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Archive for June, 2009

All Star Balloting: Utley & Ibanez are Safe

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, June 29, 2009 01:27 PM Comments: 12

Raul Ibanez will most likely be headed to his first All Star Game and Chase Utley will likely be headed to his fourth.  With the All Star voting ending on Thursday, it appears that Ibanez and Utley will be playing in the mid-summer classic.

Ibanez leads all outfielders with 2,970,139 votes.  Utley leads all second baseman and is second among all National League players in total votes with 3,510,082.

Other Phillies are going to need a lot of help within the next four days:

  • First Base: Ryan Howard remains second behind Albert Pujols.  Howard trails by about 2 million votes.
  • Third Base: Pedro Feliz remains fourth, almost a million votes behind leader David Wright.
  • Shortstop: Last week, Jimmy Rollins fell to second, but it was still a close race.  Hanley Ramirez extended his lead to 254,000 votes.
  • Catcher: Carlos Ruiz fell out of the top five.
  • Outfield: Shane Victorino remains in fifth place and Jayson Werth remains in ninth place.

Click here to vote for your favorite Phillies or players you think deserve to play in the All Star Game!

  • 12 Comments
 

How Will Benching Help Rollins?

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, June 29, 2009 10:00 AM Comments: 76

Jimmy RollinsAfter being benched for four straight games, Jimmy Rollins will be back in the starting lineup on Tuesday. Instead of giving Rollins a double-whammy by moving him down in the batting order, Rollins will return as the lead-off hitter.

Rollins has been struggling all season long, showing no signs of coming out of his slump. He has had some success when moved down in the lineup, however Charlie Manuel insisted that Rollins is the Phillies lead-off man and that he needed time to clear his mind and start fresh.

Manuel told Rollins he did not need to take batting practice.  Rollins shagged fly balls on the first day, hit in the cages on the second day, and fielded grounders on the fourth day.

Manuel and Rollins have had numerous and long conversations, but Rollins has declined to comment publicly on the situation.

“I think it [helped him],”  Manuel said. “That’s why I wanted to do it. I think it’s going to help. We’ll see the way he performs and the way he goes about playing.”

From the information gathered, it doesn’t appear Rollins studied film, or focused on fixing his mechanics.  The benching served as a mental break more than anything.  Charlie Manuel knows his players, but how will the benching help Rollins?

  • 76 Comments
 

A Look Ahead: Rivalry Week

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Sun, June 28, 2009 10:44 PM Comments: 23

Chase UtleyWhat started as a forgettable week ended with the first series win since the Phils took two of three to the Mets earlier this month. The Phils will get their chance to add to their current two game streak when they head south to Atlanta to take on the Braves  Tuesday. Following the three games down south, the Phillies will come back home for a weekend series against the New York Metropolitans.

The Phillies enter the week with a 39-34 record but are only 3-7 in their last ten games. The Braves sit five games back on the Phillies and are 4-6 in their last ten. The Mets meanwhile are sitting just two games back on the Phils heading into Sundays game against the Yankees.

Neither the Braves or the Mets have been especially hot and this week could provide an opportunity for  Phillies to put some space between their division foes as the month of July gets into full swing.

Pitching will be key this week with the Phillies throwing out right-handed Joe Blanton on Tuesday to face Atlanta’s ace, Derek Lowe. Wednesday, Cole Hamels will try to right his wrongs as he faces youngster Jair Jurrjens, who has been great for the Braves this season, despite his 5-6 record. It is reported that the Phillies will call up young pitcher Carlos Carrasco to make his season debut on Thursday. Carrasco struggled early on this season in the minors but has gotten better as of late.

Earlier it was announced that Jimmy Rollins would be starting Tuesday and will be leading off. Rollins as well as the rest of the line up have a tough test Tuesday against Lowe and have not hit well against him. Also this week, the Phils hitters will have to face one of the games best pitchers in Johan Santana. On a brighter note the Phillies will be receiving an injection of life when Raul Ibanez returns in time for the weekend showdown.

The Phillies could go 4-2 this week if their hitting stays consistent and the pitching finds a groove. Anything less and the Phils could surrender the division lead and be looking up at their northern rivals. The Phillies will be receiving a nice gift from the Mets in that Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes will not be playing due to injury. My advice to the Phils? Accept this gift and pounce on the Mets this weekend and the Fightins’ may finally begin to run away with the division. Hold on to your seat pennant race fans, this week promises to be a wild ride.

  • 23 Comments
 

Phillies Scouting Pitchers

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sun, June 28, 2009 10:14 PM Comments: 47

The Philadelphia Phillies will likely be buyers at the July 31 trade deadline.  In the past, they may have been looking for a right-handed bat, but now the priority is pitching, starters and relievers.  There are a few pitchers the Phillies scouted.

  • They have looked at Brad Penny the most, but it is unsure whether the Red Sox make him available with Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list.
  • They scouted Chien-Ming Wang in case the Yankees decide to make him available.
  • They have also looked at Jarod Washburn and Jason Marquis.
  • 47 Comments
 

Phils Move Past Jays with Utley’s Clutch Triple

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sun, June 28, 2009 05:50 PM Comments: 32

The Phillies won their first series since early June with Sunday’s 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Phillies were trailing 4-1 after Jamie Moyer gave up two home runs to Aaron Hill and a two-run shot to Jose Bautista. Moyer gave up five hits over five innings, however the long ball hurt him.

Eric Bruntlett had been hit-less since filling in for Jimmy Rollins, who was benched for the fourth straight day. With two men on base and no outs, Bruntlett laid down a perfect bunt and beat out the throw. With the bases loaded, Carlos Ruiz hit a grounder to third baseman Scott Rolen, who threw to second hoping to turn a double play, however Bruntlett’s hard slide avoided the twin killing. A run scored, and Shane Victorino’s sacrifice fly brought in another run.

The Phillies were within one until Chase Utley smoked a triple off the right center field wall bring in the tying and go-ahead runs. With their power, the Phillies aren’t known to play small ball, but used it in the fourth inning putting together a big inning.

Chan Ho Park and Ryan Madson were able to hold the Blue Jays and Brad Lidge closed it out with his fourteenth save of the year. With the win, Jamie Moyer passed Bob Gibson for 43rd on the all time wins list with 252.

  • 32 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (38-34) At Blue Jays (41-35)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sun, June 28, 2009 12:00 PM Comments: 194

Philadelphia Phillies (38-34) at Toronto Blue Jays (41-35)

Jamie Moyer (5-6, 5.97 ERA) vs. Brian Tallet (5-4, 4.36 ERA)
Time: 1:07 p.m at Rogers Centre
Weather: Dome
TV: MY PHL17
Twitter: Phillies Nation

The Phillies look to win their first series since the beginning of June when the took two out of three from the New York Mets.  Hopefully they saved some runs from last night’s offensive outburst.

Jamie Moyer has been very inconsistent this year.  In his last start against the Tampa Bay Rays, Moyer gave up only one run over six innings.  Moyer pitched six innings against the Blue Jays last week.  He allowed six earned runs on ten hits and two walks.

Tallet is coming off a six innings shutout against the Cincinnati Reds. Tallet has faced the Phillies as a reliever, but never as a starter.

Old Scratch Amber LagerYour Gameday Beer:We’re staying in the amber beer category, this time it’s Old Scratch Amber Lager. This malty thirst-quencher is produced by Flying Dog in Maryland, you know, the brewery with the cool labels by Ralph Steadman (of Fear and Loathing fame). This is another beer enjoyed ice-cold on a summer day, but unlike a cold Bud, this has serious – yet balanced – flavor. Pick up some at your local Costco or Sam’s in the variety pack and pair it with Cajun grilled chicken. – By Brian

Go Phillies!

  • 194 Comments
 

Carrasco Expected To Be Promoted

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sun, June 28, 2009 11:53 AM Comments: 15

Antonio Bastardo will be unable to make his next start on Wednesday due to a strained shoulder.

Cole Hamels will start  Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves.  The Phillies are expected to call up Carlos Carrasco from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and he will make his Major League debut on Thursday.

  • 15 Comments
 

Weekly Wrap: Misery, Thy Name Is Phillies

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Sun, June 28, 2009 10:07 AM Comments: 5

Here’s your weekly wrap, written by Phillies Nation contributor Jason Bintliff.

Misery

Coach John McKay of the 0-14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers once said, “We can’t win at home, we can’t win on the road and quite frankly, we’re running out of places to play.” If you have been following our beloved Fightins’ the past couple of weeks, you can certainly sympathize with coach McKay’s sentiment.

Despite a nice display of power on Saturday against the Bluebirds in Canada, misery has been the word of the week. Absolute misery.

Believe it or not, despite the Phillies struggles, this past week’s blame cannot be blamed all on starting pitching. With the exception of Antonio Bastardo’s poor outing Thursday and Cole Hamels’ undoing Friday, The starters have had a decent week. If you go back to last Sunday against the Orioles, Hamels was dominant, fanning ten Baltimore batters en route to a 2-1 loss. Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer also gave the team strong outings, going seven and six innings respectively, allowing two earned runs apiece. However, the pitcher-of-the-week award goes to no other than Mr. J.A. Happ. His numbers were fantastic. In 15 innings, Happ struck out nine and walked four. Not only did Happ gather a win in the process, he also became the second Phillies starter this season to pitch a complete game shutout.

Bad bullpen

The bullpen, on the other hand, has been completely abysmal. Ryan Madson, after saving his first two games as a closer, has looked uncomfortable at best in his new role. He blew one save this week and all of a sudden, Brad Lidge has looked like the savior we all thought him to be from the start. Sure, Lidge gave up two runs during Friday’s game, but Madson is clearly not built for the closer role and we have to just hope that Lidge gets his A-game back.

Just as tragic has been the middle relief. JC Romero has not found his groove since returning from his suspension, and this past week showed no signs of settling in. Mix in an off-the-field incident and Romero is having a tough stretch. Chan Ho Park looks to be a serviceable long man, but is still prone to giving up a big inning; plus, after injuring his knee Friday, who knows how he will respond.

The bottom line is the bullpen is banged up and overworked, which can certainly be attributed to the extended season last year and the overuse caused by a poor start for the Phillies starting five. If the starters don’t go further into games and the Phillies don’t find help, the bullpen, which was a strength last season, will continue to be their biggest weakness this season.

The lineup is a different story altogether. Saturday was a fun game to watch. Take from it what you will. Perhaps it’s a signal that the slump is turning to prosperity. However, Jimmy Rollins is still a concern and Raul Ibanez’s absence continues to soften the Phillies’ offensive output. July 3 cannot come fast enough. The Phillies have struggled since Ibanez’s trip to the disabled list and appear anemic. Carlos Ruiz and Pedro Feliz have both cooled off and John Mayberry Jr. has been inconsistent, all playing a role in the recent downturn. Jayson Werth had a nice week, batting .386 with five ribbies and five runs scored. He ceremoniously capped his week with two bombs Saturday. Chase Utley has looked steady, and Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard have both hit around .250.

It’s simple. The Phillies bats have not been hot and the pitching was mediocre at best. When those two elements come together, a perfect storm of bad baseball is created, and we as fans are left getting soaked in the downpour of misery.

  • 5 Comments
 

Ace in a Hole

Posted by Ben Seal, Sat, June 27, 2009 08:30 PM Comments: 22

Cole HamelsAnd with another week comes another disappointing Cole Hamels start. His effort Friday night was mediocre at best, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits in a loss to the Blue Jays. But the most disheartening aspect of Friday’s outing was his inability to take the team deep into the game. A string of foul balls and just-outside pitches forced his pitch count over 100 before Charlie Manuel took him out of the game in the fifth inning.

This has been a recurring theme for Hamels (4-4, 4.44 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) this season, who has nibbled around the strike zone far too often, seemingly eager to induce swing-and-miss strikeouts rather than simply get batters out. He consistently spots his fastball inches off the plate, begging hitters to take a hack at a pitch they cannot reach. And in return, they sit and watch as his pitch count rises. While his fastball desperately tries to paint the black, Hamels’ grade-A changeup becomes an afterthought. If batters don’t need to worry about his fastball, the changeup loses effect, instead becoming a tantalizing, but resistible, pitch.

The Phillies defense is the best in the NL with a .990 fielding percentage, so Hamels shouldn’t be so afraid to ask for help with a few groundballs. For Hamels to last deeper into ballgames he must begin to attack the strike zone with his fastball, getting ahead early in counts and inducing easy outs. J.A. Happ did this to perfection today against the same Blue Jays team, earning himself quick innings by going after hitters early. After 14 starts Hamels has gone 7 innings or more just three times. Whether due to injury or inability, he has gone 5 innings or less five times now.

Until Hamels is able to re-think his pitching strategy, he will continue to labor through long innings, and as the summer heat rolls in his starts will be cut shorter and shorter.

He has not been the ace of a staff. In a segment on ESPN discussing the aces who pitched Friday night, Hamels wasn’t even mentioned. And truthfully, he did not deserve to be. He has not been the World Series MVP who mowed through batters last postseason like they still belonged in rookie ball. If he doesn’t correct himself soon, he won’t have a chance to win his second MVP anytime soon.

  • 22 Comments
 

Happ Pitches a Complete Gem

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, June 27, 2009 04:16 PM Comments: 17

The last time Charlie Manuel called for a team meeting, Cole Hamels responded by striking out 15 batters in 9 innings. A 20 minute meeting was held on Friday night due to an embarrassing Phillies slump. Today, J.A Happ responded with a complete game shutout.

The Phillies scored early and often, pounding ten runs onto the Blue Jays. They rocked rookie Brad Mills for eight runs in four innings.

Jayson Werth went 4-for-4 with two home runs, a double, and a walk. He was a triple shy of the cycle. Werth’s first home run came in the first inning, a moon shot that landed in the fifth deck of the Rogers Centre.

Pedro Feliz also homered and Ryan Howard went 3-for-4 with a RBI, walk, and two runs scored.

The Phillies couldn’t have asked for a better, or more timely, outing from Happ. He was brilliant, and gave the tired bullpen much needed rest. He threw 100 pitches in his first career shutout. He gave up only five hits, but was able to get key double plays. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.

The 10-0 victory was exactly what the Phillies needed; an offensive outburst, terrific pitching, but more importantly, a win.

  • 17 Comments
 
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