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Writer’s Roundtable – Home Run Derby Predictions

Posted by Don M, Mon, July 14, 2014 06:20 PM Comments: 10

The 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby is tonight (8 p.m. on ESPN); live from Target Field in Minneapolis. MLB.com explained the new format to this year’s Derby:

…featuring 10 players who will get seven outs per round, with bracketed play after the first round.Five players from each league will bat in the opening round, with seven outs instead of the previous ten. The player who hits the most homers in each league will automatically receive a bye to the third round (semifinals). The next two players from each league with the most homers will square off against one another in a head-to-head matchup in the second round.The winners of these matchups will advance to the third round to compete against the league’s top seed. The final round will feature the winners of the American and National League semifinals going head-to-head to determine the winner of the event, won last year at Citi Field by Yoenis Cespedes of the A’s.

It means a player who has an unconscious first round — and thus a serious workout — will have a nice breather by sitting out the second round.

National League:
Captain: Troy Tulowitzki – COL – 21 HR
Giancarlo Stanton – MIA – 21 HR
Todd Frazier – CIN – 19 HR
Justin Morneau – COL – 13 HR
Yasiel Puig –LAD – 12 HR

American League:
Captain: Jose Bautista – TOR – 17 HR
Josh Donaldson – OAK – 20 HR
Brian Dozier – MIN – 18 HR
Adam Jones – BAL – 16 HR
Yoenis Cespedes – OAK – 14 HR

Our Picks:

Don McGettigan – Jose Bautista over Yasiel Puig
Pat Egan – Giancarlo Stanton over Brian Dozier
Pat Gallen – Giancarlo Stanton over Josh Donaldson
Ian Riccaboni – Yoenis Cespedes
Jon Nisula – Giancarlo Stanton over Yoenis Cespedes
Alex Lee – Justin Morneau over Yasiel Puig
R.C. Cowie – Josh Donaldson over Giancarlo Stanton

  • 10 Comments
 

A Phillies Fan Clears His Mind

Posted by Don M, Mon, December 30, 2013 03:30 PM Comments: 55

AP Photo).

AP Photo).

I’m going be honest with you; I think I’m depressed. I’m sad, dejected, beaten down and feeling empty inside when it comes to the Phillies. This is what Ruben Amaro Jr. – and the Phillies as a whole – has done to me. I’d like to imagine that I was ever the optimist when it came to the Phillies – posting such wise things as the quote below. I said this after a September 2008 loss left the Phillies 4-games back of the Wild Card leading Brewers just as the Brewers came to town for a 4-game series.

“What if they sweep the Brewers this weekend?? That gives us crazy momentum with two weeks to go.”

I believed in this team, I argued for this team, spent my time, money, and a ton of emotion on them –and they rewarded me with a championship in 2008. Those were the glory days, but this feels like rock bottom. They aren’t contenders, but they aren’t rebuilding. “Cross your fingers and hope for the best” seems to be the GM’s plan for 2014.

When it was clear to most fans that the 2013 Phillies couldn’t contend, the wise move was to start the rebuilding process. That roster had an aging core, and the attempted patch of Michael Young, Delmon Young, etc, just didn’t work. Did Ruben Amaro Jr. learn his lesson? No.

The Phillies brass simply continues to add older players that aren’t anything like the pieces needed to put a winner on the field. Marlon Byrd and a healthy Ryan Howard aren’t the key difference between a 73-win team, and the 90-ish wins it takes to win a Wild Card spot, let alone the NL East title. This team is nowhere near contending, and it doesn’t matter which other moves they make.

Because paying attention to the Phillies was so depressing in September, I don’t know if many people remember that this club actually finished 4th in the division, just behind the New York Mets. The only teams in the National League that the Phillies bested in the standings were the Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs. That’s it. But somehow Ruben Amaro Jr. believes this team is built to contend in 2014.

Day after day I keep thinking about this quote in a Jayson Stark article from a few weeks back, when he talked to an unnamed American League executive about the current state of the Phillies:

“I just don’t understand exactly what they’re doing, “ said one AL exec. “If you’re seriously trying to win, you don’t do it this way. And if you’re trying to get younger, you don’t do it this way. At some point, they’ve got to pick a direction and go with it.”

If that isn’t depressing to read, I don’t know what is. It’s like a punch in the gut. And what makes it hurt the most is that it’s 100 percent accurate. This organization has no plan. When they kept Chase Utley, and resigned Carlos Ruiz, I thought for certain that they’d go after some of the big name free agents on the market – if you’re trying to win, you should go all in. But in keeping with the poker terms, Ruben Amaro Jr. keeps checking and checking and will soon be out of chips, having never really played a solid hand.

Sorry to bring you down, but hopefully Phillies fans can still have a Happy New Year!

  • 55 Comments
 

Stark: The Next Era of Phillies Baseball is Coming

Posted by Don M, Sat, March 09, 2013 07:00 AM Comments: 41

The championship era could be coming to a close.

On Wednesday afternoon ESPN.com Senior writer, Jayson Stark, joined 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli and the two had what I believe to be the preeminent conversation regarding the Phillies recent history and wondered how fans would handle the end of this great era:

Stark: “The next era is coming, how soon it arrives is up to these guys (Rollins, Howard, etc).”
Missanelli: “How will the fans react to an era of lower proportions than what we’ve been through?”
Stark: “…I can’t tell you where this is leading. There’s still a lot of affection for this team, but when you have a generation of guys who won, who knew how to win, who just captured the hearts of the fan base, the next generation is not going to be the same. They’ve traded away too many guys, and surrendered too many picks to have that group-in-waiting. And so uness they make a bunch of tremendous trades, there is going to be a period of watching the Nationals and Braves do their thing. And the Mets have actually built a nice little foundation too. You won’t see it this year, but its coming.”
Missanelli: “Here’s the question then, did the Phillies do it wrong?”
Stark: “If I had asked you five years ago – they’re going to win one World Series, and then they’re going to do whatever it takes to try to win one or two or three more, wouldn’t you have advised them to do that?”
Missanelli: “Yes!”
Stark: “And that’s what they did. I’ve asked other General Managers about this all the time, Mike. And they say this is what you’re supposed to do. You don’t get that many opportunities with a team like this and a group like this, and so you max-out, and you try to win. They won a World Series; they got back to a second World Series; the year after that they had the best team in baseball and just didn’t win in October because they had the wrong matchup. Then they faced the Cardinals- another bad matchup. They had a chance to win two or three or four, it’s hard to win those. If you keep making those trades and you keep giving up those choices, somebody drops the bill in the mail, and the bill is arriving now. This is the price they are paying.”

Immediately following the triumphant 2008 season it was almost unfathomable to think that the Phillies wouldn’t win at least one more World Series in the years ahead. The majority of the team was still under contract, including past MVP’s Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. We had blossoming stars in Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, and Carlos Ruiz, and once they started making trades for Cy Young Award winners like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, it was time to sit back and watch our home team collect one World Series trophy after another. Or at least that was the plan.

Regardless of how the upcoming season turns out, I know that these have been the greatest years of Phillies baseball that I will ever see. Whatever happens with the expiring contracts of Halladay, Ruiz, and Utley, I promise to move forward as a fan with whichever players take the field. I vow to root for the name of the front of the jersey, regardless of the name on the back. I wish for nothing more than to see another string of NL East titles, and a World Series parade, but even if that doesn’t happen, I will always look back fondly and give the Phillies organization credit for going all-in to chase that elusive 3rd World Series crown.

Lets all be sure to enjoy this season and whatever fun it brings, because there’s a chance this great ride could be coming to an end in the not-too-distant future.

  • 41 Comments
 

We’re Going Streaking… Phillies Win 4th Straight

Posted by Don M, Thu, May 17, 2012 01:59 PM Comments: 13

RECAP – the Afternoon Edition.   Please accept our apologies, Phillies Nationers , we strive to bring you timely and informative Phillies news and views, and like Juan Pierre last night, we dropped the ball on this one.

 This is late, so I’ll be brief… but how about those Fightin Phils!?  They’ve managed to climb back to .500 (19-19), with Roy Halladay taking the mound tonight against Chris Volstad.

-Kyle Kendrick pitched very well in place of Vance Worley, allowing only 3 hits, 2 runs, ( 1 was earned)… he struck out 4, and walked NONE through 6 innings of work.

-The bullpen combination of Jose Contreras, Antonio Bastardo, and Raul Valdes each threw a perfect inning of work after Kendick left the game.  The Cubs did not have a base runner after an Alfonso Soriano HR in the 4th inning, as Phillies pitchers retired the last 17 batters they faced.

-Freddy Galvis another 2-hit game, both doubles.

-The New Guys – Mike Fontenot and Hector Luna each contributed with their first hit in a Phillies uniform.  Fontenot singled in the 7th, while Luna capped the Phillies 6-run 9th inning with a pinch-hit Grand Slam to put the game out of reach.

-Carlos Ruiz continues to amaze.  The man we affectionately refer to as “Chooch” hit his 7th HR of the season as part of his 2-for-4 night (to see his batting average climb to .343), and scored 3 runs.

-The opinion that Carlos Ruiz should be an All-Star this season is quickly becoming FACT.  He leads NL catchers in Batting Average, HR, RBI, OBP, SLG, and OPS…and is tied for the lead in both Runs and Hits.  We need to have an official Twitter Campaign to get Chooch into the All Star Game.  I’ve seen #VoteforChooch , # Vote4Chooch, and #VoteforChooch2012 … somebody, somewhere, pick one and lets run with it!

  • 13 Comments
 

Gameday: Marlins (1-3) vs. Phillies (1-2)

Posted by Don M, Mon, April 09, 2012 01:10 PM Comments: 33

Philadelphia Phillies (1-2) vs. Miami Marlins (1-3)

Cole Hamels vs. Anibal Sanchez

Time:  1:05, Citizens Bank Park

TV: CSN, MLBN

Weather: Partly Sunny, Chance of Rain, high 63

Thanksgiving is cool, Christmas is awesome (hell, we even have “Cliffmas” in the city of brother love), but the Phillies home opener is something that, to me, rivals the greatest days of the year.  A holiday spent with more than 50,000 of your closest friends, some with less than no intention of actually watching the game, but all of whom contribute to one of the greatest home atmospheres in baseball.

Today, the newly named Miami Marlins bring their new skipper, Ozzie Guillen, and the beneficiaries of their offseason spending spree, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle to Philadelphia for the first time in 2012.  A 72-win team just a season ago, this new look team from Miami has quickly become the media favorite to dethrone the Fightin Phils as NL East champions.  And while none of us are ready to give up the title, we acknowledge that season shapes up to be more of a grind than in years past.

Cole Hamels was skipped in yesterday’s game three vs. Pittsburgh- a move some said was to split up the lefties (Cliff Lee and Hamels), but we all know that Cole was passed over to give him the distinction of taking the hill in the season’s home opener.  That decision was an easy one.  With a juiced-up (aka drunk and rowdy) crowd behind him, Hamels should no doubt be reminded why he does not want to leave Philadelphia.  The hometown fans, starved for a winner, desperate for a parade, finally got what we so desired thanks in large part to this homegrown lefty, then a star in the making, now one of the most desired players in recent memory.

Hamels, a two-time All Star with career marks of 74-54, with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP, is in his final year under contract (bet you didn’t know that yet…) will be very difficult to afford should he reach the Free Agent market after this season, as many baseball “experts” have said the Phillies don’t have a great chance to retain his services should a bidding war ensue.

And so today starts a new chapter in Cole Hamels’ Philadelphia story, perhaps the last chapter – but regardless of how that story ends, the bigger issue is the season at hand.  The head-to-head battle for the 2012 NL East crown begins today!

  • 33 Comments
 

Is Jimmy Rollins the Phillies’ “Derek Jeter”?

Posted by Don M, Sun, March 04, 2012 08:18 AM Comments: 0

Jeter and Rollins are two of the best for their respective teams.

There was a lot of talk from Phillies fans this offseason concerning the then-undetermined fate of Jimmy Rollins.  This is very similar to the situation the Yankees found themselves in with Derek Jeter after the 2010 season.  Before you start cyber-cursing at me, realize that I’m not comparing Rollins to Jeter in terms of their on-field play; obviously Jeter is one of the best to ever play the game.  Jeter is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer if there ever was one, but there is no denying the similarity that each has had in terms of importance to their organization’s history along with their off-field value.

To some, Jimmy Rollins is an aging shortstop, a leadoff hitter that doesn’t quite get on base enough to warrant that spot in the lineup, while to others (myself included), he’s a homegrown, MVP, Gold-Glove winning, World Series champion! I believe that with the reasonable contract he signed, the Phillies were absolutely right to keep Rollins in red pinstripes for what should be the duration of his career.  Yes, he might be losing a step in the field, and he doesn’t quite have the young legs of his “Young James” days, but Rollins was the best “non-Reyes” available at shortstop this offseason, and the fact that he is a career-Phillie is something we should appreciate and take pride in.

Rollins is on the verge of becoming an All-Time leader in many important categories, and has meant so much to this Phillies franchise success that I believe we will one day see the #11 retired and displayed in Citizens Bank Park alongside some of the greats… #1 -Richie Ashburn, #14 -Jim Bunning, #20 -Mike Schmidt, #32 -Steve Carlton, and #36 -Robin Roberts.

Continue reading Is Jimmy Rollins the Phillies’ “Derek Jeter”?

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Poll: Manager You Would Replace Charlie Manuel With

Posted by Don M, Mon, January 30, 2012 09:28 AM Comments: 29

Who would be the best manager for the Phillies if Charlie left? (AP)

We will always be grateful for Charlie Manuel leading the Phillies to the 2008 World Series crown. “This is for Philadelphia!  This is for our fans,” screamed Charlie after the Game 5-Part 2 clincher against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Charlie will likely never have to pay for a beer again in the City of Brotherly Love, but we all know that he can’t manage this team forever.

Just for the heck of it we asked the fans on our Phillies Nation Facebook page which current MLB manager they would choose right now if they had to replace Charlie Manuel?

We took the ten most frequent responses (with some career achievements via Baseball Reference) and now we want your vote.

Which current MLB manager would you choose if you had to replace Charlie Manuel:

Continue reading Poll: Manager You Would Replace Charlie Manuel With

  • 29 Comments
 

POLL: Phillie of the Last 10 Years

Posted by Don M, Sun, January 15, 2012 08:52 AM Comments: 19

Does Hamels get your vote?

Who was your “Phillie of the Decade” from 2002-2011?
1B -Ryan Howard
1B – Jim Thome
2b – Chase Utley
SS- Jimmy Rollins
RF- Bobby Abreu
SP- Roy Halladay
SP- Cole Hamels

Was Jim Thome signing here as a Free Agent enough to change the culture, and grab your vote?

Was it Jimmy Rollins?  The man with the “team to beat” statement, backed by his MVP season, and his always-steady defense.

Maybe it was Ryan Howard taking Major League Baseball by storm, being the fastest player to reach 100, 150, and 200 HRs (in 2010, Howard would also become the fastest player to ever reach 250 HRs)?

Continue reading POLL: Phillie of the Last 10 Years

  • 19 Comments
 

The CATCHer That Got Away

Posted by Don M, Mon, January 02, 2012 09:54 AM Comments: 13

Travis D'Arnaud

Phillies.com posted a video of Ruben Amaro answering questions from seasons ticket holders via Tom McCarthy and most of the questions got a standard, friendly non-answer.  Then, Ruben dished on the guys behind the dish.

Q:  “Of all the young players you’ve traded away over the last five years, if you could have one of them back, who would it be?”

A:  “I would say, because of the lack of depth in this area, I would say Travis D’Arnaud, probably one of the better catchers in all of baseball, it really hurt when we moved him… when you’re moving young talent, you try to stay out of the middle of the field, (C, SS, CF), because those can be the backbone of your club.

We had to put him in the deal to make it happen.  At the time it was more of a decision between D’Arnaud and Brown, and while we like both guys a lot, we thought that Brown was closest and the guy that would make more impact on us at that time.  And we decided to go with D’Arnaud and I’d like to have him back, he’s a good one.”

Later in the interview…

Continue reading The CATCHer That Got Away

  • 13 Comments
 

How’s Your Confidence Level, Philadelphia?

Posted by Don M, Tue, October 04, 2011 12:37 PM Comments: 28

The Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals split the first two games of the NLDS… now the first team to win two more will advance to face the winner of the Brewers-Diamonbacks series (the Brewers lead 2-0).  All season we’ve talked about the “Four Aces,” and how Cole Hamels is “the best #3 pitcher in baseball.”  Tonight, we’ll need him to prove it once again against a determined Cardinals lineup, and a raucous St. Louis crowd.

The Phillies have done everything by the book thus far, leaving little room for second-guessing.  They clinched early, rested their stars, and lined-up their starting rotation the way they wanted.  On paper, the Phillies should be the favorite for each of the remaining games in this series, but that doesn’t always equal victory.  *Since the start of a 4-game set at Citizens Bank Park on September 16th, St. Louis is 10-5 overall, including a 4-2 record against the Phillies (with Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee…and Michael Schwimer all being tagged with a LOSS ).

Before the start of this series I assumed the Cardinals would win one or two games, but it’s the way in which they won Sunday night that is cause for some concern.  You can’t give away a 4-0 lead at home in the postseason, it gives the Cardinals more increased confidence and has given them “home field advantage” in what is now a best of three series. 

Regardless of the road trip, the blown lead in game 2, or anything else you can think of… I have faith the better team will prevail.  My confidence remains high, how about you, Phillies Nation?

  • 28 Comments
 
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