Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 52

William "Bucky" Walters was a third baseman who converted to a pitcher, when he played for the Phillies from 1934 to 1938. A native of Philadelphia, Walters played for both the Boston Braves and the Boston Red Sox before his contract was purchased by the Phillies in June 1934.

Phils manager Jimmie Wilson was so impressed with Wilson's strong arm that he began trying to convince Walters that because of his limited hitting abilities, his future in baseball was on the mound. Early on, Walters struggled with his control, but would soon show flashes of things to come.

In 1935, Walters started 22 games for the Phillies and posted a 9-9 record with a 4.17 ERA. His performance in the following season was a step backward, as he led the NL in losses that year. He started 33 games in 1936 and posted a record of 11-21 with a 4.26 ERA. He did, however, throw 4 shut outs. In 1937, more frustration set in as Walters could not win back to back games all season and finished with a 14-15 record with an annually rising 4.75 ERA.

Walters' conversion to a pitcher would solidify him as a star in the National League, as his greatest success came after he left Philadelphia. By mid-1938, the Phillies had seen enough of Walters and began to explore options to trade him. The Reds offered pitcher Al Hollingsworth, catcher Spud Davis and $50,000...the Phillies, in need of cash, accepted. Walters was reunited with his old manager Jimmie Wilson, who was then a coach with the Reds. The trade proved poor and Walters joined Eppa Rixey as a Phils pitcher who would be traded to Cincinnati, rejoin a previous manager, and then have his career take off to new heights.

Wilson really helped Walters regain his confidence and turned things around. In 1939, Walters won 27 games and posted a 2.29 ERA, lowest in the league. He was an all-star and the National League Most Valuable Player. In 1940, Walters had a 22-10 record with a 2.48 ERA, again lowest in the NL. He finished 3rd in MVP voting that year, but the Reds won the World Series. In the 1940 Series, Walters won and completed his 2 starts, allowing just 3 earned runs in 18 innings pitched. Also, with Cincinnati, Bucky was a 5-time all-star and threw 195 complete games over 11 seasons.

To make matters worse, Hollingsworth and Davis would both no longer be Phillies following the 1939 season locking the deal in as on of the very worst trades in Phillies history.

Following his playing days, Bucky Walters coached with the Braves and Giants. He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1958.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Burrell is Untucked and Lee Has No Balls...

Welcome to PhoulBallz...a place to enjoy random spring training photographs of former and returning Phils, courtesy of the Associated Press and Getty Images.

"Pat Burrell, why you wear your clothes like dat?"
"For easy access, baby."

New Seattle starter Cliff Lee continued work, on Friday, to rehabilitate his surgically repaired foot. He is seen here pretending to throw off the mound, without a ball.

Here is a shot of Billy Wagner rocking Braves gear. Billy Wagz is about the only thing in baseball that might annoy phans more than being reminded that Cliff Lee is gone, so I thought I'd toss him in the mix to take your minds off of Clifton.

And our last image out of spring training this week, shows that not everyone is all that impressed by and excited about Jayson Werth's beard, as Placido Polanco grew quite tired of all its attention on photo day.
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Friday, February 26, 2010

MachoBallz: Wall of Fame Phan Voting is Underway

The following is a guest post direct from Kevin of Macho Row. PhoulBallz.com's own Jay Ballz is posting on the same topic over on Kevin's site, Macho Row. Check that out as well and stick around for all other solid content that his site offers.


The Phillies unveiled their list of nominees for the Wall of Fame recently and are asking the fans for their input once again. The ballot will be available to fans until 5pm on March 23 so take the time to research the three players you will vote for and help determine which face in Phillies history will join the likes of Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn, Chuck Klein and Harry Kalas, who was posthumously inducted last season.

Today I am pleased to announce to you the three players I will be voting for and why here on PhoulBallz.com. If you are looking for Jay Ballz 's thoughts, then be sure to check out his guest post on Macho Row. When you get through reading what we have to say go ahead and cast your vote for the Wall of Fame on the Phillies web site. A fan vote will narrow the list of 12 names down to five and a special committee within the franchise will cast the final votes to determine the next Wall of Fame member. Fans may vote for three players and the votes are given a point total determined by your rank. First place votes will receive five votes, a second place vote gets three points and a third place vote gets one point.

Here are the three players I am voting for and why I place them where I do. Feel free to comment below with who you will vote for and why.

1. Darren Daulton, catcher
Forget the later days when Daulton was used in out field, because when we think of "Dutch" we think of his play behind home plate. Perhaps the best catcher in franchise history, Daulton set season records at the position for most walks (117 in 1993), most RBI (109 in 1992), doubles (35 in 1993), most putouts (981 in 1993) and double plays (19 in 1993). Daulton was selected to the All-Star team three times and was voted in as a starter in 1993 and was voted by the fans to be the starting catcher of the All-Vet team in 2003.

Put aside the numbers though, and you have the true leader of the 1993 team that unbelievably reached the World Series. Not only did Daulton lead the way at the plate but he was a one of the clubhouse leaders and he handled the pitching staff well. If the purpose of the Wall of Fame is to honor the best players on some of the best teams, then Daulton should be the first member of the wacky bunch of throwbacks to be honored on the Wall.

2. Jim Konstanty, right handed pitcher
Konstanty may be the last member of the Whiz Kids of 1950 that remains worthy enough to be placed on the Wall of Fame. The fact that he is not already on the list is a tad fascinating as he still owns franchise records for most wins by a relief pitcher in a season with 16 in 1950. During the 1950 season Konstanty became the first relief pitcher to win the National League MVP award. His club record of 74 appearances in 1950 was a franchise record until 1987 and he is the fourth in the franchise's win total among relief pitchers and in the top five for games finished and innings pitched by a reliever.

As Jay Ballz points out in his post on Macho Row, Schmidt and Klein are the only other Phillies to have won the NL MVP award (aside from Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard who are each active) and they are on the Wall of Fame. I believe that Rollins is a shoe-in for the Wall of Fame some day and Howard, if he sticks around, is a lock as well, so having Konstanty on the wall would ensure each Phillies player to win NL MVP would be honored.

3. John Kruk, First Base
I debated hard and long on whether or not to give my third and final vote to John Kruk or Lenny Dykstra. As much as we all loved Dykstra's on-field attitude and his MVP-type season in 1993, there is perhaps no player from the 1993 team who is as loved by the fans as Kruk. But Kruk not only left a spot in our hearts when his time as a Phillie came to an end. He also etched his name in Phillies history.

Like Daulton at catcher, Kruk was voted to be the starting first baseman for the All-Vet team in 2003. He was a three time All-Star, and was a part of one of the most famous all-star moments against Randy Johnson. But he also hit over .300 four times as a Phillie and his .323 average in 1992 was the third highest in the National League. Who could forget his .348 average in the 1993 World Series?

You can vote for whoever you want, of course, as there are some good candidates to be reviewed. Von Hayes and Lenny Dykstra are sure to receive some votes but failed to crack my top three. Be sure to see what Jay has to say on Macho Row today and check out the entire ballot before casting your vote!

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Drug Test Expansion Leading to Strike?

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced an upcoming initiative to test players in its minor leagues for human growth hormone this coming season. In a released statement, MLB declared, "We are consulting with our experts concerning immediate steps for our minor league drug program and the next steps for our Major League program."

Random urine testing for banned substances began in 2001 in baseball's minor leagues, but blood testing is required to detect the HGH. And while MLB can institute new blood testing for players in the minor leagues, it would need to reach an agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association to start blood testing for unionized players on the 40-man big league rosters.

Looking forward, could this be cause for another baseball strike? Possibly. The HGH testing should be implemented. Ball players are aware of the banned drugs that are detected by the existing urine tests, and there are still players who get suspended for positive tests. Imagine how many players would currently be positive for drugs that are not tested for. I'm sure this is something that MLB realizes, and knows there is a need for expansive testing, and, as such, will push this issue. If players deem the blood testing too draining, or too invasive, or even potentially too harmful to their careers (for whatever reason), then baseball fans could see a firm opposition from the Players Association.

Previously, the Players Association has stated that it would be willing to consider annual changes to its current drug agreement with MLB, which runs through the 2011 season. But what happens after that? Depending on how much the two sides butt heads, 2012 could see another baseball strike.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spring Training Q&A with Travis D'Arnaud

The combination of blockbuster moves that landed Roy Halladay for the Phillies, in December, included a trio of players being sent from the Phils' minor league teams to Toronto. That trio was top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, 5-tool outfielder Michael Taylor (who was promptly dealt to Oakland for third baseman Brett Wallace) and...who was that other guy? Well, regular PhoulBallz readers are plenty familiar with that other guy, Travis D'Arnaud. Travis was a big part of the Lakewood BlueClaws team that won the South Atlantic League title in 2009. He was also regarded highly enough to be invited to big league camp with the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida. I recently spoke with Travis about his off-season, his new team and other topics. Continue downward, and read all about it!


Travis, how did the big trade effect your off-season?

The trade only effected my off-season by having me travel to Florida for a physical at a moment's notice. I got a call the day after all of the trade talks were being thrown around and they asked me to come to Florida so they could finalize the trade after I had a physical and MRI. Other than that my off-season still consisted of working out, playing baseball, and enjoying my time with my family and friends. Off-season for me is a way for me to fall in love with baseball more and more as each year goes. It's because I don't get to play baseball for a few months and it drives me crazy. So, my off-season this year was similar to the past two off-seasons I have had.


What is your impression of the Toronto organization thus far and what differences, if any, have you noticed between there and the Phillies' system?

The Toronto Blue Jays, just as the Phillies system, is a class organization. They really emphasize working on your game and getting stronger. Getting stronger leads to hitting the baseball further and even throwing a baseball harder as long as you do the correct workouts. Everyone has also been very friendly to Kyle (Drabek), Brett (Wallace) and me. The only real differences I have noticed are the faces at the field everyday. Everyone is new, so I get to enjoy chatting with them and we introduce each other. Other than that, it's still going on the field everyday and doing what I love.


Describe some of the work you did this off-season to help yourself improve.

In the 2009-2010 off-season, I really made sure I was in the best shape of my life. My past two spring trainings I wasn't at my peak physical condition, so I made sure to workout really hard this off-season. I worked out in the weight room everyday and went to the field to hit everyday. On the other hand, I took a month or so off of throwing to let my arm rest and get ready for the 6 month season. This is the first spring training I feel ready for April and feel like I can still be in shape when October comes around and when the games really count.


Did you look forward to this spring training any differently than previous seasons?

I was really looking forward to this spring training because it is my first one in big league camp. Every other year prior to this year I have been in minor league spring training. Being in big league camp gives me the same instruction the big leaguers get. Also, being around them gives me an opportunity to ask questions and get a better feel for the game. Also, it lets me see how big leaguers go about their business. They all have a certain routine they stick to and it gets them game ready.


With the access to new teammates and coaches, on a completely new club, is there anyone specifically you are looking forward to learning from down there?

I am definitely looking forward to talking with John Buck and Jose Molina. They are two veteran catchers who are really experienced and know how to handle a pitching staff. I'll be asking a lot of questions about the little details in baseball. Also, I'm excited to learn from any big league coach as well. They know a lot about the game and I have so many questions.


As your career rolls on, who will you hold in the highest regard from the Phils' system for having helped you the most and why?

Mike Compton and Dusty Wathan are definitely the coaches who have helped me with my catching and knowledge of the game. All of Compton's drills speed up my brain so, when the game comes around, it slows everything down. He also has made sure I have a great work ethic and take command of the pitching staff. Dusty was my coach for two seasons. He helped me as far as game calling and handling a pitching staff as well. He also made sure I was always loud on the field and made sure I was a leader. Without these two coaches, my skills wouldn't be as fine tuned as they are now.


I talked to the other Travis, "Moose" Mattair, and he is excited at the possibility of playing against you this coming season. Do you think there are any tendencies of former teammates that you are familiar with that you could use to your, and your pitchers', advantages? Vice versa...?

Moose is one of my close friends I have made since I was drafted in 2007. We both were in the GCL together and ever since then we've pretty much clicked. We get along so well and it also helps that both of our names are Travis. I would be so excited to play against the Clearwater team. As far as tendencies go, I'm pretty sure that my old teammates will know that I know their tendencies so they will be sure to change them. When Jason Knapp was traded last year, the BlueClaws played against his team and we knew he told them our tendencies. So we changed everything up, so the other team was confused.


You recently celebrated a landmark birthday on February 10th. Any details to share about that?

My 21st birthday was a very excited moment. I was in Dunedin, working out prior to my birthday. The day before the big day, I flew home to celebrate with my family and friends. Then, I said goodbye to all of my friends and family and came back to Florida to get ready for Spring Training.


What would you most like to get out of your 2010 season?

Out of my 2010 season I would like to continue my success I've had so far in professional ball. I would like to win another league title, like we did with the BlueClaws. It's very rare to win a professional ring and I would like to get as many as I can. I am very competitive and am hoping to win a bunch of games this year.


Lastly, what is your fondest memory of your time spent in the Phillies organization?

My fondest memory with the Phillies was my first day walking in the clubhouse. Two of my close friends were the first to come up to me and welcome me. At first I didn't know either of them, except from reports on the draft. One of them was a guy from Oxnard, California. I have been to pre-workouts with him prior to the 2007 draft. The first day I met him he was wearing a shirt that said "Bucs" on it, so that is how I knew him. His name is Justin De Fratus. The other was a huge 18 year old who I only have heard about his stellar defense and really deep voice. When he came up to me with a huge smile, he introduced himself as "Moose Mattair." These two guys made my first day feel like home and made it easy for me to transition from being in high school one day to living on my own the next.

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Click here for previous content featuring Travis D'Arnaud.

I will be back on the weekly radio spot starting today, with Fox Sports 1310 AM and WOBM AM 1160. Tune into The Shore Sports Report from 3-6pm on the air near the shore or via live web stream! I should be on the show around 4:20pm today.

Tons more exclusive PhoulBallz.com interviews, with the likes of JC Romero, Pedro Martinez, Greg Dobbs, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, Clay Condrey, Domonic Brown, Mike Zagurski and tons of other players, can be found by clicking RIGHT HERE!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rotation Altercation

Have a look over these following descriptions of two pitching rotations and see which is preferable.

Option A-
#1 starter- 25-year-old lefty who is fresh off one of the best postseason runs in baseball history and won the MVP award for both the League Championship Series and the World Series.
#2 starter- 7 year veteran former top draft pick, with 3 winning seasons as a starter and a 21 save season as a reliever.
#3 starter- A 28-year-old 5 year veteran right-hander with a career .525 winning percentage and a 4.24 ERA.
#4 starter- A veteran 46-year-old who should win his 250th game during the season and just signed a 2 year contract.
#5 starter- A 35-year-old journeyman who hasn't seen success as a starter in any of his previous six seasons.

Option B-
#1 starter- 6 time all-star, Cy Young Award winner, 11 year veteran regarded as one of the top pitchers in the sport with a career win percentage over .660.
#2 starter- 26-year-old lefty pitcher who is one year removed from being the defending NLCS MVP and the World Series MVP.
#3 starter- A 29-year-old 6 year veteran right-hander with a career .538 win percentage, and a 4.21 ERA.
#4 starter- A young lefty defending runner up to the NL Rookie of the Year Award who threw 3 complete games and had a 2.93 ERA in the previous season.
#5 starter- (One of two...) Veteran 47-year-old lefty recovering from off-season surgery with 250+ career wins OR a 25-year-old righty with 24 career Major League wins.

It seems as though the preferred choice would be option B, and that is good, because that is the option that represents the Phillies' 2010 pitching rotation. Option A, of course, represents the Phillies' rotation from the start of 2009.


With so much regret and second guessing surrounding the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle, there's a considerable amount of underappreciation going on regarding the Phillies' existing pitching starters.

While the current group of starting pitchers could have been better than it is, the starting 5 is still better than it was. Buhlee' dat!

Roy Halladay is an upgrade over Cole Hamels in the #1 spot. Cole Hamels is certainly an improvement over Myers in 2nd spot. Joe Blanton holds onto the #3 spot and could be better, and definitely should not be any worse after improving his career statistics just a tad last season. As for the 4th starter, who would argue that the confidence level with "Jay" Happ filling that role is far greater this time around when reflecting on Jamie Moyer in that spot last year?

With the 5th starter spot seemingly up for grabs, like it was last year at this time, Kyle Kendrick should be a better option than Chan Ho Park. If Jamie Moyer is healthy and is named the 5th starter, many phans would feel more comfortable calling a 250 game winner, with something (that he's healthy or that he deserves the big salary he will earn this season) to prove, a step up from Chan Ho Park in that role.

It's not wrong to ponder what could have been for the Phillies. However, it is wrong to ignore what the team has...and that's a strong, improved rotation that will lead them back to the postseason.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Linkin Blogs 2/22

There's plenty going on in the early going this week with the Phillies down in Clearwater, Florida. Here's a tour of the Phils bloggerhood and links to stuff you shouldn't miss.


MLB.com's Todd Zolecki set the internet, around the Philly region, on fire this morning with an image sent out over Twitter featuring Jayson Werth's tremendous beard. Zolecki's Zo Zone Blog can be found at this link.

*UPDATE*- Matt Gelb contributes to the Inquirer's Phillies Zone blog. He's nice enough to bring us another shot of Jay-Dubya's beard! More from Gelb & the Phillies Zone here.


News broke this morning that Chan Ho Park has signed with the Yankees...a 1 yr, $1.2 million contract, with incentive bonuses. Crashburn Alley has all your information on how badly Park made out by waiting for that deal.

The Good Phight has an interview with Baseball Prospectus prospect guru Kevin Goldstein. Check that out here.

PhilliesFlow is talking about the Phillies' success against lefty hitters last year and who gets the credit. Click this link to read about it.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 51


Frederick Cyrus "Cy" Williams was an outfielder with the Phillies from 1918-1930. Williams was signed out of Notre Dame University by the Cubs and skipped the minor leagues, going straight to the Majors out of college. Following the 1917 season Williams was traded by the Cubs to the Phillies for Dode Paskert.

The move to the Phillies was a good one for Williams, as he spent time on Chicago's bench. After locking down a spot as the Phillies' starting centerfielder, Cy Williams excelled. His lefty swing matched up well with the short right field porch in the Phils' home park, the Baker Bowl. Manager Bill McKechnie called Williams, "the most consistent dead right-field hitter I ever saw". He was dubbed "the Babe Ruth of the National League" by some sportswriters, for his penchant for slugging homers. Williams led the NL in homeruns four times during his career. During the decade of the 20's Williams hit 202 homeruns, a huge amount at the time.

Williams' tendencies to pull the ball led to opposing defenses putting on a shift, in the field. It didn't have much of an impact as Williams batted .320 or better in 5 of 7 years from 1920-1926.

During a time when the Phillies were often among the lowest scoring teams in the NL, Williams' power was one of the only reasons for Phillies phans to go to the ballpark. In a May, 1923 game, Williams smashed 3 homers off of the Cardinals. That same month, Williams drove in 44 runs, which still stands as the team record for a single month. Also in 1923, Williams became the first Phillie to hit 30 homeruns and drive in 100 or more runs in a single season (41 homers and 114 RBI when it was all said and done that year). He did all this for a last place club that won all of 50 games.

In 1926, Williams became the first Phillie to homer in 4 straight games. In 1927, the year he turned 40, Williams hit for the cycle against Pittsburgh. Over his 13 years with Philadelphia, Williams played 1463 games, hit 217 homers, drove in 795 runs and had a .306 batting average.
Cy Williams was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1986.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Mathieson Comeback Nearly Complete


Scott Mathieson, the one time Phillies pitcher who has been recovering from elbow surgeries for over three years, is finally close to a return to the Majors. Mathieson, a 17th round selection in the 2002 amateur draft, appeared in 9 games, 8 of which were starts, for the Phillies in 2006. Late that season, Mathieson suffered an elbow tear, for which he needed Tommy John surgery. In the recovery process, he felt more arm trouble. A second Tommy John surgery was required, in addition to another arm procedure. Mathieson spent the 2009 season working his way back through the minors and is now in camp with the big club.

When I spoke to Mathieson last August, while he was pitching with the Double A level Reading Phillies, Mathieson talked about the things he learned during his rehab process- patience, mental toughness and learning how to pitch...the mechanics & finesse of things, not just throwing. Scott also improved his change up, which he now feels is one of his better pitches. All of this should prove to be advantageous for Mathieson, as he tries to complete his comeback.

Asked about Mathieson yesterday, Phils pitching coach Rich Dubee said the following, "Last year he pitched with big time velocity. But again, he's on a learning curve where I don't want to say he has to make up for lost time, but he still needs innings and needs experience. He needs to get out there and pitch on a regular basis. You can't make up for experience. You need to get on a mound and pitch, and that's what Scotty needs to do. Knock on wood, he's been healthy. Tremendous work ethic. He's had two ligament replacements."

Dubee also reaffirmed some of what Mathieson had stated, "He's in a much better position now because he understands his body a little better, understands his delivery a little better and hopefully continues to stay healthy and pitch for us."

Currently, the open spots in the Major League roster's bullpen are likely only for a lefty pitcher, or two, depending on who is, or is not, ready for opening day. So, while phans may not see Mathieson in the 'pen on opening day, they should expect to see him get a call up during the season, as inevitable injuries and roster adjustments happen.

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Props to David Murphy's High Cheese blog work.

The Spring Training Pictures U Want!

Don't hide, Roy...everyone around Philadelphia wants to see you throwing baseballs while wearing a Phillies uniform. Peek-a-boo...

...I see you!

Damn, that's hot.
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(AP Photos)


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hamels Ready After Off-season Work

There were plenty of eyes on Cole Hamels down in Clearwater, as spring training got under way with the first official team work out for pitchers and catchers on Thursday. Hamels spoke to the media after the workout session. A key bit of information that Hamels passed along was that he never stopped throwing over the off-season. He reverted to a routine he implemented during off-seasons prior to reaching the majors- 50 throws per day. Busy with the media and banquet hooplah last winter, after being the NLCS and World Series Most Valuable Player, Hamels did not make time to keep his arm in shape, leading into a disappointing 2009 season.

Hamels also spoke of how he sought advice from Cliff Lee, Steve Carlton and John Wetteland about each pitcher's cutter pitch. Hamels incorporated a cutter/slider into his repertoire late last year after having issues locating his curveball. With Cole's arm in good shape now, he should be able to spend plenty of time working out kinks in his curve this spring. His ability to use the curve effectively will likely be defining with what becomes of his cutter/slider hybrid.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee also answered questions regarding Hamels. The impact statements from Dubee seemed to be related to Hamels' attitude and how it effected his performance. Dubee attributed Hamels' frustration level with some tough 2009 performances. Dubee spoke of wishing for Hamels to watch video footage from his own outings last season, when he displayed some displeasure, and what type of trouble he ran into following the loss of composure. Dubee feels that Hamels could learn a lot from that.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Let's Get it Started!

As you all know, today is the mandatory report date for Phillies pichers and catchers, and as such it's the official first day of spring training. Ahhh, it's like a holiday, but who wants to wait? Let's get the season started. The ballpark looks ready, doesn't it?




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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As Spring Begins, So Will the Questions

Going into spring training, the Phillies have plenty going for them. Back to back World Series appearances, three straight division titles, an outfield full of all stars, a former Cy Young Award winner at the top of the pitching rotation, a former World Series MVP also in the rotation, three different Gold Glove award winners in the field and two different National League MVP award winners. Even with all that, the team still has some questions. Ahead, PhoulBallz will review some topics that phans and team pholks might be concerned with going into the pre-season.

"Who will the Phillies' 5th starter be?" Firstly, even though team General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has publicly stated that the last spot in the starting rotation belongs to Jamie Moyer until he loses it, many folks around baseball are still wondering about the rotation. Moyer is recovering from off-season surgeries and runs a risk of not being ready to go by opening day. Kyle Kendrick is the likely option to fill any voids left in the rotation due to injury. In 9 outings with the Phillies last year (2 of which were starts), Kendrick earned 3 wins and had a 3.42 ERA. Antonio Bastardo could be another option to step in and start for the Phils, as Bastardo started 5 games for the team last year, even though he appeared exclusively in relief during time spent playing winter ball in the Dominican league.

Unfortunately, the doubt at the back end of the rotation could have a heavy impact on the top spot in the rotation. The typically annual point that the team won't need their 5th starter until multiple weeks into the season, because of the way early April days off are scheduled, may not apply with Colbert Hamels as the 2nd guy in the team's rotation (figuring that Roy Halladay is #1). The Phillies open the season in Washington on Monday, April 5th with a day off the next day (as the built-in rain date for opening day). Hamels would then start Wednesday the 7th and his second turn, if the Phils were attempting to start the season with 4 starters, would come on Sunday, April 11th at Houston. That would only allow Hamels 3 days rest. Hamels has always been a creature of habit who openly discusses his desire to stick to his own routine. Hamels likes 4 days rest, and because of that, the Phillies will require their 5th starter to be ready on Sunday, April 11th, six days into the season. Can the extra six days allow enough time for Moyer to be ready? Perhaps. And if not, Kendrick or Bastardo are likely alternatives. Or, everything I've just ran through could be forgotten about if Hamels is made the opening day starter. Then, if Halladay and Joe Blanton can pitch on three days rest on their second turn, and if "Jay" Happ can handle three days rest on his third turn, then a 5th starter wouldn't be needed until Saturday, April 24th.

So, I suppose, you've heard it here first...an answer to a question that no one expected to ask. "Who will be the Phillies' opening day starter?" Jamie Moyer's status and/or the team's confidence in whoever the 5th starter might be could result in everyone's expected #1 pitcher Roy Halladay actually starting the second game of the season for the Phillies.


"How will the new relievers perform and how will each reliever's role be defined?" New relief pitcher Danys Baez has a history with Phils manager Charlie Manuel. Baez came up in the Indians' system while Manuel was the manager there. Another new addition, Jose Contreras, was facing the Phillies in the post season last year with Colorado. Those two men look to fill the spots vacated by Scott Eyre and Chan Ho Park, who were both solid contributors in relief last season. Baez, who has 114 career Major League saves, could potentially be an emergency closer, if the Phillies are faced with any Brad Lidge health setbacks or if Lidge's performances as the team's closer do not improve over what his output was in 2009. If that is not the case, Baez will probably be a middle-to-late inning reliever who is able to throw multiple innings when needed, much the way Chad Durbin does at times. Contreras could possibly do the same. With JC Romero doubtful to be ready for the start of the season, some doubt lies in who could be a lefty specialist. Mike Zagurski, Segio Escalona and Scott Mathieson are top candidates to be left handers used out of the Phillies' bullpen this year. It would be nice if everyone knew the role he'd have or the type of duties he would be responsible for, but, as many fans know, the beauty of baseball is that a six-month season never goes exactly as everyone planned anyway and, as such, there's nothing wrong with some mystery at the early stages, Agatha Christie...and don't be afraid to switch things up, RuPaul.


"Will a month of spring training be enough time for Placido Polanco to adjust to the positional switch?" Polanco a 2009 Gold Glove Award winning second baseman for the Tigers, has played plenty of games at third base in his career, but only 1 with Detroit since he left the Phillies in 2005. However, Polanco signed with the Phillies in December to be their everyday third baseman. Don't forget that one of the reasons Polanco left Philadelphia was because he didn't much wish to play third base. So, with the concern over how Polanco will transition, it should certainly not be difficult for him and I can think of 18 million reasons, that the Phillies are committed to pay Polanco, why.


"Can Brad Lidge and Cole Hamels recover from very down seasons in 2009?" Endless speculation has been surrounding these two pitchers. Lidge went from going 2-0 with 41 saves, 0 blown saves and a 1.95 ERA in '08...to going 0-8, with 31 saves, 11 blown saves and a 7.21 ERA in '09. Hamels had a 14-10 win-loss record and a 3.09 ERA in 2008, as well as a 1.80 ERA in 6 post-season outings...then had a 10-11 record with a 4.32 ERA in 2009 with a 7.58 ERA in 4 playoff games.

The experts say Hamels will snap back to the ace level talent that phans saw in the team's World Championship 2008 season, but nobody is convinced which Brad Lidge to expect. Lidge himself assures the media that he knows his body and that he feels as though his off-season medical procedures (there were 3 of them) are just what he needed to get back to what Philadelphia wants from him. Simply put, Lidge and Hamels were two of the major reasons that the Phillies won it all in 2008...and they were two of the major reasons that the Phillies came up shorter than Bud Bundy in 2009. Their '09 shortcomings are enough to know that an answer to a question about these stars will be the most telling of the season for our Phillies.

Stay tuned to spring training and the 2010 Phillies season for answers to all these questions and more. Until next time, this has been PhoulBallz, brought to you by The Shore Sports Network.


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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 50

Bill Killefer was a catcher for the Phillies from 1911-1917. Killefer's excellent defense kept him employed in the Major Leagues for over a decade. He led the league in fielding percentage four times. Killefer took over as the Phillies' everyday catcher in 1912 and quickly built a reputation for gunning down opposing baserunners. In 1913, he played 120 games and threw out 130 baserunners.

At the plate, Killefer provided minimal offensive pop. During his time with the Phillies, his batting average was .244 or lower in every season except one. In his 13 combined years in the Majors, he hit a grand total of 4 homers and drove in more than 30 runs in a season only once. To top that off, Killefer acquired the nickname "Reindeer Bill" for his lack of speed on the bases.

Part of the Phillies' 1915 pennant winning team, it was Killefer's superb handling of the Phils' pitching staff that enhanced his value. He became Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander's favorite catcher. Killefer was often credited with tutoring Alexander's development. The two players grew so tight that they were even traded together to the Cubs after the 1917 season.

1917 was, in fact, Killefer's best offensive season. In 125 games, he batted .274, drove in 31 runs and reached a single season career high with 112 hits.

With Chicago, Killefer won a second NL pennant the following season. In 1921, Killefer began pulling double duty when he was named manager of the Cubs. It was his last season as a player. He stayed on as manager of the Cubs for three more seasons. "Reindeer Bill" went on to manage the lowly St. Louis Browns in the 1930's, and would coach in the Majors after that as well.

Bill's brother Wade also played in the Majors.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Glavine Trades Uniform For Suit

Former Braves & Metropolitans pitcher Tom Glavine announced his retirement on Thursday. The first thought that popped into my head when I heard that was, "Wasn't Tom Glavine already retired?!"

Glavine, a 5-time 20 game winner with Atlanta, will work with the Braves as a special assistant to team president John Schuerholz. Glavine is expected to work with Schuerholz on baseball and business projects and he will occasionally assist team manager Bobby Cox. There are also plans for the 43-year-old Glavine to work on a weekly basis with the Atlanta broadcast team.

Many Phillies phans' favorite memory of Glavine is his final effort of the 2007 season with the Metropolitans. That was when NY collapsed in the final weeks of the season and coughed up the division title to our Phillies. On September 30th, 2007 , the final day of the season, the Phillies and Mets were tied for first place. The Mets needed a big game from a big time pitcher, but Glavine had one of his worst outings ever with the NL East division on the line. He surrendered 7 runs to the Marlins in just one-third of an inning at Shea Stadium, before the Phillies' game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park even got started. The start times of the games were 30 minutes apart, and as phans got ready to cheer their team toward a win, hoping for the Phils' first playoff berth in 14 years, they all knew it was a lock, thanks to Glavine's inadequate performance prior to the national anthem in Philadelphia.

Glavine should one day be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Players must wait a mandatory 5 years after retirement to become eligible for the Hall. If you ask me, Glavine is welcome and eligible TODAY for a place on the Phillies' Wall of Fame, just for that one game in 2007.

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Check out MoreHardball's declaration that Survivor has predicted the 2010 World Series.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

This...Is...Jeopardy (Part 6)!


For $1,000 in the category of foreign MLB players, the answer is: "The Japanese-born former AL Rookie of the Year, single season hit record holder and future Hall of Famer who trains during the off-season while wearing unnecessarily tight Zubaz style fruit-booty shorts."



Who is Ichiro Suzuki?


Correct!

Cliff Lee's new teammate seems to dress questionably while practicing, near home, in the off-season.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Ballz...

The countdown to Phillies spring training stands at just a week, but our home region is in the midst of a severe winter pounding. Avoiding cabin fever, phriends of PhoulBallz- Lexi, Arianna and Cara took to the yard and proceeded to play a little dress up with the snowman they built. This surely made me smile.

Unfortunately, I am not offering prizes to those who build PhoulBallz themed snow sculptures, but the Phillies' single A club, the Lakewood BlueClaws, definitely are doing something like that. Click this link and see about what you could do to get ready for baseball season and win some hot prizes from the South Atlantic League Champions!

Speaking of getting ready for a change of seasons, my very own little girl Moose (she's a rabbit, you see?) took to the outdoors this afternoon to check out the snow and to let the world know that baseball season can not start soon enough for her. Check out her pictures below.



What else is up on this snowy day, you ask? Well...

Scott Lauber, of The News Journal, has a sneak peek at the latest cover of the Sporting News that subscribers can expect in the next 2 days. It's their Spring Training Preview featuring the Phillies' new ace pitcher Roy Halladay on the cover. Check that out here.

Macho Row has a slide show tribute to today's birthday boy...Lenny Dykstra. Check that out by clicking this link.

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CBS Reality Competition Shows to Have Phillies Ties

Phans, with more than 3 weeks until the first televised spring training game, CBS will have your loosely related Phillies programming. Starting Thursday night, the new season of Survivor will feature Kyle Kendrick's lovely fiance Stephenie LaGrossa. Also, beginning on Sunday evening, the new season of The Amazing Race will feature former Phillies third base coach Steve Smith and his daughter.

Stephenie will proudly be rocking a Phillies cap on the 20th season of Survivor, which will feature two tribes of previous Survivor contestants, competing against each other, in a "Heroes vs. Villains" format. Previews for the premiere episode tease that there are two injuries in the very first competition, one of which is a dislocated shoulder. Sources inform me that Stephenie suffered a shoulder injury early on (possibly due to a preexisting condition) and that she is certainly one of the injured competitors. No word on how it effects her game play. You'll have to tune in to find out if Steph can make it to the end, as she did in the show's 11th season when she was runner up.

Stevie Smith and his daughter Allie will compete as a team on the 16th season of The Amazing Race. Smith was the third base coach for the 2008 World Series Championship team, but he was not brought back to help the champs defend their title. Smith was hired this off-season to coach third base for the Cleveland Indians. The Smiths will be one of 11 teams vying for the top prize of $1 million. Teams race throughout the world competing in challenges or "roadblocks". The team that finishes last in each week's leg of the race is usually eliminated. Check out the Race to see if Smith can wave home some big bucks, or if he and Allie will get thrown out at the plate, like sooo many Phillies did under his watch.

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