Since the last time I’d written something here, the Phils have come to terms with both Ben Francisco (January 15) for one year for $1.175 million dollars with performance bonuses and with Kyle Kendrick (January 18) for $2.45 million, also for one year, to avoid arbitration with both players, thus having all of their players signed up for at least one season. Last season, 2010, in 88 games (28 of which were starts), Francisco batted .268 (48 for 179), as he hit thirteen doubles and six home runs and knocked in 28 RBIs. He also went .282 pinch hitting (11-39), hitting three doubles and knocking in 7 RBIs. This season, Francisco will be used in a platoon with Dom Brown in right field to replace Jayson Werth, who had during the off-season signed a long term contract with the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, Kendrick last season pitched in 33 games (a career-high), 31 of which were starts, as he went 11-10 with an ERA of 4.73, as he pitched in 180.2 innings and struck out 84 batters (both career highs) while walking 49, who, depending on what the team might do, will either be their long man coming out of the bullpen, or fighting for the fifth starter spot with Vance Worley.
As the Phils prepare for the start of spring training next month in Clearwater, Florida, they are looking at their options, thanks to their present embarrassment of riches with their starting pitching staff, which at the moment consists of Roy Halladay (Ace), Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt (who at the moment are being nicknamed either the Four Aces, R2C2 or the Fantastic Four by the fans) and Joe Blanton, as they decide whether they really need to trade Kentucky Joe to another team that needs a good starter to help give them some salary flexibility, or to just keep Joe, and use him as their fifth starter, knowing that he so far have had a good track record pitching for the Phils during the two plus seasons since they’d gotten him from the Oakland A’s to help them down the stretch towards their 2008 World Series Championship. My opinion is that they should hang onto Blanton, unless he brings in a good righthanded bat that’ll help the team in the line-up. Either way, he would be helping the team, especially as the fifth starter, since he is presently seen as a good third or fourth starter on most teams.
Lastly, Charlie Manuel’s contract is coming up this season. Although it is more than likely that the Phils will give him an extension, Charlie had announced on WIP radio yesterday, when asked about it, that he would like a three year contract, and prefer that he signed the contract extension as soon as possible so that it won’t become a distraction for the ballclub during the season, although he does see himself as signing a contract at some point this season. Me, sign him up as soon as possible Ruben. Uncle Chuck seems to know what he’s doing with the players, and we all know that they like playing for him.
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.
With Manager of the Year, there are two different versions of the Award, one that is given by the newspaper size publication, The Sporting News, which has been awarding the prize since 1936 (to one manager in both leagues, before giving an award to a manager in each league, since 1986) and the award given by the Baseball Writers Association of America to a manager in each league since 1983. Phillie managers have won only three awards, two from the Sporting News and one from the BBWAA. They were won by two Phil managers.
The first Phillie manager to win a Manager of the Year Award was Danny Ozark, who won The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award in 1976, as he led the Phils to their first National League Eastern Division crown, and their first championship since the 1950 Whiz Kids, as the Phil won the NL East with a record of 101-61 (which is still a team record) with a .623 winning percentage. The second and, so far, only other Phil manager to win a Manager of the Year Award was Larry Bowa, who, in 2001, won both The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award and the BBWAA Manager of the Year Award, as he led the Phil to a second place finish in the NL East, the Phil’s best finish since they had finished in third place in 1999, with a record of 86-76, and a winning percentage of .531.
Phil managers have won one Manager of the Year in the 20th Century and two (both to Larry Bowa) in the 21st Century. Neither manager is in the Hall of Fame, either as a player or as a manager.
Who would be the next Phil manager to win either version of the award? I have no idea, although Charlie Manuel could win it this year, because of how the Phils won the Eastern Division pennant this past season.
The Phils have just announced their 25-man roster for the National League Divisional series. They plan to take 10 pitchers with them for the short five-game series and 15 position players. Among those who were left off of the roster were Danys Baez (big surprise after what happened on Sunday), David Herndon (was somewhat expected) and Kyle Kendrick (somewhat shocked, but I can live with it), while those who were placed on the roster includes Antonio Bastardo (expected, as they need a second left hander to help J.C. Romero, and he has been pitching very well lately), Dom Brown (I just hope they’ll use him) and Greg Dobbs (Oh, I know that there’s going to be a lot of Phils fans who will think that Uncle Chuck has lost his mind letting him anywhere near the roster.)
Starters: Infield: Ryan Howard (1st Base), Chase Utley (2nd Base), Jimmy Rollins (SS), Placido Polanco (3rd Base)
Outfield: Raul Ibanez (Left), Shane Victorino (Center), Jayson Werth (Right)
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz
Bench: Brian Schneider (C), Mike Sweeney (1st Base), Wilson Valdez (Inf), Greg Dobbs (Inf), Ben Francisco (OF), Ross Gload (Inf-OF), Dom Brown (OF)
Pitchers: Starters: Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton (will be coming out of the bullpen this series)
Relief Corps: Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero, Antonio Bastardo, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge
Although not on the roster, Baez, Herndon and Kendrick will travel with the team, along with catcher Paul Hoover and pitcher Jamie Moyer, in case an injury happens to someone on the 25-man roster.
Two defensive mistakes by the Phils in the seventh inning allowed the Mets to score five runs in that inning, as the Phils’ winning streak ends at eleven games, as they lose to the Mets, 5-2. The magic number stays at two as the Braves have earlier defeated the Nationals.
The Phils took the lead in the first as, with one man on, and with two men out, Ryan Howard hits a two-run home run, his thirty-first home run of the year, knocking in Chase Utley, who had earlier singled, giving the Phils a 2-0 lead. The game then became a pitchers’ duel between Phils’ starter Kyle Kendrick, who, in the first six innings, would give up only three hits, while striking out four, while the Mets’ starter Dillon Gee kept the Phils off-balanced for the next five innings, giving up only three more hits and two walks, while striking out five Phils. Kendrick’s good fortune would come to an end in the seventh. Carlos Beltran started the inning off with a single. The next batter, David Wright followed by hitting a grounder that went to the left of Kendrick. After getting the ball, Kendrick threw it to second to start a possible double play with Utley, but Wilson Valdez steps in front of Utley, and then touched second base, forcing out Beltran. But, because of his momentum, he is not able to throw to first, allowing Wright to reach first safely. Ike Davis then followed with a single, sending Wright up to second base. Angel Pagan then got on base on a fielding error by Howard as he allowed the ball to eat him up, before going into right field, loading the bases as Wright stops at third, and Davis stops at second. The next batter, Josh Thole, followed with an RBI single, knocking in Wright, cutting the Phils’ lead to 2-1, while moving up a base both Davis and Pagan, leaving the bases loaded. Charlie Manuel would then come out and take the ball from Kendrick, replacing him with Chad Durbin. Pinch hitter Lucas Duda welcomes Durbin with a bases clearing double, scoring Davis, Pagan and Thole, giving the Mets a 4-2 lead, with still only one man out. After Durbin strikes out Gee for the inning’s second out, Jose Reyes makes it a 5-2 Mets’ lead with an RBI double, knocking in Joaquin Arias, who was pinch running for Duda. That would be the final score as the Mets would shut down the Phils for the final three innings, with Hisanori Takahashi recording his eighth save of the season by getting Carlos Ruiz to fly out to center for the final out.
Kyle Kendrick took the lost as he pitches six and one-third innings, giving up four runs, three of which were earned, on six hits, while striking out four. His record is now 10-10 with a 4.76 ERA. Chad Davis collects his first blown save of the year as he pitches two-thirds of an inning, giving up a run on two hits, while striking out two batters. J.C. Romero and David Herndon pitches two scoreless innings, giving up three hits (Romero (1), Herndon (2)) and a walk (Romero). Dillon Gee gets the win as he pitches seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out five. His record is now 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA. Elmer Dessens receives his ninth hold of the year as he pitches two-thirds of an inning, getting out both man that he would face. Pedro Feliciano records his twentieth hold of the year as he pitches a third of an inning, getting out the only man that he would face. Hisanori Takahashi records his eighth save of the year as he pitches a scoreless inning, giving up a walk, while striking out a batter.
The Phils had only five hits in the game, singles by Chase Utley, Jayson Werth and Kyle Kendrick, a double by Wilson Valdez and a two-run home run by Ryan Howard, knocking in the Phils only runs. The Phils offense got shut down after scoring in the first innings.
The Phils (93-62, 1st) will conclude their regular season home schedule with a day game against the Mets (75-79, 4th), with the Phils presently trailing late in the game.
Thanks in part to a bad call by the first base umpire, the Phils drop a close one to the Astros as former Phil Brett Myers come back to stifle his ex-teammates, 3-2.
The Astros took the lead in the first as, with runners on the corners, and with nobody out, Hunter Pence hits a sacrifice fly, scoring Michael Bourn, who had earlier singled, stole second base and then moved up to third on Angel Sanchez’s single, giving the Astros a 1-0 lead, while sending Sanchez, who had just singled, on to second base. The Astros then tried to increase their lead as Sanchez tried to score on Carlos Lee’s double, but was instead gun down at home plate, 8-4-2, for the inning’s second out. The Phils tied it up at one-all in the third as Carlos Ruiz hits a lead-off home run, his sixth home run of the year. The Phils then took the lead later in the inning as, with two men on, and with one man out, Chase Utley hits an RBI single, knocking in Jimmy Rollins, who had earlier singled, before moving up to second on Lee’s fielding error, moved up to third on a fielder’s choice grounder hit by Shane Victorino, as Joe Blanton, who had earlier singled, and had gone to third on Rollins’ single, is thrown out at home, 3-2, giving the Phils’ a 2-1 lead, while Victorino, who was safe at first on the fielder’s choice, moved up to second base. The Phils tried to add to their lead in the sixth as, with a runner on second, Jayson Werth, via a double, and with two men out, after Raul Ibanez had just struck out, swinging, the Astros proceeded to intentionally walk Ruiz, to get to Wilson Valdez, but, after ball four is thrown, Astros catcher Humberto Quintero threw a strike to second base, picking off Werth, 2-6, who’s mind appeared to have been somewhere else, to end the inning. This base running blunder might have come back to haunt the Phils, as, in the eighth, with two men on, and with two men out, the Astros took the lead as Lee hits a two-run single, scoring pinch hitter Jason Michaels, who had earlier singled, had moved up to second on Bourn’s bunt single, and moved to third on Sanchez’s sacrifice bunt, 5-4, and Bourn, who had gotten on base with a bunt single, when he had in fact went out of the base line to avoid being tagged by Ryan Howard, but was called safe by the first base umpire, which lead to a long argument by Charlie Manuel before he was ejected from the game for arguing the call, and then went to second on Sanchez’s bunt, giving the Astros a 3-2 lead. That would end up being the final score as Brandon Lyon put down the Phils in the ninth for his seventh save of the season.
Joe Blanton receives a no-decision as he pitches seven strong innings, giving up just one run on six hits, while striking out nine. Ryan Madson records his fourth blown save of the year before taking the lost as he pitches an inning, giving up two runs on three hits, while striking out a batter. His record is now 4-2 with a 3.58 ERA. Brad Lidge pitches a scoreless inning, giving up a hit, while he strikes out one. Brett Myers gets the win as he pitches seven inning, giving up two runs on nine hits and a walk, while striking out nine. His record is now 9-7 with a 3.08 ERA. Tim Byrdak collects his sixth hold of the year as he pitches a scoreless inning, giving up a hit. Brandon Lyon receives his seventh save of the year as he pitches a scoreless inning, giving up a walk.
The Phils had ten hits in the game, with Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth both leading the team with two hits each, with Rollins’ two hits being singles, while Werth’s hits were a single and a double. Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruis, Wilson Valdez, Joe Blanton and pinch hitter Dom Brown had the other six Phils’ hits, all singles, except for Ruiz’s solo home run, with Utley knocking in the other Phil’s run. The offense did not get the much needed key hit last night.
The Phils (70-54, 2nd East) will continue their series with the Astros (55-69, 4th Central) with a night game tonight. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phils will send to the mound Cole Hamels (7-10, 3.51), who is coming off a lost to the Giants on August 19, as he went only five innings, giving up five runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out only five, in the Phils’ 5-2 lost. In his last three starts, his record is 0-3, as he pitched twenty innings, giving up seven runs on eighteen hits and three walks, while striking out twenty-four. He will be hoping that the bats will finally give him some runs so that he can finally end his win-less streak. The Astros will counter with Bud Norris (6-7, 5.23), who is coming off a win over the Mets on August 19, as he pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on two hits and two walks, while striking out four, in the Astros’ 3-2 win. In his last three starts, his record is 2-0 with a no-decision, as he pitched twenty and two-thirds innings, giving up eight runs on fourteen hits and five walks, while striking out twenty-one. He will be going for his third win in a row. The Phils’ offense will be out to score runs for Hamels tonight.
In a dramatic turn of events, the Phils come back to defeat the Dodgers by scoring eight runs in the last two innings, with the last four coming off of Jonathan Broxton in a wild ninth inning, winning the game with a Carlos Ruiz walk-off double, 10-9.
The Dodgers took the lead in the first as, with runners on the corners, and with two men out, Ronnie Belliard hits an RBI single, scoring Scott Podsednik, who had earlier singled, moved to second on Ryan Theriot’s ground out, 4-3, then went to third on Andre Ethier’s ground out, 4-3, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead, while sending James Loney, who had just walked, on to second base. Matt Kemp then gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead with an RBI single, knocking in Loney, while sending Belliard to second. James Carroll then made it a 3-0 Dodgers’ lead with an RBI single of his own, scoring Belliard, while sending Kemp to third, before moving up to second on the late throw to third. The Phils got a run back in the second as, with two men on, and with one man out, Joe Blanton hits an RBI ground out, 5-3, knocking in Carlos Ruiz, who had earlier singled, then went to third on Wilson Valdez’s double, making it a 3-1 Dodgers’ lead, while sending Valdez, who had just doubled, over to third base. The Phils then cut the Dodgers’ lead down to 3-2 in the fourth as, with a runner on second, and with one man out, Ruiz hit an RBI single, scoring Jayson Werth, who had earlier singled, and then stole second base. The Dodgers would get one of those runs back in the fifth as, with two men on, and with one man out, Belliard hits a sacrifice fly, scoring Theriot, who had earlier singled, and had gone on to third on Ethier’s single, making it a 4-2 Dodgers’ lead. The Dodgers then made it 6-2 in the seventh as, with one man on, and with one out, Kemp hits a two-run bomb, his nineteenth home run of the year, knocking in Loney, who had earlier singled. The Dodgers added to their lead in the eighth as, with two men on, and with two men out, Casey Blake hits an RBI single, scoring Podsendik, who was earlier safe at first on first baseman Mike Sweeney’s fielding error, then moved up to second on Ethier’s single, making it a 7-2 Dodgers’ lead, while sending Ethier, who had earlier singled, over to third base. Kemp then made it an 8-2 Dodgers’ lead with an RBI single, knocking in Ethier, while sending Blake up to second base. Carroll then gave the Dodgers a 9-2 lead with an RBI single of his own, scoring Blake, while sending Kemp over to third, before moving up to second on the throw. The Phils, after falling behind by seven runs, then started to chip away at the Dodgers’ lead. In their half of the eighth, Placido Polanco started the inning off with a single. Sweeney followed him with a single of his own, sending Polanco to second base. With Werth batting, Ronald Bellsario threw a wild pitch, sending Polanco to third base, and Sweeney up to second base. Werth then hits a two-run single, scoring both Polanco and Sweeney, cutting the Dodgers’ lead down to 9-4. With Ben Francisco batting, Bellsario committed a balk, sending Werth up to second base, although it took the home plate umpire a long time before finally saying that Bellsario’s fake to third and then to first move was a balk, since there was no body on third at the time, as he needed to be prompted first by Phils’ manager, Charlies Manuel, and then by the rest of the umpiring crew. Francisco then hits an RBI double, bringing in Werth, cutting the Dodgers lead down even further to 9-5. After Ruiz hits a bullet to third, that was grabbed by third baseman Blake, for a 5-3 ground out, the inning’s first out, Valdez hits an RBI single, knocking in Francisco, making it a 9-6 Dodgers’ lead. The Dodgers would then get out of the inning as pinch hitter Ben Francisco flies out to left, and then, after Jimmy Rollins walks, Raul Ibanez ended the inning by hitting into a force out, 4-6, wiping out Rollins at second base. After Danys Baez shut down the Dodgers in the top of the ninth, the Dodgers brought in Jonathan Broxton to nail down the game for them. He did not do so. After falling behind Polanco 2-0, he hit him with his third pitch, as Polanco turned his body so that the ball would not hit his right elbow, sending Polanco to first. The next two batters, Sweeney and Werth, then walked, loading up the bases, with nobody out. Ben Francisco then followed by hitting what should have been a doubleplay grounder to third, but was misplayed by Blake who pulled up his glove too soon, becoming a fielding error, allowing both Polanco and Sweeney to score, cutting the Dodgers lead down to 9-7, while sending Werth up to second base. Now, with two men on, and with still nobody out, Ruiz hits a 1-1 slider towards left center field, where it would hit against the wall and bounce in for a double, knocking in first Werth, and then Francisco, who was on Werth’s heels, with the winning run, as the Phils had a 10-9 walk-off win.
Joe Blanton gets a no-decision as he pitches five and two-thirds innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and four walks, while striking out three. Chad Durbin pitches an innings and a third, giving up two runs on two hits and a walk, while striking out one. J.C. Romero pitches two-thirds of an inning, giving up two unearned run on a hit, while striking out a batter. Jose Contreras pitches a third of an inning, giving up a run on three hits, while striking out a batter. Danys Baez gets the win as he pitches a scoreless inning, giving up a hit. His record is now 3-3 with a 5.40 ERA. Clayton Kershaw also receives a no-decision, as he pitches six and two-thirds innings, giving up two runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out four. Hong-Chih Kuo records his seventeenth hold of the year as he pitches a third of an inning, getting out the only man that he would face. Ronald Belisaro pitches to four batters, giving up four runs on four hits, a wild pitch and a balk. Kenley Jansen pitches a third of an inning, giving up a hit. George Sherrill records his third hold of the year as he pitches two-thirds of an inning, giving up a walk. Jonathan Broxton blew his fifth save of the season, before taking the lost, as he faces five batters, giving up four runs on just one hit, two walks and a hit batter. His record is now 4-4 with a 3.50 ERA.
The Phils had twelve hits in the game, with Carlos Ruiz leading the team with three hits, two singles and a double, knocking in three runs, including the game winner, as he raised his batting average to .294. He was followed by Placido Polanco, Mike Sweeney, Jayson Werth and Wilson Valdez, who all had two hits apiece, with Polanco, Sweeney and Werth’s hits all being singles, with Werth knocking in two runs, while Valdez’s hits were a single and a double, as he knocks in a run. Ben Francisco had the other Phil hit, a double, as he knocks in two runs. Joe Blanton knocks in the other Phil RBI with a ground out, while the other run came in on an error. The offense this time was able to come back, in spite of the bullpen, although helped by a Broxton melt down in the ninth. Seriously, either the Phils are deep in his head (Thank you Matt Stairs), or the Phils got some supernatural assistant from a young male fan in the ninth. Either way, I think Joe Torre might think twice and maybe a third time before using him with such a small lead in the ninth against the Phils. Not so good things seems to happen to him. 😉
The Phils (64-50, 2nd) will now go to New York for a three-game set with the Mets (57-57, 4th). The game will be played at Citi Field and will start at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phils will send to the mound Cole Hamels (7-8, 3.45), who is coming off a lost against the Mets on August 7, where he pitched seven strong innings, giving up only one run on six hits, while he struck out eleven, in the Phils’ 1-0 lost. In his last three starts, his record is 0-1 with two no-decisions, as he pitched nineteen innings, giving up eight runs on eighteen hits and four waks, while striking out twenty-nine. He will be trying to get even with the Mets for his last lost. The Mets will counter with R.A. Dickey (7-5, 2.65), who is coming off a lost against the Phils on August 8, as he went only three innings, giving up four runs, on eight hits and a walk, in the Phils’ 6-5 win. In his last three starts, his record is 1-1 with a no-decision, as he pitched seventeen and a third innings, giving up six runs on nineteen hits and seven walks, while striking out four. He hopes that the Phils won’t be able to handle him again. The Phils will be trying to take the momentum from their ninth-inning win last night into New York City for the weekend.