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Archive for December, 2010

Happy New Year from Phillies Nation!

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, December 31, 2010 09:33 PM Comments: 5


We’ve had a big year. Not only as Phillies fans, but as purveyors of what we believe is one of the finest sources for Phillies news around. The Phillies had a hell of a season in 2010 and with the way things are shaping up, will give us an incredible 2011.

Here at Phillies Nation, we’ve been able to bring you a new website filled with the bells and whistles. It’s not without issue – we understand that fully. Everyone behind the scenes is working diligently to bring the best possible PhilliesNation.com. On top of that we have so many cool things in the works that we’re excited about, it truly will be a wonderful 2011.

We want to thank each and every one of you for coming to us to portray your Phillies fandom. Here’s to an exception 2011, not only for the Phillies, but for you all as well. This is one big family!

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM PHILLIES NATION!

  • 5 Comments
 

Year in Review: Cole Hamels

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, December 31, 2010 10:42 AM Comments: 22

This post was written by PN contributor Jeff Nelson. Welcome Jeff to the Phillies Nation squad.

Headcase. Immature. Soft. Unprepared. He wouldn’t pitch on three-days rest if asked. He’s not a big game pitcher. He sounds like a whiny 7-year old – these were some of the descriptions I heard and read from many Phillies fans following Cole Hamels’ disappointing 2009 season. Heck, some people even wanted him traded after what he said during the ’09 World Series. To the naked eye, Cole just wasn’t right two years ago.

Fast forward a year later and Hamels all the sudden ‘found his game.’ He ‘flicked a switch’ or ‘put his game face on.’ He was more prepared heading in to 2010 or he was cured from the Verducci effect. I’m obviously being a bit facetious with those descriptions. So if determination and perfection weren’t the reasons behind Hamels’ resurgence as an elite pitcher, then what was?

In general, most of Hamels’ ’08 and ’09 rate stats were eerily similar. His K/9, BB/9, HR/9, GB%, FB%, and LD% all barely varied. His BABIP and strand rates on the other hand differed greatly. Cole’s BABIP ballooned from .270 in 2008 to .325 in 2009, by far the highest of his young career. Indeed, Cole was extremely unlucky in 2009 and he didn’t pitch nearly as bad as his 4.32 ERA suggested. Last year, his BABIP regressed right around his career norm, which is slightly lower than league average.

Cole’s strand rate also jumped in the right direction from 72.1% in ’09 to a more than healthy 82.7% in ’10. Part of this is a result from an increase in both his GB% (40.4% to 45.4%) and punchouts (7.81/9IP to 9.10/9IP). The other part stems from the decrease in his BABIP.

While I think it’s safe to say he probably won’t leave runners on base at this clip this year, I still think he can be well above average next year if his rate stats don’t plummet harshly.

Hamels’ 2010 SIERA of 3.19 (good for 10th among starters) did not fluctuate much from his sparkling 3.06ERA. In other words, he really is that good and he is very likely to put up a similar ERA next year. I’m happy to point out that two other Phillies starters also finished ahead of Hamels in SIERA, so he’s in very good company (Halladay with a league leading 2.93 SIERA and Cliff Lee with a 3.03 SIERA).

As impressive as Hamel’s 2010 campaign was, a closer look shows he was absolutely dominant in the second half. Cole made 15 appearances after the all-star break, posting a miniscule 2.23 ERA, a K/BB ratio approaching 5/1, a 9.7 K/9 and a .603 OPS.

The only blemish on Hamels’ 2010 resume was his win/loss record and that’s something you cannot fault him for. Rather, the paltry 3.66 runs/game he received serves as a much better culprit. He deserves much better than his record indicates, but I guess that’s why they play the games.

Jeff’s Grade: 9.3

PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 9.2 – Hamels was sensational and there is still room for improvement. He struggled a bit through the first month but turned it around to have an incredible season. So exciting to watch this “kid” mature into a top-flight, number-one pitcher.

  • 22 Comments
 

Minor Jobs: How Prospects Spend Their Off-seasons

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, December 30, 2010 07:29 PM Comments: 4

As many fans know, not every baseball player gets a huge signing bonus or a large salary. Many minor league players find themselves working in the Autumn and Winter months to supplement their income and to stay busy. A question often wondered by fans: What do prospects do during the off-season? The answer is simple…pretty much anything and everything.

Phillies first base prospect Matt Rizzotti is an individual who typically finds himself working during his time away from the baseball diamond. However, Rizzotti is not working this Winter as a result of having spent much of this off-season continuing to play baseball. Following the 2010 regular season, Rizzotti went to instructional ball in Clearwater for a month, then spent another five weeks playing for Mesa in the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .333 with an .865 OPS in 19 games.

Last year, however, Rizzotti, who was a physical education major at Manhattan College, went back to his roots and worked as a full-time teaching assistant at the high school which he graduated from in Floral Park, NY. Rizzotti, a 6th round pick in the 2007 amateur draft, has also held one position in previous off-seasons that he enjoyed quite a bit, while working for a friend’s family. “My best friend’s father owns a haunted house in New York City and I usually work there every year too, from September through the month of October. I don’t even have to dress up, I just naturally scare people,” Rizzotti said in an exclusive interview.

Phillies minor league third baseman and 2nd round pick in the 2007 MLB draft Travis “Moose” Mattair is another player who goes back to his high school, as he has coached basketball there for the past three years. “I was the varsity assistant coach for 2 years and I became the head coach for the freshman girls this season,” Mattair said. “I never thought I’d coach a girls sport, but I absolutely love it. It’s more than just coaching to me. It’s a fun gig, and keeps me in at my old high school where I’m friends with so many of the staff there.”

2010 Lakewood BlueClaws pitcher Mike McGuire, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, chose employment where he can stay in shape, during the Autumn and Winter months. “For the past three years, I’ve been working at a baseball facility, up here in West Chester, PA,” McGuire said. “And we’ve got a nice facility here. We’ve got pitching mounds and an indoor field. We get about 40-50 kids here every week to coach and give lessons. It’s called All Star Baseball Academy. We’ve got four locations around the area right now.

“I’ll get to work with an 8-year-old and give him pitching lessons, or work with a guy who is ready to go to college ball. It’s a good routine to have. It keeps me working, I’m making some money and keeping myself baseball ready.”

McGuire is one of three active minor leaguers working at his location. The others include lefty hurler Tom Cochran, now in the Reds system, who was once in spring training with the Phillies.

Left-handed pitcher Nick Hernandez, a 12th round draft selection in 2009, stays close to the sport of baseball without being on a field, or in a training center. Hernandez, a 2010 South Atlantic League (Class A) All-star, works for a memorabilia and merchandise retailer. “(It’s) called Collectibles of the Game. It is an online retail store that ships apparel, signed items, Christmas ornaments, stockings (and more) to people who make orders online through Amazon or through our website which is CollectiblesoftheGame.com. The company has a retail store at our local mall, but most of our business is done online as we have about 2,000 orders daily during the holiday rush.” According to Hernandez, his favorite items to sell are player autographs and Phillies bobble head dolls.

Some of the other gigs that Phillies prospects have had in recent years include sales clerk at Best Buy, wait staff at a Red Robin restaurant, office intern and grounds crew staff member at a golf course.

Other players, who don’t work, like top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart, simply train during the Winter months. “I spend most of my time dedicated to baseball,” said Cosart, who has spent his off-season working out five days a week and began a throwing program in mid-December after allowing some down time for his prized right arm. “I go to a trainer three days a week to work out and condition as well as do the same exercises by myself on the other two days.”

Cosart will report to spring training early, on January 15th, in order to work closely with team trainers, coaches and other pitchers.

Rizzotti is another player that stays in shape by working with a personal trainer. “I go to a trainer, basically everyday, about 5-6 days a week. I have a trainer that I got with, he got me in shape last off-season. He loves the stairs…anything can be done- walking and running- it can be done on the stairs,” Rizzotti, who dropped a  considerable amount of weight last Winter stated.

Whether it’s work or working out, all of the Phillies prospects I spoke with have their minds constantly focused on baseball all throughout the colder months of the year. With visions of fastballs dancing in their heads, spring training can not come quickly enough for these ballplayers, especially if their meantime employment isn’t the most ideal.

And according to one player, “Rolling 70 sets of silverware at the end of your shift (at a restaurant) truly makes you realize how awesome baseball is, even in the toughest of times.”

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor.  You can read more from Jay by visiting his website, PhoulBallz.com.

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Warming to the Idea of Ben Fran in Right Field

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, December 28, 2010 05:19 PM Comments: 65

As I write this, I have the heat pumping near my desk, a hot cup of tea to my left, and long johns on. It’s friggin’ cold. We need something to warm us up during the doldrums of winter and the idea of having Ben Francisco get a full season of at-bats is something everyone could get used to.

Let’s face it – the average fan is searching to find something wrong with this team. One of the remaining issues is the hole in right field. Depth chart followers realize that Ben Francisco, Dom Brown, and Ross Gload are the current right fielders on the roster. It’s unlikely the Phillies will make a move to add anymore payroll to a bloated budget. If anything, Joe Blanton and his $17 million over the next two seasons will be unloaded to free up some space.

The three men who must now make up for the loss of Jayson Werth all have their own issues, their own faults and strengths.

Ross Gload would appear to be the least likely to take over as the starter – he’s just too valuable off the bench, although an increase in at-bats is not out of the question. Domonic Brown was to be handed the reigns – or so everyone thought. He’s been assured nothing heading into Spring Training. Brown will have to earn his keep.

That leaves Ben Francisco. Ben Fran has started in the league for an extended period (one and a half years in Cleveland) and still presents some upside at just 29 years old. Remember, Werth was a late bloomer himself, reaching stardom at the same age. To be fair, Francisco doesn’t have the same pedigree as Werth and comes with less fanfare and hype. Still, with the right coaching and an opportunity, he can be a valuable asset in right field.

His glovework pales in comparison to the departed Bearded One and his arm isn’t nearly as strong. Offensively, however, their are some signs he can be a constant contributor as a starter.

His 162-game average comes out to .263/18/63, with an OPS of .775; hardly All-Star numbers. But an All-Star isn’t exactly what the Phillies need. On the bases, Francisco stole eight bases in 2010 in just under 200 plate appearances. At 500 at bats, he has 20 steal potential. If he can provide a stat line similar to that while playing adequate defense, Ben Francisco can be a commodity.

There are some numbers that also present Ben Fran as just another guy. His career 3.6 WAR says he’s a bit above a replacement level player. The advanced fielding metric UZR is also a negative number for Francisco: -6.6 over his four years in the major leagues.

So where does Ben Francisco sit? Is he a talent that can blossom with the proper opportunity in a lineup filled with potency? Or is he simply a nice player best suited for bench duty? You have three months to warm to the idea of Ben Francisco as the starting right fielder. It just might happen.

  • 65 Comments
 

Around the Winter Leagues

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, December 28, 2010 11:59 AM Comments: 8

The stove stays hot during the off-season, but there are Phillies and Philadelphia prospects playing games around the world. It’s time for another review of the various Winter Leagues.

In the Puerto Rican League-

 
Righty hurler Julio Rodriguez has pitched very well for the Gigantes. A native of Puerto Rico, the 20-year-old Rodriguez has posted a 3-1 record and a 2.00 ERA in 11 games (9 starts) while striking out 25 batters in 40 innings pitched.

In the Venezuelan Winter League-

Lefty reliever Sergio Escalona, who pitched with the big league Phillies in 2009, has appeared in 22 games for the Tiburones. He has yet to record a decision and has a 4.50 overall ERA. In his last 10 games, Escalona has posted a 2.45 ERA and allowed runs in only 1 appearance. In 50 games at Double A Reading in 2010, Escalona had a 4-8 record with 10 saves and a 3.81 ERA while holding opponents to a .227 batting average. Escalona turned 26-years-old in August.

Fidel Hernandez, a 24-year-old Venezuela native, posted a .206 batting average with just 2 doubles and 2 RBI in 35 games with the Aguilas. During the 2010 regular season, Hernandez, who primarily plays second base, batted .279 with 1 homerun and 22 RBI in 69 games with the High A level Clearwater Threshers and went 7-for-15 (.467 avg) in 4 games with the Double A Reading Phils.

Another member of the Aguilas roster, Harold Garcia has a .286 average through 28 games played. However, Garcia has just one extra base hit (a double) and has been successful in only 1 of 5 stolen base attempts. In the 2010 regular season, The 24-year-old, made headlines by setting the Florida State League hitting streak record at 37 games as a member of the Clearwater Threshers.

Infielder Freddy Galvis batted .188 in 21 games with the Magallanes Navegantes, but he appears done with Winter League action, as he has not seen playing time since November.

Melvin Dorta has not had an outstanding Winter, as his overall average and OPS are just .231 and .555 respectively in 25 games for the Tigres. Having posted a .300 average in his last 10 games, Dorta, a 28-year-old Venezuelan born infielder, is looking to shine after batting .282 in 103 games at Double A and Triple A for the Phillies this year.

With the Cardenales, 20-year-old outfielder Luis Unda played in 4 games, going 3-for-9 (.333 avg). In 2010, Unda was a member of the Gulf Coast League championship Phillies team and batted .245 with a .616 OPS in 44 games with league champs.

Cesar Hernandez, a native of Venezuela, spent the 2010 season with the Williamsport Crosscutters, where he batted .325 with 32 steals as a 20-year-old. In 13 games with the Bravos, he is batting .286 with no extra base hits and no stolen bases.

In the Mexican League-


Catching prospect Sebastian Valle is batting .291 with 8 homers and 27 RBI in 50 games with the Caneros. During the regular season this year, the 20-year-old Valle helped lead the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws to a repeat as South Atlantic League champions, batting .255, slugging 16 homers and driving in 74 runs in 117 games.

With the Aguilas, Angel Chavarin played in two games, but has not seen action in over a month. The 20-year-old catcher batted .192 in 11 games as a member of the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2010.

Brian Mazone, who pitched in 2010 with the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, appeared in 3 games early in the season for the Mexican League’s Aguilas, but his time there is over after allowing opponents to hit .390.

In the Dominican League-

2010 Phillies reliever David Herndon appears to have completed his time with the Gigantes, as it has been nearly three weeks since he saw game action. In 6 games, the right-handed Herndon recorded no decisions and allowed no runs.

Lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo has also completed his Winter duties with the Gigantes. In 7 relief appearances, Bastardo, who pitched with the Phillies in the 2010 regular season, recorded 1 save, struck out 7 batters in 9 innings and held opponents to a .100 batting average.

Juan Perez, a lefty pitcher signed by the Phillies this off-season, is another member of the Gigantes pitching staff. In 27 games, Perez, a native Dominican, has a 2-2 record with a 5.52 ERA.

Derrick Loop, who pitched with the High A level Clearwater and Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2010, has a 1-1 record with a 2.79 ERA in 16 games with the Gigantes.

Former Mets outfielder Timo Perez, who played with the Double A Reading Phillies in 2010, has a .279 average with 2 homeruns and 18 RBI in 38 games for the Tigres.

Dominican born infielder Ozzie Chavez is batting .219 with no extra base hits in 15 games with the Toros. Chavez batted .219 during the 2010 regular season in 122 combined games in Double A and Triple A in the Phils’ system.

In the Australian League-

With the Bandits, infielder Alan Schoenberger is batting .217 with 2 homeruns and 8 RBI in 17 games. Schoenberger, a 21-year-old native of Australia batted .253 with 5 homers and 35 RBI in 96 games with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws during the 2010 regular season.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor.  You can read more from Jay on his site, PhoulBallz.com.

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Year in Review: Kyle Kendrick

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, December 28, 2010 10:22 AM Comments: 6

“They are who we thought they were.” – Dennis Green, Arizona Cardinals Head Coach talking about the Chicago Bears.

Dennis Green’s epic explosion following the Cardinals second half collapse against the Bears in 2007 sheds some light on Kyle Kendrick, somehow. Kendrick is who we thought he was. He is mediocre and not much more. Green would have hit the nail on the head had he been talking about Kendrick.

No one ever believed Kendrick to be anything more than a fifth starter, the role he has filled the past four seasons with the Phillies. His numbers prove as much – Kendrick has a career ERA of 4.69 and a WHIP of 1.425. In 2010, KK put together a 4.73 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP and for the third time in four years won double-digit decisions. Clearly he was aided by the offense due to his fifth day start, however, his numbers are on par with other rotation fillers.

Peeking at Kendrick’s WAR, he is who we think he is – and was last season, too. His -0.3 Wins Over Replacement Player proves his worth as your run-of-the-mill starting pitcher in the majors.

At times, KK flashed some talent, but never over any lengthy period. His best outing of the 2010 campaign was probably his complete game win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 3. Even his finest performance left much to be desired. Over those nine innings, Kendrick allowed 10 hits and two earned runs. That’s about as good as you could ask for out of Kendrick.

In 2011, he’ll once again get an opportunity to be a part of the pitching staff due to his cheap contract and ability to be either a long-man or final starter. That decision is riding on Joe Blanton begin a part of the club.

Kyle Kendrick is what is he and probably always will be. He’s not a hard thrower and works off his control, so if that’s absent, it’s usually a long day. He’s adequate on the hill. He’s Kyle Kendrick.

PAT’S GRADE: 4.4/10

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Phillies, Romero Reach Agreement

Posted by Paul Boye, Mon, December 27, 2010 01:14 AM Comments: 26

Following the failed signing of reliever Dennys Reyes, the Phillies have agreed to re-sign lefty J.C. Romero, according to CSN Philly.

Romero, who made $4.5 million in 2010, is expected to take a significant paycut to rejoin the Phils. Signed during the 2007 season after being released by the Red Sox, Romero has compiled 123 strikeouts and 105 walks in 148.2 innings in red pinstripes. Though he’s enjoyed success against lefty batter in two of his three full seasons in Philadelphia, problems with righties and his control have limited his effectiveness. He is expected to be used in a specialist role.

  • 26 Comments
 

Merry Christmas Phillies Nation!

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, December 24, 2010 07:00 PM Comments: 9


On behalf of the entire Phillies Nation team – Brian, Rob, Nick, Amanda, Corey, Paul, Kieran, Mike, Jay, and Jeff – I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season. We certainly hope Santa stops at your house this Christmas and brings you an abundance of Phillies related gifts.

I’d also like to say thank you for putting up with our changes over the past few weeks. We will be working hard to address all the issues that have come up with the launching of the new website. During the “slow” time of year, we felt it would be best to present the new site so as not to interfere with the season. We feel strongly all problems will be resolved soon.

And really, we couldn’t do it without all of you. The best fans in the world make this the best source for Phillies news in the world. It’s that simple.

So, thank you all for continuing to grace the pages of PhilliesNation.com and Merry Christmas to all to all a good night!

‘Twas the night before Cliffmas and all through the Park

Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels embark

On a new training session to start off the day

Attempting to erase the memory of the black, orange, and gray

The rest of the Phillies asleep in their beds

With visions of Championships playing in their heads

The Phanatic on his 4 Wheeler and Charlie in his Cap

Looks up & down his lineup- batting 5th there’s a gap

When all of the sudden, arose such a chatter ESPN stopped by to see what’s the matter

Away from the Rangers he flew like a flash and Flipped off the Yankees and told them where to stick their cash

When what to our wondering eyes should appear?

The familiar face of a man who was just here!

With a nasty curve ball and a fastball that’s quick

An addition to a rotation that’s already sick!

The most powerful group that’s ever been seen

The big 3 is now 4 cause Cliff’s back on the team!

Now Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, and Lee

Victorino, Howard, Rollins, and Utley!

From the NLCS to the World Series we’ll go

100 win season? Ask Jimmy, he’ll know.

Cliff came to our team cuz he said it felt right Merry Cliffmas to all and to all a good night!

  • 9 Comments
 

Christmas on the Farm

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, December 24, 2010 11:00 AM Comments: 0

On behalf of PhilliesNation.com, I’d like to wish a happy Christmas to all of our readers that celebrate the holiday.

In recent weeks I’ve checked in with a several Phillies minor leaguers from various levels of the organization, as holiday spirit was building, to inquire about some of the players’ favorite Christmas things. Check out the list of answers from the players I spoke with below.

Santa De Fratus

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS FOOD-

RHP Jarred Cosart…”Favorite food during Christmas is chicken, ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, okra, salad. Ha ha…you name it, I’ll eat it.”

RHP Justin De Fratus…”My favorite holiday food would have to be tamales. I don’t know how many Phillies fans would know what those are, but if you are ever in Southern California during Christmas time, you have to have some.”

RHP Jake Borup…”Father-in-law makes red chile enchiladas!”

LHP Nick Hernandez…”My favorite food, or dessert I should say, now when it comes to Christmas time are Oreo Balls. It’s Oreos blended up into little bite size balls with some cream cheese that are dipped in white chocolate.”

First baseman Matt Rizzotti…”All we really do at my house is eat turkey, so I guess that’s my favorite Christmas food.”

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG-
Continue reading Christmas on the Farm

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Year in Review: J.A. Happ

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Thu, December 23, 2010 04:00 PM Comments: 20

J.A. Happ, the young lefty whose ability to get hitters out still has me confused to this day. And yet he was very successful at doing so. Happ has never had overpowering stuff and for his career is only averaging under a strikeout an inning. And yet he still got the job done.

Early into the 2010 season, Happ joined just about every other Phillie on the disabled list. For Happ, it could not have come at a worse time. The lefty was already 1-0 and had not allowed a run in 10.1 innings over two starts. He was well on his way to showing the fans, and himself, that his MLB.com Rooke of the Year Award and his 12-4 record for 2009 was no fluke.

It took nearly half the season for Happ to recover from his injury. Happ didn’t pitch again until July 25th against the Colorado Rockies and lasted 5 innings and gave up three runs.

His next start came in a Houston Astros’ uniform. A move by Ruben Amaro Jr sent Happ to Houston as a major trade piece in acquiring Roy Oswalt for Philadelphia.

Happ only started three games for the Phillies in 2010. His line looked like this: 1-0, 1.76 ERA. 15.1 IP, 12 BB, 9 SO.

For the Astros, Happ pitched adequately enough starting 13 games going 5-4 with a 3.75 ERA striking out 61 in 72 innings. Luckily for Phillies fans, he did wait until he got to Houston to have the worst start of his career. In just his second start as an Astro, Happ lasted only one inning against St. Louis giving up seven runs and throwing 49 pitches.

The Phillies did welcome Happ back to Citizen Bank Park as the opposing pitcher as he faced off against Roy Halladay in late August. Happ came out the victor going 6.1 giving up two runs and five hits.

Happ is still very young in his big league career. I think he is going to be a very good number two or three type pitcher in a rotation. I am still not sure if he possesses any real ace-like qualities. I enjoyed him in Philly, and look forward to seeing pitch again.

It is hard to generate a grade from his short time in a Phillies uniform this past season. He did throw very well but I think he will be most remembered as one of the key pieces that landed Roy Oswalt. So with that in mind…

KIERAN’S GRADE: 9.9/10

PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 9.2/10 – He brought us a few good seasons and although he dealt with some arm issues, pitched well when he was on the mound. This year, he was able to net us Roy Oswalt. When a deal like that comes along you have to make it. Happ shined in Houston, too. High marks.

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