Friday, January 30, 2009

"I'm not your friend, buddy!" "I'm not your buddy, guy!"

This week, Shore Sports Network's Kevin Williams took some time out of his busy professional radio duties to answer some questions about baseball and his lengthy career. Thanks to Kevin, who is quick and to the point, for the most part. Kevin is a Metropolitans fan, by the way.

1. Kevin, Cole Hamels speaks the truth. He gave an interview where he confirmed that he thinks the Mets are choke artists. As a Mets fan, can I get your rebuttal to such a statement?

(He's an) immature jerk who will regret the comment. The simple difference in the teams this year was the Mets lost Billy Wagner and the Phillies had Brad Lidge healthy for the season.

2. You suspended your Fox Sports 1310 AM blog once the Mets fell short at the end of the 2008 season. Do you have any intentions to start it back up, or will someone else be taking your spot? If you are discontinuing your page...who can take the most credit- the Brewers, the Phillies or the Mets?

I really don't like blogging....it's for losers. (Ed. note...Ouch!)

3. You formerly hosted the afternoon drive time show, The Locker Room, on Fox Sports 1310 AM. You now have an new show that will be debuting soon on sister station, WOBM. Can you tell us about that?

Not a sports show....more general in appeal. Still putting together.

4. What other terrible teams do you root for?

Penn State Football, NY Giants, NY Rangers, NY Knicks. PSU, Mets & Rangers are teams I'm most passionate about.

5. What departing Met would you most like to have return in 2009...Pedro, Oliver, Moises, Easley? Why?

Oliver is big....pitches well against good teams when it counts.

6. The last Phillies/Mets trade that I can remember involved Juan Samuel, Len Dykstra and Roger McDowell. Play Omar Minaya. If you were trying to make a fair trade with the Phillies, who might you target and maybe try to lay out a deal that could make it happen...?

I will give you Luis Castillo for Chase Utley....take it or leave it.

7. The Mets signed the Mariners closer JJ Putz this offseason to pitch in a set-up role. His jersey will be greatly appreciated at Citizens Bank Park in 2009, as his name will help to properly identify visiting Mets fans. You don't have to say anything. I just wanted to state that I will thoroughly enjoy Mets fans labeling themselves as "putz".

Just remember it was only a couple of years ago when there were more Mets fans at Citizens Bank Park than Phillies. That day will return.

8. Have the Braves improved enough to make the NL East a 3-team race?

Braves are better, but it's still two teams.

9. What have you liked best about covering and broadcasting sports, over the years?

Watching those high school players like Al Leiter and Keith Elias work their way into the pro's and still maintain their local ties.

10. You've been honored as NJ sportscaster of the year nine times. Let us know what that means to you and, maybe, fill us in on any other achievments you've had in your career.

It's nice, but frankly there is nobody else in NJ. Biggest honors were being inducted into the Hall of Fames at Central Regional High School and OCC. (Ed. note...would the broadcasters for the Nets, Devils, Giants, Jets, Somerset Patriots, Trenton Thunder, AC Surf, Rutgers, and so on, agree with such a remark?)

11. Can we get a wager going on the Metropolitans vs. the Phillies this season? I was thinking a little something like this...Phil & Mets play 11 times prior to the all star break. We each pick our team, of course, and the loser of that 11 game stretch wears the winning team's cap, and hosts the victor at the winning team's ballpark, during the second half. Whaddaya say?

Will never wear anything from Philadelphia outside of a pretzel or cheese steak. (Ed. note...I am disappointed there was no counter wager. Pretty weak response. And why is Kevin trying to wear yummy food?)

12. Every Phillies phan's phavorite (or something like the exact opposite of phavorite) Met is Billy Wagner. It wouldn't be smart of me to let you off the hook without bringing him up (even though you ended up touching on him, in a previous answer, after I had typed all my questions out to you). Say something about him....now!

How come guys like you don't talk about the years (many of them) when the Phillies sucked and the Vet or CBP was like a morgue? Every Phillies fan likes to think they have been great for years but we know that's not the case. You are the World Series champs but Philly fans live in the shadow of New York and always will.
(Ed. note...since Kevin asked me something, let's look at it like this- there's a married couple who had it rough for a considerable while. The past two years of their relationship have been outstanding, wildly passionate and very happy. Would it make any sense for that couple to just toss out memories of the crappy ol' days, just for the "whoop-de-whoop" of it? Answer- Aw, naw! Hell naw, boy!)


This was a rather enjoyable exchange, even though Kevin didn't seem to have as much fun with it as I did. Hopefully, he'll visit with us again during the season. Here's to another fun filled year for all the "guys like me"!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Schmidt vs. Howard


The latest issue, dated February 2nd, of the Sporting News features a cover story on Phillies slugger Ryan Howard. In the issue, Ken Bradley asked Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt who would hit more homers, Howard or Schmidt, in Schmidt's choice of an era. Old #20 had this to say about choosing himself...


This era and the stadiums they play in today- and it's not a
chip-on-the-shoulder thing or sour grapes by me- it's probably about a 10-a-year
difference. Slicing the ball to the opposite field and having it go out of
the ballpark didn't happen very often when I played. I flew out to the
opposite-field warning track maybe 50 times a year, and 10 of those would go out
of the park now. (But) we'd be very similar. In terms of being able
to go 50-plus, 60-plus, he might have a little bit more of that kind of ability,
but our numbers would probably average somewhere in the 40's on a regular basis.
Please chime in with your thoughts on this matter in the comments section and vote in the poll. Who would be there better power hitter?

In the issue, Howard comments safely on sports phans in Philadelphia, stating...
They get on you because they want you to do well.

Asked about coming up in the Phils minor league system with Jim Thome blocking his path to the majors, Ryan said...
I remember when he signed, I was like, 'Yeah! Wow! We got Jim Thome!' That was the fan in me coming out. But then the minor
leaguer in me was like, "Damn. We just signed Jim Thome."

Howard was also asked about what might concern him more, his batting average or his high strike out totals. He said...
Overall , it's just hits. Really and truthfully, the strikeouts are part of the game. I just happen to do it a little more than somebody else who may ground out. I think it's kind of overrated. I had, what, 199
strikeouts last year? And I still led the major leagues in homeruns and
RBI's. So, I mean, whoop-de-whoop.

The magazine also features a sidebar with Shane Victorino, who says we don't know Ryan Howard like he knows Ryan Howard (whoop-de-whoop indeed!) and a delicious looking Subway ad featuring Ryan. You can pick up the issue on news stands in the coming days.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Free Agency Super Market

So many top level talents are still free agents this offseason. Andy Pettitte finally signed an incentive laden deal with the Yankees yesterday, which can be worth as much as $12 million, but as little as $5.5 million. With under 3 weeks until pitchers and catchers report for spring training, have a look at the big names who are still available.

Catchers-
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez- an eventual Hall of Famer
Jason Varitek, a mainstay with the Red Sox for, well, ever...still remains unsigned

Outfielders-
Bobby Abreu, a steady numbers guy and former all star
Adam Dunn, 40 or more homers for 4 straight years
Ken Griffey Jr, more HoF names on the list
Manny Ramirez, another Hall of Famer with a monster bat
Garret Anderson, .296 career avg. and 84 RBI last year
Jim Edmonds, 20 homers last season is worth consideration


Starting pitchers-
Livan Hernandez, former world champ & all star racks up innings
Tom Glavine, surely another HoF lock
Ben Sheets, has talent but is an injury concern
Oliver Perez, lefty has big K potential
Jon Garland, multiple 18-win seasons in this guy's career
Pedro Martinez, yes ANOTHER sure Hall of Famer on this list!
Randy Wolf, solid lefty and a former all star with our Phillies


Infield/DH-
Nomar Garciaparra- former all star, versatile fielder
Frank Thomas- 500-HR club member, still has power

What does this weak market mean for players? Some insiders have proclaimed it's collusion by teams to drive down the values of players. I can't say I disagree with that sort of collusion. When the guy (Ryan Howard) who set the record for highest salary awarded in an arbitration case, just last year, at $10 million, comes back the very next season and asks for 80% MORE than that record, it's very telling that some players' concepts of their own values are way off.

Waiting it out for discounts is smart for the teams and owners. With just a few teams suited as fits for a guy like Manny Ramirez, there are even less teams who could actually afford him. Possibly the only one on that list is the Dodgers. The Dodgers offered Manny a contract at the winter meetings (2 yrs, $45 million), which was rejected, and now a newer offer would likely be lower than, considering the dwindling options for Ramirez.

When asked, executive director of the players' union, Donald Fehr, won't comment about collusion, but says he'd be surprised if a market advantageous to the players didn't develop.

Players listed above who don't sign with teams in the coming weeks probably won't feel pressure to sign on for bottom dollar deals in order to get a pay check either. These are mostly guys who've gotten huge deals in their pasts, and are already millionaires. An in-season free agent market could be something that develops in 2009, like it never has before. Starting pitcher Paul Byrd has already announced his intentions to take the first half of the season off, and then make himself available to sign mid-season and help a contender. This is the way that Roger Clemens operated in the final years of his career. We could see more than a few guys using this strategy to their advantages this year. If the right market doesn't develop for players such as Bobby Abreu, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine and Manny Ramirez, before April, these free agents could be setting their own prices once again as the playoff races develop during the 2009 season.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 2

Are you aware that the Phillies once had a shortstop named Heinie? Oh, well they did. From 1923-1928, John Henry "Heinie" Sand played up the middle for the Phils. Heinie was a popular nickname in MLB, during the early 20th century, for players of German descent.

Sand is best known for his role in exposing a betting scandal in 1924 that implicated an ex-Phillie. Late that season, the Phillies were out of the playoff hunt, but the Giants were locked in a tight pennant race. Prior to a game, with 3 days left in the season, Heinie Sand was approached by Giants reserve outfielder, Jimmy O'Connell. O'Connell and Sand knew each other from their youth, as they both grew up in San Francisco. O'Connell offered Sand $500 if he "didn't bear down too hard". The games were all crucial for the Giants at that stage, but Sand refused and notified the Phillies manager, Art Fletcher, later that night. An investigation followed, and O'Connell would later confess and implicate Giants teammates in the bribe attempt. As a result, Jimmy O'Connell and Giants coach (and phormer Phillie) Cozy Dolan were both permanently banned from baseball by Commissioner Kenesaw Landis.

Heinie Sand played in 848 games over 6 seasons for the Phils. He batted .258 with 18 homers in his career. In 1925, at age 27, Sand made 60 errors in 143 games at SS.

------------

The Phillies interest in an additional righty bat continues. Ty Wigginton has been added to the list of guys like Mark Grudzielanek, Nomar Garciaparra, Rich Aurilia and Moises Alou who interest the Phillies.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More headline entertainment

CBS3.com has enlightened the Phillies world to the genius that is new GM Ruben Amaro Jr. In the steal of the century, the Phils have apparently signed outfielder Jayson Werth to a $10 contract. Wow!

If you catch this soon enough the headline blunder is still there, but if not, here's a screen capture of the dealio.

Letters from...

In the news this week, we heard about the tradition started by Ronald Reagan of outgoing US presidents leaving the incoming new president a note, in the oval office desk. I really think it's quite annoying that the media was permitted to have photo opportunities with the letter but the public is not permitted to learn what might be contained in the letter, but all-in-all, it's a pretty cool tradition.

This presidential custom got me thinking what it might be like if the same sort of practice stood in place for baseball managerial changes. What if Larry Bowa wrote a letter to his unknown managerial successor, prior to leaving Gary Varsho in charge in the closing days of the 2004 Phillies season? What would that letter look like...?

To whom it may concern,
Hi, my name is Larry. I was the manager here before. The team stunk and they always blamed ME. Some guy named Patrick was always causing issues and snubbing me. The guy could barely bat his weight, for average, and he wanted to blame ME. Once, he joined up with some reserve players and they dyed their hair and told people I was to blame for the team's shortcomings. My advice, if this ever happens to you, would be to find the lead hair dyer and release him...especially if his name is Tyler. Guys named Tyler just can't be trusted, in my experience.

There are really good local spots you should know about like where to get your
hair cut, where to get good hoagies and where to find a massage place that throws
in a tug at the end. Vuk is the guy to ask about all that.


I'm really popular here and the phans seriously dig me. My number is 10, so try not to let anyone wear that going forward, okay?

Oh and lastly, tell that (expletive deleted) Ed Wade to (explicit phrase deleted) and (expletive deleted) his stupid (expletive deleted) hair cut.
Sincerely, L-Bo.


Alright, and what if Terry Francona, on his way out in 1997, wrote a letter to Larry Bowa?


Dearest Larry,
Hey, it's Tito...just wanted to say GOOD LUCK...a-ha-ha! This whole franchise is in the toilet. Matt Beech is the #2 starter! Hahahah!

Whew, holy crap, it's great to be free! Alright, I'm gonna go interview with a real baseball franchise and win a lot. Tell Eddy I said he can (suggestive word deleted) my (explicit word deleted).
Peace,
T.F.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Arbitration and WBC

The baseball world is buzzing this week with arbitration talk and World Baseball Classic roster announcements.

Firstly, Tuesday was the day when players and teams exchange dollar numbers for arbitration. Reportedly, Ryan Howard is asking for $18 million, while the Phillies offered $14 million. So, if the two sides reach an arbitration hearing again this year, Howard would, at least, get a 40% raise. Wouldn't we all like to be guaranteed a 40% pay increase this year?

While MVP-runner up Howard stayed headed toward arbitration, Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino have all come to terms with the Phillies on new contracts. Madson's deal is worth $12 million, with incentives, over 3 years. Shane's deal is for one year, and is for $3.125 million. Big Joe's contract is also a 1-year deal, worth $5.4 million.

The remaining Phillies still up for arbitration, aside from Howard, are Jayson Werth and Chad Durbin. Werth is said to have requested $4 million, while the team offered $3 million. Durbin's figures are said to be $1.95 requested by the player/$1.35 offered by the team.


The most pleasing WBC news is that JC Romero will pitch for Puerto Rico. Romero, suspended from MLB for the first 50 games of the season, is allowed to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, since he has not violated any rules for international baseball.

Other Phillies on WBC provisional rosters include...
Team USA- Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins
Team Canada- Matt Stairs
Team Italy- Mike Spidale
Team Venezuela- Carlos Carrasco
Team Dominican Republic- Ronny Paulino
Team Panama- Carlos Ruiz
Team Australia- Brad Harman, Joel Naughton
Also, Team USA will have Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt on its coaching staff.


Phormer Phillies popping up on rosters...
Italy- Sal Fasano, Little Nicky Punto, Mike Costanzo, Val Pascucci
Canada- Rheal Cormier
Mexico- Rod Barajas
Venezuela- Bob Abreu, Carlos Silva, Endy Chavez
Panama- Bruce Chen
Netherlands- Randall "The Sausage Beater" Simon
It's easy to say that I am getting quite excited for baseball in 2009. Ruben Jr. is doing his best to retain the right pieces of the championship puzzle, and is on the road to redeeming himself for letting Pat Burrell leave for a fraction of what he gave Raul Ibanez. And even though the DR team looks like it will mash all the competition, the WBC should provide some solid games and kick off the year properly, by stirring up interest in the sport.
**Update...Durbin and Werth have signed contracts. Ryan Howard is alone.

Monday, January 19, 2009

NL East Headline of the Weekend...

Star Jones could be finding a new gig, according to the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. I heard she's got a gun like Jeff Francoeur. When did she play for Atlanta anyway?


Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to all of you phine pholks, especially those of you who get a day off from work. I am not one of those lucky people.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday School- Economics lesson

On Saturday, the Phillies signed Cole Hamels to a 3 year contract worth $20.5 million, thus avoiding arbitration with the star lefty. Greg Dobbs also signed a new 2-year deal, also avoiding arbitration. Many phans know a little about arbitration. It's one of those things we all hear about for a month or two of the year, we know there are hearings and some bargaining involved, but not everyone has a tight grasp on all the details.

Players are eligible for arbitration when they (1) have as many as 3, but less than 6, years of major league service; (2) a player has filed for free agency, and their team makes an offer of arbitration and the player accepts; (3) the player is a "Super 2", meaning- the player is among the top 17% of players and has more than 2, but less than 3 years of service. There are minimal criteria (86 days of service in the previous year) and cutoffs (2 years, 140 days) to be a "Super 2".
The requirements for teams in this process- (1) the team should offer the arbitration by December 12th; (2) in the case of the free agents player, the former team must offer the player arbitration by December 1st. If the player accepts by December 7th, the player is placed back on the team's roster, and the two sides are permitted to continue to negotiate, or go to an arbitration hearing. If the free agent player declines the arbitration offer, the sides may continue to negotiate; (3) The team's salary offer to the player under its control may not be less than 80% of the player's total pay from the previous year, and may not be less than 70% of his pay from 2 years earlier. However, these rules do not apply to free agents who are offered arbitration.

As far as the people responsible for the arbitration decisions, they are members of the National Academy of Arbitrators. The academy is approved by both sides in the arbitration process. Ideally some baseball knowledge is preferred by the members who deal in the process, but fairness and the ability to process complex information quite quickly is also key.
There are two options for the arbitrators, give the player what the team offered, or make the team pay what the player has asked for. These dollar figures would be based on numbers exchanged the month prior. Decisions are rendered within 24 hours of a hearing, without explanation.

Hearings are held in Arizona and Florida, baseball's home states for spring training. The hearings are designed to force settlements before things reach the hearing stages. 1990 saw the record for filings by players get to 162, but the record of cases that actually went to a hearing was 35 in 1986. Typically, no more than a dozen cases reach the hearing stage each year. In 2008, only 8 cases got to hearings. Of those 8, only 3 of the players won (Oliver Perez, Ryan Howard, Francisco Rodriguez).

The arbitrators are a mixture of males and females. There are teams of 3 arbitrators formed for each case. Prior to 1994's MLB strike, the arbitrators rolled solo in each case.

In the past, a player might only be represented at a hearing by himself (the player is always present) and his agent, while the team might simply be represented by the general manager and prehaps the assistant GM. Nowadays, there are teams representatives on both sides, who might use computers to present videos or PowerPoint clips, as well as booklets full of statistical information. Each case will last 3 hours, or so...each side will get an hour, followed by 30 minutes of rebuttal from each side.

The remaining Phillies who may go to arbitration this year are Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Chad Durbin and Ryan Madson. Madson turned down a three-year contract worth 12 million dollars on Friday.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ring-a-ling

This week I heard old news about how when the Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl, they gave former Colt Edgerrin James a championship ring. "Edge" had been a Colt for seven years, and even though he was gone when they won the big one, the team and the coaching staff felt as though James had contributed in building the team that won it all, so they awarded him a ring.

This got me wondering which people, in an extended Phillies phamily, would be deserving of a 2008 World Series Champions ring. I heard an interview with Mike Schmidt, in the days that followed the Series, and when asked if he thought he'd get a ring, he said, "They have my (ring) size." Schmidt, the Hall of Fame thirdbaseman, was a long time Phillie, a one time coach of the single-A Clearwater Threshers (where he managed World Series MVP Cole Hamels) and appears as a guest hitting instructor in Phillies spring training every year. With all those things in mind, of course Mike Schmidt should get a ring.

In my opinion, the Phillie Phanatic should strut around Citizens Bank Park with some shine on his furry green paw/claw/hand in 2009. I'd even consider his momma, Phoebe, who makes many appearances for the Phillies each season. The Phanatic is as much of a Phillie as the guys who wear the uniform with pants.

How about this suggestion? Mitch Williams! Mitchie Poo, a post game analyst for the Phils during the 2008 season, was best known for surrendering the biggest homerun of the past few decades, when Joe Carter "walked off" in the 1993 World Series. Phans at the game five 2008 World Series clincher created a banner that stated, "Mitch, you're off the hook." What better way to prove to Mitch, who received death threats after the Phillies 1993 loss to the Blue Jays, that he is truly no longer held accountable, than to give him a World Series ring?


What about 94-year-old phan Jesse Branson, who was featured throughout the Phillies video yearbook, The Perfect Season? Branson, a virtual encyclopedia of baseball information, met several players and manager Charlie Manuel early in the 2008 season, and correctly predicted to all of them that the Phillies would win the World Series. Boosts in confidence were surely provided, and perhaps a debt is owed to Mr. Branson. A payment of gold and diamonds that fits on his ring finger might work.

Naturally, the broadcasters would all get a ring. Scott Franzke, Tom McCarthy, Larry Andersen and Hall of Famer Harry Kalas will all be in line to be jeweled up. Even 1983 NLCS MVP Gary "Sarge" Matthews will get a WS ring...but what about the Sarge's hat provider? Sarge's extensive selection of hats was surely an inspiration to Phillies team members who can only aspire to achieve great things in their playing days, so that they, too, can collect such a variety of head covers some day. From fedoras to yamulkas, Sarge has the head accessories covered. The only thing missing is a 2008 World Series ring. So, why not take care of Sarge's head wear hook up also?

Should the little William Penn statue above the Comcast Building get a ring? Probably not, but the people in charge of Comcast who had the idea to attempt to break The Curse of William Penn, deserve them. Let's make sure Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Comcast executive vice president David Cohen, who are both Phillies phans, get rings. Or should it be the iron workers who actually attached the new little Willy? Dan Ginion and John Joyce, you deserve ring consideration as well.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the curse, here you go. Philadelphia City Hall is adorned with a statue of William Penn, a founding father of Pennsylvania. For many decades, there was a gentleman's agreement that stated the Philadelphia Art Commission would approve no building in the city which would rise higher than this statue. The agreement ended in 1987, and was followed by a long drought of championships for the four major sports teams in the city. Many people began to blame the slap in the face to Penn as reason for the futility of the sports franchises. In 2007, Comcast erected what would become the new highest building in the city, and in an effort to end the curse a small statue of William Penn was attached to a beam at the top of the building.

If the Phillies were to go the route of the Colts and present a ring to a player who was on the team the previous season, and was widely felt to have contributed enough to the team who actually won the championship, it would absolutely be ALL of the following: JD Durbin, Wes Helms, Abraham Nunez, Jon Lieber, Geoff Geary, Freddy Garcia, Jose Mesa and Francisco Rosario. Thanks to all of you for getting the hell out of the way so that the Phillies could phreakin' win! Here are your rings. Now continue to stay away.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Second Place New York Mess, Sucking Annually

Well, the Mets are at it again...stinking up New York, the NL East and all of MLB. This time it's not with their miserable September play, it's with their crummy uniform decor. The Metropolitans are accessorizing their home jerseys this year with a comemorative patch to celebrate their new home, CitiField.

Allow me to present to the Phillies Phaitful the fresh new uniform addition that the NY Metropolitans will have for 2009. This awful image to the right is really what the Metropolitans intend to have on their jersey
sleeve this coming season...




Amatuerish? To say the least. How about that world class franchise across town? They are going to have a new ballpark as well. What might their patch look like? Have a glance...

It is a shame really. The Mets think their Dominos Pizza logo looking art work is sufficient enough to represent what kind of corporate baseball giant they are presenting the world. They are clueless. It screams out, "We deliver hot and fresh in 30 minutes. If not, don't worry...there's always next year." Are the Mets now going to have The Noid replace Mr. Met?



To compare the bootleg appearance of the Metropolitans' new sleeve patch to another properly run ball club, here is the Phillies' patch from when they debuted their current home, Citizens Bank Park.


Perhaps I have overreacted. I mean, maybe it is a beautiful logo and I am being too hasty. I mean, that fresh new design along with a microwave oven and an Atari video game console should really make ShitiField a nice place for the Mess to call home. Seriously though, the Metropolitans just continue to add to the list of reasons why they are lower class citizens in their city, their division and their sport.

Dear Mess, Here is the official PhoulBallz.com remix version of your sweet new sleeve patch. Use it with my greatest approval. No fee. Your immense awesomeness is payment enough. Thanks for being you.

Love, Jay Ballz



Monday, January 12, 2009

Phantasy Island

It's January, and for me that means prep time for fantasy baseball. It's true. I really do start running scenarios and draft strategies in my head this early. January is a good time for that. My fantasy football teams have usually recently made an early exit in the playoffs, and my fantasy basketball teams tend to be struggling at this stage. As I've now just traded away my prized power forward, as a desperation move in my salary cap auction hoops league, just about all that will calm my nerves is looking forward to fantasy baseball. While the other sports tend to stress me out, fantasy baseball soothes me. I don't always win, as my uncle will testify to, but I always enjoy it.

My yearly interest increase in the fantasy game coincides with the releases of various fantasy baseball magazines and guides. The Sporting News annual Fantasy Source guide is on news stands, and Phillies phans should be pleased to know that in the Sporting News experts' mock draft, three Phillies were selected in the first eleven picks. Chase Utley was taken 6th overall, Jimmy Rollins 7th, and Ryan Howard 11th. It is quite odd to see Howard, the league leader in HR and RBI, not in the top 10, but perhaps some of the experts in this draft were voters for the National League MVP award in 2008, since Howard was snubbed there also. Utley is a surprise to go so early, but it seems the news of Ch'Utley's hip surgery broke the day this draft began, so consideration for the injury was not given. J-Roll's drop in numbers in 2008 did not deter one drafter from taking the phormer MVP in the first round. This selecta' is looking for a big rebound year from Rollins.

The Sporting News' first three rounds of selections (top 36 picks) look like this...

1- Hanley Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, David Wright, Matt Holliday, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Grady Sizemore, Jose Reyes, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard, Josh Hamilton.

2- Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Quentin, Johan Santana, Brandon Phillips, Tim Lincecum, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Ian Kinsler, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Manny Ramirez, Lance Berkman.

3- CC Sabathia, Jake Peavy, Cole Hamels, Justin Morneau, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, Josh Beckett, Evan Longoria, Brandon Webb, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Roy Halladay.

Other Phillies worth mentioning in this mock draft's top 100...Shane Victorino 67th overall, Brad Lidge 77th overall, Raul Ibanez 99th overall. Lou Marson is also in the Sporting News Bible as the #21 top prospect. They think Marson has a serious shot to win the everyday catcher job by the end of 2009. Carlos Carrasco is also on the prospect list at #37.
If any of you readers out there who don't already play against me in a fantasy league would like to step up, make sure you drop a comment on this post. CHAL-ONJ!

Still Sizzlin' Stove in NL East

The offseason Stove continues to stay Hot. The competition made some moves this weekend. The Metropolitans signed Tim Redding this weekend to a one year $2.25 million deal. This signing by the Metropolitans bothered me more than the Mets getting JJ Putz and Francisco Rodriguez. Redding, the former DC Nats pitcher, really owned the Phillies early last season. The Phillies did really get to Redding in one of his 4 starts against them last year, but in April and May Redding made two starts and in those starts, Redding threw 13 1/2 scoreless innings. Tim Redding is one of those pitchers that baffles the Phillies offense. Take away the 5th inning against the Phillies on July 30th, and Redding has a 1.14 ERA against Philadelphia last season.

Our Phillies should expect to see Redding four times in 2009 and, at 6-7 innings per outting, that's likely more innings than they'd face Franny and the putz.


Also cookin' on the stove this weekend were the Braves, who were craving Asian food. Atlanta signed a big addition for their pitching staff this weekend, inking former Chunichi Dragon big gun, Kenshin Kawakami to a contract. No details on the terms of the contract yet, and the deal is pending a physical examination. "KK" was the Central League's rookie of the year in 1998.


In home land news, our Phillies are reported to be interested in adding a right handed bat for the bench. The bench is normally reserved to 5 spots, and the Phillies, with the recent addition of former Brave Marcus Giles, will have plenty more than 5 players, battling for those 5 spots. Keep in mind that Chase Utley may not be ready for opening day and that perhaps Eric Bruntlett or Giles would be starting in his spot. Considering that point, the following men would be competing for 5 rosters spots: Ronny Paulino, Geoff Jenkins, Chris Coste, Matt Stairs, Greg Dobbs, Bruntlett or Giles. Then there are minor leaguers Brad Harman, Lou Marson and Jason Donald who will definitely be hungry in spring training.

According to the Inquirer, the two righty bats that the Phils are interested in are Nomar Garciaparra and Gabe Kapler. With the already full bench, the Phils would need to get rid of an existing contract, if they did sign another righty hitter. Stairs and his $1 million contract might be the easiest to unload, as Dobbs is rather appealing to the Phils due to his low salary and position versatility, and Geoff Jenkins is owed $8 million minimally ($6.75 for 2009 and at least a $1.25 million buyout in 2010), so it would be tough to get another team to take Jenkins' contract on.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sunday school: History lesson 1


I got a lot of baseball books for holiday gifts and as I read through them, I find many remarkable stories. These have inspired me to share and teach some Phillies history.


Who has heard of Eppa Rixey? I hadn't either.


Eppa Rixey was a Phillies pitcher during the 19-teens into the 19-twenties. In 1916, Rixey had a break-out season, when he won 22 games for our Phillies and had an ERA of 1.85. The tables turned the following season. In 1917, Eppa Rixey's record was 16-21. His high loss total was mainly due to a lack of run support. There was one stretch when Rixey lost 5 straight starts, while the Phillies offense could only amass 3 total runs in those 5 games. Rixey even threw 4 shutouts that season.


The tales of this solid pitcher not being able to shine continued. Rixey served in the military in 1918, and saw action in World War 1. He returned in mid-1919 to put up a 6-12 record. But in 1920, Eppa led the National League with 22 losses, despite completing 25 of his 33 starts! The Phils scored one run or less in 11 of his 22 losses that season.


Following that season, the Phillies traded Eppa Rixey to the Cincinnati Reds, where he was reunited with phormer Phillies manager Pat Moran. The Phillies were making terribly miscalculated trades long before Ryne Sandberg and Scott Rolen.


Rixey's career was fully rejuvenated by being reunited with his former mentor. Rixey threw 300 innings, or more, for three straight seasons with Cincinnati. in 1922, Rixey led the NL in wins, with 22, and he went on to reach 20 wins, or better, in two of the following three seasons.


Eppa Rixey remained a Red until 1933. When he retired at age 42, Eppa held the record for wins by a left-hander at 266, until Warren Spahn broke that record in 1959. Rixey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963, and passed away one month later, before he could attend the ceremonies.



*Yes, I am aware I am posting this Sunday School entry on Saturday. Whoopty-doo-da! Sue me...?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hardly a Hound Dog


Folks, it's time to bid goodbye to Elvis Burrell. The strapping 115 pound English Bulldog is headed to St. Petersburg, Florida with his daddy, phormer Phillie Patrick the Batrick. Pat recently signed a deal to play baseball with the American League champion Rays. Elvis decided it would be a fine idea to join Pat as he begins this new chapter in his professional career, so Poppa-Pat feels as comfortable as possible. It's very remarkable for children to stand by their aging parents as times and living situations change.

In recent years, Elvis became a staple at Phillies phunctions. He was seen at the team's family days, in the clubhouse on game days rocking a jersey with his family name on it, and he'd even partake in spring training. Elvis became such a staple in the Phillies phamily, that the Phillies asked Elvis to lead the World Championship parade on a Budweiser wagon pulled by Clydesdales. Elvis's parents, Pat and mommy Michelle, joined him aboard that wagon to lead things off, in grand fashion.

Elvis in the past has hated Florida, but was won over by the terrific Rays fans and their stadium during the 2008 post season. The hatred began when Elvis was discriminated against for his weight. Daddy Pat's condo association at Clearwater Beach, near the Phillies' spring training home, tried to enforce a 40-pound weight limit on canine residents. This forced the Burrells to relocate. Another thing that bothered Elvis about Florida was the summer heat. Tropicana Field's air conditioning is an easy remedy for the sticky temperatures and humidity.

On his way out of Philadelphia, Elvis wagged his butt nub at the Phillies, their phans, and his bitch Priscilla. There's an age difference between the two, and they've been having some trouble lately. The ex-couple will share custody of their daughter, Lisa Marie.

Elvis has left the building...known as Citizens Bank Park. However, Elvis will return April 3rd and 4th for the final preseason games, also known as the On-deck Series, when his dad's new team visits Philadelphia for a World Series rematch.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I have no idea what's goin' on...


In what continues to be a string of bad luck (Utley surgery, Amaro Jr. over-spending on Ibanez, Elton Brand's shoulder injury) since Pat Gillick retired as Phillies GM, news is unveiled tonight that JC Romero has been suspended for the first 50 games of next season.

It's all very confusing, especially since the Phillies, MLB and Romero all knew about this during the post season. But it seems Romero purchased a supplement from a GNC store in Cherry Hill, NJ on July 22nd, and was told by a nutrionist, the Phillies' conditioning coach Dong Lien and MLB that the supplement was acceptable to use. 3 months later, it turns out, the supplement was not allowed. Romero was initially informed of the positive results on September 23rd. ESPN reports that during October Romero was told, by the Players' Association, that the case would be dropped because the findings of his drug screening were positive due to pills purchased over the counter. That did not prove true, obviously. Romero was also given a chance to reduce his suspension to 25 games at the start of the 2009 season, if Romero admitted guilt. JC declined. A second screening results came back on October 12th, and the MLB offer was altered. Admission of guilt, 25 games, starting immediately. Romero declined again. The end result is 50 games and $1.25 million.

There is no doubt in all of this that Romero, and all players, were misled by the Players Association. MLB and the MLBPA were aware of the banned substances being sold at every GNC store nationwide, but failed to inform their players.

These are over the counter vitamins and a man will miss nearly a third of the season and a large chunk of his salary!

So, let's add another blemish to the Commissioner Bud Selig administration. This guy really can't seem to go a full year without his name or his sport being tarnished.

Pat the Bat gets Pay from Rays


As you've been hearing for over a week, the Rays have serious interest in Pat Burrell to fill their RF/DH needs. Fox Sports baseball insider Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the two sides are close to finalizing a 2 year deal that would pay Burrell roughly $16 million, while ESPN.com is saying the deal is already final.

From a phan's stand point, it may seem that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. may have incorrectly evaluated the market for Burrell, when he thought signing Raul Ibanez for 3 yrs/$31.5 million was the best move. However, Burrell's defense and slow feet made him less desirable in the designated hitter-less National League. Teams like the Rays, who could use Pat's bat alone, were more interested in the veteran with 251 career homers.

I imagine this signing will increase interest levels in the Phillies/Rays on-deck series by huge margins. Perhaps an early April battle between Burrell's Girls and Raul's Fools are just what the Phaithful need to kick things off properly.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Here and there...

Be on the look out on your Comcast On Demand menu. Certain local divisions of Comcast have a World Series section in their "Get Local" menu, that features every game of the World Series. Also, there is a "Phillies" option that features parade footage, and CSN-Philly is still providing the Post Game Live from after game 5 of the World Series. All of these programs are available for FREE.

Tadahito Iguchi, who refused an assignment to triple A Lehigh Valley in order to become a free agent, may be heading to play full time in Japan. The Chiba Lotte Marines are set to begin talks with Tad on a new contract.

Derek Lowe has reportedly rejected a contract offer from the Mets, that was for 3 yrs/$36 million. MLBTradeRumors.com reports that the Phillies are still contenders to sign Lowe and are the Mets' main competition for his services, along with the Braves.

Phormer Phillie and current White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd's name has been mentioned in a potential trade with the Orioles. The Orioles would send Brian Roberts to Chicago in the rumored deal.

Original Trenton Thunder team member, former all-star, and 2-time Diamondback, Tony Clark has re-signed with the Diamondbacks. The contract is reportedly worth $800,000 for 1 year.