Well, spring training has just started, and it seems that a few Phils have decided to show up in better shape then they did when they left Citizen Bank Park after the victory parade last Halloween.
Ryan Howard has shown up at Bright House Field weighing 30 pounds less. Brett Myers has meanwhile lost 20 pounds and Scott Eyre has lost 10. Hhhhmm, 30, 20 and 10? Is someone trying to tell us something? Hopefully, it will all translate into better seasons for all three players.
Also, Ryan has said that he plans to work on his defense this spring, and is working out with third base coach Sam Perlozzo, and that some of the things that he has shown him has clicked. Sam, if you are able to get Ryan to stop leaking balls during the season, I’ll try and see if I can get the other fans to raise a moument in your honor.
Meanwhile, Brett plans to do a lot better this season than he did during the first half of last season. We’ll all be watching you very closely Brett, as the batters won’t be the only ones seeing if you can continue what you did after coming back from the all-star break last season.
Phils’ pitching coach Rich Dubee had announced that he sees Kyle Kendrick as the present favorite to win the number five starting job in the Phillies’ starting rotation, when he commented that it was Kyle’s job to lose. Hear that Kyle, that means that only you can pitch yourself out of that position right now. And, I hear that both J.A. Happ and Chan Ho Park want your job badly, especially Park. So, you better show Dubee and the rest of the brain trust your best stuff while you’re out there pitching this spring, or you might be seeing yourself either heading back to the minors, or being used as trade bait.
The Phillies this weekend have signed Miguel Cairo to a minor league contract and an invite to spring training while they still continue to see if they can get Nomar Garciaparra to signed as their righthanded bench bat. Cairo spent the 2008 season playing the infield for the Seattle Mariners as he batted .249 with no home runs and 23 RBIs in 221 at-bats. A career .266 hitter, Cairo has been a journeyman in the majors for 13 seasons. Well, I’ll say this for the team, they certainly won’t be lacking for players if someone goes down during the season.
Lastly, Francisco Rodriguez, the Mets’ new closer has once again says that the Mets will be the team to beat this season. Yawn!!! Jimmy Rollins, when are you going to defend your copyright against these New Yorkers? But seriously, F-Rod, saying it is one thing. Prove it on the playing field, mister!!!
There are several things that are rear to do in Baseball. One is to pitch a no-hitter, whether its ends up being a perfect game or not. The other is hitting for the cycle. Of the two feats, hitting for the cycle is a very rare thing to do while being a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, as it has been accomplished only eight times by a Phil, with one player actually doing it twice.
For those of you who might not know what hitting for the cycle is, hitting for the cycle means that in one game, you have hit a single, a double, a triple and a home run, in at least four official at-bats. To date, hitting for the cycle has occurred only 248 times in Major League History. Players playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates have done it the most times with 23, while no players have so far done it for either the San Diego Padres, the Florida Marlins or the Tampa Bay Rays. The last major leaguer to have hit for the cycle has been Adrián Beltré of the Seattle Mariners, who had accomplished the feat on September 1, 2008, just hours after Stephen Drew of the Arizona Diamondbacks had done it.
Among the Phillies, the first one to hit for the cycle would be Lave Cross, who would perform the feat on April 24, 1894, in a 4-1 win over the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (now the Los Angeles Dodgers). Several months later, on August 17, Sam Thompson would become the second Phillie player to accomplish the feat, doing it during a 29-4 rout of the Louisville Colonels (Yes, Louisville, Kentucky, actually had a major league franchise before the start of the 20th Century.). It would be 33 years before the third Phillie to hit for the cycle, Cy Williams, who would win the National League home run title that same year, would do the deed, performing it on August 5, 1927, in a 9-7 victory over the Pirates. The fourth Phillie to hit for the cycle, Chuck Klein, would perform it on July 1, 1931, in a 11-6 win over the Chicago Cubs. Less than two years later, Klein would become the only Phillie player to perform the deed twice, as he would hit for the cycle again on May 26, 1933, during the year he would win the NL triple crown (batting average, home runs, RBIs), doing it in a 5-4 lost to the St. Louis Cardinals. The sixth Phil to join the club would be Johnny Callison, who would accomplish the deed on June 27, 1963, over 30 years after Klein’s second performance, doing it in a 13-4 rout of the Pirates. It would be another 32 years before the next Phil, Greg Jefferies, would hit for the cycle, doing it on August 24, 1995, during a 7-6 win over the Dodgers. The most recent Phillie player to do it, David Bell, would did it on June 28, 2004, in a 14-6 victory over the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Senators).
In the eight times that a Phil has hit for the cycle, the Phillies have won all but one of those games. The team that the cycle has been done against the most has been the Dodgers and the Pirates, who have both been on the wrong end twice, while the Louisville Colonels, the Cubs, the Cardinals (the only team to win when a Phil hit for the cycle) and the Nationals (as the Expos), have been the other four. Two Hall of Famers, Sam Thompson and Chuck Klein (who did it twice) have both hit for the cycle while being a Phil.
When will another Phil hit for the cycle? Your guess is as good as mines.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com
Well, some news occurred this weekend and today, both Phillies and non-Phillies related.
First, Phillies related news. Phillies.com has reported during the weekend that the Phillies are showing some interested in former Dodgers shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. Garciaparra, who was only able to play in 55 games during the 2008 season, most of which were played in the second half of the season, after returning from an injury, batting .264 while hitting eight home runs and 28 RBIs, is a career .314 hitter after 13 seasons playing for the Red Sox, the Cubs and the Dodgers, where he has a combine total of 1702 hits for 5426 at-bats in 1369 games, knocking in 920 RBIs while scoring 910 runs. Of his 1702 hits, he has 362 2Bs, 52 3Bs and 226 HRs for a total of 2846 total bases. He also has a .525 slugging percentage and a .363 on-base percenatge. Nomar, beside playing shortstop, has also played third base and first base. If the Phillies do sign him to a deal, which will probably be for no more than one year, he would more than likely be the right handed bat that they’ll be wanting to come off the bench against lefthanded pitching to complement left hander Greg Dobbs. We’ll see if they will be able to get him. But, if they do, and he returns to his earlier form, other teams may not like to face a combo of Dobbs and Garciaparra coming off of the Phillies’ bench (depending on which of the lefties they still have (Matt Stairs, Geoff Jenkins) that they don’t trade).
Next, the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday afternoon knocked off the NFL Champions New York Giants, 23-11. I am sure that Giants fans are still not believing this. Hate to break it to you guys, but it actually happened. And you can all thank a certain thigh shooter for this lost. 🙂 Anyway, next stop for the Eagles, Phoenix, and a date with those other Cardinals, the ones of the football variety. Hopefully, these Cardinals won’t realize that they’re in a championship game until its over.
And lastly, the votes are in, and the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, via the Writers’ Ballots are….drum roll please ladies and gentlemen….Rickey Henderson, in his first year on the ballot, and Jim Rice, on his 15th and last year on the ballot.
Rickey Henderson, formerly of the A’s, the Yankees, the Blue Jays, the Padres, the Astros, the Mets, the Mariners, the Red Sox and the Dodgers, was elected, on his first year of eligibility, with 94.8 percent of the votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, being placed on 511 of the 539 ballots cast. Henderson, who has played from 1979 to 2003, is considered the greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history, and is the current leader in stolen bases with 1406 and runs scored with 2995. He also has the record for the most steals in a season, stealing 130 bases in 1982, while also having the most lead-off home runs in Major League history with 81. Henderson, in 25 seasons, has a career batting average of .279, with an on-base percentage of .401 and a slugging percentage of .419, has 3,055 hits, 510 of which were 2Bs, 66 3Bs and 297 HRs. He has won the AL MVP in 1990 and has two world series rings, being a member of the 1989 A’s and the 1993 Blue Jays World Championship teams.
Jim Rice, formerly of the Red Sox, was elected to the Hall in his fifteenth, and final, year of eligibility, with 76.4 percent of the vote, being named on 411 of the ballots. A member of the 1975 American League Champions Red Sox, Rice, who spent his entire 16 years career (1974-1989) with Boston, ended his career with a .298 batting average, with a slugging percentage of .502 and an on-base percentage of .352, has 2452 career hits, knocking in 1451 RBIs, while scoring 1249 runs, hitting 373 2Bs, 79 3Bs and 382 RBIs. His career totals in hits and home runs, along with his 4129 total bases, are all Red Sox career marks for a right handed batter. He won the AL MVP in 1978, as well as being a member of eight AL All-Stars teams. Rice’s selection has been an uphill climb, with him gathering more votes each year he was on the ballot.
Congratulations to both Henderson and Rice on their election, and hoping that the third highest vote getter on the ballot, Andre Dawson, with 67 percent (361) of the votes, will get the nod next year.
The Phillies continue contract talks with 22 years veteran Jamie Moyer, trying to nail him in with a two-year, about $15 Million dollars deal, partly explaining why the Phillies were still in Las Vegas, beside getting ready to sign Raul Ibanez. Talks between the Phils and Moyer has in fact increased since their signing of former Seattle Mariners outfielder Ibanez has all but ended the possibility of the Phillies resigning their free agent left fielder, Pat Burrell. If Moyer does resign with the team, it would mean a starting roster consisting of Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Joe Blanton and Moyer, with the fifth spot to be fought over between Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, minor leaguer Carlos Carrasco, and Adam Eaton.
Correction, the battle for the final spot in the starting rotation has increased by one as former Dodgers Chan Ho Park has agreed to a one-year contract with the Phillies for $2.5 Million dollars, with bonuses that could push it up to $5 Million. With Park’s signing, the Phillies have added depth to the bullpen, while also adding another possible starter in the fight for the fifth and final spot in the rotation, if Moyer resigns with the ballclub. The 15 years veteran last year went 4-4 wiith a 3.40 ERA in 54 games with the Dodgers.
Hopefully this latest move will help the Phillies as they continue to see if they can get either Moyer or free agent Derek Lowe.
Raul Ibanez, a left-handed free agent outfielder, has just signed a three-year, $30 Million contract with the Phillies, pending on him passing a physical. His signing, once he has passed the physical, will more than likely mean that the Phillies will no longer be persuing right-handed free agent outfielder Pat Burrell, while adding another potent left-handed bat to their lineup. Ibanez, who had spent the last five years playing for the Seattle Mariners of the American League, ended 2008 with a .293 Batting Average, 23 homers, 110 RBIs, a .358 On-Base Percentage and a .472 Slugging Percentage, would be replacing Pat Burrell’s 30 homers plus bat.
I will say this, I was not expecting Ruben Amaro Junior to actually pull off something like this, especially as he has been saying for the past month or so that pitching was the team’s number one priority, and that he works for a bunch of cheap skate owners. I don’t know, maybe the owners have decided to spend some money after all. If so, I hope this will turn out to be a good move for the team, although they should’ve gone after a rightie, to take some of the pressure off of their other lefties in the lineup, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. I’m going to give this signing the benefit of the doubt, for now. But, if it goes south in ’09, I’m going to be having a hard time not being a Phillies boo bird.
Oh, Ruben, by the way, about the pitching, are you still going after Jamie, or is Derek Lowe the one who is now in your sights? Or, is it both pitchers that you’re after now? Just checking, is all.
The Phillies (53-46) goes to New York to meet the Mets (53-46) for an important three games series for first place in the National League East. The first game of the series will be played tonight in Shea Stadium and will start at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies will send to the mound their new acquistion, Joe Blanton (5-12, 4.96), who is pitching for the first time since his start as an Oakland Athletics against the Mariners back on July 9. That would end up being his twelfth lost of the season, as he would pitch six innings, giving up six earned runs on nine hits, in the A’s 4-6 lost. This will be both Blanton’s first start as a Phillie, and his first start as a National League pitcher. But this will not be the first time that he has faced the Mets. In two previous starts, for the A’s, he has shut them down for fifteen innings, giving up no runs. This will be Blanton’s first start in thirteen days and the Phillies hope that he will be well rested and ready to continue his success against the Mets, as the Phillies will try to win their first series of the second half and regain control of first place. The Mets’ starter will be Johan Santana (8-7, 3.10), who is coming off a no-decision against the Reds on July 17, as he would last only four innings, giving up five earned runs on six hits, in the Mets’ 10-8 come from behind victory. Santana has lost four of his last seven starts, during which his record would be 1-4 with two no-decisions, both of which were lost by the Mets, where he would pitch a combine total of forty-five innings, giving up eleven earned runs on thirty-eight hits. His last start against the Phillies was on July 4, one of his two no-decisions, during which he would go eight innings, giving up only two earned runs on six hits, in the Mets’ 3-2 lost. This year, his record against the Phils is 1-0, with a no-decision, where he has given up five earned runs in fifteen innings of work. He will be trying for his ninth win of the year while trying to set up the tone for the Mets’ series with the presently floundering Phils.
The Phillies’ offense will be once again trying to regain the potent offense that they had in late May and early June, which seems to have vanished after their twenty run outburst in St. Louis on June 13. The Phillies have not done too well this season against divisional opponents, outside of the Atlanta Braves, presently being only 3-7 against the Mets. The Phillies will be trying for their first series win against the Mets, as well as of the second half, as they hope to take advantage of Mets’ closer Billy Wagner’s present day-to-day status because of a bad shoulder. But, in order to do that, they will need to start playing more situational baseball, the lack of which manager Charlie Manuel has blasted them about after losing Sunday’s game with the fish. If they don’t, they will definately be saying hello to the Nationals before the end of August.
The Phillies are presently tied with the Mets’ for first place in the National League East, both leading the Marlins by a full game, and the Braves by six, after the Braves’ defeat of the fish last night in Miami in the first game of a three games set between the two teams.
The Phillies (42-36) continue their three games interleague series with the Oakland Athletics (42-34, 2nd American League West) with a night game at McAfee Coliseum. The game will start at 10:05 pm Eastern (7:05 pm Pacific). The Phillies’ starter will be Kyle Kendrick (6-3, 5.06), who is coming off a bad start against the BoSox on June 18, where he would only go three innings, giving up six earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 7-4 lost. He will be trying to get back to his winning ways while trying to pitch the Phils into a win. His opponent will be Greg Smith (4-5, 3.51), who is coming off of a no-decision against the Diamondbacks on June 19, where he would pitch five innings, giving up an earned run on three hits, in the A’s 2-1 defeat. He will be looking to improve his record while trying to see if he can continue the Phils’ present offensive woes.
Speaking of the offense, it is sucking on all four cylinders, and they are presently wasting a bunch of generally good performances by their starters. As mentioned the other day, the batters have really got to start acting more patiently while in the batter box, as well as acting a bit smarter. They really need to stop with the first ball swinging, swinging at pitches way out of the strike zone and swinging at stuff in the dirt. As long as they keep doing the above, they are going to make good pitchers look better and make very bad pitchers look like they’re Cy Young Award candidates. If nothing esle, they need to start thinking when they are starting rallies.
While they continue their series in Oakland, the Marlins will be playing their second game with the Tampa Bay Rays in Miami, the Mets will be finishing up their series at Shea against the Marniers and the Braves will be finishing their home stand with the Brewers. The Phillies will be trying to once again increase their lead in the National League East, not expecting their opponents to once again all lose on the same night.