Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 48

George "Dode" Paskert was an outfielder with the Phillies from 1911-1917. The speedy Paskert's career in the Majors began with Cincinnati in 1907, but following a superb season in 1910, when he batted .300 while stealing 51 bases, Paskert was traded to the Phillies in an 8-player trade in which George McQuillan was the key piece on the other side of the deal.

In just his second game with Philadelphia, "Dode" displayed a big dose of what could be expected from him in the field. Facing the NY Giants at the oddly shaped Polo Grounds, Paskert tracked down a long fly ball in the outfield gap off the bat of Fred Snodgrass. The ball appeared to be a sure extra base hit, until the swift Paskert closed in quickly, dove parallel to the ground and speared the ball with his bare hand. Teammate Sherry Magee, playing Left field that day, would later call it the greatest catch he had ever seen on a ball field.

Paskert's efforts at the plate were generally on pace with his defense. Hitting at the top, or near the top, of the Phillies' batting order Paskert had no trouble getting on base, drawing 91 walks in 1912. Also that season, he batted .315, stole 36 bases, scored 102 runs and was a general all-around threat for the Phils. The front office was so impressed with Paskert, that he was awarded with a 3-year contract.

Unfortunately, a series of injuries held Paskert back and his stats and performances would suffer. He played the next 5 season with the Phillies, playing in under 124 games just once. His best offensive season out of those five was 1916 when he batted .279, knocked in 46 runs and scored 82 runs.

Following the 1917 season, Paskert was dealt to the Cubs for outfielder Cy Williams. Paskert played three season for the Cubs and part of another in 1921 back with the Reds, before he finished his playing days in the Minor Leagues. That year he made headlines by rescuing five young children from a burning building, as he made three separate trips into the burning apartment, in Cleveland.

In his 15 season Major League career, Paskert played in over 1700 games, batted .268, stole 293 bases and slammed 46 homers.


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Friday, January 29, 2010

Jose Contreras is the Spawn of J-Roll & Michael Clarke Duncan


Have you ever wondered what the offspring of Jimmy Rollins and Michael Clarke Duncan would look like? If you have, wonder no longer. It would look exactly like Jose Contreras.


Contreras, the newest addition to the Phillies' pitching staff, finalized a 1-year $1.5 million deal this week. The 38-year-old Contreras was in Philadelphia on Thursday to meet with the media. Through a translator, Contreras told reporters, "I'm very happy to get the opportunity to come here. I want to give my best to the team. I'm ready. I'm prepared to (start) or be in the bullpen. If I have to carry the bats, I'll carry the bats. I just want to win." General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke also and stated that, in the team's opinion, Contreras is best suited for a relief role. Amaro Jr. went on to describe Contreras as a "low-risk, high-reward type of guy".

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Charlie Hated on Scott Eyre & Chan Ho Park?


If you missed Charlie Manuel's press conference, on Tuesday, that was referred to as his State of the Phillies Address, you can view some of it by clicking here. In the latter portion of that clip, Manuel speaks about the dependable relievers that the Phillies have acquired this offseason...Jose Contreras and Danys Baez, stating, "Let me tell you something. We got two guys, if they're sore, or stiff, or got a headache, or they don't feel good, they'll pitch. And I know they'll pitch. And both of these guys are mentally tough guys. And that makes me feel good and I know both of 'em can pitch at least two innings. And I know they'll take the ball every time I want to give it to them. I know Baez will not turn the ball down."

There's no question that Charlie Manuel is pleased with the acquisitions of each of these pitchers. The question remains, who was Manuel so sour toward that he feels like the Phillies have had pitchers who didn't truly want to pitch anytime the manager wanted them? Was it Scott Eyre? Was it Chan Ho Park? Could be both.

Eyre spent much time on the disabled list over the last two seasons. He missed nearly 4 weeks from June 12th-July 6th and only pitched on consecutive days 7 times all year. Eyre also missed more than 2 months in 2008, just before becoming a Phillie, when he didn't debut until May 10th, the was on the DL from late June through late July. Managers and coaches are sometimes restricted from really pushing guys who are prone to injuries.

Of the regulars, Park had the fewest number of appearances on consecutive days out of the bullpen for the Phillies in 2009, with only 5 during the regular season. Consider that Park was a starter until mid-May, and that still doesn't excuse the man from not being available on back-to-back days down the stretch run and into the postseason. Park always made it clear that he preferred to be a starter, as he liked to rest and be on a schedule. Thus, Park was treated very delicately by the coaching staff, even in his relief role.

So, while some fans wished the Phillies would re-sign Eyre or Park, and might still be hoping for one or both to return, the bottom line of their absences this coming season could be that Charlie Manuel wanted middle relievers who are more durable than those guys and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. went out and got Manuel some pitchers that could fill that request.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1/26/10 Notebook

Plenty of things going on around Baseball Land that are worth mentioning. Take a look, and catch yourself up.


The Rookie Career Development Program is an annual MLB event, held every January, where top prospect are brought together to learn about life in the big leagues. It is designed to allow the young players to prepare for what lies ahead of them off the field...dealing with the media and finances, as well as any pressures that may arise at home or in the clubhouse. The symposium was held last week, and Phillies prospect right handed pitcher Phillippe Aumont, who was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade, was there.

In an interview posted on Phillies.com (here), the Canadian born Aumont was asked about his language barrier coming from a background where French was his first language, and learning English on his own. He stated that, "It took me a while. It took me a few years to get over my stage where I was shy to speak and make mistakes and everything. And now I feel more comfortable and every day I learn something new."



The Yankees traded for former Phillies OF prospect & top draft pick Greg Golson today. The deal sends minor league infielder Mitch Hilligoss to Texas for the speedy Golson, who projects to play for New York's triple A affiliate in Scranton this coming season. Golson, was once a highly touted prospect who was invited to play in the MLB All Star weekend Futures Games but is now a marginal prospect who can't safely break onto a Major League roster for longer than a couple weeks.



The Carlos Ruiz signing is finally official, as he passed his physical. The Phillies held a press conference today, at Citizens Bank Park where Ruiz finessed the Q&A session with his thick Panamanian accent. Ruiz spoke of this contract being a dream come true. He grew up as a second baseman, and during that time, all he could dream about was making it to the Major Leagues. Then, since he's been a Major Leaguer, a contract like this has been his dream. The contract is 3-years/$8.85 million, with an option for a fourth season.



The Phillies claimed minor league infielder Brian Bocock off waivers from the Blue Jays today. Bocock spent minimal time in double A with the Connecticut Defenders last season, where he batted .171 with a double, while going just 2-for-5 at stolen base attempts in 25 total games. In 97 games with High A level San Jose in 2009, Bocock batted .241 with 3 homers and 48 RBI. Bocock will turn 25 before the start of the coming season and could be looked at to fill the hole left by Brad Harman, who was released after last season. Bocock had been claimed off waivers by Toronto from the Giants earlier this month.



Last week, plenty of news sources and blogs were all over Phils' manager Charlie Manuel's weight loss. The dramatic drop in pounds, Manuel claims, was 58...thanks to Nutrisystem and a regular offseason exercise routine. Speaking to the press this afternoon, Manuel said, "I looked at a picture of me. My stomach was over my belt. I went, 'That's a pretty big gut.'"

Glancing through my very own photo albums today, I realized that Halloween efforts to dress up as Charlie will now be far more difficult if the guy in charge of the Phillies continues to get more svelte.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Detroit's Wilkin Ramirez Picks on Sick Kids, Laughs

"Hello, young man. I am Wilkin Ramirez. Can I play Connect Four with you, while this photographer from our PR department takes a few pictures? What? You haven't heard of me? Pssh...what do you mean? I'm sayin'...I am a rookie, but I am kind of a hot shot, internationally known outfield stud. Who hasn't heard of Wilkin Ramirez? Ughhh. Well, since you're such a foolish little punk who doesn't know his hospital bracelet from a hole in the ground, how about I just slap a little Connect FIVE on your ass for good measure?! Yeah, how ya like me now? Hahahahahahahah. In yo' FACE!"

Yeah, that is what I think happened there when Tigers players visited the Detroit Medical Center Children's Hospital on Friday. All the kid wanted was a famous ballplayer to sit and play a game with him, and, since Wilkin Ramirez is a jerk hole, he showed this poor child what Connect Four is all about. Rather than give a sick child a morale boost, he dominated the youngster and pounded him with a Connect Five....then laughed straight in his face. What kind of monster is this?

We can easily see that by the red checkers in the box on the close side of the picture, in front of the patient, that Wilkin had the black checkers. We can also see that twice the child had three in a row and was one checker away from winning, but Wilkin chose to prevent him from winning by blocking his efforts with a black checker. It is quite obvious that diagonally there are five straight black checkers and that Wilkin is having a hearty laugh about it. Furthermore, there is also a diagonal connect four in red that Ramirez failed to inform the child that he had gotten, for a win.

Damn you, Wilkin Ramirez and your horrible treatment of sick youth around Detroit. I hope Jim Leyland cuts you on the first day of training camp. If not, come see ME about some board games. I ain't no sick kid. And I ain't no punk b*tch either.

Let this be a lesson to all you hot dog ballplayers out there. Mess with sick kids and Jay Ballz will set out to gosh darn wreck you at some Yah-Yah-Yahtzee, son.

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Linkin' You Up

Plenty of news worthy items popped up over the weekend. Here are some nuggets you shouldn't miss.

Carlos Ruiz officially signed a multi-year contract with the Phillies, avoiding arbitration. The deal is for 3 years/$8.85 million with a team option for a fifth year at $5 million. More on Ruiz's deal can be found here.

The Phillies also signed former White Sox and Rockies pitcher Jose Contreras to a 1 year contract. Info about the signing can be found here. Contreras projects to fill a vacancy out of the bullpen that the absences of Clay Condrey and Chan Ho Park will leave. The addition of Contreras adds to the list of 2005 World Champion White Sox that have gone on to sign with or play in the Philadelphia Phillies organization...Aaron Rowand, Tadahito Iguchi, Freddy Garcia, Ross Gload & Pablo Ozuna are others.

Former Phillies #1 draft pick Greg Golson was designated for assignment by the Rangers last week. This move was made necessary as Texas signed Khalil Greene to a 1 year contract. Golson must now be placed on waivers, traded or released. Golson was dealt from the Phillies to the Rangers last offseason for outfielder John Mayberry Jr.


Jimmy Rollins got married on Saturday and The700Level has pictures of the big day. Can you pick out which All Veterans Stadium team member was in Jimmy's wedding party?

Former Phillie Lou Marson, who was dealt in the Cliff Lee trade last July, is the favorite to win the starting catcher job out of spring training with the Indians. Veteran Mike Redmond will be in camp to help the Tribe's young catcher along and projects to be the Indians' backup catcher, but the team should give Marson a ton of opportunities behind the plate this spring.

Matt Stairs agreed to a minor league contract with the Padres. Stairs, who turns 42 years old before the season, will be in camp with the Major League club in spring training. More on Stairs and the Padres- here.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 47

Tony Taylor played with the Phillies from 1960-1971, then again from 1974-1976. Originally signed by the Giants, Taylor was selected by the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft during the 1957-1958 offseason. Taylor made his Major League debut with the Cubs in 1958 and played two full season with Chicago before being traded to the Phillies along with Cal Neeman for Ed Bouchee and Don Cardwell in May 1960.

Taylor responded to the trade by batting .287 and stealing 24 bases in 127 games in his first season with the Phillies. He also made the all star team that year. In his time with the Phillies, Taylor would steal over 20 bases in a season four times and he stole home six times.

Taylor is the only man to play over 1,000 games at second base with the Phillies. Taylor spent his first five seasons with Philadelphia as the team's everyday second baseman, but came to fill more of a utility role when a young second baseman named Cookie Rojas made an impact with the team. Taylor's versatility was a plus and enabled him to continue contributing for the Phils. He filled in all around the infield and even spent some time in the outfield. In 1966, Taylor filled in at third for two months when Dick Allen was injured, and the following year he took over for first baseman Bill White when he was sidelined with an injury.

The best season of Taylor's career would come in 1970, when he had career highs in homers and RBI with 9 and 55. He also batted .301 that year. Despite the increased production, though, it would be Taylor's last season as an everyday player in the Majors.

In June 1971, the Phillies dealt Taylor to Detroit for two minor leaguers. The Tigers later released Taylor after the 1973 season and he returned to Philadelphia for three more seasons, where he would act as the team's primary pinch hitter. His 17 pinch hits in 1974 led the National League.

After retiring from playing, Taylor would go on to coach with the Phillies and later the Marlins. Taylor was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2002.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Where Will Jim Thome Land?


Some folks around baseball have felt throughout the offseason that Jim Thome would inevitably return to the Chicago White Sox and resume his duties as the team's designated hitter. Thome was traded by the ChiSox prior to last year's trading deadline to the Dodgers for minor league infielder Justin Fuller and cash. Thome appeared only as a pinch hitter for the Dodgers, down the stretch last year, and he managed to get just 5 singles in 20 at bats, including the post season.

Thome stated to Chicago reporters, at a White Sox charity function on Wednesday, that he'd come back to the White Sox if they called and wanted him. But, keeping things real, Thome added, "I want to play baseball. Right now, we're talking to a few teams, so we'll see what happens. It's been a slow winter in the market, so we're waiting to see what's going to happen and move forward."

So, what teams might Thome be negotiating with? Not the White Sox!

Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen spoke about the situation on Thursday. Guillen told the media, "Nobody is a bigger Jim Thome fan than me. But in the meantime, (Thome's departure) gives this ball club an opportunity to give more people more at bats and to be flexible in different ways."

Guillen also stated that other White Sox players, namely Mark Kotsay, Andruw Jones, Paul Konerko, Omar Vizquel and Carlos Quentin could potentially see time as the team's designated hitter.

"To me, it's easier and we get more production with the team we have now that way, Gullien added."

With full time DH's virtually at an all time low (only Boston with David Ortiz and Cleveland with Travis Hafner have DH's who don't also play a defensive position), Thome, who is unable to play the field very well, if at all due to health issues, may find it very difficult to find a job.

Thome is 39 years old and is 12th all time on the MLB homerun leaders list. I am sure there are teams who are, or will be, interested, but it remains to be seen who they might be and what money they might offer Thome.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Joe Blanton Signs 3-year $24 Million Deal


Arbitration? Nah! The Phillies, who were rumored to be in talks with at least two of the three players they exchanged arbitration numbers with, regarding "long-term" contracts, announced Thursday afternoon that they had come to terms with starting pitcher Joe Blanton on a three-year contract, locking him up through the 2012 season.

The contract will reportedly pay Blanton $7 million this coming season, $8.5 million in each of the two following seasons. The $7 million in 2010 is actually less than the Phillies initially offered Blanton, when the two sides exchanged numbers on Monday. Kudos to GM Rube! Nice deal.

Blanton, who will be 29 years old for the entire 2010 season, finished the 2009 season with a 12-8 record and a 4.05 ERA. Since he was acquired from Oakland in 2008, Blanton is 18-8 with a 4.10 ERA, including the postseason.

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In other news...I spoke very briefly today (long enough to get my request for an interview with the Shore Sports Report rejected) with Shane Victorino. He was sporting a fresh shave (no more beard) and he told me that he's very busy getting ready to travel for Jimmy Rollins' wedding. Shane plans to travel to The Caymans on Saturday, for the wedding later that day.

Shane is the other arbitration eligible Phillie who is said to be in negotiations with the team on a contract longer than just this coming season.

**Update**- and now we know why Victorino was too busy to oblige with an interview today...because he was all tied up negotiating a 3-year contract extension with the Phillies. Official details are sketchy regarding Victorino's deal, but it is expected to be for $22 million.

In 5 years with the Phillies, Victorino is a .288 hitter with 50 homers and 375 runs scored in 639 games, including the postseason.

Phans can expect Carlos Ruiz to be next in line for a multi-year deal from the Phillies.

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Check me out on the radio today around 5:20pm talking Phillies on The Shore Sports Report. Out by the shore, tune in on 1160 WOBM AM or on Fox Sports 1310 AM. If you are out of range, use this internet thing my clicking HERE.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What the Duck?

I am sure the news that Brandon Duckworth has signed a minor league contract with the Phillies has reached all you phans by now. When I first heard of the impending acquisition last week, I decided to treat it as non-news. The simple fact that Duckworth was not invited to big league spring training makes his signing as low impact as the Phillies could get. However, some phans still remember the former top Phillies pitching prospect fondly and are excited to hear the news.

Simply put, Duckworth is not good. With Omaha, the triple A affiliate for the Royals, last season, Duckworth had a 3-6 record with a 5.31 ERA in 20 games. In 8 seasons in the Majors, Duckworth is 23-34 with a 5.28 ERA. This is not an arm worthy of the slightest bit of excitement.

In fact, I am so adamantly not interested in this Duckworth signing that I am going to list some guys I would rather the Phillies sign...
1- Steve Carlton, Phillies Hall of Famer. The guy has been retired since the 80's but could offer more to the organization than Brandon Duckworth.
2- Tay Zonday, the Chocolate Rain/YouTube guy. He's weird and corny, but at the same time far cooler than Duckworth.
3- Mike Krenek or Joe Giglio from the Shore Sports Report. Millennium Radio's afternoon co-hosts threw out ceremonial first pitches prior to a Lakewood BlueClaws game in 2009 and I heard good things.
4- Henry Rowengardner, the 12-year-old from the film Rookie of the Year. Daring baserunners to steal while on the mound, taunting the opposition from the base paths...it's all about the mind games with this kid. He's intelligent beyond his years and I'd prefer his skills over Duckworth's, even after Henry's magically healed arm has conked out.
5- Tomas Perez, the former Phillies infielder. I had some Twitter chatter with some fellow Phils phans today, in which I reminded some PhoulBallz readers that Tomas, famous for his clutch post-game shaving cream pie celebrations, once pitched 1/3 of an inning for our Phillies. I have a feeling that the pie man could perform better than Duckworth.

The fond memories that some phans have for Duckworth include him winning the two Paul Owens Awards given to the top pitcher in the Phils' minor league system annually...Duckworth lost just 2 of 11 starts in his rookie season in 2001 and he posted a 3.52 ERA in those 11 games...and Duckworth was dealt to the Astros in a package that got Billy Wagner in return in the 2003-2004 offseason...but tops on everyone's list was Brandon's phan group, the Duck Pond. If you happen to live in the Allentown area, home of the Triple A level IronPigs, and wish to see Duckworth in action this season for a quick sniff of nostalgia on the Pond, best wishes to you. If you reside in the Reading area, home of the Double A Phils, you may even get a chance to bring back the Duck Pond. However, if you are hoping to blow a duck whistle at Citizens Bank Park this year, you may have a better shot at getting blown by a duck there, as chances are slimmer of Duckworth making the big club than they are of Donald and Daffy performing sexy type favors for phans in attendance.

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Durbin's Deal & Jimmy's Jam

Phillies pitcher Chad Durbin agreed to a one-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration. The deal will pay Durbin $2.125 million.

In two seasons with the Phillies, Durbin has a 7-6 record with a 3.55 ERA in 130 games.

Carlos Ruiz, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton remain as Phillies who are arbitration eligible.

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Jimmy Rollins and his girlfriend, Johari Smith, are planning to be married this coming weekend. It has been a good offseason for Phillies in this aspect, as Shane Victorino also got married. Jimmy was a member of the wedding party for Shane, so expect that Shane will be a member of Jimmy's wedding party. Other Phillies teammates, such as Ryan Howard, are expected to be in attendance for the Rollins nuptuals as well.

The wedding is scheduled to be held in the Cayman Islands, where a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck early Tuesday, off the coast. Reports on damage or aftershocks are not available as of this writing.

Update- CBS 3 reported shortly after noon today that Jimmy Rollins has sent a message to teammates stating that he is safe and sound, after thismorning's earthquake. Rollins stated that the earthquake shook his hotel for approximately 10 seconds, forcing guests and staff to exit the building. No injuries have been reported at this time.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 46

Bobby Wine played with the Phillies for 8 years in the 1960's, but recurring back issues limited him to just 5 full season as the team's everyday shortstop. Originally signed as an amateur free agent in 1957, Wine was a gem of a prospect, hitting well over .300 in each of his first two season in the minor leagues, but he began pulling off on everything inside after he was hit by a pitch. His batting average suffered a considerable amount and it became clear that Wine's defense would be his ticket to the Major Leagues.

Initially, Wine spent time playing both shortstop and third base, but a permanent shift to shortstop in 1963 resulted in a Gold Glove Award. Manager Gene Mauch thought so highly of Wine's glove and range that Mauch kept him in the starting lineup despite an anemic performance at the plate. Wine's best season batting average in the Majors was .244 and he only reached 100 hits in a season one time.

In 1966 Wine missed time with a back injury, but he recovered and led all National League shortstops in fielding in 1967. A year later, in 1968, back trouble returned and he played in just 27 games and missed the remainder of the season following back surgery. It also ended his time with the Phillies as Wine was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 1969 expansion draft, where he was reunited with Mauch who had left the Phillies following the 1968 season and joined Montreal as manager.

Whenever Wine was ribbed about his lack of bat power and low career homerun total, Wine would always reply, "That's okay. I had one more than Ashburn." Of course, he meant Richie Ashburn, the Phillies' Hall of Fame centerfielder, who hit just 29 homeruns in his career.

Wine would spend three full seasons as Montreal's everyday shortstop. After he retired in 1972, he immediately joined the Phillies as a coach, where he stayed through the 1983 season. Wine later coached with the Atlanta Braves, and even filled in temporarily as interim manager following the firing of Eddie Haas in 1985.

Wine's grandson, Cory Wine, was drafted by the Phillies in 38th round of the 2009 amateur draft. He played in 34 games for the Gulf Coast League Phillies last year.
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Mike Schmidt Comments on Mark McGwire's PED Use

This week, Mike Schmidt spoke with West Palm Beach's NBC affiliate, Channel 5, about the recent news relating to Mark McGwire and steroid use.

Schmidt was asked what he thought of Mark McGwire's announcement earlier this week that he used illegal drugs during his playing career.

"It's good that he is freed up to pursue his new job, which is hitting coach with the St. Louis Cardinals. In that sense it's good. Never good for baseball when one of its all-time great stars, a guy like Mark McGwire who was so big in the late-90's into the early 2000's, helped save the game of baseball along with Sammy Sosa, officially admits to having used steroids, during that period. I think a lot of people were let down."

Schmitty, who annually acts as a guest instructor during spring training, was asked what he might say if he runs into McGwire during spring training...

"I would be a little nervous. I'm not sure I could say to Mark, 'Hey Mark, ya know...you really shouldn't have done this,' or, 'You really shouldn't have done that.' He'd say, 'Hey, Mike...until you've walked in my shoes and had to face the nation with something that's going to change your life, your family's life, your- ya know- your passions, there's certain things you can do, you can't go anywhere, everything's changing in my life. I don't think you should second guess what I did, or the way that I did it.'"

Link to the video on WPTV's web site...HERE.

This has been PhoulBallz.com...sometimes home to Mike Schmidt's imaginary conversations with other retired baseball sluggers.

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PhoulBallz Q&A With Travis Mattair, Offseason Edition

This week I had the opportunity to speak with Phillies third base prospect Travis "Moose" Mattair. Moose was a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws team that won the 2009 South Atlantic League Championship. The 21-year-old righty hitter had an up and down season, in 2009. He batted .236 in 126 games last year. I asked Moose several questions about his offseason, how he'll bounce back and plenty more. Check it out...


What types of cardio and/or weight training do you do to stay in shape during the offseason?

At the end of the season, this past year, I sat down with my strength and conditioning coordinator and we went over what we both thought I needed to improve on the most! That, pretty much, was overall strength. So he put together an awesome workout program that put all of that together. He split up the days for me- upper body lifts, lower body lifts, total body lifts, and agility work! I took that and went to a personal trainer back home with Advanced Fitness Solution workout facility. So between the 3 of us we put together a conglomeration of a workout program! It had me lifting 4 days a week and working on footwork twice a week. Sundays are always left to myself. The one day off is needed.


Describe your efforts to keep your hitting or fielding from getting rusty during the down time.

The offseason just isn't a time from keeping fielding and hitting from getting rusty..This is the time where you improve your skills so, when you come into spring training, you are ready to roll! I have been very blessed with hitting facilities. When I was in (my home state of) Washington, I had a facility not 2 minutes from my house, that I had full access to. I am living in West Virginia right now and I made a connection with Extra Innings hitting facility, who has been more than welcoming to me, letting me come and hit when I need to get my work in. Being in cold environments it is a lot tougher to work on fielding. You have to get creative in batting cages to work on glove work and footwork. But besides that, I don't normally get to step foot on a field till spring training! It's necessary to get to spring training a few days early just for that reason.


What other types of training routines have you been implementing to be ready for spring training?

I am doing everything in my power to get ready for spring training. I never want to look back and say, "If I would have worked that much harder", or,"If I would have done this or that, I would have been ready." Nope, I never want to have that question, so I am doing everything I can to be ready! I am feeling good, I feel I am ready.


Are there any new addictions for you this offseason (food, TV, online, otherwise)?

I got the iPhone! It has changed my life, all in the good! It is unreal, a computer in my pocket, loving it! Haha. And I just got the new mac book, but I haven't really got to use it to its full potential yet! So, basically I just don't know what to do with all this technology!


You are expected to play with high A level Clearwater this coming season. What do you look forward to most in Florida after playing the past two seasons in New Jersey with Lakewood?

Every step you take along this journey is exciting! I am excited to move up the ladder. Lakewood, the fans there, the staff, the ball park, they gave me so much, including a ring that I cant wait to get in spring training. However, I am very excited to move on and up in my career. I am excited not to have the travel we had in the South Atlantic League. The park is beautiful. I am excited to get in a new routine there. The past year I was in the same routine, so it will be nice to find a new routine, in a new area, and a new park!


How do you feel about the news that your manager with Lakewood last season, Dusty Wathan, will be managing in Clearwater next season?

I am very excited to have Dusty managing again! He is what some call a player's coach. He demands a lot but, in the same sense, you want to play for him. He is fun to play for.


When the news of the Roy Halladay trade hit and "the other Travis" (Mattair's 2009 BlueClaws teammate Travis D'Arnaud) was dealt to the Toronto system, what was your reaction?

Crazy! It makes you realize that our job is still a business! I am most likely going to be playing Travis this upcoming season, and he is so smart that he knows the ins and outs of our swings and approach. So he will have that going for him, when we go up against him. When the trade was in the process of happening, we sent texts back and forth. I just told him good luck and can't wait to see him in spring training. He is a stud he will do awesome no matter where he is. That aside, Ruben Amaro Jr. and the staff continue to do an awesome job for OUR club getting what we need to make yet another run for the World Series next year!


What has been your favorite movie that you've seen this offseason?

I really liked the Blind Side! A feel good movie, great story!


With NFL playoffs in motion, which teams are your picks to make it to the Super Bowl?

The Seattle Seahawks are going to win it! Okay, I know they aren't in it, but they're my team. Not a great season out of them! Ha. I want to see the Vikings and the Saints go far.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lidge Has Third Surgery of Offseason

The Phillies have announced that Brad Lidge had arthroscopic (right) knee surgery on Wednesday. It is his third procedure this offseason. In early November Lidge had bone fragments removed from his throwing elbow and had a tendon repaired in his hip.

Head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan told the media that Lidge is expected to begin a throwing program in about 10 days. Lidge spent time on the disabled list last season due to issues with this same knee. It is possible that he could miss opening day, but Sheridan did not think it would push Lidge back very far.

Other writers and phans are all about reminding others that Lidge was not ready for opening day in 2008, but went on to be perfect in 48 save opportunites. Perhaps this is a sign of great things to come. Hopefully...


Here are a few links to complete your Phillies news today...

Spring training tickets went on sale today. You can purchase them at this link.

Bill Baer over at CrashburnAlley has details on why he'll be rooting for Brett Myers the Astro. Click here to check that out.

The Fightins had a more mature take on Brett Myers' assertion that he hopes to stick it to the Phillies than I had. Check that out here.

The guys at We Should Be GM's have a fresh video presentation on the newest hero from Sweden...Chase Utley. Here is the link for that.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Myers Promises to 'Stick It' to the Phillies


Brett Myers finalized his 1-year/$5.1 million contract with the Houston Astros on Tuesday. Myers made clear his desire to return to the Phillies, the team that chose him as a first round draft pick in 1999. However, the Phillies did not make any effort to re-sign Myers, thus he had to seek other options.

Myers told the media, "I wanted to go back to Philadelphia, but they didn't show an interest, they had other obligations, which is fine with me." He then asserted that he planned to "stick it" to the Phillies whenever he gets an opportunity.

This new rivalry could be quite interesting for the upcoming season. I can't remember the last homegrown player who promised revenge on the Phillies for letting him go. Perhaps it has never happened. Usually when opposing players pledge their desire to beat the Phillies they are guys like Scott Olson or Carlos Beltran, who play for a division rival. The Astros visit Philadelphia in August...Monday the 23rd through Thursday the 26th. The Phillies visit Houston plenty sooner than that, however. The Phils and Stros will face off in the opening week of the season...Friday, April 9th- Sunday, April 11th.

The Astros were long-rumored to be interested in Myers. Houston's general manager Ed Wade, who was once the Phillies' GM, has added another former Phillie to his organization. Wade has displayed obvious familiarity and interest in Philadelphia players, with his latest team. Among the former Phillies in the Houston system are Mike Bourn, Jason Michaels, Pedro Feliz and Yorman Bazardo. Two more former Phils, Chris Coste and Geoff Geary, have played there over the past year also. Oh, and let's not forget Houston's manager, former Phillies first base coach Brad Mills.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

McGwire Stays Phony, Despite Admitting Drug Use

Mark McGwire made an effort to publicly come clean today, admitting to the world that he took performance enhancing drugs during his playing career. Steroids and human growth hormones were among the drugs that McGwire admitted to using.

MLB Network featured a one on one interview with Bob Costas and McGwire on Monday evening. The broadcast was virtually garbage, thanks to McGwire.

Ahead is a list of quotes from McGwire's interview.


McGwire repeatedly stated his point of view that there were no dishonorable intentions involved when taking steroids, and that he was merely using them as a means to recover from varying ailments. When asked if he felt like he cheated...

"As I look back now...I can see how people would say that. As far as the talent goes and the hand-eye coordination, the ability, the genetics I was given...I don't see it."

"I did not take this for any strength purposes."

Denial. Read on for similar B.S.


He whined about the abuse he's taken at the hands of public opinion, as though the opinion was unjust...

"I've been taking hits for five years. I doesn't feel very good."

"I think a lot of people assumed (that I took steroids). That's what I've been living with."

Boo-hoo. Mark McGwire used steroids and fans & members of the media have been saying that Mark McGwire used steroids. That's crazy!


Costas asked, considering the excuse McGwire gave about using the drugs to recover from injuries, if McGwire inadvertently gained advantages and became a better power hitter by taking steroids and HGH...

"I always had bat speed. I just learned how to shorten my bat speed...a pill or an injection can not hit a baseball."

Well, that's true. Drugs can't swing a bat...but drug users whose performances were enhanced by drugs surely can.


When asked about illegal substances possibly being an "open secret" among baseball players in the 1990's, after saying that guys at gyms he'd use during the offseason talked about it...

"I can't remember any conversations about the subject in any of my club houses. If I ever did, which I don't remember, I walked the other way."

He doesn't remember any discussions in baseball locker rooms, but he remembers walking away. Smooth.


On if he views his efforts and achievements as completely authentic...

"Authentic in what way?"

Costas clarified- completely legitimate...

"Unfortunately, I decided to take steroids, because of injuries, but (guiltiest pause ever) when I look at my hand-eye coordination, what God gave me and my ability, I have to think so."

I think McGwire dropped the genetics/hand-eye coordination/gifts from God stuff three times during the interview. It's sad to watch a man lie to himself.


Each time Costas asked about any other player, relating to illegal substances, McGwire would refuse to provide a real answer.

"I can't talk about anyone else. It was the era we played in. I wish I never played in the era. I wish we had drug testing."

He blames the era and wishes there had been rules against illegal drugs. Oh, I guess those rules like THE LAW don't really matter.


Costas stated that some members of Roger Maris' family have told Costas that, since Bonds and McGwire are outed steroids users, that the family considers Maris' 61 homers in 1961 to be the true single season HR record in MLB. On that subject...

"They have every right to. It's unfortunate that I played in the era. I wish whole-heartedly there was testing in this time."

Ahh, blaming the era some more, which is blaming the sport. It seems like that's what all these cheaters do.


McGwire doesn't grasp the reality of taking illegal drugs and cheating the game of baseball for years. During the interview, he steadily acted as though it was virtually a one-time event. When asked what he would tell players, in his new role as Cardinals hitting coach, if they asked him about steroids...

"It was the stupidest thing I ever did. There's no reason to go down that road. And look at what I have to do. I'm sitting here, by a stupid mistake."

Yeah, just A mistake that he did time and time and time again for YEARS.


The entire hour on MLB Network was awful. McGwire knows the bad rap that "the steroid era" has, says it's okay for the Maris family to think his achievements weren't real, hid this secret for over ten years, but won't say using the drugs was cheating or admit that the drugs could have possibly enhanced his power numbers. Coming clean with the drugs, but then denying their effects is a waste. McGwire can lie to himself, but this is like Donald Trump trying to deny that his wealth has something to do with his ability to get with models who are 20-30 years younger than he is. McGwire didn't come clean. He simply told half-truths.


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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 45

George Chalmers was a pitcher with the Phillies from 1910-1916. Chalmers, born in Scotland, joined the Phillies late in 1910 after winning 25 games for Scranton. He made three starts in the last month of the season, including a 6-1 win over the Giants to earn his first Major League victory.

In 1911, Chalmers shut out Brooklyn in his first start. His season stayed solid through much of the summer, when he blanked the Cardinals 2-0 and then shut down the Giants three weeks later by a score of 2-0 also. Things cooled down for Chalmers after that as he won only 2 more starts, finishing the season with a 13-10 record. His season ERA was 3.11. One big plus for Chalmers was that he threw over 200 innings, but he walked as many as he struck out. This was a negative aspect of his game that would stick with him throughout his career.

After making 22 starts in 1911, Chalmers would make just 23 starts over the following 3 seasons combined. The dramatic drop in innings led to an increase in losses and ERA. In 1913, Chalmers appeared in 26 games, and his stats were far off from his performances of two years prior. His record that year was 3-10 and his ERA was 4.81.

The following season, Chalmers found himself back in the minors, trying to straighten out his game. He appeared in just 3 games for the Phillies that year and he managed to lose all 3 outings.

The time spent sorting things out in the minors proved successful, as he helped the Phillies reach the 1915 World Series with a career low ERA of 2.48 in 26 games. He pitched considerably better that year than his 8-9 record might indicate. He started game 4 of the World Series against the Red Sox, striking out 6 batters, but he lost the game 2-1. That loss put the Phillies in a 3-1 hole in the Series that they eventually lost in 5.

1916 would be Chalmers last season in the Majors as his 1-4 record over 12 games got him released.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

A Tip of the Cap to Scott Eyre


Scott Eyre has decided to call it a career...for now. Don't rule out a return, but, right now, Eyre is retired.

Originally drafted in the 9th round by the Rangers in 1991, Eyre became the Phillies lefty specialist out of the bullpen in 2009, while another left handed reliever, JC Romero, was serving a suspension for banned substances. Acquired in 2008, prior to the trading deadline for minor league pitcher Brian Schlitter, Eyre helped complete a top level bullpen that would play a major role in the Phillies' World Series title.

In 61 games as a Phillie, Eyre had a 5-1 record with a 1.62 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP.

PhoulBallz.com simply wishes to offer a tip of the proverbial cap to Scott Eyre for his time spent with, and his excellent efforts for, the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Phillies Announce 13 Non-roster Spring Invitees

A bit of early spring training news landed in the laps of phans everywhere this afternoon when the Phillies announced the names of 13 non-roster invitees to this year's spring training in Clearwater, Florida.

Some of the players' names should be familiar to regular PhoulBallz.com readers. Top prospect OF Domonic Brown, relief pitcher BJ Rosenberg and starting pitcher Joe Savery lead the list of prospects invited to train with the big club this spring. Also invited are two of the players that the Phillies acquired in the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle, Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies.

BJ Rosenberg

Also invited were 20-year-old infield prospect Freddy Galvis, 26-year-old infielder Ozzie Chavez, catchers Tuffy Gosewich, John Suomi, Dane Sardinha and Kevin Nelson, right handed pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, who GM Ruben Amaro stated has a shot at the 5th starter spot, and right handed reliever Ehren Wasserman.

The obvious catching depth is simply so the Phillies have enough guys who squat in Clearwater to catch the countless bullpen sessions for the many pitchers who arrive to spring training early, and then later to fill out the minor league roster spots at triple A Lehigh Valley and double A Reading. None of them really stand a chance to make the big club unless it's as a backup if Carlos Ruiz or Brian Schneider are unable to play. Galvis is looked at as a "real deal" prospect and should be a guy to watch as he works his way to the Majors. Chavez, unfortunately, is a role playing, multi-positional infielder who could possibly take the role of Carlos Leon in the Phils' minor league system as the veteran guy who teaches the younger players and helps the coaches translate English-Spanish, when necessary. Chavez stands no shot at making the Major League roster. Wasserman, a 29-year-old career minor league pitcher is another guy who is there to compete, but has slim chances to be a big leaguer out of spring training.

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A Call to the Hall Deserved By More (Not Who You Think)

On Tuesday, it was announced that long-time Expos and Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson was voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Dawson will be inducted on July 25th, in Cooperstown, NY, along with former Major League manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey, who were both elected by the Veterans Committee in December.

The statistic that most people in the media are tossing out there, as pertaining to Dawson, is that he is one of three players in the history of MLB to hit at least 400 homeruns and steal at least 300 bases. The other two men are Barry Bonds and Willie Mays. That is obviously a very exclusive club and Dawson is quite deserving. In his 21-year career, Dawson hit 438 homers, drove in 1591 runs and had 2774 hits.

Not to take anything away from those who ARE being honored this year, but I feel as though it's time to honor someone who has been deserving for a long time. If you aren't familiar with Buck O'Neil, you should be. O'Neil was a long time negro leagues player...a good one not a great one...who managed in the same league, then later became the first black coach in Major League history. Keeping in mind that the negro league clubs played closer to a few dozen games each summer, as opposed the 150+ games that ML fans might be used to, O'Neil's career stats were respectable. He collected 355 hits in 362 career games, batting .288 in 12 seasons. O'Neil missed two seasons and part of a third serving in the US Navy in the 1940's.

Playing career and coaching landmarks aside, Buck's efforts to promote baseball, pass down the history of the game (especially the negro leagues) and keep the spirit of baseball alive should be what make him a baseball immortal. O'Neil was instrumental in the design of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. O'Neil was featured prominently in Ken Burns' documentary Baseball as the key story teller for many aspects of the negro leagues and early black ballplayers. O'Neil served as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame veterans committee, before he passed away in 2006...the same committee that never elected him.

Surely, based on his playing and coaching numbers O'Neil wasn't elite. But he was surely among the top tier of men who have enhanced the sport off of the field. The Ford C. Frick Award is given annually to a broadcaster for "major contributions to baseball". If broadcasters who never played professional baseball can be honored and umpires are inducted as well, why not have a liaison or ambassador award for other individuals who have offered great contributions to the sport that we love?

Such an award could be given to a man like Ken Burns who, through his films, has documented history and elevated a lasting spirit of baseball like no one else. Or it could be given to iconic figures like Abbott & Costello, who, through comedy, have increased the adoration and appeal of the sport for many generations.

There are simply more people deserving of having their legacies commended by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. There are ways to make it happen as their board of directors can do whatever they like. How about an annual honor called The Buck O'Neil Impact Award?

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Andre Dawson will be signing autographs at the Lakewood BlueClaws game on July 1st. Check out the BlueClaws Blog here.

Randy Johnson, a future Hall of Famer, announced his official retirement this week. The blog known as More Hardball features a Tale of the tape match up between two lefties- Johnson and Phillies' great Steve Carlton. Click this link to check that out.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Baez Introduced as a Phillie, Pitching Staff Not Full

Right-hander Danys Baez is officially a member of the National League champion Phillies today, as he was introduced to the media, and the public, at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Baez's deal is for 2 years, $5.25 million. The contract pays Baez $2.5 million in 2010 and $2.75 million in 2011, and he is said to have opportunities to earn performance based incentive bonuses.

Baez is expected to be used in a set up role out of the bullpen, but could easily slide into closer duties if Brad Lidge struggles again or has a delay in recovering from offseason elbow surgery.

In 2009 with Baltimore, Baez was 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 59 games. In his career against the other 4 NL East team, Baez has a 2-1 record with a 2.90 ERA in 27 games.

In other team news, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. stated that the Phillies are likely finished negotiating with lefty reliever Scott Eyre. Eyre reportedly had been offered a minor league and did not accept. That leaves the Phillies a left hander short. With young lefties like Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona and Mike Zagurski as options, the Phillies may not be as hard pressed as some critics may believe they are.

On the subject of the starting rotation, Amaro Jr. admitted to being interested in possibly acquiring one additional starting pitching option. With Jamie Moyer expected to undergo another procedure (right knee) this coming Monday, his status for opening day continues to be in doubt. Amaro stated he had spoken with the agents for Ben Sheets, Chien-Ming Wang as well as Brett Myers. Also still in contact with the Phillies is Pedro Martinez. Pedro is probably more likely to return than Brett is.

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