Wednesday, March 31, 2010

De Fratus- One of the Big Boys

In 2009, Justin De Fratus was an all-star with the A-Level Lakewood BlueClaws. He performed well all season long in varied roles and helped Lakewood win the championship of the South Atlantic League. Since then, the 11th round pick in the 2007 draft has earned recognition by being named the Phillies prospect with the best control, by Baseball America, this off-season. Today, he got to run with the big dogs.

For some time, coaches in the Phillies system have felt that Justin has what it takes to climb the ladder to pitch in the Majors. Last April, I spoke with Bob Milacki, who was then the pitching coach for Lakewood. Milacki listed De Fratus on a short list of Phillies A-Level pitchers who had what it takes to pitch at higher levels. Milcakci also reaffirmed his confidence in Justin in late July when I spoke with him about the same topic. Phils coaches this spring have liked Justin's abilities enough to have him dress with the big club on three previous occasions. His fourth opportunity was the one De Fratus had been hoping for.

With his family listening to his spring Major League debut via iPhone connection, De Fratus threw two scoreless innings against the Blue Jays. De Fratus faced nine total batters...giving up, walking a batter and striking out one.

The taste of the bigs will be brief for now, but De Fratus, who is expected to begin the season with High A-level Clearwater, will certainly be striving even harder now that he's donned a Phillies uniform on the hill. After today's game, De Fratus spoke of his experience with the big club, "It was a ton of fun. This will serve as a nice reminder of what I am working toward."

De Fratus, a California native, thought one of the highlights of his outing was facing a guy he once admired. "It was cool facing Jose Molina, because I watched him as an Angel for so many years", De Fratus said.

Here's hoping that, as a Phillie, De Fratus gets more opportunities to shut down some Major League veterans that he grew up watching.

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Lidge Receives Cortisone Shot

Phillies closer Brad Lidge experienced a set back this week, as he began experiencing soreness in his elbow. Lidge, who had multiple off-season surgeries (elbow & knee procedures) was dealing with inflammation of his elbow and was prescribed a cortisone shot to alleviate the problem.

According to team physician Michael Ciccotti, the current issue is not related to the area that was surgically repair since last season. Dealing with tendinitis, Lidge had surgery on the inner part of his right elbow. The current soreness is on the outer part of the elbow and is reportedly typical for Lidge during spring training.

Lidge's velocity in recent appearances has not topped 90 MPH, which could be attributed to the pesky soreness that he is dealing with.

Ciccotti stated that Lidge has shown no returning issues where the off-season surgeries were performed and that no MRI will be needed to examine the elbow, because there is no structural damage. Ciccotti also told reporters that the estimated target date for Lidge to be activated is still mid-April.

Don't count on having Lidge active for the Phillies by the second week of the season. The best scenario to come of this soreness and treatment could be that it pushes back Lidge's return a few days, as the Phillies will have Lidge resting the elbow this week. Worse scenarios are anything and everything else that could happen.

Two other Phillies that have been dealing with elbow issues are JC Romero and Raul Ibanez. Romero, another Phils reliever who had off-season elbow surgery, is still on target to return in the second week of the season. Romero is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game on Thursday. His velocity has progressed as expected. Ibanez, who was hit by a pitch on the elbow against the Yankees over the weekend, missed a couple days and returned to the Phils lineup Tuesday. The concern with Ibanez remains his performance at the plate. Thus far in Grapefruit League play, Ibanez is 5-for-44 (.114 batting avg. with 1 homerun). Time will tell if the National League's starting left field all-star will bounce back to 2009 form, when he batted .272 and hit 34 homers.

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Check me out on the radio talking baseball with Mike & Joe today on The Shore Sports Report around 4:05pm. You can tune in on your radio dial in New Jersey at Fox Sports 1310am and WOBM AM 1160...or check out the show each weekday on the web by clicking this link.

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Lakewood Fan to Raise Championship Banner

Have you ever wanted to play a role in the history of the Phillies organization? Now may be the time. The Lakewood BlueClaws have placed an opportunity to raise the team's 2009 South Atlantic League Championship banner up for auction. Bidding is open until April 9th and all money raised will be donated to BlueClaws Charities. The non-profit foundation of the Lakewood BlueClaws raised over $150,000 for area organizations in 2009.

When the Phillies won their World Series title in 2008 and raised their championship banner on Opening Day 2009, it was team manager Charlie Manuel who physically pulled the strings. But as the BlueClaws raise their championship banner, it will be one area BlueClaws fan who gets the honor of leading the coronation of the SAL Champs.

"This is going to be a tremendous opportunity for someone," said BlueClaws Assistant General Manager Brandon Marano, who raised the 2006 Championship Banner on Opening Day in 2007. "From personal experience, it's a little nerve-wracking and exciting, but it's truly one of my favorite memories from my nine years here."

Click HERE to bid on the auction.

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Don't forget that today is PhoulBallz Phillies Wednesday on The Shore Sports Report. You can tune in to the show on your radio dial at Fox Sports 1310am and WOBM AM 1160. The program can also be heard online at this link. I will update with a specific time when I have it.

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Moyer News is No Surprise

In "this is as surprising as Ricky Martin's sexuality" news...everyone's favorite 47-year-old surgically repaired pitcher Jamie Moyer was officially declared the Phillies' 5th starter by manager Charlie Manuel on Tuesday. Kyle Kendrick will fill a role in the bullpen. The confirmation came after weeks of most phans, reporters and folks surrounding the team knowing this decision was coming.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee spoke to the media about the decision. "We think it’s the right way to go," Dubee said. "Jamie proved that he’s healthy. That was the biggest question coming into spring training, how he’d come back from the surgeries. He’s throwing the ball well. He’s functioning well. And again, this guy has a tremendous track record of being a winning pitcher."

There's no denying Moyer's track record for winning, as he is Major League Baseball's active leader in wins with 258.

Dubee also put a positive spin on things for Kendrick, looking at it as Kyle winning a spot on the roster, not necessarily losing the starting job.

Kendrick spoke about how the switch might effect his training routine. "My workouts maybe will change a little bit," Kendrick told reporters. "But my preparation shouldn’t change. My focus shouldn’t change. Workouts will have to change because you never know when you’re going to pitch."

Even the geniuses responsible for this sign aren't surprised by the Phils' rotation news

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It's PhoulBallz Phillies Wednesday. Be sure to check me out talking baseball with Mike & Joe on The Shore Sports Report this afternoon. You can tune to the show on your radio dial at Fox Sports 1310am and WOBM AM 1160. The program can also be heard online at this link.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Werth News Taking Philly By Storm

Monday's talk was all about Jayson Werth. Tuesday's talk is all about the same guy. Yesterday, it was news that Werth had a semi-secret lunch with Yankees legend Reggie Jackson on Friday and then rumors were spreading that this was possibly some early recruiting by the World Champions from New York of Werth, who becomes a free agent after the 2010 season. Today, just as Twitter nearly exploded when Werth debuted his glorious beard this spring, it's about to implode now that Werth has removed the facial growth.

Paul Hagen's article on Monday (found here on Philly.com), connected the dots and pointed out the connections that Jackson has to Werth's family. Hagen explained that Jackson was a teammate of Werth's stepfather, Dennis, from 1979 through 1981 on the Yankees. Also, Werth's mother, Kim, is the sister of Dick Schofield, who played with Jackson from 1983 to 1986 on the Angels.

The New York Post, who originally reported the lunch meeting, stated that the Yankees have denied that Jackson was acting as a representative of the team. Werth told reporters after Sunday's rain out that he has known Jackson since he was a child and that the lunch was just that...two friends having lunch.


Werth's fresh faced look, courtesy of The Zo Zone


Phans all around the region are nearly heart broken for the second day in a row because of Jayson Werth news, as they learned on Tuesday that they won't be able to see the beard they've come to love, from afar, for the past 5 or 6 weeks of spring training. Werth will bring only his previously familiar chin hair strip north for the on-deck series in Philadelphia this Friday and Saturday.

Stay tuned to PhoulBallz.com for all the latest happenings regarding Jay-Dub.

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Minor Leaguers Released, 3 Lakewood Champs Among Those Cut

The Phillies announced several minor league cuts on Monday. Among the released players are 2009 Lakewood BlueClaws first baseman Jeremy Hamilton, '09 BlueClaws pitchers Freddy Ballestas & Ryan Bergh, former Phillies pitcher Joe Bisenius and veteran Major Leaguer Brad Wilkerson

Hamilton, a fifth round pick in the 2008 amateur draft, hit .255 in 88 games with Lakewood last season. His .701 OPS for the season was not quite impressive for a first baseman and was never good enough to earn much playing time over starting first baseman Jim Murphy, who was taken 12 rounds after Hamilton in the same draft, and his .860 OPS in 2009.

Ballestas, a Venezuela native, was signed as an amateur free agent in 2004. Last year for the SAL champion BlueClaws he appeared in 18 games (4 starts), posting a 4.98 ERA and striking out 46 batters in 47 innings pitched.


Ryan Bergh in a pre-season bullpen session with coach Bob Milacki

Bergh spent some time closing games for Lakewood in 2009. Bergh posted a 5.05 ERA in 45 games with Lakewood last year. PhoulBallz.com spoke with Ryan in May and that interview can be found by clicking here.

Bisenius made the Phillies' opening day roster in 2007 and was on the big league roster in 2008 when the Phils acquired Joe Blanton, but he was optioned down to make room. Bisenius hasn't returned to the Majors since, as he's dealt with some performance struggles and injuries.

Wilkerson was signed prior to spring training to add some depth at the minor league level. Although not invited to big league camp this spring, Wilkerson did manage to play in a Grapefruit League game with the Phillies this spring and was hitless in his lone at bat. Wilkerson, who was attempting a come back after a previous retirement has reportedly again announced his retirement from baseball following the release.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Linkin' Blogs 3/29

A lazy day brings you a lazy post. Here are some links to exciting stuff around the baseball bloggerhood today.

David Murphy's High Cheese lays out the upcoming pitching rotation for the Phillies and who starts which games, from today through April 18th. It includes Cole Hamels going in the home opener for the Phils. Click here to check that out.

I took part in another pre-season round table questionnaire. This time it is with a site known as Red Pin Stripes are Cooler. Subject matter includes whether or not the Phillies will re-sign Howard & Werth, which current Phillie will be a Hall of Famer and what our favorite tail gating foods are. Check that out by clicking here.

Mark Zuckerman has all the information on President Obama throwing out the first pitch at next week's opening day game against the Phillies in Washington DC. Check out the Nats Insider by clicking here.

Matt Gelb of The Phillies Zone compares John Mayberry Jr. to Jayson Werth and wonders if Mayberry could possibly be a late bloomer, just as Werth was. Have a look at that by clicking this link.

1 Blue Jays Way's The Man With the Golden Arm is finally ready to talk about Toronto's trade of Roy Halladay. It's certainly interesting to read how torn fans are over the off-season deal. Check it out here.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 56


Andy Seminick was a catcher with the Phillies in the 1940's and 1950's. With his contract purchased in September 1943 from Knoxville in the minors, Seminick made his major league debut with the Phils that month and his very first major league hit was a homer.

Seminick spent much of the next two seasons in the minors, but by 1946, Seminick had locked down the job of starting catcher for the Phillies. While he could hit for a bit of power, Seminick's defense was what held him back from becoming a top tier catcher in the National League as he led the league in errors in 1946, 1948 and 1949. However, in 1949, Seminick had his first of back to back 24 HR/68 RBI seasons and became an all-star. Those two seasons coincided with the Phillies' rise in the standings.

A rough and tough backstop, Seminick would never shy away from a confrontation at home plate and would not let injuries hold him out of action. In the closing games of the 1950 season, Seminick was involved in a collision at the plate with the Giants' Monte Irvin at the Polo Grounds. Injured, Seminick did not miss an inning of the 1950 World Series, only to have doctors later announce that his ankle had been broken the whole time.

Following the 1951 season, Seminick was traded to Cincinnati along with Dick Sisler and another pair of players for catcher Smoky Burgess and two more players. Three seasons and 319 games played later, Seminick was returned to Philadelphia with a pair of players for a trio that again included Smoky Burgess.

After playing in quite a reduced role with the Phillies upon his return, he would coach with the team for two seasons before turning to managing in the minor leagues. It was there that Seminick would help develop the next generation of Phillies stars such as Greg Luzinski and Mike Schmidt.

He later became a roving instructor throughout the Phils' minor league system and scouted for the club until he retired in 1986. By the end of his career, Seminick had served the Phillies for nearly 30 years.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Moyer is the Man

In many folks' opinion, Jamie Moyer pretty much locked up his claim to the Phillies' fifth starter spot on Friday night, when he pitched 6 2/3 shut out innings against the Yankees. Moyer struck out 6 batters and allowed just one hit against a Yankees lineup that included Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.

Moyer has, of course, been battling for the spot in the starting rotation with Kyle Kendrick, who has taken to shadowing new Phils ace Roy Halladay all spring. The impact of Halladay's presence can be seen in Kendrick's pre-season performances, as he has a 1.37 ERA through 5 spring games. Moyer's spring hasn't been much worse. Including his three "B" game starts and 2 Grapefruit League games, Moyer has a 2.61 ERA this spring.

The coaching staff hasn't officially named Moyer to the rotation, but it could already be decided behind the scenes. Moyer has had the advantage throughout spring, based on his experience and his $8.5 million 2010 salary. Manager Charlie Manuel declared the competition was open between Moyer and Kendrick, with token nods to guys like Drew Carpenter as being in the mix also, despite general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. stating multiple times over the off-season that the job was Jamie Moyer's until he lost it. Moyer has not lost it.

It wasn't known what to expect out of the 47-year-old Moyer, who had three surgical procedures over the off-season. But, the veteran lefty, who is the active MLB leader in wins, has pitched well and has impressed many people, including the Phillies, who pretty much have their decision about the pitching rotation made for them, at this point.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Vote in The Phield's Sweet 16

The Philadelphia baseball blog tournament known as The Phield enters it's elite phase today as the final 16 sites begin to battle it out for supremacy in the regional blogosphere. This very site, PhoulBallz.com, meets its toughest challenge yet, as it faces the #2 seed Phuture Phillies, which is a solid site that features loads of content on the minor leagues.

As I like to do each round, I would like to provide all readers a handful of reasons to get behind PhoulBallz.com. As such, I've inquired with some of moderate celebrity types to provide their endorsements of this site. Here is how that went down...


Seth Jabour (pictured), of the indie rock band Les Savy Fav, (which you might be familiar with from your favorite MLB video game's soundtrack) stated: Phoul Ballz is the grandest, most rootin-tootin blog to ever grace the monitor on my grandma's computer!

Chris, the leader of the lovely Phils blog known as Long Drive, was aggressive with his preference in The Phield tournament: Vote for Phoul Ballz, because if you don't, you are admitting that you are a Mets fan, and thus admitting you are a failure at life."

Mike Krenek, of WOBM AM & Fox Sports 1310's Shore Sports Report, had this to say: If you have an erection lasting longer than 6 hours, consult your doctor...unless you're a Phillies phan discovering PhoulBallz.com for the very first time, then it's totally normal.

Phillies pitching prospect Justin De Fratus (who happened to be warming up yesterday for the Phillies, when Greg Dobbs ended the Phils' spring game against the Astros with a walk-off RBI hit...& pictured) spoke rather highly of PhoulBallz.com, when he said: It's good.

Blue Jays catching prospect Travis D'Arnaud was asked his thoughts on PhoulBallz.com, and his reply was: Oh, yeah. That site is so hot that when Jay says hello to his readers, they should call it a HEAT WAVE.

Lakewood BlueClaws broadcaster Greg Giombarrese is a phine phriend of Phoul Ballz and said the following: PhoulBallz is the phunniest, most phantastic Phillies blog out there. All the most phervent and phanatical phans should make it their phirst stop every day!


So, as you can see, PhoulBallz.com is kind of like the Wu-Tang Clan...it ain't nuttin' to f--- wit'!

If pro ballplayers, rock stars, professional play-by-play men, other bloggers and daily talk show hosts are down with this site in The Phield tournament, perhaps you should be too. Vote for PhoulBallz.com in The Phield between 8am & 8pm on Friday. I appreciate your support. Click HERE to vote.

**UPDATE**
PhoulBallz.com lost in The Phield blog tournament's Sweet 16 round on Friday. This site is proud to have advanced that far and is appreciative of all the support it got from it's readers and friends. Thanks to all involved and congratulations to those who are still active in The Phield.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kendrick Continues to Shine, Moyer's Next

Pucker Up...Kendrick blows sweet kisses to Grapefruit League batters as he shuts them down


Kyle Kendrick has repeatedly performed above expectations this pre-season, as he makes the Phillies' choice for the 5th man in their starting rotation a tough one. Facing the Houston Astros on Thursday, Kendrick threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on five hits. While some reports state that Kendrick had a rough time with his command early in the game, you can't argue with results. His spring ERA is a sparkling 1.37 through 5 appearances.

Jamie Moyer, the Phillies' other option for the 5th starter spot is scheduled to pitch Friday evening against the Yankees. Moyer will face off against the newly named 5th starter for the World Champs, former Trenton Thunder stand out Phil Hughes. In four total spring appearances (including his "B" games), Moyer has a 3.86 ERA for the Phils.


Brett Myers started Thursday for the Astros against his former team, the Phillies, but left the game with a mild groin strain. Myers' manager, former Phillies coach Brad Mills is pleased with Myers' progress this spring. "He’s done a real good job,” Mills said. “And the way he’s gone about his business, we couldn’t ask for anything more, and he’s done a great job. Everything is right on cue."

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

3/24/10 Notebook

Phans and media alike are fairly excited about the Phillies' Grapefruit League match up on Thursday. The Houston Astros are slated to start Brett Myers, while the Phillies plan to start Kyle Kendrick. That's a comical pitching match up for those who recall the famous prank that Myers once pulled on a young Kendrick during spring training.



Roy Halladay is scheduled to pitch on Thursday also, but will compete in a minor league game instead of against Houston. There is simple reasoning behind that. The regular season schedule pits the Astros and Phillies against one another during the first week of the season, so rather than give Houston hitters opportunities to see Halladay and get used to his pitches before it counts, they are keeping Roy under wraps. The decision could also be telling as to where the team is leaning with the 5th starter, or their intentions to use the 5th starter in that first week or not, if the Phils aren't shy about the Astros seeing Kendrick.


Carlos Ruiz was a late scratch from the lineup on Monday, when his substitute Dane Sardinha smashed two homers against the Yankees. Ruiz missed another game on Tuesday, but is expected to start against the Braves on Wednesday. He's been suffering with a flu bug. Third base coach Sam Perlozzo has missed some time with the same illness.


Raul Ibanez is batting .114 (4-for-35) in Grapefruit League games this spring. Among his 4 hits are 2 doubles and a homer. Greg Dobbs is batting .345 (19-for-29) in Grapefruit League action with 5 doubles and 1 homerun.


Authentic Citizens Bank Park sod is available for purchase, as the Phillies have replaced their entire playing surface. Have a look at the selection here.

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It is once again PhoulBallz Phillies Wednesday on The Shore Sports Report. Check out Joe & Mike each weekday from 3-6pm on Fox Sports 1310am and WOBM AM 1160 in New Jersey or listen online here. I'll be on the show this afternoon around 4:05pm.

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Lee Likely to Miss Opening Day

Following a throwing session on Tuesday, Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee is likely to have his abdominal strain result in some time on the shelf. Lee stated that he still feels pain, but that his condition feels better than it did last week. He traveled to Seattle last week to be evaluated by team physicians.

Lee, the former Phillie, is expected to throw from flat ground on Thursday. His status be reevaluated on Friday.

It's a troubling situation for Lee, as he tries to build on a terrific 2009 season in which he excelled with the Phillies throughout the post season. An abdominal injury is the type of ailment that could effect Lee well after he is active on the Mariners roster. While the lingering effects of the abdominal strain may not be to the extent that Phillies phans saw last year, when Brad Lidge's health issues effected his performance for the entire season, it could certainly be the sort of setback that impacts Lee's April. Being unable to pitch and fine tune oneself can only delay a pitcher's preparation for the season.

Lee also suffered a foot injury over the off-season. A combination of nagging injuries should always be a cause for concern, so the Mariners will want to be sure not to push Lee before he is healed.

MLB suspended Lee for the first 5 games of the season for his actions in a game last week, when he threw two pitches at Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder. The pitches led to a bench clearing scuffle and Lee was ejected. Lee is currently appealing the suspension. It has been reported that Lee believes his abdominal injury occurred during a collision with Snyder in that game, which precipitated the pitches thrown his way. But suspension or not, Lee is quite likely to miss Seattle's opening day, as the disabled list could be in his near future.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Phoul Ballz for St. Baldrick's

Future PhoulBallz.com correspondent Aaron (AKA- "A-Ballz") recently stepped up to the plate for a great cause. In solidarity with children who have been stricken with cancer, and who typically lose hair during treatment, Aaron participated in a St. Baldrick's head shaving event to support the victims of the illness.

More American children die of cancer each year than any other disease. Help Aaron, a left-handed pitcher and outfielder for his little league team in Central NJ, raise money to support cancer research by clicking this link.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Back on The Phield

The second round for the Philadelphia blog tournament known as The Phield kicks off today. Voting starts at 8am and goes through 8pm. The only things that stand between PhoulBallz.com and the Sweet 16 are your votes and the #3 seed Delaware News Journal's Philled In blog. Vote for all your favorite blogs by clicking THIS LINK. Voting is open 8am till 8pm.

If you're unfamiliar with PhoulBallz.com and perhaps aren't sure who to vote for in the 3 vs. 6 match up in the Daulerio Region, please accept this list of 10 reasons why you should vote for PhoulBallz.com...


#1- Exclusive interviews. Philled In isn't the only one with press access. With over 50 interviews over the past year, PhoulBallz.com has brought readers an inside look at all the best known prospects such as Trevor May, Domonic Brown, Anthony Gose, BJ Rosenberg, Michael Taylor, Mike Stutes, Kyle Drabek and many more. In addition, readers have gotten Q&A's from Major League stars such as Pedro Martinez, JC Romero, Greg Dobbs, Clay Condrey and others too. To put it simply- PhoulBallz is like thong underwear....we're in there.

#2- This image of Jayson Werth as The Human Torch, brought to you by PhoulBallz.com. It's hot!

#3- Because former Phils pharm hand Jason Knapp and other Phillies minor leaguers wear PhoulBallz.com shirts.



















#4- The Sunday School History Lessons that PhoulBallz.com brings readers each week. The past is one of the most important things about the sport of baseball. The heritage, the nostalgia, the frame work....they're all aspects of baseball that make it so appealing and fascinating. Phans today should know about all the players, coaches and team personnel that have impacted the Phillies franchise over the years. Sunday School articles have featured lessons on Eppa Rixey, Tony Taylor, Jack Sanford, Johnny Callison and plenty more under-acknowledged stars of the past. There just aren't many blogs that place importance on history the way this site does.

#5- PhoulBallz.com isn't exactly a prime news source, but the site has managed to deliver some breaking news....like the Phillies' misprint on Harry Kalas' Wall of Fame plaque and the brief, but comical, Brett Myers/Anthony Gose feud last season.

#6- Because the other guy is new to the Phillies' beat and, like, most people don't really know him, or some junk. I mean, vote for your friendly neighborhood PhoulBallz, who has been here, steadily, for a good long while. The other guy is temporary.

#7- Because P. Puffy Diddy Daddy wants you to....



#8- Because PhoulBallz.com kept its name the same, despite many ladies nicknaming the site "Dirty Dishes" due to their deep desire to always do us right after dessert.

#9- Because PhoulBallz.com brought you Jose Contreras' family tree.



#10-Because if PhoulBallz.com advances to the Sweet 16 of The Phield, 16 readers will win prizes from the site. No diggity, fo' shiggity.

**UPDATE** PhoulBallz.com was victorious in the 2nd round and has advanced into the SWEET 16 of The Phield tournament. Thanks so much for your support. The next round is Friday.

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Herndon Has Good Shot at Roster Spot

In David Herndon's favor is his excellent sinker which has helped him make a solid impression in spring training thus far. Also in Herndon's favor is the fact that he's a Rule 5 pick that must either be on the 25-man Major League roster all season or be offered back to the Angels, the organization he pitched for prior to the Phillies making him a Rule 5 draft pick over the off-season. Additionally in Herndon's favor are delays in the recovery schedules of the injured Brad Lidge and JC Romero. All those factors combined could land Herndon a spot in a big league bullpen.

A talented righty reliever, Herndon had not pitched above the Double A level through his 2009 season, but stands a good chance at facing Major League hitters very soon. Herndon, who stands 6-feet 5-inches tall and is 24 years old, has thrown 5 scoreless innings in Grapefruit League play thus far with the Phillies. With Double A level Arkansas in 2009, Herndon had a 5-6 record with 11 saves and a 3.03 ERA in 50 games.

Phillies catcher Brian Schneider has been impressed with Herndon's sinker. If Herndon can make a similar impact with his fastball and his slider, he could very well end up being a sparkling addition to the Phillies' bullpen.

In the Dominican Winter League Herndon worked with Gulf Coast League Phillies pitching coach Carlos Arroyo to improve the slider, which had previously not been much of a plus in Herndon's repertoire. The additional work helped and the slider not features a sharper break.

The Phils are taking full notice of Herndon, who has outperformed the likes of phan favorite right-hander Scott Mathieson, and the collection of lefties vying to fill JC Romero's spot. Don't call Herndon a long shot anymore. He could be close to locking up a roster spot for himself.


**UPDATE** Herndon threw against the Yankees on Monday afternoon. In his first inning of work, Herndon retired the Yankees hitters 1-2-3 on 7 pitches. Herndon followed that up by retiring the first two batters he faced in his second inning of work, before surrendering back to back singles to Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. Herndon then retired Nick Swisher to complete two shut out innings.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 55

Bob Miller was a pitcher with the Phillies from 1949-1958. Signed as an amateur free agent in 1948, Miller made his Major League debut with the Phillies the next season, pitching 3 games in relief, after winning 19 minor league games.

He returned with the big club the next season and won 11 games and posted a 3.57 ERA for the 1950 pennant winners. Miller, a Michigan native, got his chance to start following struggles by veterans Russ Meyer and Ken Heintzelman. Miller quickly made the most of his chance by pitching consecutive shutouts of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. By the time Miller allowed a run, in his third start, he had pitched 22 straight scoreless innings. Miller's record soon ran to 8-0.

Miller would soon prove to be an accident prone player the likes of which the Phillies have probably not seen since. In late June, 1950 Miller tripped over a step while carrying his luggage to a waiting train and injured his back. After a period of recovery, he did not pitch as effectively. Over the remainder of the season, Miller won three of his nine starts.

Miller started game 4 of the World Series, but was pulled in the very first inning, after spotting the Yankees a 2-0 lead. He took the loss in that game.

By 1952, Miller returned to the minor leagues and he appeared in just 3 games with the Major League Phillies that season. He was back in the big leagues for good in 1953, but truly lacked much stamina and didn't go deep into games, so he was relegated to the bullpen. He spent three seasons as a key reliever for the Phils, but again accidentally injured himself when he fell over his children's toys in his home and broke his own wrist. A year later, in 1958, Miller would retire.
Miller would later become head baseball coach at the University of Detroit, near his home.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Phillies Preview Questionnaire with CrashburnAlley

Well known Philadelphia Phillies blogger Bill Baer inquired with a dozen or so other Phils bloggers, including myself, about several questions surrounding the upcoming 2010 season for the defending National League champions. Bill's site, CrashburnAlley is always worth checking out, but today's roundtable, that features loads of solid opinions, is can't miss. Here is a direct link to the Phillies preview questionnaire.


Ahead, I've listed some of my answers that did not make the cut in Bill's piece, as he tried to distribute equal exposure for all involved.


How concerned are you about Cole Hamels going into 2010?

I have no great concern about young Colbert for the 2010 season. I've seen and read enough in a few weeks of spring training to know that his off-season conditioning improved his physical state to this point. Half way through spring training he is leaps and bounds beyond where he was half way through even April in 2009. Phillies phans should be confident that Cole Hamels will perform the way the team needs him to this season.


Give the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee mega-trade between the Phillies, Blue Jays, and Mariners a letter grade and explain your grading process.

Well, first off, I am unable to speak about these events without clarifying that it was not one mega-trade. There were two different trades. Evaluation of all the events seem to merge together because it's easier for the Phillies, the media and most phans to justify sending away Cliff Lee after the city fell in love with him. I have not seen enough of the trio received from Seattle (Gillies, Aumont, Ramirez) to convince myself that the Seattle trade was beneficial. Lee priced under $10 million for the 2010 season, as he is, would be a bargain for any team. Having met each player and having seen all three prospects dealt in the Halladay trade play, initially Michael Taylor, Kyle Drabek and Travis D'Arnaud were the three players in the system I would have most wanted the Phillies to hang onto. After some review though, it was easier to agree with. Prospects are just that, prospects...so acquiring a man who is often regarded as the best pitcher in the game is no less than an A grade deal. All three players were the types to get parent club phans excited. Taylor and D'Arnaud were easily my favorite players to interview and had the most solid work ethics of all players I'd witnessed behind the scenes. Drabek was certainly talented.
Time will tell what grade the Lee trade merits.

Teams have been approaching Ryan Howard with a steady diet of left-handed pitching and breaking balls and by employing the shift on the right side of the field. Will this trend continue in 2010, or will Howard make the appropriate adjustments?

There is no reason for pitchers and their coaches to change their approach toward handling Howard. It's up to Howard, under the guidance of his own coaches, to make adjustments and beat the shift and those breaking pitches. Howard has never struggled overall, having led the majors in HR and RBI for a stretch of 4 or 5 seasons, so perhaps the urgency to alter his approach just isn't there.


Placido Polanco is making the switch from second base to third base. How good will he be defensively?

Polanco has already struggled with the switch during spring training games. He's been charged with just one error that shows up in the box scores, but he's made at least three other blunders that have been trouble for the Phils. In a recent game he blew a pop up in foul territory, when he misjudged the ball that came back toward the infield and fell foul...and in another game, he took a relaxed approach on a sacrifice attempt and the batter reached base safely. Those are both aside from the trouble Polanco had on Monday, when, while fielding a fair pop up, he tripped over the pitchers mound, injuring his own knee. I see Polanco's difficulties popping up from time to time throughout the entire season, just as Ryan Howard's throwing-to-second base troubles emerge each year.


Will J.A. Happ come close to his 2.93 ERA from 2009?

I see "Jay" Happ avoiding a sophomore slump. He won't keep the ERA under 3, but he'll still have a few complete games and be a contributing force in the rotation. Blanton will have his hiccups in '10, but you won't have that worry with Happ....who should win 14 games and keep the ERA under 3.50.


The Phillies essentially swapped Chan Ho Park for Jose Contreras. Thumbs up or thumbs down and why?

Park won phans over with his efforts in relief. I view Contreras as a guy who won't need a couple of months to win the Philadelphia phaithful over. He'll be solid out of the 'pen from the start and fill the void left by Park nicely. Thumbs up.


Which Phillie(s) is/are we most likely to see dealt by the July 31 trading deadline?

The Phillie I see leaving via trade by the trade deadline is Jamie Moyer. The Phillies will work out a deal with Seattle to allow Moyer to retire as a Mariner. The Phillies will eat most of his remaining salary, and the deal will take place with minimal return.


What will the team get from Domonic Brown this season?

Eastern League all star Domonic Brown will be up prior to the rosters expanding on September 1st. Mayberry Jr. will struggle in a reserve role and Brown will make an impact off the bench.

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Westcott's New Phils Book Launches Today

Regular readers of PhoulBallz.com know that this site respects the history of the game of baseball. PhoulBallz posts weekly features on a historical figure from generations past. Information and stories are gathered for those articles from various sources, including a small collection of Phillies books that I've acquired. Added to that collection of blog post source material is the new release from MVP Books, Philadelphia Phillies Past & Present by Rich Westcott. The author is a regular contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, is the incoming president of the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association and has previously written several books on the Phillies.

Philadelphia Phillies Past & Present features details from the tough days at the start of the franchise that lead all the way to information on the dynasty that phans are watching these days.

The book is a big, picture filled coffee table book that could very well be worth the purchase price to phans simply for the way its imagery documents the history of the team. But that doesn't mean it is short on textual content. Chapters on subjects like rivalries, trades (the good and the not-so-good), venues the team called home, uniforms and one devoted to each position, show readers the very appropriate Past & Present.

All phans know about Mike Schmidt, but how many of them are familiar with Sam Thompson? All phans can picture Veterans Stadium anytime they want to, but what do they know about the Baker Bowl? All phans can easily identify the first professional sports team to reach 10,000 losses, but what could they say about the first official indoor MLB game or the first MLB game played on foreign soil? There's plenty of information about those things, and more, in the pages of Past & Present.

From cover to cover, Westcott's book comprehensively describes the events and people that have shaped and defined the Philadelphia Phillies. It's as great as a day at the ballpark.

Philadelphia Phillies Past & Present
is available to the world starting today. Pick it up at your local book store or buy it online at the link below.



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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

PhoulBallz in "The Phield" Tournament

Something huge happened around the Phillies blogosphere on Tuesday evening. Timothy Malcolm, a former regular at PhilliesNation, debuted a 65-blog tournament bracket pitting all the best, worst and everything in between Phillies blogs against each other to determine the King of Philly. The tournament and the site that hosts it are known as The Phield. Check out their site by clicking here.

My very own blog was ranked as a 6 seed, which I may disagree with, but I will refrain from going all Joe Budden on Tim and anyone else who put their efforts into the bracket and site. I respect them, the tournament and the other bloggers and writers involved.

In the first round of the tournament, PhoulBallz.com is pitted up against the 11 seed, a blog called Team to Beat, which should not be confused with a blog, that I must admit was more familiar to me, called We're the Team to Beat, which is competing in another bracket.

Of course, I am writing this to rally all PhoulBallz readers to vote for this site and help it to advance into the next round. Support your friendly neighborhood PhoulBallz. You can view a preview of PhoulBallz's first round match up by clicking HERE. Voting will be done exclusviely on The Phield web site. Thursday's 1st round voting can be done at this link.

Also included in the tournament are big time pages from the likes of The700Level and TheFightins, as well as the blogs of the beat writers like David Murphy's High Cheese and Todd Zolecki's Zo Zone. It's going to be fun all around, but I am crossing my fingers for no first round upsets in my area.

Please vote for all your favorite blogs. As always, I appreciate the support of all my readers. The full bracket can be found here.

Additionally, I would like to go on record with an endorsement and encourage PhoulBallz readers to also vote for Macho Row. Kevin, who recently guest posted here on PhoulBallz, runs a solid site and deserves your votes (against anyone except me). Best wishes and good luck to all teams involved. It's a great concept and hopefully it will increase exposure for everyone, as people discover sites they had previously been unfamiliar with.

**UPDATE** PhoulBallz has advanced to the 2nd round of the tournament. When voting for the next round begins, I will post further details. Thanks to those of you who voted!

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3/17/10 Notebook

Here is your tour around Phillies news land...

After yesterday's game, BJ Rosenberg was sent down to minor league camp following his scoreless inning against the Tigers. Rosenberg spent time as closer for both the single A level Lakewood BlueClaws and the double A Reading Phillies in 2009.

JC Romero threw some batting practice today. Facing live batters, while mixing in his slider is a positive step, but the lefty reliever still is not game ready and appears to be a considerable amount of time behind another rehabbing Phils pitcher, Brad Lidge. There's no doubt, however, that the Phillies and their phans would gladly sacrifice missing Romero for 2-3 weeks, to start the season, if it means he can stay healthy for the remainder of the 2010 campaign. Lidge is scheduled to face minor leaguers on the Phillies' off day tomorrow.

Combined, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay have put together the following stats this spring- 6 games, 20 2/3 innings pitched, 3 earned runs, 1.31 ERA, 23 strike outs, 5 walks and 11 hits allowed. The only earned runs Hamels has allowed have been on two seperate lead off homers from Toronto's Jose Bautista. If there's ever been a season for Phillies phans to be excited, this is it, because if we add in the Phillies' 4th starter "Jay" Happ's spring stats and the stats of the man who could potentially lock down the 5th starter spot, Kyle Kendrick, those combined numbers look stunningly better- 11 games, 37 2/3 innings pitched, 0.72 ERA! Take it as a warning, NL hitters...this Phillies pitching staff is ready to get all up in that butt like an enema.

The 2009 South Atlantic League champion Lakewood BlueClaws are scheduled to be honored prior to the Phillies home game on Friday in Clearwater, FL. Anthony Gose, Moose Mattair, Justin De Fratus, Trevor May and the gang are all very excited to get their championship rings.

Placido Polanco's status is day-to-day due to his knee sprain. He remains hopeful to be back in the Phillies' lineup by Friday, but manager Charlie Manuel typically prefers to be overcautious, so don't be surprised if Polanco sits out longer than two more days. Initially, Polanco was very worried about the injury, but after further diagnosis, the severity of the injury is more manageable than first thought.

Jamie Moyer, who has pitched strictly "B" games to this point, will make his Grapefruit League debut this Saturday, in Lakeland against the Tigers. Moyer had done well in his first two outings, but struggled in his efforts against the Blue Jays "B" squad that fielded a mostly "A" lineup on Monday when he allowed 5 runs on 8 hits in 3 innings pitched.

Oh, and happy St. Patricks Day to you.

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Don't forget that today is PhoulBallz Phillies Wednesday! Tune in this afternoon during The Shore Sports Report for our weekly segment, talking Phillies baseball. The show can be found on WOBM AM 1160 and Fox Sports 1310 AM, toward the Jersey shore, or on the web via this link. The Shore Sports Report, with Mike & Joe, is on each weekday from 3-6pm. I should be on today around 4:05pm.


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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brown Breaks Out in Phillies Win


Last August, a week after he debuted at the double A level with Reading and smashed a homerun that was reportedly legendary for FirstEnergy Stadium, I asked Domonic Brown if he thought he might remember his first homerun at each level. Brown told me, "Nah. I plan on hitting so many, hopefully (that I won't remember)." I wonder how that staement applies to the performance that Brown, a Phillies outfield prospect, put on with the big club in Tuesday's spring training game against the Detroit Tigers in Clearwater, Florida.

In his first at bat, Brown launched a massive solo homer that exited Brighthouse Field, promptly played in traffic on the highway outside the ballpark and gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead. The homer, off of 2-time all star and former AL Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander, was Brown's first of the spring.

In his second plate appearance in the 4th inning, Brown smashed another homerun to right field with a runner on base, this time off lefty reliever Phil Coke. When Brown batted again, with the bases loaded in the 5th inning, he displayed his speed and drove home another run on an infield single.

Brown then shined in the top of the 6th inning on defense, when he made a diving catch in the outfield on a sinking liner hit by former Yankee Johnny Damon. In a fourth trip to the plate, Brown walked. He ended the day as the shining star in a 6-1 Phillies victory.

I think that today is a day that Brown will remember for a long, long time no matter how many homeruns he hits during his career. Brown's spring batting average now stands at .417.

Additionally, last August, I asked Domonic what was up with the Phils organization and the media spelling his first name incorrectly through much of his career, until mid-summer last year. About that, he told me, "I don't know what's going on with that, but it really doesn't matter. People have been doing it most of my life, so it doesn't matter." I think the days of people spelling Domonic's name wrong may be over.

Unfortunately for Brown, he is expected to be sent down to minor league camp, effective tomorrow. The decision was very likely in place before Brown's break out performance on Tuesday.


Also in the game, Cole Hamels threw 5 innings, while surrendering just one unearned run. Danys Baez, BJ Rosenberg, Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson added a scoreless inning each on the mound for the Phils.

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Full PhoulBallz interview with Brown can be found HERE.

Brown picture- AP

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