint with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Both players went 0 for 2 with a walk each while Rollins crossed the plate with a run.
In other Phillies’ news, Cole Hamels, who pitched in a minor league game at Clearwater, is expected to pitch on April 10 against the Colorado Rockies in Denver, the Phils’ fourth game of the season, while Brett Myers will pitch opening night at Citizens Bank Park against the Atlanta Braves on April 5, to be followed by Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton.
The Phillies will take the day off tomorrow before facing the New York Yankees on Thursday afternoon for the second time this week, this time from Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. Game time will be at 1:05 pm.
This week’s trivia question is: Name the Phillies’ pitcher who holds the major league record for the most losses in a season? You know where to find it, and I will reveal the answer on Thursday.
The Phillies has just signed former Cincinnati Reds’ reliever Gary Majewski to a minor league contract. The five years veteran finished the 2008 season with a 6.53 ERA in 40 innings of work for the Redlegs. Majewski, a former second-round 1998 pick of the Chicago White Sox, who has a mid-90s fastball and a slider, has a current career ERA of 4.61 from 240 1/3 innings of work. Majewski, who seems to work best with men on base, will probably be invited to Spring Training to fight for a spot in the relief corps, which was the best in the National League in 2008 with a 3.22 ERA.
Majewski, who may not be part of the team at the start of the 2009 season, is more than likely being brought in as a possible insurance policy in case one of those who do make the team inside the bullpen gets injured during the regular season. If that is the case, then this will hopefully end up being a good move on the Phillies’ part, if Majewski can continue working well with men on base, something that the Phillies will probably be needing during the regular season.
Anyway, welcome aboard, Gary. Wish you luck trying to make the team in 2009.
During the 2 pm progress report on Chase Utley’s right hip, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro announced that the Phillies have re-signed veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer to a new two-year contract. The 22 years veteran went 16-7 for the Phils in 33 starts, with a 3.71 ERA in 2008, being the team leader in wins. In a two plus month period, from June 6 to August 21, he would give up three earned runs or less to opposing team. The soon to be 47 years old, has a record of 246-185 in 637 games (548 starts) with a 4.19 ERA, tied for 47th place on the all-time Major League wins list, while being presently third among active starters, with the recent retirement of Mike Mussina of the Yankees and Greg Maddux of the Padres/Dodgers. Since joining the Phillies in mid-2006, he has gone 35-21 with a 4.33 ERA in 74 starts, with the team going 46-28 (.622) in his starts, while pitching the divisional pennant clinchers in both 2007 and 2008, and having a good start in Game 3 of the World Series which the Phillies would win in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth.
Moyer’s re-signing means that the first four spots in the Phils’ starting rotation (Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Joe Blanton, Moyer) is now set, with the fifth and final spot now being an audition between Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, prospect Carlos Carrasco and Chan Ho Park. Whether the Phils will continue to go after free agent Derek Lowe after signing Moyer and Park is a good question, especially when they should be looking out for a right handed power bat to help counter balance their recent signing of Raul Ibanez, and the obvious departure of Pat Burrell, to counter the presently loaded left-handed power of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But such a signing would serve notice to the rest of the National League East, after the Mets’ signing of free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez and their trade with Cleveland for J.J. Putz to be Rodriguez’s set-up man to better their weak bullpen, that the Phillies will be looking to repeat as the National League Champions with a very strong starting rotation.
The Phillies’ bullpen allows a win to slip away as another good outing by Cole Hamels is wasted as the Phillies lose to the Dodgers, 4-3. The Phillies would score their first run in the first inning, as Chase Utley, batting second against Dodgers’ starter Clayton Kershaw, would hit a solo shot, his thirtieth home run of the year, to give the Phillies a quick 1-0 lead. The Dodgers would tie the game in their half of the first, as, with two men on, and two outs, Casey Blake would hit a RBI single, scoring Matt Kemp, who has earlier doubled. The Phillies would retake the lead in the second when Cole Hamels would help his own cause by hitting a RBI single, knocking in Chris Coste, who has earlier singled and has gone to third on Eric Bruntlett’s single, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead. The Phillies would increase their lead in the third as Pat Burrell would hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Jimmy Rollins, who has earlier doubled and then stole third, to make it 3-1 Phillies. The game would then become a pitchers’ duel between Kershaw and Hamels, with Kershaw confounding Phillies’ batters, as he would end up striking out eight Phils and not giving the Phils the clutch hit they needed to increase their lead, before he is finally lifted in the sixth. The Dodgers would make it 3-2 Phillies in their half of the sixth, as, with two men on, and one out, Manny Ramirez would hit a RBI single, scoring Juan Pierre, who has gotten on based earlier with a bunt single and has moved to second on Kemp’s single, while Kemp moved to second. After a Blake ground out, pitcher to first, for the second out of the inning would move the runners to second and third, Hamels would intentionally walk Nomar Garciaparra to load the bases. Hamels would then get out of the inning by getting Russell Martin to line out to Utley. After getting a 1-2-3 seventh, Hamels would be lifted for a pitch hitter in the eighth, handing the ball over to the normally spot on bullpen which, before last night’s game, had only blown eight save opportunities, the best in the National League. Well, the bullpen would blow their ninth save opportunity, as Chad Durbin would, with no one out, load the bases via a single (Kemp), a walk (Jeff Kent) and a hit batman (Ramirez). He would then give up a sacrifice fly to Blake, for the inning’s first out, scoring Kemp and leaving runners on first and second, tying the ballgame. He would then end the inning by getting Garciaparra to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. In the ninth, J.C. Romero, pitching in place of Durbin, would lead the inning off by hitting Martin on the foot. James Loney would then move Martin over to second as he grounds out, first to the pitcher, for the first out of the inning. Andre Ethier would then end the game with a walk-off single to left, scoring Martin, and giving the Dodgers a 4-3 victory.
Cole Hamels gets a no-decision as he is for the seventh straight start denied victory number 10. He would go seven innings, giving up only two earned runs on five hits, while striking out seven Dodgers. Chad Durbin receives his third blown save of the year as he goes an inning, giving up an earned run on one hit, a walk and a hit batter. J.C. Romero would take the lost as he goes a third of an inning, giving up an earned run on a hit and a hit batter. His record is now 4-4 with an ERA of 2.30. Clayton Kershaw would also get a no-decision as he pitches six innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits, while striking out eight. Joe Beimel would pitch a scoreless inning, giving up no hits. Hong-Chih Kuo would get the win, as he pitches two innings, giving up no hits and no runs. His record is now 4-2 with an ERA of 1.70.
Once again the Phillies’ offense has hurt the team as it is unable to do anything after scoring its third run in the third. It didn’t do anything in the middle innings, and blew an opportunity with a runner on second and one man out in the sixth to do further damage. The lack of a pure contact hitter within in the bottom part of the line-up keep hurting them when they need such a hitter the most. Although the bullpen will be the one that folks will be pointing the finger at for the lost, the real culprit will be the still inconsistant offense.
The Phillies (64-55) will continue their four games series with the Dodgers (60-59, 2nd National League West) as they now look to split the series. The game will be played at Dodgers Stadium and will start at 10:10 pm Eastern (7:10 pm Pacific). The Phillies’ starter will be Joe Blanton (6-12 (1-0), 4.71), who is coming off a no-decision against the Pirates on August 8, where he threw seven shutout innings, giving up only one hit, in the Phillies’ 2-0 lost. Blanton will be looking to continue his present string of quality starts while hoping to give the Phillies their first win on the road trip while trying to muzzle Manny Ramirez’s hot bat. The Dodgers will be sending to the mound Brad Penny (6-9, 5.66), who is coming off a win against the Giants on August 8, after coming off the disabled list, where he went only five innings, giving up an earned run on one hit and walking three, in the Dodgers’ 6-2 win. He hopes to get his second straight win after coming off the dl which hoping the Phillies’ bat will continue being inconsistent.
With the lost, the Phillies’ lead over the Met shranked to one game, as they defeated the Nationals, and to one and a half games over the Marlins as they beat the Cardinals. The Phillies’ lead over the Braves is presently at eight and a half thanks to a rain out, but they are now playing a day/night doubleheader with the Cubs and are presently trailing them in the first game, 4-0 in the top of the fourth. The Phillies hope to come back from their second straight defeat to the Dodgers and try to salvage a series’ split while hoping that their opponents will not get any closer.
Jamie Moyer defeats the Marlins for the tenth time in his career as the Phillies regain first place as they beat the Marlins, 4-2. The Phillies would score their first run in the second inning as Ryan Howard takes Ricky Nolasco deep as he would hit his major league leading twenty-ninth home run of the year, to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, the Phillies would take a 2-0 lead, as Geoff Jenkins would hit a RBI single, knocking in Pat Burrell, who has earlier doubled. In the third, Chase Utley would get a RBI single, scoring Jimmy Rollins, who has earlier doubled, to make it 3-0 Phillies. In the fourth inning, Jenkins would make it 4-0 Phillies as he would hit a solo home run, his eighth home run of the year. The Marlins would try to come back in their half of the fourth. The inning would start with Moyer walking Hanley Ramirez. Jeremy Hermida would follow with a single, thanks to some miscommunication among the outfielders, which would end up sending Ramirez to third base. Jorge Cantu would then hit a RBI single, to make it a 4-1 Phillies’ lead, scoring Ramirez, and sending Hermida to second. Mike Jacobs would then follow with a single to right that would leave the bases loaded. Moyer would then buckle under and get Dan Uggla to hit into a 6-4-3 double play, that while scoring Ramirez to make it a 4-2 ballgame, and send Cantu to third, would break the back of the Marlins’ rally, as it would be the first two outs of the inning. Moyer would then get Josh Willingham to pop out to Howard to end the inning. That would end up being the game’s final score as Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge would combine to one hit the Marlins for the last three innings, with Lidge recording his twenty-first save of the year in twenty-one tries.
Jamie Moyer would get the win, going six inning, giving up only two earned runs on four hits. His record is now 9-6 with a 3.90 ERA. Chad Durbin (1.2), J.C.Romero (0.1) and Brad Lidge (1) would combine to keep the Marlins scoreless for the last three innings, while giving up only one hit between them, while Lidge would get his twenty-first save of the year. Ricky Nolasco would get the lost, as the Phillies would finally be able to score some runs off of him. He would go seven innings, giving up four earned runs on seven hits. His record is now 10-5 with a 3.78 ERA. Renyel Pinto would pitch two-thirds of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. Doug Waechter would pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. Joe Nelson would pitch a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.
The Phillies would start the second half on a winning note, although the offense would only get eight hits, but five of them would be for extra-bases (3 (2B), 2 (HR)). Ryan Howard would hit his ninth home run in his last thirteen games, as his adds to his lead in both home runs and RBIs (85). During the game, Charlie Manuel would get ejected for the second time this season because of his questioning the umpire’s call that Shane Victorino, as he attempted to bunt himself on, has offered at the pitch that hit him. The Phillies have in the meantime confirmed that the Blanton trade will send Adam Eaton to the bullpen, while Joe Blanton will be starting against the Mets this coming Tuesday.
The Phillies (53-44) will continue their three games weekend series with the Marlins (50-46) tomorrow with an afternoon game. The game will be played at Dolphin Stadium at 3:55 pm. The Phillies will start Kyle Kendrick (8-3, 4.47), who is coming off his second straight no-decision, this one against the Diamondback on July 11, as he goes six and one third innings, giving up four earned runs on nine hits, in the Phillies’ 6-5 win. Lifetime against the Marlins he is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts. He will be trying for his ninth win of the year, while trying to increase the Phillies present winning streak to three games. He will be opposed by Scott Olsen (5-4, 3.77), who is coming off a victory over the Padres on July 9, where he went eight innings, giving up only one earned run on four hits, in the Marlins’ 5-2 win. He will be trying to get the Marlins back into the thick of the pennant race.
The Phillies’ win put them back into sole possession of first place, a full game ahead of the Mets, as the Mets lost their game to the Reds. The Marlins are now two and a half games behind the Phils in third place. The fourth place Braves are still six and a half games behind as they won their game. The Phillies will try to win their third straight series, while trying to increase their lead in the East.
The Phillies (52-44) will start the second half of the season with a three games weekend visit with the Marlins (50-45) in Miami. The first game of their three games series will be played at Dolphin Stadium and will start tonight at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies will send to the mound the veteran Jamie Moyer (8-6, 3.95), who is coming off a recent victory against the Cardinals on July 10, where he went seven innings, giving up only one earned run on seven hits, in the Phillies’ 4-1 win. He has already faced the Marlins twice so far this year, winning both starts. In those two games, he has gone a combine total of fifteen innings, giving up just five earned runs on nine hits. He will be going for his ninth win of the season, while trying to start off the Phillies’ second half with a win. He will be opposed by Ricky Nolasco (10-4, 3.70), who is coming off fifth straight wins, although his last start was a no-decision against the Dodgers on July 12, where he went six innings, giving up just two earned runs on five hits, in the Marlins’ 5-3 win. In those five wins, he would go a combine total of thirty-seven and two-thirds innings, giving up only six earned runs on twenty-four hits. He has already faced the Phillies twice this year, winning both starts, going twelve and two-thirds innings, giving up only two earned runs on eight hits. He will be going for his eleventh victory of the season, while also trying to set the tone for the Marlins’ second half, especially after Andrew Miller has just been put on the disabled list.
As the Phillies get ready to start the second half, they have the knowledge that, like it or not, they are a rather good second half team. They also know that, with the Blanton trade, they now have an overabundance of starters, although not all of them are presently good (Adam Eaton and Brett Myers). The team hopes that either a returning Myers or the newcomer Blanton will become their number two starter, to help balance their ace Cole Hamels, while Jamie Moyer and a continuing to improve and impress Kyle Kendrick will become their no. 3 and 4 pitchers, respectively. And it is rather encouraging to learn that J.A. Happ, in his first start after being sent back to Lehigh Valley, has made a very strong statement to bring him back to the Majors, as he shut down the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in seven innings of scoreless baseball. At this point, the odd men out appear to be Eaton and Myers, with Eaton being the most in danger of saying good bye to Phillies’ pinstripes at the moment. Myers would be next, especially as long as he continues to be a headcase if he doesn’t show any improvement after coming back from the Iron Pigs and Reading. But with all that said and done, the Phillies still need to find a new reliever, preferably a leftie, to help the bullpen pick up the slack while Tom Gordon is still out and to help take some of the pressure off him when he returns. Lastly, hopefully the All-Star break will have done most of the players some good, especially Jimmy Rollins, who the Phillies need to get on base to help jump start the offense. (Jay-Ro, a word of advice, please lay off the first few pitches that are thrown at you, unless you are very, very sure that you can hit it away from a fielder. That’s all I’m asking. Be more selective at the plate. Oh, and Ryan Howard, will you please stop swinging at pitches that you can’t reach. Please???? The sooner you do, the sooner the pitchers will stop throwing their junk at you.)
The Phillies will begin their second half now tied for first place with the Mets, who will be continuing a four games series with the Reds in Cincinnati. The third place Marlins are trailing both teams by a game and a half as they prepare to host the visiting Phillies. The fourth place Braves trails the two division leaders by six and a half game as they prepare to host the Nationals for three games. The Phillies hope to perform better against Eastern Division rivals that are not the Braves, while trying to get back sole control of first place against the presently streaking Mets and the pesky fish.