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Archive for February, 2008

Casey Smith Pulls Phils Past Pirates

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, February 29, 2008 07:16 PM Comments: 4

The Phillies were down for most of today’s game against the Pirates, but a dark horse infielder made the Buccos pay with a 9th inning homer. The Phils won 5-4.

Casey Smith went 2-3 with the homer. At 28, he’s more likely depth for AAA Allentown, but hey, you never know. Among regulars, Shane Victorino hit a triple that was almost an inside-the-park home run. Something tells me he’ll fill Rowand’s void in center field just fine.

Pitching-wise, it was a mixed bag, for sure. JD Durbin did himself no favors, allowing two runs and five hits in two innings. Shane Youman, a left-hander battling for a bullpen spot, did horribly, walking four in one inning. But Gary Knotts grabbed the win with two scoreless innings, and JA Happ showed promise with a scoreless two frames. And Joe Bisenius also performed well, putting up the same line as Happ.

What we got out of this game:

  1. JA Happ and Joe Bisenius are the youngsters in the lead.
  2. Casey Smith is a nice addition for the deepest part of the infield depth chart.
  3. JD Durbin can’t stumble much more than he already has.
  4. Shane Youman shows the need for better bullpen help was essential.
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Myriad Hopefuls To Toe Rubber Against Pirates

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, February 29, 2008 12:32 PM Comments: 13

Today the Phillies take on the Pirates yet again.

JD Durbin makes his first appearance of the spring in the start. He’ll face Ian Snell of the Pirates. After Durbin, it’ll be Shane Youman, Joe Bisenius and JA Happ.

That means it’s money time. “The Real Deal” is trying valiantly to secure the long-man spot in the bullpen; if not, he’s in line to be released, as he’s on his last option. Durbin needs to impress today.

Youman is gunning for the LOOGY spot, and should have the upper hand. Travis Blackley, a LOOGY hopeful, pitched a fine three innings Wednesday, and has gained considerable press for that performance. Fabio Castro, the other major player in the LOOGY race, is yet to pitch.

Bisenius is a dark horse to reach the bullpen, but has a shot nonetheless. He made the team last year out of camp, mainly because of the injury to Freddy Garcia. This time around, he’ll need to do a great job to maybe sneak in as the 25th man.

For Happ, it’s an important Spring. If he performs well, he could be on the 25-man roster. But if he doesn’t, his star could fade for good. Josh Outman’s seesaw performance yesterday improved Happ’s chances at making the club, so he’ll have to throw down the hammer today.

Game time is at 1:05.

  • 13 Comments
 

Savery Punished As Pirates Win, 11-6

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, February 28, 2008 06:57 PM Comments: 0

The youth movement for the Phillies isn’t quite ready to attack. In an 11-6 loss to the Pirates, Joe Savery was hit hard, tagged for five runs including a three-run shot by Nate McLouth.

Savery, from Scott Lauber:

“You have to take the good with the bad. I wasn’t happy with the results, but I learned a lot. I got a couple of strikeouts and a broken bat, so I know my stuff is good enough. It’s just a matter of locating it better.”

He did strike out two, which is a positive, but if there’s one thing to take from Joe, it’s he’s got a long way to go before he’s in Philadelphia.

The same may be true for Josh Outman, who also struggled in an inning-plus. Meanwhile, Kyle Kendrick pitched a Kendrickian effort in three innings, giving up one run. At the back end, Francisco Rosario gave up a run and walked a few, being exactly what we expect from him. And Lincoln Holdzkom didn’t do his chances any favors, walking a bunch and getting into a bases loaded jam in the ninth. Compared to Travis Blackley so far, Holdzkom is a long shot.

Offensively, Pedro Feliz continued to strike the ball well, while the boys came alive in the third inning. Chase Utley got his first Spring hit — an RBI double — before Ryan Howard crushed his first homer of the Spring. Right now, there’s nothing to be worried about at the end of the clubhouse.

Tomorrow, the Phils meet the Buccos again. It’ll be JD Durbin against Ian Snell.

What we got out of this game:

  1. Lincoln Holdzkom needs to pitch well next time out, or else.
  2. Joe Savery’s Philadelphia debut looks further off than we may have thought.
  3. The offense is already in June mode.
  4. Eric Bruntlett (playing centerfield) makes it easier to give up on Wes Helms for good.
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Payroll Crosses $100M Barrier; Phils Set To Face Bucs

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, February 28, 2008 12:18 PM Comments: 21

The Phillies payroll will be above $106M in 2008, the largest it’s ever been.

There were ideas the Phils payroll wouldn’t cross the $100M barrier, but now that it has, it’s going to be difficult to turn back. Ryan Howard will ask for even more money in 2009, while Cole Hamels will be pushing for his extension as arbitration lingers.

It’s nice to see the Phillies payroll is now over the $100M barrier, but monetary values aren’t the whole story. It’s about the quality you get with the money you spend; for the most part, I think the Phils do a good job with getting quality and not spending ludicrous amounts of money.

Imagine spending $70M+ for JD Drew, like the Red Sox last year? Though the Sox won the World Series, did Drew and his mounds of money have a lot to do with it?

I’m all for the Phillies spending on players, because usually, it’s the spenders that win games (Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, Tigers). Still, there’s something to be said about spending wisely, and I for one think the Phillies do that well.

***

Today the Phillies play the Pirates in game two of the Grapefruit League set.

Pitchers: Kyle Kendrick, Joe Savery, Josh Outman, Francisco Rosario, Lincoln Holdzkom.

Five pitchers means we won’t get to see much of all of them, but the important one here has to be Holdzkom. Like Blackley yesterday, Holdzkom will have to impress. Remember, Rule V players are on the 25-man roster the entire year or they’re released. It’s imperative for Holdzkom — a sinkerballer from the Sox organization — to perform well.

Savery and Outman will be interesting to watch, but not much is riding on their outings. Rosario, however, will have to perform well. A right-handed relief spot is seemingly up for grabs, and he could be the favorite with a strong outing today. If he doesn’t make the team, he has to be let go, as he’s out of options.

Game time is at 1:05.

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Blackley, Offense Shine In Phillies Win

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, February 27, 2008 10:15 PM Comments: 4

Sure it’s the first game of the Grapefruit League, but the outlook has to be positive. Everything seemed to go well for the Phillies in an 8-1 win over the Reds.

Jamie Moyer pitched three scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and striking out three. Game reports say Reds hitters looked baffled by what the 45-year-old wiseman was tossing out there. Moreover, Travis Blackley had a fine outing, pitching three scoreless innings of his own to get the win. In the race for No. 5 starter, give Blackley the early advantage. Carlos Carrasco — the franchise No. 1 prospect — pitched a scoreless ninth.

The offense got an early run thanks to a Ryan Howard double (he scored a few hitters later), but erupted off relief pitcher Gary Majewski. Pedro Feliz, Carlos Ruiz and So Taguchi all singled in the big inning, but the big blow came off the bat of Greg Dobbs, who slammed a three-run homerun to blow the game open for the Phightins.

So, one down, a bunch more to go before March 31. But the results are clearly good.

What we got out of this game:

  1. Travis Blackley will challenge for the No. 5 starter spot.
  2. Jamie Moyer looks like he can still fool some young guys.
  3. Ryan Howard is spraying the ball.
  4. The offense can still hit.

Next up it’s the Pirates. Kyle Kendrick will start for the Phillies, with Joe Savery and Josh Outman taking the rubber afterward. Watch to see if Kendrick looks as sharp as last season, and if Outman has the stuff to make a jump to the Bigs this season.

  • 4 Comments
 

Phils, Reds Tangle In Grapefruit Opener

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, February 27, 2008 10:28 AM Comments: 5

Today is the first game of the Grapefruit League season, as the Phillies face the Reds at 1 p.m.

Jamie Moyer gets the ball for the Phils, while Jeremy Affeldt (remember him from the NLDS) gets it for the Reds. Travis Blackley, Ryan Madson and Carlos Carrasco (bumped from Saturday) will also pitch.

What to watch for?

Well, not much, but let’s hope nobody gets hurt. If anything, Blackley will have to make a nice first impression if he wants to get a 25-man roster spot, and Carrasco will begin a 2008 that could end in Philadelphia, if the top prospect plays his cards right.

But really, sit back, carve open a fresh grapefruit, wash it down with some Long Trail Blueberry Wheat beer and enjoy Game 1 of the 2008 marathon, however you will.

  • 5 Comments
 

Billy Wagner Gets Steamed In Exhibition Game

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, February 27, 2008 12:00 AM Comments: 15

Since we all love a good Billy Wagner anger-trip story, David Lennon of Newsday has this unbelievable moment from the Mets game against the University of Michigan:

Billy Wagner nearly started a beanball war with the University of Michigan after one overzealous Wolverine tried to bunt on him in the fourth inning. With a runner on second and one out, centerfielder Kevin Cislo pushed his bunt foul.

Wagner, clearly annoyed, shook his head a number of times, and Cislo wisely swung away, grounding out. Wagner said he couldn’t believe that Cislo, a junior, bunted.

“If he got that bunt down, I would have drilled the next guy,” Wagner said. “Play to win against Villanova.”

I could say a number of things. I mean, the Wolverines here are playing to win — they’re playing the Mets! It’s a competitive game for these guys — a game most of them (who won’t make the show) will never forget. So he bunted, Billy, run a little bit, go for the ball, toss it to first. I could say that (I just did). Or I could point out the interesting option Wagner took of mentioning Villanova. That seems weird. Or I could quote the great Harry Doyle, who told us The Duke in “Major League” threw at his kid in a father-son game. But let me back you up to Friday, when Wagner railed on the “young” Phillies:

“If one of their little 25-year-olds wants to come out and whip my ass, they can brag that they whipped a 37-year-old man’s ass. Well, good for them. It’s always good to play that underdog role.”

Obviously, Wagner has a real problem with young adults. I wonder if he hates Facebook, iPods and the new NBC series “Quarterlife.” Just more bait to throw at the rat when he steps foot in Philadelphia April 18.

By the way, the Wolverines played to win, and the Mets played to tie. Final score: 4-4.

  • 15 Comments
 

Myers Gets Opening Day Nod

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, February 26, 2008 07:14 PM Comments: 11

Per Scott Lauber, Charlie Manuel has named Brett Myers the Opening Day starter.

When the Phils take on Nationals March 31, it’ll be Myers — not Cole Hamels — taking the hill. Myers was last season’s Game One starter. Manuel said the idea was to set up the rotation for the first three series’ of the year (vs. Washington, at Cincinnati, at Mets).

Lauber pointed out Myers and Hamels would miss the Mets series, but that’s if Hamels starts Game Two. Of course, the Phils could start with a six-man rotation. Which means they’re probably giving Chad Durbin or Kris Benson one of the starts. And that means Hamels will be set to face the Mets at their home opener, which could be against Johan Santana.

UPDATE (11:45 p.m.): David Murphy of the Daily News theorizes the move was more a hat tip to Myers for being a reliable and solid team player and a nod to No. 39 that he’s not losing a starting job because of the Lidge injury. That also seems feasible, as the Opening Day starter role is sometimes more of a symbolic gesture than a strategic move. Charlie Manuel did say the left/right options favor a Myers-Hamels-Kendrick-Moyer-Eaton rotation, so that could also be reasoning.

I don’t really take much seriousness about Opening Day starter, since the rotation changes usually by the end of the second round because of the off days. As we know, Manuel loves alternating lefties and righties in both the batting order and in the pitching staff, so this is a move right up his alley. But Opening Day talk aside, I do hope Manuel has considered Hamels vs. the Mets at Shea.

Also, the exhibition game vs. Florida State was canceled due to a bad rainstorm. Joe Savery will now pitch Thursday against Pittsburgh along with Josh Outman, while Carlos Carrasco will take the mound Friday, also against Pittsburgh.

  • 11 Comments
 

Top Prospects To Pitch In Phils Exhibition Opener

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, February 26, 2008 04:35 PM Comments: 0

Baseball America has released its top-100 prospect list, and three Phillies made the cut. Check out the list over there.

Here are the Phillies listed (the text is a by-the-numbers statistic):

54. CARLOS CARRASCO
RHP, PHILLIES
1: Pitchers who have appeared in the last two Futures Games; Carrasco is the only one.
Opening Day Age: 21
ETA: 2009

76. ADRIAN CARDENAS
2B, PHILLIES
14: Errors at second base in 2007, his first season at the position.
Opening Day Age: 20
ETA: 2010

90. JOE SAVERY
LHP, PHILLIES
.356, 20: Batting average and homers in three seasons at Rice, though he’ll concentrate on pitching as a pro.
Opening Day Age: 22
ETA: 2010

Definitely surprising that three Phillies made the list. Savery pitches tonight for the Phils against Florida State University. He’ll be followed by Carrasco, then Joe Bisenius, Joshua Outman and JA Happ.

This first game is basically a chance to see the young kids do their thing. It won’t reveal much at all, considering these are college hitters they’ll be facing. But it’s a start, regardless.

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Phillies Claim Infielder Olmedo

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, February 26, 2008 04:33 PM Comments: 1

The Phillies picked up Ray Olmedo off waivers today. The reserve infielder hit .216 with 0 HR in 51 AB for Toronto last season. He was placed on the 40-man roster, and John Ennis was taken off.

If anything, Eric Bruntlett now has competition for the 25-man roster, but this move is puzzling. Olmedo is no offensive force, and Bruntlett is better defensively. Why waste the cash on this guy when they need pitching?

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