Sunday, August 30, 2009

PhoulBallz Q&A With TJ Warren

TJ Warren is an outfielder for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. TJ is a 6'4" righty hitter from California. He spent some time in Lakewood in 2008 and batted .251 with 2 homers and 30 RBI. He began 2009 with Williamsport, and was called back up to Lakewood by late July. Since his return, Warren is struggling and batting just .157 in 20 games. I had a chance to speak with TJ this past week and here is how that went down.


How did you feel to get the call to return to Lakewood?

I was very excited to come back. I love the area, love the fans, love to play here.


What are your goals going forward for the remaining weeks of this season and into the playoffs?

Just trying to get some momentum with hitting. Just hit the ball a little bit better and get on a roll going into the playoffs.


Can I get you to talk a little bit about the coaching staff here with Lakewood?

This coaching staff is really unbelievable. Everybody's relaxed, they like to have fun. They always help you, when you need help. They can give you a little one on one time. But then, all in all, it's always about having fun.


Away from the baseball field, what do you most like to do?

Play poker. I love it. World Series of Poker Champ. I don't play online, though, I just play in person.


If you could face any pitcher in baseball, who would it be?

It would have to be Mariano Rivera, 'cause he's my all time favorite pitcher.


What is your second best sport to play?

I love to go bowling...if that's a sport. I get about a 200 average.


What is your favorite baseball movie?

Angels in the Outfield. It's a very good movie.


Who was your favorite player growing up?

Rickey Henderson. He was the greatest base stealer of all time. I grew up watching him and we became great friends.


There are a lot of California guys on the BlueClaws team (Justin De Fratus, Travis D'Arnuad, Anthony Gose, D'Arby Myers). What's it like on the team, do you guys bond with that?

With the northern Cali and southern Cali, it's kind of a war. Anthony, D'Arnaud, De Fratus- all those clowns, they kinda hang together and pick on me, but I got the edge.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Weekend Series Preview: Braves @ Phillies, 8/28-8/30


The Braves (67-60) visit Philadelphia for what promises to be a wet 3 games series with the Phillies (73-52) this weekend. The Braves are in second place, tied with the Marlins, 7 games behind the Phillies. Read on, for pitching match ups and other key notes for this series.


Friday, 7:05pm. Tommy Hanson (9-2, 3.12 ERA) vs. Pedro Martinez (2-0, 5.14 ERA). Hanson is celebrating his 23rd birthday on Friday and has won his last 4 starts while posting a 2.81 ERA in those games. Hanson, the rookie, has not faced the Phillies yet. The Phillies have won all three of Pedro's starts this season. The Phillies have averaged more than 7 runs of support for Martinez in those games.

Saturday, 7:05pm. Derek Lowe (12-8, 4.48 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (5-0, 0.68 ERA). Lowe is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this year. In his career, Lowe is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA and .180 batting avg. against in 4 regular season starts at Citizens Bank Park. Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino are a combined 8-for-64 (.125 avg) with 2 homers against Lowe. Both homers belong to Raul, and those are his only two hits against Lowe in 22 at bats. Lee won his only career start against Atlanta back in June of 2004. Lee has allowed just one earned run in his two starts at Citizens Bank Park as a Phillie. Garret Anderson is a career .412 hitter (7-for-17) against Cliff Lee with no homers and 5 RBI.

Sunday, 8:05pm. Jair Jurrjens (10-8, 2.91 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (8-6, 3.88 ERA). For some reason, the smarty pants guys at ESPN think the nation wants to see a second prime time Sunday night game between the Braves and Phillies this month, and the third of this season. Not only does the nation not want that, but neither do Phillies phans. Keep the games scheduled during the day, please. Anyway, Jurrjens is 3-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 7 career starts against the Phillies. This season, Jurrjens is 6-0 against the NL East in 10 starts with a 1.79 ERA! Blanton is winless in 5 career starts against Atlanta with a 6.58 ERA. Blanton is 5-3 with a 3.98 ERA at home this season, through 13 starts. Brian McCann is 6-for-13 (.462 avg) with 2 homers in his career against Blanton.


Chipper Jones has more homeruns against the Phillies (42), in his career, than he does against any other team.

Rafael Soriano has a 1-1 career record with 4 saves, a 1.35 ERA and a .111 batting avg. against in 14 games against the Phillies. Soriano has never blown a save against Philadelphia.

Matt Diaz is batting .619 (13-for-21) in his last 5 games.

Brad Lidge has a 0-1 record, with 14 saves, 3 blown saves, and a 5.79 ERA in 32 career games against the Braves. Opponents are batting 101 points higher against Lidge in 2009 than they did in 2008.

Shane Victorino against Atl in 2009- 12 games, .184 avg, 0 homers, 5 runs.
Shane Victorino against Atl in 2008- 18 games, .338 avg, 3 homers, 15 runs.

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Flashback a Decade

In order to calm some folks down after a losing series and 2 blown saves in Pittsburgh, let's take a look back in time. Exactly 10 years ago today, the Phillies visited Colorado for a double header and began a stretch where they would lose 18 of their next 19 games. Prior to the slump, the Phillies had a 67-59 record. By the end of it, they were 68-77.

The bump in the road that was the Pirates this week isn't so bad. We all knew the back end of the bullpen was a problem. It's not something to be okay with, but there is still time to try some alternatives. If that outlook doesn't improve your mood, let me show you that pitiful Phillies starting lineup for game 1 of a decade ago.


Doug Glanville CF
Ron Gant LF
Bobby Abreu RF
Kevin Jordan 3B
Rico Brogna 1B
Gary Bennett C
Marlon Anderson 2B
Domingo Cedeno SS
Chad Ogea P


Kevin Jordan was the clean up hitter.

Game 2's line up was worse. Switch in Kevin Sefcik for Glanville, Mike Lieberthal for Bennett, Alex Arias for Cedeno and Dave Doster for Anderson. Except for one guy, none of those players, in either lineup, was a star. Lieberthal had some good seasons and was a multi time all star, but Abreu is the only elite player among the men in those lineups. By comparison, top to bottom, the 2009 Phillies lineup has many players who could be described, minimally, as great. Two League MVP's, five 2009 all stars, and a full list of guys headed to the playoffs.

The starting rotations, of then and now, are polar opposites as well. Your starting five, 10 years ago, were Robert Person, a rookie Randy Wolf, Mike Grace, Paul Byrd and Ogea. Randy Wolf developed into a borderline one time all star, but none of those five were ever considered great in MLB. On the other hand, our 2009 Phillies starting rotation has a World Series MVP, a rookie of the year candidate and two former AL Cy Young Award winners. The 2009 rotation is so good that a 250-win guy got demoted out of the rotation. Jamie Moyer would have been the ace of that 1999 squad!

In conclusion, phans...if Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, the offense's recent struggles to hit with runners in scoring position, Matt Stairs' slump and two Pirate wins have you down...consider this: IT AIN'T 1999!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

PhoulBallz Q&A With Matthew Way

Left handed pitcher Matthew Way is a Phillies 2009 5th round draft pick who has already been promoted out of rookie ball to single A Lakewood. Originally from Alaska, Way went to Washington State, where he enjoyed a successful season this year (8-4, 2.43 ERA, 124 K's, 107 1/3 innings in 16 games). Way is currently 2-1, with a 2.88 ERA through 4 starts for the Lakewood BlueClaws. I caught up with Matthew this week for an interview. Here is how that went down.


Matt, can I get some comments from you on your early success, since you've joined the BlueClaws?

Well, I had two good outings when I first showed up. Basically, the last two have been kind of shaky, but other than that, it hasn't been too much different from where I've been before with the Pac 10 or in Williamsport. Just execute your pitches, keep the ball down and you can do good just about anywhere.


What is your pitch repertoire like?

Mainly fastballs and change ups. I'll go to the breaking ball in certain situations and counts, but for the most part it's fastballs and change ups, primarily well through.


What was your draft experience like this year? How did you find out, who were you with?

I found out early that morning. I was actually still sleeping, just about to wake up to go to class for summer school. I got a call from Tim Kissner, the west coast scout for the Phillies. He was talking to me, said I got drafted, said he'd be up later that week to negotiate and do the signing and everything. Yeah, so I was all by myself, just waking up, getting ready to go to class when I found out. I had a bunch of stuff to do, I had some interviews and stuff to do later that day with local press and then I went and hung out with my friends and celebrated a little bit later that night.


Can I get you to talk a little bit about your senior season at Washington State?

It was a good season. We played well, we got second in the Pac 10. We had a pretty good team, a young team. I look forward to seeing how they do next year. They didn't lose too many (players). It was a solid team, we just didn't show it later on in the regional. We kind of outplayed ourselves at the end.


How has pitching coach Bob Milacki helped you since joining Lakewood?

Oh, tremendous! Just working with grips, mechanics, just overall sequences of pitching, just being a pitcher really. At every level I've gone to, I've met up with a new pitching coach who has been able to show me bigger and better things and different ways of doing things, and going about my business and that's what coach Bob has done here for sure.


Did you get to speak with Brett Myers at all, while he was in Lakewood for his rehab assignment?

I didn't actually. I kind of just stuck to business. He was here to do his thing and got his inning done and threw his bullpens and stuff and he was out of here. It was mainly business as usual. Nobody was bothering him at all. It was just kind of- get your work done.


Do you follow yourself in the media at all since you've become a professional player?

Not really. I just see the stuff that people give me. We get stuff in our lockers sometimes, if there's a story out. My house parents back in Williamsport would cut out some of the stuff for me to check out. Even with that, I didn't see all the stories. There's probably been a lot of stuff up in Alaska written about me, but I haven't paid attention to it too much.


What do you think of New Jersey so far, since you've been here?

I've got some family over here. So, that's about it so far. I haven't seen too much of the place. It's hot and humid. Fans are great.


What's your favorite baseball movie?

Bull Durham. It's a funny portrayal of the minor leagues. That's why I like it.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ryan and Jared are Golden

Brace yourself. This is pretty much anti-advertising. It's true. I mean, it's better than watching Brad Lidge take the mound with a 1 run lead...oh, and speaking of runs, this sandwich might give them to you, but watch the ad anyway. It might make you laugh. It's the most comically awful thing I've seen since "The Wheels".



A rather fine fellow named Meech is responsible for the video. Check him out over at TheFightins.com!

This F'n Guy....

I don't recall the last time I wrote something positive about BAD Lidge. What's worse...his performances this season or the fact that Charlie Manuel won't consider removing him from the role of closer?

Brad Lidge has blown 9 games this season...8 of those were on the road. Lidge on the road this year- 28 games, 0-4 record, 14 saves, 8 blown saves, 20 earned runs in 23 innings pitched. That comes out to a 7.83 ERA. Lidge's road ERA in 2008 was 0.79 in 34 games.

Last week, I compared Brad Lidge to the past 20 World Series winning closers. Click here to check that out. Quick update on that article...Lidge's ERA is currently 3.44 higher than the worst ERA of the past 20 World Series winnings closers (1997, Robb Nen, 3.89).

To update a stat that I regularly address, Brad Lidge has allowed earned runs in 22 of his 53 games this year. That's earned runs allowed 42% of the time. Last season, Lidge only allowed earned runs in 18% of his outings.

Brett Myers should be back with the big club very soon. During Myers' stint as Phillies closer in 2007, he only surrendered runs in 21% of his relief appearances and converted 21 of 24 saves opportunities. You know what I'm saying.

I can't bare to write about Brad Lidge any more. However, plenty other people have worthwhile material. Check out the links below...


TheShibeTimes talks about the Bridge to Nowhere.

Amanda at PhilliesNation could have ended her post title after two words.

4DaysRest has a profanity laced rant about the closer.

Macho Row somehow keeps it calm. How did you do it?

Best of all, McKey The Conflicted Fan wrote an open letter to Lidge.

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Don't forget- today is PhoulBallz Phillies Wednesday on Fox Sports 1310am's The Shore Sports Report! Click here for the live internet feed. The show is on weekdays from 3-6pm. I will be on today around 3:30.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Series Preview: Phillies at Pirates, 8/25-8/27


The Phillies (72-50) visit Pittsburgh this week for a 3 game series with the Pirates (51-71). Have a look below for pitching match ups and more key details.

Tuesday, 7:05pm. Joe Blanton (8-6, 3.86 ERA) vs. Ross Ohlendorf (11-8, 4.15 ERA). Blanton has a 2.31 ERA and a 6-3 record, dating back to May 26th. Blanton's career ERA in August of 2.77 is by far his best month (his next best month is June- 3.35, 3rd best month is July 4.33). Ohlendorf at home this season is 8-2 with a 3.01 ERA in 13 games. Ohlendorf since the all star break is 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA in 6 starts.

Wednesday, 7:05pm. Cole Hamels (7-8, 4.78 ERA) vs. Paul Maholm (7-7, 4.74).
In two career starts against Pittsburgh, Colbert is 1-0 with a 6.55 ERA. Hamels in August this season is 0-3 with a 6.75 and .326 batting avg. against in 4 starts. Maholm is 3-1 with a 3.71 in 5 career starts against the Phillies. Jayson Werth is the only active Phillie with a homerun against the lefty Maholm. At home this year, Maholm is 4-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 starts.

Thursday, 7:05pm. "Jay" Happ (10-2, 2.59 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (3-6, 5.21 ERA).
Happ on the road this year is 6-1 with a 1.72 ERA and a .205 batting average in 15 games. The NL central has scored 1/3 of Happ's earned runs against him this season in just 4 of his 29 games. Morton has faced the Phillies just once and surrendered 5 earned runs in 2 innings. Morton gave up 10 earned runs to the Cubs in just 1 inning of work on August 14th...without that outing, Morton's ERA is 3.70.


Andrew McCutchen is batting .304 at home. He also has 5 of his 7 homeruns in Pittsburgh.

Shane Victorino in 16 career games against the Pirates, is a .382 hitter with a 1.041 OPS. Shane's batting average is 65 points lower on the road this season than it is in Philadelphia.

Matt Stairs is a career .344 hitter with a 1.063 OPS at PNC Park. He has 14 homers there in 79 games played. Stairs' last hit was on July 11th.

Miguel Cairo is back with the big club after hitting .287 over 78 games with triple A Lehigh Valley.

Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth, combined in August, have a .277 batting avg., 15 homeruns, 29 RBI and 27 runs scored.

Team ERA Phillies- 4.16
Team ERA Pirates- 4.49


Anthony Gose Speaks With PhoulBallz.com Once Again

Anthony Gose, on left, with teammate TJ Warren, during warm ups Monday


Anthony Gose, the minor league baseball steals leader, always wears his ball cap just a bit askew. A guest rehabber took issue with it, during his visit to Lakewood. I asked Anthony about that and some other things following the BlueClaws' double header Monday night. Here's how that went down.


Anthony, you were praised by Baseball America last week, with a survey they conducted of South Atlantic League managers, when they named you as best base runner, fastest base runner, best defensive outfielder and most exciting player. How do you feel about those accolades?

It feels great, actually. To have all those accolades coming from the managers, I mean, of all the players in the league, for them to recognize me as one of the top players, and to give me that high of recognition, it feels great.


Is there anyone on the BlueClaws team that you would describe as underrated?

Troy Hanzawa. Most underrated player in the league. The best shortstop in the league.


I wanted to find out what happened with the critique you got from Brett Myers during warm ups. He took issue with your cap.

Oh, he told me, fix my hat. I kind of yelled back, "What did you say?" He said, "Don't loud talk me!" I mean, he was just trying to help me out. Teach me a lesson. He's much older, been in the game a lot longer, so he knows more than I do. I'm just a young kid, who's out there doing my own thing.


But the cap stayed crooked...

Yeah, the cap stayed crooked. That's just what I do. I'm hard headed.


So, he's trying to teach you something, and you accept it, but don't-

I mean, I understand what he's saying, but I mean I've worn my hat crooked 100-and some games thus far. So that's what I'm'a keep doing, the rest of the year.


Do you think that's something you might want to work on, as far as, accepting criticism from veterans as you move up?

I'm always willing to accept the criticism. I mean, I understand what he was doing and what he did was right. I probably should've fixed my hat, but at this point of the year, I'm'a keep wearing it how I wear it. It works for ME.

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The BlueClaws had a huge night on Monday, welcoming both Brett Myers and the Phillie Phanatic to FirstEnergy Park. They also welcomed their 4 millionth fan, 7 year old Matthew Currie. Click here for more information about this milestone for the BlueClaws!

Playoff tickets are on sale for the BlueClaws also. Be sure to get your playoff tickets before it is too late. Click here to check out September playoff baseball in Lakewood.

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Non-Exclusive: Brett Myers Speaks With PhoulBallz and the World

Phillies pitcher Brett Myers threw a rehab assignment in Lakewood today with the single A BlueClaws. Brett pitched a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one, while throwing all his pitches from the stretch. His fastball touched 94 on the generous Lakewood speed gun. Fox 29, Asbury Park Press, Comcast Sports Net, and other outlets were also in attendance. The following is a list of varying topics that Brett spoke on during his time spent speaking with the media.

CSN was live on air and ran the first several questions.

Brett spoke on his assignment for the day being a one inning outing, but seemingly lobbying after the one inning, to go out for another...

Yeah. I wanted to go out for another one just, 'cause it went by too quick for me. Wanted to try to get another inning in there, but, hey- I'll take what I can get. Ya know, I feel good. That's the main key.


Brett spoke about the velocity on his pitches...

It's coming along. I'm up a couple miles an hour from when I threw last. I feel really good. I feel like I can get two innings in the next time and be ready to go, hopefully.


Brett spoke on Ruben Amaro's initial desire to have Brett throw about 5 rehab appearances, and if Brett would try to convince the team to shorten that assignment...

Yeah, I mean I want to get back up there as quick as possible, but as soon as the doctor clears me I think I'll be ready to go. I'll do what they need me to do, but I don't feel like that I need to throw too much down here. I feel like I'm close now and give me two innings the next time and we'll see where we can go from there.


Brett spoke about his hip and if he's got any lingering effects the day after pitching...

I haven't felt anything, luckily enough. Which is a good sign. The doctor did a very good job and my velocity is definitely a lot better than it was when I was hurt, so that's not in the back of my mind- pain in the hip or anything. I feel fine. Location was a lot better than it was the other day..the last time I was probably trying to over throw a little too much and today I just tried to go out and let the ball lead and try to hit my spots.


Brett spoke on when his next outing might happen...

It's not clear from the rain out yesterday, so I'm not 100% sure. I'm sure I'll get a phone call later today and they'll let me know.


Brett spoke about what it was like being out so long...

Not too bad, because we're winning up in Philly. I mean they're playing really good ball right now. It's fun to watch on TV, but the only thing that's really tough is watching their success and knowing that I'm not a part of it right now...it's pretty tough for me. They're doing just fine, I just hope I can get back and be able to contribute a little bit.


Brett spoke on being used as a reliever as opposed to a starter...

Like, we said before...for me to come back and be a starter right now would be kind of far fetched. Hopefully, I can just get back and help in the bullpen. Just to be a part of the team and help the team as much as possible.


I asked Brett if he thought his rested body and rested arm would be advantageous or outweigh any rust he might experience during the coming weeks.

I've been throwing for two months now, so it's, everything feels good, everything feels healthy. When you start throwing again, it feels a little rusty at first, but after a week or so of throwing every day, and getting on the mound and stuff like that, and me having 4 or 5 bullpen (sessions) in Florida, then me having simulated games, it's a little bit easier to go out there in game situations to be able to pitch. We'll just see what happens.


Brett spoke on the time table...team wants him to go slow, he might wish to push faster...

I think it more or less goes on how I feel and so far, so good. I think they want to take it a little slower because what happened with the surgery and it's major surgery so...I haven't had any problems with the hip. I've been running on it, I've been doing PFP's (pitchers fielding practice) and stuff like that. I haven't felt anything and each time out I've pushed a lot harder.


I asked Brett what he missed most, aside from the competition during his time away from the team.

Like I said, just being around my teammates and everything. But, you know, it is good to come down here and watch some of the younger kids and help them and see if they have any questions, which is always fun for me too. Just to show them different grips or something like that. Just to try to talk with them and keep their spirits high and tell them what their main goal is. They're working toward the big leagues to help and win a championship.


Brett spoke about his interactions during his two days in Lakewood with the BlueClaws players...

Yeah. I've been here two days and we just talk about stuff, and if they have questions, or whatever, it's fun to talk about baseball with guys and that's one of the things I probably missed the most- just talkin' baseball.


Brett spoke on the changes with the team with the acquisitions of Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee...

They're lights out right now. I think Cliff definitely helped out a lot of the guys with way he was pitching. They say hitting's contagious, well so is pitching. I think Joe Blanton's stepping up real well, and "Jay" Happ's throwing the ball well. It's fun to watch these guys play, but it's more fun to watch them from the dugout or the bullpen, instead of watching TV.


I asked Brett if he thought anyone on the big roster was underrated at this point.

I don't know. I haven't been there in 3 months. I haven't got to see them play, I'm just watching TV, man.


On when he'd like to rejoin the club...

I'd like to be back tomorrow. If I had the say so, but I know that's not going to happen. But hopefully, I can get through these next rehab starts healthy and help them out in September.


On if he's free of worry from the hip before, during or after an outing..

Yeah, I'm not even worried about it anymore. Usually, the first couple months, or so- how's it gonna feel today? And at this point in time, I'm rolling out of bed, not even worrying about if it's going to be sore or not. There hasn't been any soreness for about two months now. I'm making this progression normally. Everything feels great.


On how much the hip bothered him early this season...

A lot, obviously. Today my velocity was 93/94 and when I was starting is was 88-91. And it definitely was a factor in the back of my mind, if I let one go, I was worried it would lock up or be painful. I'm not even thinking about it anymore.


Brett spoke about difficulty of measuring his progress, when his outing was so brief...

No, 'cause I just go off of how my velocity was and I don't really care about what the final result was. I just wanted to make sure the ball was coming out well, my pitches were working well and trying to get acclimated to coming out of the bullpen.


Brett spoke on how important the final weeks of the season might be, with his impending free agency, on his career...

I'm not even really worried about next year. Right now, we're in a playoff race and we're trying to win the division, and I want to get back and be a part of that again for the third straight year. I just want to be able to contribute to the team.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

EB-Game!

Eric Bruntlett, you've just gotten more hits than you've had in over a month and made history by executing a game ending unassisted triple play! What are you going to do next?

I'm goin' to Beard-o World!

Mr. Bruntlett, I am awarding you a one day pass. For Sunday's moment in time, I agree that for the next 24 hours you will not be deserving of what has become daily Bruntlett-Bashing online, on the radio, on television, in the news and at my office. You are still undeserving of being a Major League player, Eric Bruntlett, but for one day, I will not speak of it.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 28

Dick Sisler was a player with the Phillies from 1948-1951. Sisler, was acquired in a trade with the Cardinals as a first baseman, but was moved to the outfield, as his infield defense was not very solid. Sisler was an all star for the 1950 Phillies Whiz Kids squad that went to the World Series. In the 1950 season, Sisler hit 13 homers and had 83 RBI with a .296 batting avg. Those were all personal bests. In May of 1950, Sisler had hits in 8 straight at bats against his ex-team, the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Sisler is best know for hitting the biggest homerun in Phillies history. On the final day of the season, the Phillies faced the Dodgers in Brooklyn. The Phils held a one game lead over Brooklyn for the league crown. Phillies ace Robin Roberts and Dodgers starter Don Newcombe dueled to a 1-1 tie, through nine innings.

Already with 3 hits that day, Dick Sisler came to bat and slugged a 3 run homer into the left field grandstand to push the Phillies ahead 4-1. Roberts would shut the Dodgers down in the bottom of the 10th and Philadelphia won the National League pennant for the first time in 35 years. Dick's father, George, was working as a scout with Brooklyn at the time, and was in the stands to see his son's big time heroics.

Dick Sisler played another season with the Phillies before being traded to the Reds, following the 1951 season. Sisler would finish his playing career back with St. Louis. Later, he coached in the minors and majors before spending time as skipper of the Reds.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Carlos Leon Q&A With PhoulBallz.com

Carlos Leon has become a Phillies minor league fixture in recent years. Leon has played in the Eastern League for 9 seasons. Originally signed by the Red Sox organization, Leon landed with the Phillies in 2004 and has played at three levels with the Phillies since then. Currently playing as a reserve infielder with double A Reading, Leon is batting .218 through 68 games this season. I had a chance to speak with Carlos, the oldest Reading Phillie, last week and here's how that went down.


Tell me a bit about your role on the team.

Well, my role on the team is to help the young guys. Help the infielders, ya know. I play, like, two times a week. Play defense, movie the runners, and just help the young guys, like (Brad) Harman.


I've seen you play a lot of years in the Eastern League. How much longer do you think fans can expect to see you here?

I want to keep playing till my body tells me to quit. I am going to turn 30 years old at the end of this month, and feel like I am 20 years old.


You don't feel like the oldest guy on the team?

No, I don't feel like it. If nobody knew about my age, they wouldn't say I'm 30. I feel like I am still 20's. I feel good, I feel healthy. That's been a problem in my career, I've always been hurt, but this year I am healthy. I feel good. I am going to keep playing.


Who was your favorite player growing up?

My favorite player was (Nomar) Garciaparra. I signed with the Red Sox originally. I like the way Garciaparra played.


What stands out as the biggest moment of your playing career?

You know what? I've been playing for 13 years and the biggest moment was this year, playing at Altoona, because my family got a chance to go to Altoona. And my son, he's 9 years old, and he always asks me like, "I want to see you hit a homerun." That night, they were there and I hit a homerun. To me, I could play for 13 years and that was unbelievable, because he was there in the stands looking at me.


What can you tell me about the coaching staff with Reading right now?

The coaching staff, they're pretty good. The manager Steve Roadcap, he didn't know me. He met me in spring training and he told me, "You're gonna be a team leader guy." He expected me to play hard. And after that we became friends. The pitching coach Steve Schrenk, I've played with him for a couple years, so I know him pretty well. And (hitting coach, Steve) Cacciatore is good. They are flexible. They like to talk, they like to make jokes. For me, communication with the players is the best.


Would you consider coaching once your playing days are finished?

I don't know yet. That's not one of my goals right now. Like I told you before...I'm going to keep playing as long as I can. If I don't find a job here in the States, there are a lot of places to play baseball. I've got two kids and my wife and I like to be with them, but I love this. And this is not for my whole life, this is for a little bit, so I want to keep playing, and when I get to like 38 maybe...(laughs).


What advice would you give to teenagers who hope to play baseball beyond high school, into college or professionally?

Well, you know, first of all- listen to mom and pop. That's the most important thing, because whatever you learn at your house, that's what you take to the field, you take everywhere. Then, listen to the coaches. I've got a son, he's 9 years old, and I always tell him, if you want to play baseball you have to work hard. Respect your teammates and play hard.


Away from the ballpark, what do you most like to spend time doing?

Spend time with my family. That's my hobby because, as you know, baseball players, we don't have too much time at home. We're always traveling, and that's my hobby. When I have one day off, I spend it with my kids and my wife. And my mom and my dad, if I'm in Venezuela, 'cause I play winter ball there too. That's my best thing outside of baseball.


Lastly, I wanted to inquire about the Trenton/Waterfront Park visitors dugout bat boy, who seems to be older than a boy. Have you ever seen a bat boy with a beard before?

(Laughs)...No, that is the first time.


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Friday, August 21, 2009

Series Preview: Phillies @ Metropolitans, 8/21-8/24


The Phillies head back on the road to visit CitiField and the Metropolitans to start a four game series this weekend. The Phillies (69-49) lead the Metropolitans (56-65) by 14.5 games in the NL East. The Phillies won't face Johan Santana in this series. Read on for pitching match ups and more notes on this upcoming clash.


Friday, 7:10pm. Cole Hamels (7-7, 4.69 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (4.75 ERA). Colbert on the road this season is 3-4 with a 5.34 ERA in 11 starts. In 8 starts vs. the NL East this year, Hamels is 2-2 with a 5.62 ERA in 41 2/3 innings. Pelfrey, the 2005 1st round draft pick, is 3-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 7 career starts against the Phillies. Greg Dobbs is 6-for-11 (.545 avg) in his career vs. Pelfrey with a homer and 3 RBI. Pelfrey is 1-4 with a 5.50 ERA in 6 starts since the all star break.

Saturday, 7:10pm. "Jay" Happ (9-2, 2.66 ERA) vs. Tim Redding (1-4, 6.53 ERA).
The Metropolitans are hitting .195 against Happ this year, over 11 innings. Happ, in 16 career games on the road, is 6-1 with a 1.61 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and .192 batting avg. against. Redding slides back into the role of starter after the Metropolitans released Livan Hernandez on Thursday. Redding at home this season, is 1-2 with a 7.17 ERA in 12 games. Last year, in 5 starts against the Phillies while pitching for the Nationals, Redding was 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA and .219 batting avg. against. Ryan Howard is 3-for-24 (.125 avg) with no homers and 1 RBI in his career vs. Redding. Chase Utley is 9-for-21 (.429 avg) with 2 homers and 6 RBI against Redding.

Sunday, 1:10pm. Pedro Martinez (1-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Oliver Perez (3-3, 6.06 ERA).
Pedro against the Metropolitans in his career is 10-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 18 games. At home this year, Perez is 3-1 with a 5.64 ERA in 6 games. Pedro Feliz is 1-for-19 (.053) in his career against Perez. Eric Bruntlett is 4-for-9 off of Perez in his career.

Monday, 1:10pm. Cliff Lee (4-0, 0.82 ERA) vs. Bobby Parnell (3-5, 4.74 ERA).
Lee has won 7 straight starts and has a .161 batting avg. against, since he came over to the National League. Lee has never faced the Metropolitans before. Parnell gave up 9 earned runs in 3 innings of work, in his last start against the Braves. Parnell at CitiField this season is 2-4 with a 5.35 ERA.

Luis Castillo is batting .382 in August with 1 homer and 8 RBI. Castillo is a .275 hitter in 127 career games against the Phillies.

Billy Wagner made his return to the Major Leagues on Thursday night, following Tommy John surgery last year. Wagner pitched a scoreless inning and struck out 2.

Since the All star break, the Phillies are 14-3 in games when Ryan Howard drives in at least one run. The team is 7-8 when he plays and doesn't drive in a run. Ryan Howard in his last 7 games- 9-for-26 (.346 avg), 6 HR, 16 RBI, 9 runs scored.

Phillies reliever Scott Eyre on the road this season is 2-1 with a 0.57 ERA in 21 games. Eyre has only given up earned runs in two appearances this season. Eyre's ERA though 56 games as a Phillie is 1.77.
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Dear Mets, you can't hide. The World Champs are coming!
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Phillies Notes & Links, 8/20/09


I'll lead with the link to our article about the Harry Kalas Wall of Fame plaque misprint that was updated yesterday. Story is here. I notified the Phillies and apparently no one was aware of the error. Phillies VP of alumni relations Larry Shenk took blame, saying he was responsible for the copy that ended up immortalizing the broadcasting legend. He stated that replacing the plaque would take a lengthy amount of time, but the team would consider the fix.

Cliff Lee has won his last 7 starts, after losing his previous 3. During the 7 game win streak, Lee has a 1.09 ERA and 48 K's in 58 innings with 4 complete games.

Since July 29th, when the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee from the Indians, Lee is 5-for-13 (.385 avg) as a hitter, while Greg Dobbs, Eric Bruntlett and Matt Stairs are a combined 3-for-33 (.091 avg).

Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton has a 7-6 record this season. In Blanton's six losses, the Phillies average 1.33 runs scored. Jamie Moyer has an 11-9 record. The Phillies average 7.18 runs in Moyer's 11 wins.

Reading Phillies reliever BJ Rosenberg extended his scoreless innings streak to 33 innings, with a scoreless frame in a game against Portland on Wednesday night.

Former Phillie Mike Bourn leads the National League in steals with 46. Bourn's batting average us up 62 points this season over last season (.229-.291) and his OPS is up 188 points (.588-.776)!
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Macho Row has an always current "Phillies Magic Number" posted. Current magic number- Brett Myers.

I'm not Complete-Lee sick of the plays on words yet and neither is Phillies Nation's Amanda. Check the link here.

The Lakewood BlueClaws are having a jersey auction after their game on Sunday, 8/23, to benefit the American Cancer Society. Current and former BlueClaws players' jerseys will be in the mix. Check out BlueClaws Blog for more details.

Phriends of PhoulBallz, SlugTrail Radio, continue their upstart internet radio broadcasts tonight in the 7 o'clock hour. The content is for mature audiences, but you may enjoy some familiar immature guest appearance action.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PhoulBallz Interview With Brad Harman

Brad Harman is the starting second baseman for the double A Reading Phillies. The 23 year old Australian was signed as an amateur free agent in 2003. He is currently batting .202 with 5 homers and 39 RBI this season. Harman was up with the big league Phillies last season, filling a roster spot while Jimmy Rollins was on the disabled list. Harman appeared in 6 games for the World Champion Phillies in 2008. I had a chance to speak with Brad recently. Here's how that went down.


Can I get some comments from you about your season thus far?

Probably very disappointing the way things have panned out. I just keep trying to work hard and get better each day, and that's all I can do.


What aspects of your game are working to improve?

It's more an offensive thing, I think, just very inconsistent. The way things can go well for a couple weeks, then die off, as long as I have. So, just consistent hitting, consistent approach, plan and just all around consistency with the offense.


How was your time representing Australia in the World Baseball Classic?

It was a huge honor. Any time I get to strap on the Australian uniform it's a pretty big deal and I'm proud to wear that uniform. It was an awesome experience playing against the guys we did in Mexico. Great crowds...great competition. Ya know, it was just fun to play at that level and play like a big leaguer plays every day for the 4 or 5 days we were there. Awesome experience and I wish I can play in some more. We had a great group of guys. Quite a few guys now made it up to the big leagues.


Your time with the Major League Phillies last season...what was that like for you?

It was a dream come true, an awesome experience. Something that you strive for...everyone in this locker room and everyone in minor league baseball and beyond that. Ya know, everyone wants to play in the big leagues so it was a dream come true and obviously a great experience to be around those guys as they went about their business on a daily basis. The work ethic they have up there and the way they do things was just phenomenal and was fun to watch and be a part of while I was there.


Are you very thirsty to get back there?

Absolutely. As I was just saying how great it is, that's where you want to be. I'm disappointed with the way things have been going, but still working hard to turn things around. Just trying to work hard and hopefully end up there again one day.


Who has been the toughest pitcher you've faced at any level?

Well, when I was up last year in the big leagues, I was pretty lucky 'cause I had 10 AB's and I faced Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb, Tim Lincecum and Manny Corpas...was my first at bat, closing pretty well for the Rockies at the time. So, those four guys right there. In my 10 AB's I got to have pinch hits and a start against Randy Johnson, so it was tough. Yeah, it wasn't an easy run out there with those guys. If I have to pick ONE of them- Brandon Webb.


What is your best sport besides baseball?

Maybe cricket, back home. Australian cricket. It's tough, you don't even have gloves or anything. But to be honest, baseball takes up most of my sporting time, so I don't really have a chance to play anything else.


What was your experience like watching the Phillies' World Series run last year?

I was just with friends at home in Australia. They were coming over to my place to watch the games on a daily basis. It was cool. One of my friends, Mitch, played in the minor leagues with the Dodgers, so we were watching the (NLCS) and both going for our teams, which was pretty cool. It was fun.


What do you see as some pluses within the Phillies organization?

The work ethic and the approach you need to bring to the field every day is demanded of you, but it's also what you need to do to succeed. I think that's one of the big (reasons) why the Phillies have succeeded so well up in the big leagues at the moment. A lot of guys come through this organization. It's a hard working organization, but that's what it takes to be a champion.


What is your favorite baseball movie?

I like a lot of baseball movies. I'm gonna have to say Bull Durham. It's a classic baseball movie about the minor leagues and sticking with it and the life that it leads. It's pretty similar...obviously, a bit better nowadays, but probably the most realistic and it's the closest to how it is.


What player from the past would you most like to see play in person?

I always loved to watch Ozzie Smith. Back home, there'd be a baseball game on, once in a blue moon on TV and Ozzie Smith was a guy I loved to watch play defensively. When I grew up, I was always a defensive sort of guy. Real little, so I didn't have much power with the bat. He's one guy that I loved watching play the game.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

'09 Lidge Will Prevent Repeat


Can the Phillies win the World Series with 2009 Brad Lidge as their closer? No. As we have reviewed multiple times here on PhoulBallz, 2009 Brad Lidge is not the same pitcher who closed out games for the World Champions in 2008. That guy is gone and some look-alike has assumed his job as Phillies closer.

Lidge's current statistics are worrisome, to say the least. They are horrible, to put it more accurately. Through 49 games this year, Lidge has saved 23 games, blown 8 games, has a 0-5 record, a 7.21 ERA and a .299 batting average against. Lidge has allowed runs in 45% of his games pitched this year. Comparatively, 2008 Brad Lidge, saved 41 games, blew 0 games, had a 2-0 record, a 1.95 ERA and a .198 batting avg. against. 2008 Brad Lidge was only scored (earned runs) upon in 18% of his games.

Looking back at recent history, the closer among the previous 20 World Series winners with the worst ERA is Robb Nen (1997 Marlins), at 3.89. For those with a World Series repeat on the brain, doubling the worst ERA among the last 20 World Series winning closers would result in an ERA just 0.57 worse than 2009 Brad Lidge. Once again, so this sinks in, 2009 Brad Lidge's ERA is only a half run better than DOUBLE the worst ERA of the 20 previous World Series winning closers!

The highest non-Marlin ERA among the last 20 World Series winning closers is 2006 Cardinal Jason Isringhausen with 3.55. Isringhausen blew 10 saves that season, but was only scored on in 25% of his appearances. That's 20% better than 2009 Brad Lidge, who is on pace to match Izzy's 10 blown saves.

None of the last 20 World Series winning closers have gone the entire season without a win. In fact the lowest win total of the past 20 WS winning closers was 2007's Jonathan Papelbon, for the Red Sox, who had 1. All others had multiple wins.

Of those past 20 World Series winning closers, aside from Isringhausen, Nen and 2003 Marlin Braden Looper, every single one of them had an ERA under 3.00. 14 of the 20 had ERA's under 2.40 (1/3 of Lidge's current ERA). 10 of the 20 had ERA's under 2.10.

No Phillies phan should feel confident with 2009 Brad Lidge, and his 7.21 ERA, closing games down the stretch and potentially into the postseason. As you've noticed, I've begun using the terms "2009 Brad Lidge" and "2008 Brad Lidge" to identify two men who are clearly different beings. These men wear the same jersey number, have the same birth mark on their faces and enter the playing field to the same song, but there is no mistaking that "09-BL" and "08-BL" are not the same person. How could they be...? One man was perfect and led his team through the World Series, the other man is feeble and craps the proverbial bed too often.

I'd trust a situational committee more than I'd trust "09-BL". Ryan Madson shuts down the Pirates- use him against Pittsburgh. Scott Eyre owns the D-Backs- use him against Arizona. Jamie Moyer has luck versus the Marlins- there you go. Chad Durbin is solid against the Mets- hello, New York! And when JC Romero and/or Brett Myers make it back, get those guys some turns.

This season has reached the latter portion of August. There are less than 7 weeks left before the playoffs begin. The Phillies can't keep waiting for 2008 Brad Lidge to return. It's time to bump the imposter aside and win as many games as possible.

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A list of the last 20 World Series winning closers, and their statistics, can be found in the comment section of this post.

Check out PhoulBallz.com's review of Brad Lidge's deal with the devil.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

PhoulBallz Q&A With Quintin Berry


Quintin Berry is a 24 year old outfield prospect in the Phillies organization. Currently playing for the double A Reading Phillies, Berry was selected as an Eastern League all star this year and leads the EL in steals with 45. Berry, a 5th round selection in the 2006 draft, is hitting .278 with 4 homers, 22 RBI and 75 runs scored through 115 games with Reading thus far in 2009. I had the opportunity to speak with Quintin recently, and here is how that went down.


Quintin, can I get you to speak a bit about your success so far this season?

It hasn't all been success. I had some slow starts, and some ups and downs, but I'm happy with where I'm at, but I'm not content. Ya know, I'm gonna keep on trying and finish strong and try to move on up.


What was the all star experience like for you?

It was pretty fun. The game itself was a lot of fun. You get to get around here and hang out with the guys, and just kind of relax and have fun. Every game that we play during the season can be kind of serious, but (with the all star game) you get to relax and get to know each other a little bit better. Playing those guys you get to build a relationship. But, it was a good experience.


How about that TV commercial shoot for the Reading Phillies? What was that like?

It was fun. Uh, funny. I was mad- we put a lot more time into it than just that little 15 seconds of fame we had. But it was a good time. Me and my roommate Mike (Taylor), they asked us to do it and I'm glad we did it. I get to hold onto that (video) to show my kids some day.


What do you think your ceiling is, as a player?

I don't know. My job is to just get on base and get in scoring position for the rest of my teammates and make it easier for them...take a lot of pressure off the team. And that's what I'm trying to do, so I'll just keep trying to get on base and do what I can for them, and hopefully the organization likes what I'm doing and that'll help move me along.


How has the coaching staff with Reading helped you this season?

They're always in your ear. Whether you're doing well, or you're doing bad. They don't want you to be comfortable or relaxed in what you're doing. They always want you to get better, so they stay on top of you pretty hard here. Usually, at the double A level, or triple A level, coaches will just let you play. They're still trying to teach here, and that works for us and we're doing well. Can't be mad at 'em.


What would you say your strengths are as a player?

My strengths? Speed, defense and the ability to move the ball around and play a short game. Short game's my game and that's my strength. I just try to use that and use my speed and anything else to help on the base paths and help in the outfield, playing defense.


What ball park would you most like to play in some day?

Petco Park- my home town, San Diego. I'd love to go down town San Diego and play down there and play in a big stadium and enjoy 75 degree weather with no humidity.


Citizens Bank Park too, of course, right?!

Oh, hey, I mean for sure! I'd love to play in Citizens Bank Park. That's my number one goal right there!


What's your favorite baseball movie?

I'd have to say A League of Their Own. I love that movie. Rosie O'Donnell. It's hilarious.


How many mascots does Reading have and why are there so many?

I have no idea. I don't even know what they mean, let alone their names. We have a ton of them, but it's fun to watch though. We all enjoy it.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 27

Tom Seaton was a starting pitcher with the Phillies from 1912-1913. He joined the Phillies after winning 26 games for Portland in the Pacific Coast League. In his rookie campaign, he used his overpowering fastball to win 16 games and hurl 255 innings.

Seaton got off to a very hot start in 1913 when he was undefeated in his first 12 starts. That season, he threw 5 shutouts, and led the National League in wins (27), strikeouts (168) and innings pitched (322 1/3). He did all that with a 2.60 ERA. Most importantly, Seaton was undefeated against the NL Champion, powerhouse NY Giants who was 101 games that season.

All that success had Seaton believing he was in line for quite a pay raise the following season. When the Phillies' front office only offered Seaton a $3,500/year salary, he went looking elsewhere for employment. The newly formed Federal League was offering up big contracts to the league's best players. Seaton obtained a 3-year deal worth $8,000 a season from the Federal League's Brooklyn franchise, making him one of the highest paid players in the new league. He also managed to get some special perks in his deal like the team picking up his wife's road expenses so that she could travel with him and a separate sitting area on the team's train coach.

Seaton delivered another fine season in 1914, with his new squad, winning 25 games and pitching 7 shutouts. Seaton would play two years in the Federal League, until the league folded. The following year, Seaton played for the Cubs. By 1918, he was back in the minors, but in 1920, he was banned from baseball for suspicion of gambling.


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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sergio Escalona Q&A With PhoulBallz.com

Sergio Escalona pictured left, with silly staring catcher teammate Tim Kennelly


Sergio Escalona, a non-drafted free agent signed by the Phillies in May of 2004, is in his 6th season of professional baseball. The 24 year old has been up and down from the minors to the big league club this season, several times. Escalona is currently pitching for the double A Reading Phillies. In 23 games with Reading this season, Sergio has no decisions, 12 saves and a 1.95 ERA with 26 K's in 27 2/3 innings pitched. The R-Phils are tied for second place, trying to clinch that second playoff spot in the Southern Division. I had a chance to speak with Sergio this week and here is how that went down.


What is the vibe around the clubhouse, with the standings so close?

It's very important for us to win games right now because we're trying to get in the playoffs.


Can I get you to talk a bit about your ups and downs this season?

Yeah. Five times I go up and down to the big leagues. The Phillies need some pitchers sometimes, so that is a reason. I'm doing very good here, so they call me up a couple times. I wasn't very- I was a little bit slow there, so I go down again to work on my stuff. And I don't know, maybe I'll come back in September. I'm working on that.


Who's your favorite teammate with the big club?

JC Romero. Yeah. He takes care of me up there.


What would you say your strengths are as a pitcher?

I take this day by day and that helps me a lot. And the pitching coach works with me every day, and that helps me a lot to BE CONSISTENT. And I just, a couple times I forgot that. And that is the reason I pitched poorly in triple A (0-2, 5.95 ERA). But right now I think I am ready.


Who has been your biggest influence?

God. It's all him. God.


What has been your most memorable moment so far this season?

My first inning in the big leagues. Definitely. It was amazing. My first day I got called up, I threw that day. And I won that game. So...amazing! I'll never forget that day.


Away from the ballpark, what do you most like to do?

I've got my wife here. I talk to her a lot. I read the bible. I listen to music and watch TV. I like Friends and The Simpsons.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekend Series Preview: Phillies @ Braves, 8/14-8/16


The first place Phillies (64-48) visit the Braves (60-54) this weekend for a three game series. The Braves' 17-9 record is best in the National League since the All star break, but they are still in third place, five games behind the Phillies. Read on for pitching match ups and other key notes from this series.


Friday, 7:35pm. Joe Blanton (7-6, 4.02 ERA) vs. Jair Jurrjens (9-8, 3.01 ERA). In four starts since the all star break, Blanton is 1-2 in four starts with a 2.51 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. Blanton has a 2.46 ERA over his last 13 starts. Blanton has an 8.47 ERA in 3 starts against the Braves this season. Brian McCann vs. Joe Blanton is his career- 6-for-10, 2 homers, 6 RBI. Jurrjens is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two starts against Philadelphia this year. Raul Ibanez, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz and Jayson Werth are a combined 10-for-75 (.133 avg) against Jurrjens, with 1 homer and 5 RBI, in their careers.

Saturday, 4:10pm. Cole Hamels (7-7, 4.77 ERA) vs. Kenshin Kawakami (5-9, 4.12 ERA). Cole's ERA over his last 14 starts is 4.75. In his career against the Braves, Colbert is 7-4 with a 4.01 ERA. Cole's ERA on the road this season in 10 games is 5.59. Brian McCann vs Hamels in his career- 10-for-27 (.370 avg) with 0 homers and 8 RBI. Kawakami is 2-4 with a 3.28 ERA at home this season.

Sunday, 8:05pm. "Jay" Happ (8-2, 2.75 ERA) vs. Javier Vazquez (10-7, 2.90 ERA). In Happ's career against the Braves, he is 1-0 with a 2.49 ERA in 4 games. Happ's road ERA this season is 1.84 in 13 games. Vazquez in his career against the Phillies is 11-7 with a 4.41 ERA. In 5 starts since the all star break, Vazquez is 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA. Vazquez in his career at Turner Field- 8-9 with a 3.13 ERA in 22 games.


Yunel Escobar is batting .346 with a .998 OPS in 23 games since the all star break. In 73 games before the all star break, Escobar's OPS was .789.

Ryan Howard, in his career vs. Atlanta, has a .330 avg. and a 1.078 OPS. In 75 games against the Braves, Howard has 24 homers and 73 RBI.

Chase Utley is batting .255 with a .782 OPS since the all star break. In 84 games before the all star break, Utley's OPS was 1.004.

Chad Durbin has a career record of 1-0 with a save and a 1.04 ERA in his career against the Braves, in 14 games.

Phillies team ERA- 4.33
Braves team ERA- 3.69

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PhoulBallz Q&A with Scott Mathieson

Former Major League Phillie Scott Mathieson is still on the road back, following two arm surgeries. Currently pitching with the double A Reading Phillies, Mathieson needed Tommy John Surgery twice, after appearing in 9 games with the big league team in 2006. This year, Mathieson has a combined 0.86 ERA at 3 minor league levels in 15 games. I had a chance to speak with Scott this week. Here is a look at how that went...


Can I get your thoughts on your rehab thus far, this year, and the long process?

It was real frustrating up until lately, when I've been pitching. It's a nice relief to be out there pitching. Giving up runs is-- to think about it now, it's nice that I'm not even thinking about my arm anymore. It's all about pitching and about baseball, not rehabbing. I feel like I'm almost over rehab now. The next stage is just pitch back-to-back (days). Just trying to put (rehab) in the past and worry about pitching.



What was the biggest thing you learned from your time rehabbing and all the set backs?

Patience. Definitely patience. And just mental toughness, I'm sure. Ya know, learning the game and going out there- I throw a change up now, where before my change up was pretty awful. Now, I consider it one of my better pitches. And I think just patience and sitting back and watching and trying to really learn baseball and learn how to pitch, not just go out there and throw hard. I think that's the biggest thing I took out of it.


Do you think the Phillies could call you up in September, and if not, do you have an expected time frame for your return to the majors?

I don't know. I mean, really, I'm not thinking that. I'm just thinking about pitching today and pitching tomorrow. I hope I get a chance in September, but if I don't, I'm not expecting it. It'd be nice obviously, but...



Mike Zagurski spoke to me once about watching game 5 of the World Series with you last year, while you guys were partnered up doing rehab work. What was that experience like for you, watching the team do it all?

Mike and his fiance, and my wife and I all went up to all the World Series games, in Tampa as well, and game 5. It was great to see, but it was almost one of those bitter-sweet things too. It was a blast to see them win and all your buddies are on the team. There's a lot of good guys on that team. But, in the same sense, I know Mike and I talked and it made us want to get back even more. And it made you more hungry to get back there. It was frustrating that we couldn't be on the field, but hopefully, down the road, we'll be part of a World Series team again.



What was your first call up like?

To me it was a shock. Actually, we (Reading) played at Citizens Bank the day before I got called up, and we had a bus ride from there to Erie. And then the next morning I got called up and took a flight back to Philly. It was one of those things where, I got back from the gym and I had a couple missed calls and I called coach back, at the time, and PJ was off, so it was Tom Filer who told me. Ya know, I thought I was in trouble, I thought I missed a meeting or something. I really wasn't expecting it and when he told me, it was kind of surreal. I remember sitting on the bed thinking, "Oh, shoot- I gotta pack, I got a half hour to leave." And was just flustered, and tried to call my dad. But it was 5 in the morning back at home (BC, Canada). Trying to get a hold of him...was just one of those moments I'll never forget. And then getting up there, that first game up there, I remember I bounced the first pitch and stepped off and I couldn't care less. Just thought, "No one can ever take this away." It was a great experience.



Who was the most memorable batter you faced in the majors?

Probably Ken Griffey Jr. I grew up, I was a huge fan. And grew up an hour and a half from Seattle, so back yard- swinging with a broom stick out there, pretending you're Ken Griffey Jr., then to get up there and see him across the way was pretty surreal. That was pretty cool.



Who was your favorite pitcher growing up?

Randy Johnson. Seattle again as well. Either him or John Smoltz.



What advice might you give teen aged players hoping to play beyond high school?

Make sure you enjoy it. Have fun and go out there every day and not have regrets. Work as hard as you can.



What's your favorite baseball movie?

Bull Durham. Sometimes it feels like it's me out there. I mean, it did before. It's always been one of my favorites.


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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Team Notes, 8/13/09

There's a whole lot going on in Phillies land today!

Pedro Martinez got his first win as a Phillie last night, over the Cubs. Pedro looked solid through his first 4 innings, but gave up 2 earned runs in the 5th inning. Pedro's complete line, after 99 pitches- 5 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs all earned, 1 walk, 5 k's.

TheFightins has a review of the Victorino/Cubs fan/beer incident.
NQTC offers some thoughts on Wrigley bleacher fans, last night's mishap and if the Cubs had anything to do with it.
TricoSuave has a look at Shane's beer shower fun as well.
The double A Reading Phillies' locker room reaction to the beer tossed into Shane's face: "Nice timing." Cubs manager Lou Piniella was disappointed that it happened, stating, "It’s not good sportsmanship. … We apologize to Victorino and the Phillies for that."

Brett Myers threw two more simulated innings yesterday in Clearwater, FL. Myers is hoping to pitch a rehab assignment soon.

Phillies outfield prospect Michael Taylor went 5-for-5 and hit for the cycle last night in the Lehigh Valley IronPigs' victory. Taylor's homer came in the 9th inning to tie the game and set the stage for an extra inning victory for the IronPigs. Check out PhoulBallz.com's exclusive interview with Michael Taylor by clicking this link.

As bad as Eric Bruntlett has been this season (.398 OPS), Matt Stairs has played just as poorly, as of late. Stairs in July & August- 1-for-24 (.047 avg), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 runs. Bruntlett in July & August- 2-for-19 (.105 avg), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 runs. Since the All star break, the Phillies bench has faltered. Matt Stairs and Eric Bruntlett are a combined 1-for-31 (.032 avg) with 0 HR, 0 RBI and 2 runs scored, during that 4 week stretch.


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PhoulBallz Q&A with Domonic Brown


Domonic Brown is one of the Phillies' prized prospects. Brown was rated by Baseball America as the Phillies' top prospect entering the 2009 season. A 2006 draft selection, Brown committed to play football at the University of Miami, prior to being drafted. He's now quickly on the rise and is holding down right field for the double A Reading Phillies. I had a chance to speak with Domonic this week, and here is how that went down...


You're batting .342 since your promotion to Reading? Can I get you to talk about your quick success and trying to stay hot?

I'm just trying to take it one day at a time, really. Come in here, work hard, and stay with the same approach...let the rest take care of itself. There's great pitching here (at double A), they just throw everything for strikes. I'd say that's the big transition from high A (Clearwater)...throwing the curve ball for strikes, the off speed. So, I'm just trying to take it one day at a time (with) the same approach.



Your first homer with Reading last week was quite a shot. Do you think you'll remember your first homerun at each level by the end of the road?

Nah. I plan on hitting so many, hopefully (that I won't remember).



The announcement last week that the team and media had been spelling your name incorrectly (Dominic, instead of Domonic)...can I get an explanation and what was going on? Why did it take so long to get corrected?

I don't know what's going on with that, but it really doesn't matter. People have been doing it most of my life, so it doesn't matter.


A lot of people describe you as a 5-tool player. How would you describe yourself?

I don't know. I really don't look at things like that. I just try to do whatever I can do for the team at that moment, to get us the "W", and I've done my part.



What would you say your strengths are that you are most proud of?

My speed, and the ability to hit gap-to-gap, line-to-line. I think that's my strengths.


If, when you're at the big league level some day, MLB wished to use you to sort of help market baseball toward the black community, in something like the RBI program, would that be something you'd like to participate in?

I want to do a lot of that kind of stuff with the African American community. A lot of that, kind of giving back and being with the kids who are less fortunate than myself.



(A joking question...) What's your best sport besides baseball?

(Receives a joking answer) Hoops! A lot of people think it's football, ya know? Hoops! Nah, it's probably football.


What advice might you give to teenage players who hope to play baseball beyond high school?

If you've got the tools and the ability, keep working hard, stay humble and make sure you listen to your parents.


Who was your favorite player growing up?

Ken Griffey Jr.



What is your favorite baseball movie?

Major League. Willie Mays Hayes- I love that guy. Wesley Snipes!
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Closer and Closer

Brad Lidge blew his league leading 7th save of the season, his 6th on the road, Tuesday night in Chicago. Lidge has surrendered earned runs in 20 of his 46 outings this season....that is 43% of his games. In 2008, Lidge was only scored on in 18% of his outings. Lidge's ERA is up to a MLB worst 7.29.

Reports out this week state that Brett Myers is still ahead of his initial schedule for a return to the majors, following his simulated game, thrown on Sunday. When Myers was the Phillies' closer in 2007, he was only scored on in 20% of his relief outings.

Manager Charlie Manuel continuing to state that 'Lidge is the closer' and refusing to deal with the sheer uncertainty that is Lidge the closer, needs to stop. With Brett Myers en route to a return, perhaps a change can be made, although it may not be soon enough.

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BJ Rosenberg locked down his first double A save Tuesday night for Reading in a win against Trenton. Rosenberg, was promoted two levels last week, from Lakewood. In a game that seemed a lock in the 9th inning, two errors allowed the Trenton Thunder to rapidly shrink a 3 run deficit down to a 1 run hole. Manager Steve Roadcap called the bullpen to relieve Sergio Escalona, and Rosenberg came to the rescue. With a runner on, BJ allowed Eduardo Nunez to single on the first pitch, before getting Chris Malec to ground to shortstop for the final out.

BJ, a South Atlantic League All Star, has not allowed an earned run since May 31st, the last time he blew a save, at Greensboro. He's got a streak of scoreless innings that reached 30 on Tuesday night. During that streak, Rosenberg has allowed only 17 hits and 4 walks while striking out 36 batters.


Rosenberg on his promotion last week:

It was awesome. I was a bit shocked, to skip Clearwater. I couldn't be more pleased, it was real exciting.

Did you feel like you were ready for a step upward for a while?

Yeah, I felt like it. I tried not thinking about it. It was kinda out of my control. Ya know, I just went about my business, and if it happened- it happened. If it didn't, maybe next year. Of course, I was happy that it did happen.

Can I get you to comment on your first double A save?

I was really excited. I thought I might come out the start the 9th, but Escalona came back out (for a 2nd inning) and I made sure I stayed mentally ready. It was awesome. It was too bad I gave up a hit with the first pitch I threw, but I got the next guy out.


Tim Gradoville, recently assigned as a player to Reading after coaching more than 5 months with Lakewood, was in the game in the 9th inning for defense. Gradoville was asked to play, as an emergency filler when both Tuffy Gosewich and Orlando Guevara were sidelined with injuries. Gradoville had been in the system all season as a catching instructor and first base coach with the Lakewood BlueClaws. Gradoville's player assignment is temporary until Gosewich is activated this week.

I asked Tim about making the transition from BJ's coach to catching his first double A save, in the matter of a week...

It's kind of weird being his coach all year at Lakewood, then all of a sudden catching his first double A save. It's just a special moment. It's just one of the most unexpected things I thought would happen this year...where I started and then where I ended up here. I guess God has a plan for all of us in our lives and there's a reason I was here and I was just doing the best I could when I got (the chance).


Hey, Phillies phans...give BJ a little more time. If Lidge continues to struggle and Myers has any setbacks, Rosenberg should be ready for another 2-step jump in no time, and maybe he can hold it down to a better tune than a 7.29 ERA.

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It's PhoulBallz Phillies Wednesday on 1310am's The Shore Sports Report! Click here to listen in. The show is on weekdays from 3-6pm. I will be on today around 3:30pm.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Series Preview: Phillies @ Cubs, 8/11-8/13

The NL East leading Phillies (61-48) head to Chicago to face the Cubs (58-51) in a three game series. The Phillies are 3-8 since completing a stretch when they won 19 of 22 games. The Phillies won 2 of 3 in a series with the Cubs in Philadelphia last month. Below you will find pitching match ups and other notes on this series.


Tuesday, 8:05pm. "Jay" Happ (8-2, 2.74 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (7-7, 4.41 ERA). Happ on the road this season is 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA in 12 games. Happ hasn't faced the Cubs before. Harden's ERA is 1.80 over his last 5 starts. This season at home, Harden is 3-5 with a 6.84 ERA in 10 starts. The usual 8 starting position players for the Phillies (Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Ibanez, Werth, Feliz and Ruiz) are a combined 13-for-76 (.171 avg) with 2 homers and 3 RBI against Harden in their careers.


Wednesday, 8:05pm. Pedro Martinez (No ML starts this season) vs. Jeff Samardzija (1-1, 6.29 ERA). Pedro will be making his debut at the Major League level for the Phillies. Samardzija has not started a game this season for the Cubs. He is starting in place of Carlos Zambrano, who is on the disabled list with back trouble.


Thursday, 2:20pm. Cliff Lee (2-0, 1.13 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (6-5, 4.04 ERA). In his career against the Cubs, Lee is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA over 14 2/3 innings pitched in 2 starts. Lee has a 5-3 record and a 3.03 ERA in 12 road starts between both leagues this year. Dempster is 4-3 with a 4.76 ERA in 20 career games against the Phillies. Matt Stairs is 4-for-7 with 3 homers, 6 RBI and 3 walks against Dempster in his career.


Derrek Lee is batting .315 with a 1.022 OPS in 23 games since the all star break.

Brad Lidge on the road this season is 0-2 with 10 saves, 5 blown saves and a 7.79 ERA.

In his career against the Cubs, Ryan Madson is 1-0 with 1 save, a 7.20 ERA and a .341 batting avg. against, in 13 games.

Greg Dobbs is a .393 career hitter (11-for-28) against the Cubs in 14 games.

Team runs scored, Phillies- 569
Team runs scored, Cubs- 487

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Monday, August 10, 2009

What's the Right Move?

Now that Manny Parra has exceeded 100 innings pitched this year, Jamie Moyer has earned a promotion to the FOURTH worst ERA in the National League, among pitchers with over 100 innings (the other 2 who are worse- Todd Wellemeyer and Josh Greer). Moyer's 5.47 ERA overall and 6.88 ERA at home in 2009 are awful.

If Pedro Martinez makes his much anticipated Major League Phillies debut on Tuesday in Chicago, as many people expect, Moyer's next turn in the starting rotation would come around next Sunday in Atlanta. Based on his ERA and inconsistency, Moyer shouldn't get that start. As of now, the projected starters for the upcoming series in Chigago are listed as "To Be Announced". The Phillies haven't declared that Martinez is getting another minor league rehab/sharpening assignment, thus we can all believe that he'll be pitching against the Cubs this week.

Plenty of worry surrounds the decision to potentially move Moyer out of the rotation. Does he get moved to the bullpen? If so, should he be expected to perform effectively? Could they treat him as a cast off, the likes of Geoff Jenkins? Perhaps the answer to all of those questions is NO. A temporary solution could be to place Moyer on the disabled list. Just ask Pedro Martinez...I am sure the Phillies could find something wrong with Jamie in order to make the situation work. Placing Moyer on the DL would help the Phils not have to make an objectionable decision. It might allow everyone to save face. It would enable the Phillies to keep Moyer around the dugout, where he's a help to the club by coaching and guiding the other members of the starting staff, during their games.

I'm sure there have been plenty of phans and media members suggesting that Moyer would be better suited as a coach, at this stage in his career. I am also aware of the affinity that those same phans and media members feel toward Moyer, due to his role in the World Championship 2008 season and his local ties. Placing Jamie Moyer on the disabled list, keeping him on the roster, not insulting or embarrassing him with a demotion, and allowing him to continue to mentor the other starters is the best solution for the Phillies' starting pitching traffic jam, at the moment. Pedro was signed to help the team. Moyer's not helping the team. It's the right move.

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*Afternoon update....
Phils have announced their plan. Moyer to the bullpen, "Jay" Happ starts Tuesday, Pedro Martinez goes Wednesday, Cliff Lee pushed back to Thursday. RoLo has been demoted to triple A Lehigh Valley.

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Check out PhoulBallz.com's recent interview with Pedro Martinez here.

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