The Phillies loses another close game in Spring Training, this time in spite of taking the lead with a five-run sixth inning, thanks to Blaine Neal being unable to hold off the Pirates in the ninth, as the Phils lose 6-5. Joe Blanton starts the game off for the Phils, going four and two-thirds innings, giving up only two runs on five hits and a balk while he struck out two. Robert Mosebach follows for an inning and a third, giving up a run on two hits and a walk. Ryan Madson and Scott Nestor follows with both men pitching an inning in relief, with each giving up a hit apiece as Madson strikes out three batters and Nestor two. Blaine Neal pitches an inning, losing the game as he gives up three runs on three hits, with the big blow being Jeff Salazar’s three-run home run, and a walk while striking out one. Blaine’s spring training record is now 0-2 with a 23.63 ERA, as he is also credited with a blown save. So far this spring, the Phils first four starters are pitching well, while both J.A. Happ and Chan Ho Park are both pitching well to claim the fifth and final spot in the rotation. If this keeps up, the starting rotation might become the strength of the Phillies arsenal this season like the bullpen was last season.
Among the batters, the Phils were quiet for most of the game, but had a five-run explosion in the sixth. The batters had nine hits, with Jason Donald leading the way with two hits, as he went 2 for 5 with a run scored, as he now has a .361 spring training batting average. Eric Bruntlett, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, John Mayberry, Jr., Miguel Cairo and Carlos Ruiz got the other Phils hits. Howard got two more RBIs with a two-run blast, his fifth home run of the spring, while Ibanez, Cairo and Ruiz knock in the other three runs. Donald is impressing the brass with his batting, as is Mayberry. Also, Pedro Feliz was in the lineup, playing third base for several innings, although going 0 for 2.
The Phillies continue Grapefruit League play by facing the Houston Astros this afternoon, while the Astros will also be involved in a split squad game with the New York Mets.
In other Phillies news, it has been announced that Chase Utley might be ready to participate in some games next week, putting him on schedule for actually playing on Opening Night next month with the Atlanta Braves. If so, that would be very good news for the Phils. And ex-Phil and now Tampa Bay Ray, Pat Burrell, took out a pair of big ads which appeared in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, thanking the fans for their support during his nine seasons as a Phil. A real nice move by Pat the Bat.
The Phillies will officially begin their defense of their World Series title tomorrow, as pitchers and catchers will officially report at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. Although the team is, for the most part, already set, there will still be some battles for spots on the team. Among them will be, who will be the fifth starter and who will be taking up residence in the bullpen between J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Chan Ho Park, and prospect Carlos Carrasco; who will be playing back-up to Carlos Ruiz behind the plate, Chris Coste or Ronny Paulino; and lastly, who will be playing second base, if Chase Utley is not ready by opening day, April 5, Eric Bruntlett or prospect/rookie Jason Donald, or someone else. Other questions to be answered will include: will Raul Ibanez be the improvement to the departed fan favorite Pat Burrell that everyone keep saying that he is; will the Phillies be able to get lefty Will Ohman to replace J.C. Romero during his 50 games suspension, or will they be able to find someone in-house; will they be able to get Nomar Garciaparra to sign on the dotted line to become their right-handed bat off the bench to compliment left-hander Greg Dobbs, or will they be able to do it with left-handers Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins; will the afformentioned Utley actually be ready to start at second base on opening day, or will the Phils tell him to give his right hip the rest that they think it will need for him to be fully ready; will Pedro Feliz’s back be ready to let him play during the spring; will the Phils be able to get somebody to take Adam Eaton off their hands, or will they just let him go; and lastly, will anyone among the invitees be able to get a job with the main team, or will they be spending the season in the minors or with another MLB team.
Those are the questions. They should all be answered by the time the Phillies will start their title defense at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday night, April 5, against the Atlanta Braves.
Me, I can’t wait to find out the answers. 🙂
Free agent Pat Burrell, the former left fielder for the 2008 World Champions Philadelphia Phillies, has just finished signing a two-year, $16 million contract with the 2008 American League Champions Tampa Bay Rays. Burrell, who, until signing with the Rays, has spent all nine years of his major league career with the Phillies, having a career batting average of .257, while hitting 251 home runs (3rd place in team history) and 827 RBIs (7th place) for the red pinstripes. Burrell will more than likely be acting as the Rays’ designated hitter, although he has said at one time that he would prefer playing in the field, thus keeping his mind in the game.
We’re going to miss you here in Philly, Pat, and I, for one, wish you success in Tampa, as long as it isn’t against the Phils.
Raul Ibanez is now officially a Phil as he passes his physical and has just officially signed his three-year deal with the Phillies for $31.5 Million dollars. With his signing, Ibanez will become the Phillies new left fielder, replacing Pat Burrell, whose lead off double in the bottom of the seventh inning in the rain suspended fifth game of the 2008 World Series would lead to the game’s winning run and the Phils winning their second World Championship in the team’s 126 years history.
Goodbye, Pat. Thanks for the nine years of helping the team become World Champs and I really do wish you luck in joining a new club. Just don’t sign with another team in the NL East, okay? 😉
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 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.