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Archive for October, 2012

Minor League Notebook: AFL Rising Stars, R-Phils’ Rebranding & More

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, October 31, 2012 10:45 PM Comments: 1

Rosters for the Arizona Fall League’s All-Star type showcase were announced on Wednesday with two Phillies prospects among the talents involved.  Third baseman Cody Asche (pictured) and catcher Tommy Joseph will represent their Javelinas club in the seventh annual Rising Stars Game, which will be televised on MLB Network this coming Saturday, November 3rd at 8 PM eastern time.

Asche, the Phillies’ 4th round draft selection in 2011, was a fast mover upward in the developmental ranks this year. After beginning his first full pro season with Class A Advanced Clearwater, Asche was promoted to Double-A Reading in June.

Altogether in 130 regular season games at the two levels, Asche, who recently offered his thoughts on his time in the AFL, launched 12 home runs with 72 RBI and an .849 OPS.  In 15 games with Peoria in the AFL, Asche, a University of Nebraska product, has tallied a .259 average with one home run and seven RBI.

Joseph, who was acquired from San Francisco in the Hunter Pence trade this past summer, has struggled a bit in AFL play, batting .172 with no home runs and one RBI in nine games played. Continue reading Minor League Notebook: AFL Rising Stars, R-Phils’ Rebranding & More

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2012 Top Moment #10: Luna is Grand

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, October 31, 2012 02:00 PM Comments: 0

With one swing, Luna validated his Spring Training supporters. Photo: AP

For a lot of Phillies fans, there were two questions that would be answered in Spring Training: who would be the fifth outfielder and why was Hector Luna playing in every Spring Training game? Luna, nicknamed “Big Tuna” by beat-writer David Hale, put on an early ST power display and played in nearly every game, whether at first or third. The Phils, in need of a solution at first, seemed to be flirting with the idea of keeping Luna as the roster grew thinner and thinner. Luna hit .302/.351/.528 with 3 HRs for the Fightins before being assigned to Triple-A just before the start of the regular season, becoming sort of an internet darling and a Spring Training cult favorite.

A slow start by Ty Wigginton had fans clamoring for the righty from the Domican Republic. On May 11, Luna was called to the big club to replace the injured Laynce Nix. Luna would not see action until May 16 against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley. He wasted no time contributing: on the second pitch he saw as a Phil, Luna parked a middle-in fastball a few rows deep into left with the bases loaded off of Michael Bowden, giving the Phils a 9-2 advantage. It was Luna’s first career grand slam and was the first of his two home runs he would hit for the Phils in 2012.

Luna saw sporadic playing time with the Phils throughout the remainder of 2012, playing in just 28 games, hitting .226/.273/.355 but won over quite a few fans. Luna’s slam gave instant credibility to those who said “I told you so” as to why he should have been on the roster from day one – unfortunately, the rest of his time with the Phils did not. Luna was designated for assignment on August 30 and claimed by the Pirates on August 31. He would not reach the plate with the Bucs.

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Rollins Wins Fourth Gold Glove

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, October 30, 2012 10:07 PM Comments: 5

J-Rol's outstanding defense has earned him his fourth NL Gold Glove in six seasons. Photo: AP

Congratulations are in order to J-Roll. Bob Brookover is reporting that Jimmy Rollins has won his fourth Gold Glove in six seasons. Rollins won three-in-a-row from 2007-2009 with the Phils. Rollins’ four Gold Gloves place him third behind Mike Schmidt (10) and Garry Maddox (8) among Phillies all-time.

J-Roll’s outstanding late-season, offensive surge was backed reliably all season long by his fantastic play at short. According to FanGraphs, Rollins saved the Phillies 4.4 runs this season and ranked fifth in the National League in UZR/150 among qualified shortstops. Rollins lead the NL with a .978 fielding percentage, beating out Zack Cozart, Ian Desmond, and Jose Reyes for the award.

Carlos Ruiz, the other Phillie finalist for a Gold Glove, was beaten out by Yadier Molina, who won his fifth straight NL Gold Glove.

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Phillies Player Review: Josh Lindblom

Posted by Corey Seidman, Tue, October 30, 2012 02:07 PM Comments: 18

Josh Lindblom has limited righties to a .191 batting average in two seasons.

The Phillies’ bullpen was a disaster in 2012, placing 21st in ERA (3.94) and 29th in eighth-inning ERA (4.89). The ‘pen blew 19 saves — 11 more than their 2011 total. And it lost 27 games after losing just 18 in 2011.

So it made sense that when the Phillies were set to unload Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the trade deadline, they would look for at least one young reliever who could come in to help a beleaguered unit. Victorino was dealt to the Dodgers for 25-year-old right-hander Josh Lindblom and 23-year-old starting pitching prospect Ethan Martin.

While Martin flourished at Reading, going 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA in seven starts, Lindblom didn’t have much success in a Phillies uniform. He had a 4.63 ERA for the Phillies, and while he struck out 27 batters in 23.1 innings, he also walked 17.

Lindblom has heat — his fastball ranges from 92-96 mph, but he has trouble keeping the ball in the park. He allowed 13 home runs in 71 innings this season, nine of which came on the first or second pitch of an at-bat. It’s a trend that makes you nervous going forward at Citizens Bank Park.

The 6-foot-4 Lindblom does have potential, though, and he’ll be cheap for a few more years since he has less than two years of major-league service time.

The Phils should use him as a righty specialist in 2013. Right-handed hitters are batting .191 with a .576 OPS off Lindblom in a career sample of 248 plate appearances. Lefties, though, are hitting .282/.396/.500.

Lindblom can still be a quality bullpen piece for the next two or three years if the home run trend changes, but he should not be the eighth-inning answer in 2013, whether it’s just him or a combination of he, Antonio Bastardo and possibly Phillippe Aumont. Lindblom’s propensity to hit the sweet spot of the bat and the control problems of Bastardo and Aumont would set the Phils up for another season of late meltdowns.

If the Phillies sign a veteran reliever with a track record of setup success — a Mike Adams, Ryan Madson or Brandon League — Lindblom can move into the complementary role he is better suited for at this point.

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J-Roll, Chooch Gold Glove Finalists

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, October 30, 2012 01:26 PM Comments: 5

(PHOTO: Philaphans.com)

Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz were named NL Gold Glove finalists for 2012 last evening.

Managers, up to six coaches per team, and “qualified players” voted on the award this year, voting on players for their league but unable to vote for players on their own teams. Rollins, a three time winner from 2007 through 2009, is competing against finalists Zack Cozart, Ian Desmond, and Jose Reyes while Chooch looks to win his first Gold Glove among the pool of finalists, which includes Yadier Molina and Miguel Montero. Rollins ranked fifth among qualified NL shortstops in UZR/150 while catching metrics are tougher to quantify.

The winners will be announced at 9:30 PM on ESPN 2 this evening.

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Wigginton and Contreras options declined, Ruiz renewed for 2013

Posted by R.C. Cowie, Mon, October 29, 2012 02:19 PM Comments: 16

If the Philadelphia region survives the onslaught from Hurricane Sandy, Carlos Ruiz will be the Phillies starting catcher in 2013. The team declined options on Ty Wigginton and Jose Contreras, opting to buy out their contracts. A similar fate is expected for Placido Polanco. Juan Pierre and Brian Schneider were granted Free Agency.

From the Phillies:

The Phillies picked up the $5 million club option on [Ruiz's] contract for next season. The Phillies had a $500,000 buyout, but there was no way they were going to take that. Ruiz hit .325 with 32 doubles, 16 home runs, 68 RBIs and a .935 OPS in 114 games this season.

The Phillies also have club options for Jose Contreras ($2.5 million or $500,000 buyout) and Ty Wigginton ($4 million or $500,000 buyout), and a $5.5 million mutual option (or a $500,000 buyout) with Placido Polanco. The Phillies are expected to take the buyouts for each of those players.

Juan Pierre and Brian Schneider also became free agents, although neither is likely to be back in Philadelphia.

Sorry for such a short, nondescript mention of these roster moves. But, I felt it necessary to inform you all of this even under more important circumstances.

Stay safe everyone.

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Top Moments of 2012 Preview

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, October 29, 2012 02:00 PM Comments: 0

Photo: Aerys Sports

The calendar will soon turn to 2013, putting 2012 behind for good. The 2012 season was not one that Phillies fans will enjoy looking back on; the Phillies were plagued with injuries and finished with their worst record since 2002.  The Phillies had high expectations, but became sellers at the trade deadline and failed to make the postseason.

2012 did have some memorable moments. As we continue to look ahead to 2013, Phillies Nation will also reflect on the top moments from the 2012 season.

To create our “Top 10 Moments of 2012″ list, each Phillies Nation writer listed their top 10 moments in order. We used a “fair voting method,” the Borda Method, which is also used to tally votes for baseball’s Most Valuable Player Award. Basically, a first place vote equals 10 points, second place equals 9, third place equals 8, and so on. This helped determine the order of our list.

We’ll start at 10 and count our way up to number one. Number 10 will be released soon, but below are the games that did not make the cut:

Continue reading Top Moments of 2012 Preview

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Phillies Player Review: Jim Thome

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, October 29, 2012 08:00 AM Comments: 6

Thome wasn't around much in 2012 but provided one of the most memorable moments of the season. Photo: AP

Throw WAR out the door for this one. There was no move that got me more excited for the 2012 season than the signing of the 41-year-old slugger Peoria, IL slugger. Thome’s return to Philadelphia was about a lot more than bench help to many fans: Big Jim wasn’t the man who built the Bank, but he was certainly the man who filled it. Thome was the first star signing in what would become, nearly a decade later, a trend for the normally tight-walleted Phils. When Thome rejoined the team seven years after he last played in Philly, it was a feel-good-story that propagated big “What-If”s.

What if Thome could platoon with Ty Wigginton or John Mayberry? What if Thome still had the power and bat speed he showed just a season before in Minnesota? What if Thome’s body held up to play defense – would he become more than just a part-time player? Phillies’ fans, myself included, had a big wishlish for Big Jim. Unfortunately, Big Jim didn’t have a whole lot of time on the field to check things off that list. Competing in just 30 games for the Phils, seeing the plate only 71 times, Thome battled age and injury to get into the line-up. Along the way, he did provide some memorable moments.

Because Thome’s second trip with the Phillies was so short, it’s almost possible to give an at-bat-by-at-bat synopsis of each. Thome’s playing time was limited early, seeing just 21 trips to the plate in April and hitting .111/.238/.111. Thome looked like he often struggled to catch up to fastballs early on. Thome went on the DL after the April 28 game against the Cubs with a lower back strain that kept him away from the Phils until June 6 against the Dodgers. With the tying run on second in the ninth against one of Thome’s other former teams, Citizen’s Bank Park rose to its feet to welcome Big Jim back. Thome struck out looking with Wigginton on second and the Phillies lost.

Thome would end his time with the Phils, however, with one of the most memorable moments of the 2012 season. Thome hit .295/.380/.682 with 5 HRs, mostly in an Interleague DH role, for the Fightins in June and bailed Jonathan Papelbon out of a blown save against the Rays on June 23 with a walk-off against Jake McGee. Less than a week later, Thome was gone, traded to the Orioles, where he played in 28 games, seeing 115 PA before a herniated disc slowed Thome down. Thome was activated for the surprising Orioles’ playoff appearance, where he went 2 for 15 in the playoffs.

Grade C: It is very hard, for both sentimental and practical sample-size reasons, to give Thome a fair, accurate or honest assessment. Those who expected more were living off of yesterday’s memories, those who expected less were pleasantly surprised. To not cheap out and pick “Incomplete”, I think Thome performed nearly as expected, considering age and health.

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Weekly Off-season Review, 10/28/12

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, October 28, 2012 07:05 PM Comments: 3

It’s another edition of our off-season league updates. Each week, we’ll take a tour around the globe for a look at Phillies talents participating in various autumn and winter action.

Venezuelan League-

Shortstop Freddy Galvis (pictured, left) is batting .321 with two doubles, a triple and three home runs through 14 games with Zulia. The switch-hitter is just 2-for-16 (.125 avg) against lefty pitchers.

Infielder Harold Garcia has been playing some third base for Zulia. The 26-year-old is 4-for-12 with a double and a triple through five contests.

Outfielder Tyson Gillies returned to action on Wednesday after missing nine days with a hamstring strain.  Gillies, who turns 24-years-old this week, is batting.385 with a double, a triple and two RBI in seven games for Lara.  Gillies has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, since joining the Phillies organization as part of the Cliff Lee trade with Seattle in December, 2009.

Phillies rookie Darin Ruf has posted a .213 batting average with a double, six home runs and 13 RBI in 13 games for La Guaira. The 26-year-old righty hitter mashed two homers and drove in six runs in the Tiburones’ 8-2 win on Saturday. Ruf, the Phils’ 20th round draft selection in 2009 slugged a club record 38 homers for Double-A Reading in 2012.  (UPDATE, Sunday, 8:19 PM- Ruf mashed two home runs for the second consecutive game in Sunday’s match up against Anzoategui, bringing his season total to eight in 14 games) Continue reading Weekly Off-season Review, 10/28/12

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Phillies Player Review: Jake Diekman

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, October 28, 2012 03:47 PM Comments: 3

Diekman looked unhittable at times, and wild at others (Phoulballz)

With a wicked lefty windup and a fastball that reaches 97 on the gun, Jake Diekman burst onto the scene as a possible eighth inning savior for a Phillies team that absolutely needed one. That good times didn’t last for Diekman, but the young reliever showed enough promise that Phillies fans are, and should be, excited.

The 25-year-old Diekman began the year as a relative unknown with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs after an 83-strikeout season with Reading in 2011. In 26 2/3 innings with the Pigs through the first month and change, Diekman fanned 37 batters, but did struggle a bit with control, walking 13. It was that lack of control that haunted him throughout his up and down tenure with the Phillies.

Diekman made his major league debut on May 15 against the Astros and struck out three in 1 1/3 innings. In his next appearance on May 17 against the Cubs, he allowed four runs and walked two batters. That kinda year.

Overall, Diekman finished 2012 with a 3.95 ERA in 27 1/3 innings, and an extremely high 1.65 WHIP. The strikeouts remained high, as he fanned 35, however the walks continues to haunt him. Diekman gave up 20 free passes, far to many to have him remain a key cog in the bullpen.

The tools are there. If Diekman can hone his wild delivery and maybe take a tick or two off his fastball in order to control it, this will be a stronger bullpen in 2013.

Grade: C

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