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Archive for July, 2012

The Braves Sweep Will Shape Deadline Activity

Posted by Eric Seidman, Sun, July 29, 2012 05:37 PM Comments: 56

The Phillies entered this weekend’s series with the Braves fresh off of their first sweep of the season. While they didn’t fire on all cylinders against the Brewers — they won on three late-inning comebacks — the team showed signs of life. It played more like squads from years past than the disappointing 2012 version. The sweep helped them stay somewhat relevant in the playoff picture, as a healthy lineup with Halladay returned to the rotation had the potential to do some damage over the next two months.

While there truly isn’t precedent for a team this far under .500, this late in the season, to surge back and grab a playoff berth, it’s also hard to imagine many instances where a team this talented on paper played so sluggishly for three or four months.

Then this series happened. The Phillies were sluggish in the crucial series opener, fell flat again on Saturday night and struggled to do anything positive this afternoon. The result was a three-game sweep that effectively negated everything they did in the Brewers series and put the team back at the proverbial square one. Roy Halladay pitched better than he did in his previous start, but didn’t look Doc-esque, and the offense struggled to capitalize on the seven hits they recorded against Tim Hudson. It was an extremely disappointing series on all fronts: offense, defense and pitching.

I tend to avoid absolutes whenever possible, but this sweep sure seems like the nail in the coffin for the Phillies playoff hopes. And though that is initially disappointing, there is a positive for those subscribing to the glass half-full theory: now that the team is effectively out of it, Ruben Amaro doesn’t have to remain in limbo with regards to the trade deadline.

Continue reading The Braves Sweep Will Shape Deadline Activity

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Gameday: Phillies (45-56) at Braves (56-44)

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sun, July 29, 2012 12:35 PM Comments: 41

Philadelphia Phillies (45-56) at Atlanta Braves (56-44)

Roy Halladay (4-5, 4.32) vs. Tim Hudson (9-4, 3.71)

Time: 1:35, Turner Field
TV: PHL 17
Weather: Lower 90′s, mostly sunny, some clouds
Media: Twitter and  Facebook

Welp. The Phillies will try to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Braves today after losing again last night. If this were last year, I would have said the chances of them getting the W today would be pretty high, considering that Roy Halladay will be on the mound. But 2012 is a different year, and Halladay, who is off the DL, still doesn’t look “right” to me.

He gave up six runs in six innings in his last outing, and his pitches seemed pretty flat. They didn’t have the normal Halladay movement to them and his velocity even seemed a little down as well.

He will be opposing righty Tim Hudson, and he is 9-4 on the year with a 3.71 ERA. He is coming off a start against the Marlins where he gave up three runs over seven innings and got the win. Considering the year that both these pitchers have had so far, the Braves probably have the advantage today. But then again, I said last night’s game would feature a lot of runs and, well, it didn’t.

Lineup: Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Ruiz C, Nix RF, Pierre LF, Frandsen 3B, Halladay P

Whirlwind WitbierYour Gameday Beer – Dos Equis

It’s not hard to stay thirsty, my friends, in Georgia, which is where today’s game is. Dos Equis will not wow you, but it’s easy to drink. Its brewery is stationed in Monterrey, Mexico, which has a penchant for being quite warm, much like the state of Georgia. Fun fact: Heineken saw a 20 percent increase in sales after the acquisition of Dos Equis in just the first quarter alone. The power of the Most Interesting Man in the World. -By Pat

GO PHILLIES

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Gameday: Phillies (45-55) at Braves (55-44)

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sat, July 28, 2012 06:25 PM Comments: 37

Philadelphia Phillies (45-55) at Atlanta Braves (55-44)

Joe Blanton (11-4, 3.23 ERA) vs. Mike Minor (2-0, 0.00 ERA)

Time: 7:10, Turner Field
TV: CSN
Weather: Upper 70′s, chance of rain, t-storms
Media: Twitter and  Facebook

After an ugly loss to the Braves in the series opener last night, the Phils look to bounce back tonight, weather permitting. There will be showers and possible thunderstorms rolling through Atlanta during the game, and the last thing the Phillies want is a delay that will force them to turn to the bullpen too early.

However, they may need to do that anyway, as Joe Blanton will take the mound, and he isn’t exactly having a good year, even for a 5th starter. He is 8-8 with a 4.70 ERA but get this: his 4.10 FIP is near the bottom among all qualified pitchers in the NL. On top of that, Phillie Killer Brian McCann is 10-24 off Blanton in his career with three home runs.

On the mound for the Braves will be Mike Minor, and he is even worse than Blanton this year. Minor is 5-7 with a 5.49 ERA and his 5.25 FIP is dead last in the NL among qualified pitchers. With these two guys on the mound tonight, there are sure to be a lot of runs scored.

Lineup: Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Pence RF, Wigginton 3B, Mayberry LF, Kratz C, Blanton P.

Your Gameday Beer – Kentucky Bourbon Barrell Ale

This one is in honor of Big Joe. Kentucky Bourbon Barrell Ale has subtle flavors of vanilla and oak, aged 6 weeks in bourbon barrells. Support the Cornfed Colossus by sipping on Lexington’s best export since 1794 during the game today.  -By Ian

GO PHILLIES

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Phillies Sluggish in Crucial Series Opener

Posted by Corey Seidman, Fri, July 27, 2012 10:26 PM Comments: 22

The Phillies really needed a win in their series opener Friday in Atlanta. It began a crucial six-game stretch against the Braves and Nationals that could be the final nail in the coffin if the Phils don’t perform well.

Cole Hamels was en route to a solid outing, but he lost his control in the second inning. He should have gotten out of the inning when Ben Sheets grounded the ball to third base, but it went under Mike Fontenot‘s glove. Third base defense has been a major issue in Placido Polanco‘s absence. Polly’s bat is non-existent at this point but when he’s not there, you see how important D is at the hot corner.

Hamels hung tough until the fifth, when Brian McCann hit a three-run homer. It’s the sixth straight game against the Phillies that McCann has homered. He has 16 RBI in those six games.

The Braves tacked on another run in the sixth to win, 6-1.

The Phillies scored their only run in their first two plate appearances of the night. Jimmy Rollins lined a single to right off Sheets (3-0, 0.50 ERA) and Shane Victorino followed with a laced double to right-center.

Rollins and Victorino were 4 for 8 with two doubles and two steals. The rest of the team went 3-for-26 with one extra-base hit.

The loss drops the Phillies to 45-55 and 10.5 games behind the Braves for the second NL wild card spot.

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“Baby Ace” Colvin Promoted to Double-A Reading

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Fri, July 27, 2012 06:42 PM Comments: 0

Colvin will join the R-Phils at age 21 after posting a 4.27 ERA in High-A Clearwater. Photo: ClawCasts.com

Brody Colvin, 21, was promoted to Double-A Reading today according to his management group, Sosnick Cobbe Sports, and confirmed by Matt Gelb. Colvin is the second “Baby Ace” to be promoted this week, replacing fellow promoted “Baby Ace” Jonathan Pettibone in the R-Phils’ rotation. Colvin’s placement may be a bit more aggressive as he was not showing signs of an equally solid season. Colvin posted a 4.27 ERA for High-A Clearwater, with a WHIP of 1.557, averaging less than a strikeout per inning. Colvin turns 22 in August and compiled his stats across 18 starts and 5 relief appearances for Clearwater.

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Gameday: Phillies (45-54) at Braves (54-44)

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, July 27, 2012 06:35 PM Comments: 63

Philadelphia Phillies (45-54) at Atlanta Braves (54-44)

Cole Hamels (11-4, 3.23 ERA) vs. Ben Sheets (2-0, 0.00 ERA)

Time: 7:35, Turner Field
TV: CSN
Weather: Upper 70′s chance of rain, t-storms
Media: Twitter and  Facebook

The Phillies take on the division-rival Braves tonight in Atlanta, the first of three they will play at Turner Field this weekend. The Braves are 9.5 games ahead of the Phillies in the standings, and 5 games back of the division-leading Nationals. At this point, the Phillies–who have less than a 1% chance to make the playoffs according to ESPN–could really only hope to play spoilers for the Braves, barring something drastic.

Cole Hamels, who just signed an extension with the Phillies, will take the mound tonight for the first time with his new contract. So far this year, he’s posted an 11-4 record to go along with a 3.23 ERA. He isn’t having his best year, but for the most part, he is getting the job done.

Opposing him will be Ben Sheets, a guy that the Braves signed with minimal expectations, but who has also been quite good for them so far. In his two starts, he has pitched a total of 12 innings, given up just seven hits–and no runs. However, the deciding factor in the game may lie in the hands of Brian McCann, who is hitting .364 against the Phillies this year, to go along with five home runs and 13 runs batted in. If Hamels can shut him down–and that is likely considering that McCann has just three hits in his last 21 at-bats against him–along with the other big lefties in the Braves lineup, the Phils may be able to scratch off a few runs and win the game.

Lineup: Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Ruiz C, Pence RF, Pierre LF, Fontenot 3B, Hamels P.

Your gameday beer: Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer in a Can

Hell or High Watermelon Wheat is a summer seasonal beer available from April through September by 21st Amendment, and can be yours in six pack cans and on draft. It’s an American wheat beer, which undergoes a traditional secondary fermentation using fresh watermelon, ending in a straw-colored, refreshing beer with a kiss of watermelon aroma and flavor. Haven’t had it yet, but I’ve heard different reviews. If you’re feeling frisky, try it out on another hot, hot day. -Pat Gallen

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Cherish This Weekend

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Fri, July 27, 2012 01:00 PM Comments: 11

9 games out of the playoffs with 3 games to play before the trade deadline. A sweep this weekend pulls the Phillies within 6 and in legitimate playoff contention. 2-1 puts them at 8 out, 1-2 at 10 out, and getting swept puts them 11 games out at the trade deadline and firmly in sell mode.

Cherish this weekend – it may be the last time you see the Phillies as you know them.

A sweep of the Braves is the only way to reasonably expect to see the team, as it is constructed today, and as we have known them for the last few years end the season in tact. A sweep all but guarantees Cliff Lee, linked to the Rangers and Dodgers, and Jimmy Rollins, linked to the Dodgers and A’s, stay, and increases the likelihood Phillies fans see at least two more months of Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton. Anything but a sweep of Atlanta begins to collapse the last vestiges of the 2008 World Series championship team.

Whether right or wrong, retool or not retool, 2008 is increasingly disappearing from the rear-view mirror. As a journalist and an analyst, my mind is telling them to move on, to trade anything that isn’t nailed down and retool for 2013. The fan in me? I don’t want to leave 2008. The four straight walk of victories have the mark of the 2007 and 2008 Phillies. My hopes are high and I’m thinking of 7 back with 17 to play in 2007 or the Cardinals being 9.5 out late last year. But I know that bubble, and pipe dream, could be popped with as little as two, or possibly even one, loss this weekend.

This may be the closest the Phillies get to playoff baseball this year and as for tonight? I can’t wait to see Chase Utley go one-on-one with Ben Sheets, Ryan Howard take him deep to right, Rollins steal some bases, Victorino rob hits on defense, Chooch defend the plate, and Cole Hamels pitch the game of his life. They’re 9 out and it’s 2012, but I’m feeling nostalgic for 2008. With a roll of the dice the weekend, 2008 could be all but a memory. Then again, an improbable sweep could make it last two months longer. Phillies fans – make sure to cherish this weekend.

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Phils Dangling Victorino For Bullpen Help

Posted by Eric Seidman, Fri, July 27, 2012 09:53 AM Comments: 50

The Phillies have played some solid baseball lately, which has muddied their trade waters as the deadline approaches. They haven’t identified themselves as buyers or sellers just yet, and have the unenviable task of managing for the future without completely throwing in the towel this year. This hasn’t stopped Ruben Amaro from shopping various players, but in most cases this tactic was designed to gauge interest as he would in any other season. There weren’t many serious trade offers on the table, but the Phillies did reportedly propose a deal to the Reds that would send Shane Victorino to Cincinnati for reliever Logan Ondrusek.

The Reds rejected the deal, according to an insider close to the team, but Jim Bowden confirmed that the Phils remained very interested in Ondrusek and Dodgers reliever Josh Lindblom. Jayson Stark then reported that the Phillies were interested in relief help in a potential Victorino deal and added the names Brad Lincoln (Pirates) and Wade Davis (Rays) to the mix. Victorino may not get dealt this week, but the Phillies have clearly identified the type of return they are seeking: a young reliever under team control.

While it may seem somewhat light to get a middle reliever back for an all-star and a legitimate 2011 MVP candidate, Victorino has just two months left on his contract and, as odd as it may sound, some interested parties might not even view him as an everyday player in the context of their respective rosters. Further, Victorino is likely a rental player for an acquiring team, and compensatory draft picks are no longer received for rentals.

But the Phils are in the driver’s seat. They have the leverage. They can keep Victorino, let him sign elsewhere after the season and hope to use the draft picks wisely. Or, they could keep him and try to sign him to a lesser-valued deal in the offseason. There is no sense of urgency to move him, and now that they have identified what they want in return, they should settle for nothing less.

Continue reading Phils Dangling Victorino For Bullpen Help

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Placido Polanco to DL with Injured Back

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, July 26, 2012 04:45 PM Comments: 23

(MLB)

UPDATE, 5:59 pm: According to the Allentown Morning Call, Kevin Frandsen will get the call tomorrow.

—————

Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco heads to the 15-day DL with what is being referred to as lower back inflammation retroactive to July 23, according to Phils beat writer Todd Zolecki. A corresponding roster move will be announced before tomorrow’s game and will depend on if the Phils complete any trades before tomorrow. Pete Orr or Kevin Frandsen are by far the most likely to add infield depth but B.J. Rosenberg or Tyler Cloyd could be called up if there are further transactions to add pitching depth, alleviating a pitching surplus at Lehigh Valley created by Jonathan Pettibone‘s promotion.

Polanco has hit just .255/.300/.328 this year but his defense will be missed. Polanco’s replacement Ty Wigginton has started the last three games at third but has committed three errors in the last three games. Orr is hitting .260/.300/.331 in 183 PA at Triple-A Lehigh Valley where he has played left field and third while Frandsen was an International League All-Star and is hitting .302/.337/.396 in 418 PA and is proficient at all infield positions. Polanco’s trip to the DL leaves the Phils with just five active infielders, not including Laynce Nix, barring any trades or promotions.

Part of trade rumors himself, Polanco has been linked to the Orioles in recent days and Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported today that the Orioles would have “tried hard” to acquire Polanco had he not been placed on the disabled list.

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Want to Compete? Keep the Pitching, Trade Pence

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, July 26, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 109

Six years, $144 million. That’s $24 million per year for Cole Hamels, the Phillies’ third $20-plus million pitcher and their fourth player making an eight-figure salary.

Conventional wisdom is that this move cripples the Phillies financially. They’re right up against the luxury tax this season and, with Hamels’ contract, have just under $140 million committed to nine players in 2013: Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Laynce Nix, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins and Kyle Kendrick.

But is that completely true? Let’s break it down.

Carlos Ruiz, Ty Wigginton and Placido Polanco have options. Chooch will obviously be back, whether at his $5 million option or by way of an extension. Wigginton will probably be back, too, at $4 million. Polanco? It’s hard to make the case to keep him.

Let’s say that the Phillies just pick up Ruiz’s option and extend him during the season. Adding in the money for him, Wigginton, and the relative pennies paid to John Mayberry, Vance Worley, Antonio Bastardo, Michael Stutes, Justin De Fratus and Freddy Galvis, the Phils will be at about $148 million for 17 players.

They’ll still need a starting centerfielder and leftfielder, and they’ll need to plug someone into third base unless they plan on splitting duty there between Wigginton, a Mike Fontenot-type and perhaps Galvis.

Oh, and then there’s Hunter Pence, who enters his fourth and final year of arbitration this off-season. A very safe bet is that he commands a $15 million salary for 2013.

Continue reading Want to Compete? Keep the Pitching, Trade Pence

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