Friday, April 30, 2010

Series Preview: Metropolitans at Phillies, 4/30-5/2


For the first time in a long while, the NL East rivalry between the Metropolitans (13-9) and Phillies (12-9) is exciting. Unsure if they are contenders or pretenders, New York, riding a 7 game win streak, will visit the defending National League champs as the leader in the division. The Phillies have spent most of the first month of the season on the road, having played just 6 home games, in which they are 3-3. The Metropolitans have spent much of the season at home, to this point, and have played just 6 games on the road, in which they are 2-4.

Read ahead for pitching match ups, key stats and other information on this series.


Friday, 7:05pm. Jonathan Niese (0-1, 3.68 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 7.71 ERA). Niese, in 12 career games, has a .307 batting average against. In 3 career road games, Niese has a 6.60 ERA. In 5 career games against the Metropolitans, Kendrick is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA. David Wright is just 2-for-13 (.154 avg) against Kendrick. In 33 games at Citizens Bank Park, Kendrick is 14-6 with a 4.53 ERA.

Saturday, 3:10pm. Mike Pelfrey (4-0, 0.69) vs. Roy Halladay (4-1, 1.80 ERA). Pelfrey has faced the Phillies 9 times in his career and has posted a 4-2 record with a 4.82 ERA. Pelfrey has appeared in 4 games at Citizens Bank Park and has posted a 1-1 record and a 7.17 ERA there. Greg Dobbs is 7-for-13 (.538 avg) against Pelfrey with a double and a HR. Halladay has faced the Metropolitans 4 times in his career and has a 2-2 record with a 5.55 ERA in those games. Former teammate Rod Barajas is 0-for-9 in his career against Halladay.

Sunday, 8:05pm. Johan Santana (3-1, 2.08 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (2-2, 5.25 ERA). Santana has made 4 career starts at Citizens Bank Park...in those games he is 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA. In the last four seasons, Santana is undefeated in his first start of May with a 0.72 ERA. Placido Polanco is 10-for-26 (.385 avg) vs. Santana in his career. Shane Victorino is 2-for-22 (.091 avg) in his career against Santana. Moyer was 1-1 with a 6.91 ERA in 5 starts against the Metropolitans last season. Gary Matthews Jr. is 7-for-23 (.304 avg) with 3 doubles and 2 homers against Moyer.


The Phillies won 12 of 18 meetings with the Metropolitans last year.

In 9 games at Citizens Bank Park last year, David Wright went 6-for-34 (.176 avg) with 9 strike outs. Wright's batting average was 36 points lower in day games last year than it was in night games.

Francisco Rodriguez has 8 saves and has never allowed a run to the Phillies in 10 appearances against them.

Placido Polanco is a career .332 hitter with 13 homers in 93 games at Citizens Bank Park.

Brad Lidge will be activated from the disabled list for this series. Antonio Bastardo has been optioned to Triple A, in order to make room on the active roster. Lidge is 2-1 with 13 saves and a 3.09 ERA in 30 appearances against the Metropolitans.

Ryan Howard hit .208 (15-for-72) against the Metropolitans last season in 18 games.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Drabek Preparing For Next Step

The transition has been easy for Kyle Drabek. In December, he was part of a package of young prospects that was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for ace pitcher Roy Halladay. Now, as though nothing has changed, he's right back where he was last season...the star prospect on the pitching staff of a team in the Double A Eastern League.

Drabek has often stated that he wanted to stay in the Philadelphia organization, who drafted him in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft. The 22-year-old thought after the midseason trade rumors, that surrounded him possibly going to Toronto last year, passed with no action that all the turmoil was over and that he could simply relax and focus on getting to the big leagues with the Phillies. That wasn't the case, as the deal eventually came to fruition over the off-season.

In the Blue Jays system this season, Drabek doesn't have to worry about being dealt. He only has to concern himself with opposing batters and working on his secondary pitches to compliment his electric mid-90's fastball.

Thus far, Drabek's season has been right on par with where the Toronto organization and Kyle, himself, would like it. Through 4 starts, Drabek has a 3-1 record with a 3.80 ERA with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. On his early success, Drabek gave props to his offense for getting him the wins. "My first three games, I gave up quite a few runs (3 earned in each start). Luckily we have a good team and we scored a bunch too, so that helped me out."

Pitching coach Tom Signore, who describes Drabek as "a special talent", has worked closely with the young pitcher on changing speeds. Drabek has developed two different change ups, a four-seam and a two-seam which Signore has seen progression with already. The combination of the two variations gives Drabek a familiar looking change up (the four-seamer) and one that is more of a weapon against lefty hitters (the two-seamer). Signore also has Drabek working on pitching inside to opposing hitters and getting them out earlier in the count, in order to go longer in games.

His pitch repertoire is not the only thing that Drabek has been able to develop. His maturity level seems much improved over last season as well. Speaking about Drabek's growth, Signore said, "When there are rumors about you being traded, that can be very unsettling for a 10-year veteran, never mind a 21-year-old minor leaguer. He's a very mature kid on and off the field. We've been pleasantly, pleasantly surprised with his aptitude."

Signore admitted that last season, when Drabek shut down the Fisher Cats, as a member of the Reading Phillies, it was enjoyable to watch the talented right-hander. "It sounds crazy, but it's almost fun to watch somebody with so much talent. It may be an opponent and even though he's doing it to your team, it's fun to watch," Signore said.

Drabek remembers his time in the Phillies system fondly and credits plenty of Phillies personnel with helping him get to where he is today. Drabek mentions Gorm Heimueller, the Phillies pitching coordinator, Carlos Arroyo, the Gulf Coast League pitching coach as well as former Lakewood pitching coach Ed Hodge for being key in his development during his early days as a professional. "It was great to learn from what they knew. It was a lot of fun," Drabek stated.

While Drabek once loved the idea of reaching the big leagues for the newest National League powerhouse, the Phillies, he now looks forward to moving upward in the Toronto organization and has come to appreciate his new home in Manchester, New Hampshire. "When I played there on the road with Reading, they always had a lot of fans and it seemed like they were always behind their team. So, I'm looking forward to having that throughout the season."

It's a sure thing that Fisher Cats fans are looking forward to having Drabek this season too, just as Blue Jays fans are anticipating having him throughout many seasons to come.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Polanco Still Ailing?


Placido Polanco is struggling lately after being hit in the elbow by a pitch from the Braves' Tim Hudson last Wednesday in Atlanta. Polanco left that game early, after going 0-for-2 in that contest, and sat out of the lineup the following day, to rest and recover from the injury.

Polanco also sat out of Sunday's starting lineup before he pinch hit in the match up with the Diamondbacks.

Since the errant pitch, Polanco has seen his batting average fall 76 points. In the period since the injury, Polanco has gone 2-for-20 (.100 avg) with just 1 RBI and no runs scored.

Polanco, speaking to the media on Monday, talked about his injured elbow, "It's getting there. I'd say it's about 80 percent."

In recent games, Polanco has been wearing a protective guard on his elbow, while batting, to avoid further injury.

While the strife Polanco has been dealing with is a concern, this type of slump is bound to happen to a player during a season. If Polanco was batting .397 at 100%, it wouldn't make sense that he'd bat .100 at 80%, so perhaps Polanco over shot his evaluation of his own elbow, or his recent slide isn't fully related to the elbow at all.

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As PhoulBallz.com informed you last week, Joe Blanton will be taking the hill tonight, on regular rest, for the Phillies Double A affiliate Reading, in another rehab assignment. Blanton has be on the disabled list since spring training with a strained oblique. The Reading Phillies will face the Harrisburg Senators and starting pitcher Matt Chico, who is trying to get back to the Majors after elbow surgery in 2008.

Blanton is expected to rejoin the Phillies next week, if all goes well in tonight's start with Reading.

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Reminder...today is PhoulBallz Phillies Wednesday on The Shore Sports Report. I'll be on with Joe & Mike talking baseball around 3:20pm today. Listen to the show on the air on WOBM AM 1160 and Fox Sports 1310 AM in New Jersey. You can also listen over the internet by clicking this link.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Howard Central

Phans, Ryan Howard's contract extension is an occasion worth celebrating. So, jam with me. Haters are not welcome.



And while you're still all about Ryan Howard, I'll make this your one stop shop for all the worthwhile posts relating to "The Big Piece" from around the bloggerhood.


TheFightins.com reviews all the crazy hater talk out there from baseball writers. Check it out by clicking here.

Joe Giglio's Shore Sports Scoop says that Howard is worth every cent. Click this link to read that article.

If you understand stat geek jargon, Bill Baer's Crashburn Alley should be your next stop. Have a look at his Howard value drop-off break down by clicking here.

In Ruben We Trust has a butt load of solid ideas about what Ryan Howard could spend his big bucks on. Check that out by clicking here.

One of the gals at Chicks Dig the Long Ball has some mixed feelings about the extension, as it relates to other players. Read that post by clicking here.

Balls, Sticks & Stuff considers how Howard will age over the course of the deal and compares him to the likes of Mo Vaughn and Richie Sexson. Have a look at that by clicking here.

More Hardball gives reasons why the deal is too many years and too much money. The reasons may be flawed, but they are good guys, so check them out anyway by clicking here.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Phillies Sign Howard to 5-year Extension


No Phillie has ever signed a contract this large. Today, the Phillies announced that they've extended all-star slugger and former NL Most Valuable Player Ryan Howard with a 5-year $125 million guarantee. The deal could be worth as much as $138 million if the team exercises their option for a 6th year, in 2017.

The deal breaks down like this...
2012- $20 million
2013- $20 million
2014- $25 million
2015- $25 million
2016- $25 million
2017 option year- $23 million, with a $10 million buy out.

Based on those annual salaries, and with Howard making $19 million this season and slated to make $20 million in 2011, according to Yahoo!, Howard will not receive a significant increase to his base salary until the 2014 season.

The deal also includes a limited no-trade clause as well as some incentive and awards bonuses.

Last season, Howard became just the fourth player in Major League history to have four straight 40 homer/130 RBI seasons, joining Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa and Babe Ruth.

It remains to be seen how this investment by the Phillies effects the impending free agency of phan phavorite outfielder Jayson Werth, whose contract is done after the 2010 season. An all-star last season, who has become a perennial 20-20 guy (20 homeruns & 20 steals per season), Werth would like to stay with the Phillies but may have priced himself out of the team's desired range, especially when they have big dollar commitments to players like Howard, all-star second baseman Chase Utley and starting pitcher Roy Halladay...and even more so, when one considers the Phillies' top prospect is a right fielder, named Domonic Brown, who is a 5-tool guy that projects to reach that 20-20 plateau.

More updates on this story, as they become available.

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Series Preview: Phillies @ Giants, 4/26-4/28


The Phillies' (11-7) road trip continues as they head to San Francisco for 3 games against the Giants (10-8). The Giants have won 5 of the last 6 match ups against the Phillies in San Francisco. In 2009, the Giants won 4 of 7 meetings with the Phillies. Read on for pitching match ups and other key statistics from this series.


Monday, 10:15pm. Roy Halladay (4-0, 0.82 ERA) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 1.82 ERA). In 2 career starts against the Giants, Halladay is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA. He allowed 5 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched in his only outing at AT&T Park. Mark DeRosa is 1-for-9 (.111 avg) in his career against Halladay. In 7 career games against the Phillies, Sanchez has a 1-1 record with a 3.74 ERA and a .207 batting average against. Sanchez has a 10-11 record and a 4.49 ERA in 63 career games at AT&T Park. Jayson Werth is 0-for-7 against Sanchez. Chase Utley is 3-for-8 with 4 walks, a double and a homer against Sanchez.

Tuesday, 10:15pm. Jamie Moyer (2-1, 5.00 ERA) vs. Todd Wellemeyer (0-3, 8.16 ERA). In 11 career starts against San Francisco, Moyer is 4-6 with a 3.31 ERA. In 2 starts at AT&T Park, Moyer has 2 losses and a 7.36 ERA. Juan Uribe is 2-for-17 (.118 avg) with a homer against Moyer. In 8 games against the Phils, Wellemeyer is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. In 38 career games in April, Wellemeyer's ERA is 5.50. In 2009, Ross Gload was 2-for-3 against Wellemeyer with 2 homeruns. Chase Utley has 7 hits in 11 at bats (.636 avg) with a double a 3 homers against Wellemeyer.

Wednesday, 3:45pm. Cole Hamels (2-2, 5.11 ERA) vs. Tim Lincecum (4-0, 1.00 ERA). Hamels is 4-1 in 6 career starts against the Giants with a 3.98 ERA. Hamels gave up 6 earned runs in 5 innings and took a loss in his lone start at AT&T Park on August 2nd last season, but Colbert bounced back strong against the Giants when they visited Philadelphia and he threw a complete game shut out on September 1st. In 6 career starts against the Phils, Lincecum is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA. Jayson Werth is 3-for-6 in his career against Lincecum with a homerun. Chase Utley is 2-for-17 (.118 avg) with a homerun against Lincecum.


Mark DeRosa is a combined 2-for-45 (.044 avg) against Cole Hamels, Jose Contreras, Ryan Madson, JC Romero, Nelson Figueroa, Brad Lidge and Roy Halladay.

Giants closer Brian Wilson is 0-1 with 3 saves and a 4.50 ERA in 6 games against the Phillies.

Ryan Howard is a .211 career hitter in 29 games against the Giants. In 16 games at AT&T Park, Howard has hit 5 homers. Howard is batting .213 with no homers in his last 13 games.

Shane Victorino is batting .180 in 11 games on the road this season. In his first game batting lead off for the Phillies, Victorino scored 3 runs. In 9 games since then, he has scored 3 total runs.

Jayson Werth has reached base safely via a hit or walk in all 18 games he has played in this season.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 60

William "Kitty" Bransfield was a first baseman with the Phillies from 1905-1911. A slick fielder, Bransfield developed a reputation for his solid defense when he established himself as a starter with the Pirates prior to landing in Philadelphia. With Pittsburgh, Bransfield won 3 straight NL Pennants from 1901-1903. Following the 1904 season, Pittsburgh traded Bransfield to the Phillies, along with Otto Krueger and Moose McCormick for Del Howard.

Pittsburgh would regret the trade, as they would struggle to find a suitable replacement for over a decade. The press and fans dubbed the deal "the Bransfield Curse".

Bransfield was known to play a considerably deep first base, positioning himself out near the edge of the outfield grass. He felt it gave him an advantage at fielding ground balls in the hole. However, it meant that if a ball was hit to any other infielder, Bransfield would need to drop his head and run hard to the first base bag, in hopes of arriving at the same time as an anticipated throw. Bransfield once told reporters that in his four season with the Pirates that he never once saw shortstop Honus Wagner field a ground ball.

1908 was Bransfield's best season with the Phils. That year, he batted .304 with 3 homers, 71 RBI and 30 steals.

On July 11th, 1910, Kitty drove in 8 runs in a game against his old team, the Pirates. That mark still stands as the top single game RBI total in team history, although it has been tied by 4 other players, most recently by Jayson Werth in 2008.

By the following season, Bransfield's contributions were on the decline as his age and a knee injury kept him from covering much ground in the field. That led to the Phillies sending Bransfield to the Cubs for cash. After playing in just 3 games with Chicago, Bransfield returned to the minor leagues as a player/manager. He also worked as an umpire in the minor leagues before he retired to his native Massachusetts.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

PhoulBallz Interviews Phils Prospect Nick Hernandez

Nick Hernandez is a left-handed starting pitcher for the Phillies single A affiliate, the 2009 south Atlantic League Champion Lakewood BlueClaws. The 21-year-old prospect was drafted in the 12th round of the 2009 amateur draft out of the University of Tennessee. Through 3 starts this season, Hernandez has a 2-0 record with a 1.29 ERA and 20 strike outs and just 1 walk in 21 innings. Nick's father, also named Nick was a catcher in the Brewers system in the late 70's and early 80's. His uncle, Angel Hernandez, is a MLB umpire.

I had the opportunity to speak with the younger Nick this week. That interview lies ahead.


Nick, you've had some great success early this season. What can you tell me about your hot start?

It's kind of tying everything in that we learned in spring training and going out and pitching the way I have so far, just putting things together, working with the coaches, working with the coordinators. They teach you a lot of things in spring training, but there's only so much you can do throwing to the same teams over and over again, so it's facing new hitters....getting to know what you can do in an actual game, in a season that actually means something. It's been good so far, and hopefully it will continue.


You mentioned working with the coaches. How much of an effect has working with pitching coach Steve Schrenk had on your performance thus far?

It has a big effect. He's worked with some really good guys in our organization thus far. I know this is his second stint here in Lakewood and the guys he worked with here before are very close to the big leagues. So working with somebody, who has developed pitchers over the years, it's always a plus 'cause someday that could be (me). He knows what he's doing out there and he has a plan for us.


What do you think of the ballpark here in Lakewood?

Oh, it's beautiful. We're just blessed to have this facility. Everybody in spring training always talks about, "Hey, if you get a chance to play in Lakewood, you're gonna love it!" And, you know actually, I was in Williamsport, which is another good facility, but nothing compares to this, so far, that I've played in. I think we're real spoiled and hopefully, with these wonderful facilities, we can bring another championship here.


What is your pitch repertoire like and what are you working on improving?

Right now, I am a 4 pitch guy. I go with 4 and 2 seam (fastballs). I throw a curve ball, which I occasionally drop in there. I don't throw it much. It's just a thing to keep the hitters honest. My change up. And I am coming up on about 6 or 7 months of throwing a slider. It's been a work in progress. As for a breaking ball goes, that's probably my number one breaking ball right now and I occasionally drop my curve ball in.


Who was your favorite player growing up?

Probably Tom Glavine. I grew up in South Florida and TBS was big down there. Braves games were always on. Me being a left-handed pitcher, I just loved watching Glavine pitch. I pitch a lot like he does. He works his fastball to both sides of the plate, his change up is a very good pitch. But now since, he's moved on, I like to think I pitch like Mark Buehrle. He mixes his pitches well, and I'd say that's a pitcher that I look up to right now.


Which ballpark would you most like to pitch in one day?

Probably Boston. Looking at the facility...I went there in '99 for the all star game. That ballpark, you've had great baseball players go through there. The most famous players of all time have played there. Think of the whole team of the '27 Yankees who played there. You think of all the great Red Sox teams. All the teams in the American League that have played there. Endless, endless number of names who have gone through there. Hopefully, if I do make it to the big leagues one day, I'll be pitching in Philly, but hopefully, we can get interleague play and play the Red Sox one day.


What advice might you give to teenage players who are hoping to improve and play baseball beyond high school?

First thing is (for pitchers) try to stay away from a breaking ball at an early age. I didn't start throwing a curve ball till I was about 16 years old. My dad played professional baseball so he knew that you had to be fully developed to be mature enough to throw a breaking ball. The second thing I'd say is just hard work. If you do want to play (in college or) professionally, a goal that you can attain, it's gonna take hard work...Whatever you put into it is what you'll get out of it. If you sit around all day and go play a game without prepairing- mentally, physically- it's not gonna pay you back so well. So, I think whatever you put into it, you're gonna get out of it.


You mentioned your dad, also named Nick Hernandez, who played pro ball in the Brewers organization. What can you tell me about your dad's career?

My dad was a first round pick out of high school, 8th overall, back in 1978. He didn't play very long. He played, I believe, 4 years in the minor leagues, got up to double A at an early age. He always said he had a football attitude and he should have played football. He was a catcher, so to this day, he just turned 50 the other day, and he still catches my (off-season) bullpens. It's pretty cool. In the off-season it's tough to find somebody to throw with everyday and when he's around, I definitely throw with him.


What is your favorite baseball movie?

My favorite baseball movie is probably For Love of the Game. You know, Kevin Costner, he played a great role in that movie. Just going through that whole game, remembering all the things from his past...that's one of my favorite movies ever when it comes to baseball.

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Series Preview: Phillies @ D-Backs 4/23-4/25


The Phillies' (10-5) road trip continues, as they travel to Arizona for 3 games against the DiamondBacks (6-9). Arizona is struggling, as they won just one game over their last seven outings. Their relievers have a 12.42 ERA in that span. The first place Phillies will face two familiar pitchers, Kris Benson and Rodrigo Lopez, who have both been in the Phils' system in recent years, as well as a manager who is familiar, AJ Hinch, who once caught for the Phillies. The Phillies hope to build on recent strong starting pitching that has posted a 0.58 ERA in the past 4 games.

Read ahead for information on pitching matchups and more.


Friday, 9:40pm. Cole Hamels (2-1, 3.86 ERA) vs. Kris Benson (0-1, 3.00). Hamels is 2-0 in 3 starts against Arizona with a 1.74 ERA. In 13 2/3 innings pitched at Chase Field, Arizona batters have a .146 batting avg. against Colbert. Mark Reynolds is 0-for-6 in his career against Hamels. Benson is 5-0 with a 3.22 ERA in 9 career starts against Philadelphia. Prior to his season debut with Arizona this season, Benson appeared in 8 games last season for the Rangers. Before that, he had not pitched in the Majors since 2006, after suffering a torn rotator cuff.

Saturday, 8:10pm. Nelson Figueroa (1-1, 2.45) vs. Ian Kennedy (0-1, 5.65 ERA). Figueroa will make his first start for the Phillies 2001. Figueroa, in 4 games against the D-Backs, is 0-2 with an 8.68 ERA. Mark Reynolds is 2-for-2 with 2 homers against Figueroa. The righty Kennedy was once a Yankees prospect who pitched for the Trenton Thunder. Kennedy, a rookie, has just 3 starts in his Major League career.

Sunday, 4:10pm. Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 7.24 ERA) vs. Rodrigo Lopez (1-0, 3.50 ERA). Kendrick threw 8 shut out innings in his last outing against the Braves, after giving up 6 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings to the Nationals the previous week. In 2 games against Arizona, Kendrick has no decisions and a 5.11 ERA. In 7 games for the Phillies last season, Lopez was 3-1 with a 5.77 ERA. Ryan Howard is 3-for-5 off of Lopez with a homerun. Juan Castro is 4-for-9 (.444 avg) with 2 doubles against Lopez.


Second baseman Kelly Johnson is a career .245 hitter in 50 games against the Phillies with 7 homers. He is 3-for-17 (.176 avg) in his career against Hamels.

Mark Reynolds is batting .231 in 8 home games this year with a .412 on-base % (6 hits, 7 walks).

Chase Utley is a .298 hitter with 7 homeruns in 32 career games against Arizona. In 17 games at Chase Field, the man by the same name only has a .220 batting average.

Through 15 games this season, Raul Ibanez is batting .200 with no homers and 7 RBI. Through 15 games last season, Ibanez had a .339 avg, with 5 homers and 11 RBI.

Since his first game batting leadoff, when he had 4 hits in 5 at bats and 3 runs scored, Shane Victorino is 5-for-30 (.167 avg) with 3 runs scored.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happ to Disabled List, Figueroa to Start, JC Activated

After a brief bullpen session today, in which "Jay" Happ threw only 20 pitches, the decision was made by team officials, coaches and manager Charlie Manuel to place Happ on the disabled list. Happ already had his turn in the rotation skipped and he would have pitched this coming Saturday in Arizona, if his forearm strain improved enough. However, Happ is still experiencing discomfort and the team would rather allow more time for recovery than choose to push the lefty pitcher too much too soon.

Unsure of what option they'd choose to fill the void on Saturday, if Happ was unable to pitch, the Phillies pulled Drew Carpenter from his start for triple A Lehigh Valey tonight. That would have allowed Carpenter to be rested and ready if the big league club needed him.

JC Romero is with the team in Atlanta, and has been activated from the disabled list after being examined by the Phillies' medical staff. Romero will fill Happ's roster spot and fill the bullpen spot vacated by Figueroa entering the starting rotation.

Figueroa's last start for the Phillies was a loss to the Expos on August 31st, 2001.

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Scott Franzke has taken a leave from the Phillies, as his wife is expected to deliver a baby soon. In his absence, Chris Wheeler will assume play by play on the radio and Sarge Matthews will do all 9 innings of color commentary on TV.

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PhoulBallz Q&A with Phils Prospect Jarred Cosart

Jarred Cosart is a 19-year-old right-handed starting pitcher with the Phillies' single A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws. A 2008 draft pick, Jarred is currently ranked 8th in the system by Baseball America. Cosart was committed to play college ball at Missouri before he made the decision to sign a pro contract with the Phillies at the deadline in 2008. The team gave Cosart $550,000 in the deal, which is generally big money for a 38th round draft pick. In 3 starts thus far with the BlueClaws, Cosart has a 3-0 record with a 2.65 ERA and has struck out 24 batters in 17 innings. His electric fastball (that regularly touches 96 mph and upward) puts Cosart on a list of key young Phils pitching prospects that made the organization comfortable enough to trade top prospect Kyle Drabek over the off-season.

I had the opportunity to speak with Cosart this week and that interview lies ahead.


Can I get some thoughts from you regarding your hot start here in the 2010 season?

I just came out of spring training and it kind of carried over from there. My goal this year is to stay healthy and do the best I can. Working on little stuff with the coaches, particularly my mechanics a little bit. The success has carried over to the season.


What do you think of your new home, FirstEnergy Park, here in Lakewood, thus far?

Well, we started out on the road, in Asheville and Hagerstown, and...they got about a thousand fans and 200 in Hagerstown, then we come here and it's like a big league spring training park. It's just like the one in Clearwater, if not better. It's a great atmosphere to play in.


What went into the decision to sign with the Phillies after seemingly having your mind made up to play college baseball?

Honestly, after the draft was over I thought there was no chance...I thought college was a lock. And I had no problem with it. I was going to pitch and play outfield there. But the Phillies said, "Hey, we drafted you. We're going to follow you around and whatever happens happens." They made an offer, an investment I can say, at the end of summer and I was pleased to sign with a good organization. It's gone well so far.


Was the convincing factor in signing the dollar value that the Phillies offered?

Definitely not. Money has not been an issue. In college, I had no problem getting an education and I could have maybe (eventually gotten drafted) in the 1st round, if I went to college. Who knows? But, (the Phillies) just showed me that they believed in my ability to give me a number like that. Obviously, getting drafted that late and getting that kind of money is a sign that they had a belief in my ability.


With Joe Blanton around this week, for a rehab outing with the team, were you or other pitchers able to pick his brain and talk about pitching at all?

Not really, he kind of showed up late while we were going through all our stuff and what not. Not really. But it was fun to watch. It's always good to see a big leaguer up close, 'cause our goal is to get where they are.


What is your pitch repertoire like and is there anything specific that you are working on improving?

Fastball, curveball, change up...pretty basic. But they just want me to attack the hitter, 'cause my fastball is my best pitch. I'm working on refining my change up, getting better 'cause the higher up I go, the more I'm going to need that. My curveball is my out pitch. I'm really just working on getting better as a pitcher, growing up as a pitcher, learning about hitters' tendencies and stuff like that and being consistent.


Does pitching coach Steve Schrenk help you with all that?

Definitely. He's been helping me since spring training. He was at double A (Reading) last year, so he knows what it takes to get to the next level. It's good to work with someone like that.


You're ranked at the 8th best prospect in the Phillies system by Baseball America. How does a ranking like that effect your approach or outlook?

It doesn't at all. It's just...all of our goals are to get to the big leagues. It's just a number. It's nice to see. They just look at my tools I guess. That's basically all that is, some tools and some numbers.


I coach Babe Ruth league players, aged 13-15. What advice might you give those players, hoping to improve and play beyond high school, if you had the chance?

Work hard and if that's a goal, just go for it. Give it everything you've got. Work hard. Don't stop till you get somewhere with it.


Growing up in Texas, who was your favorite ball player?

Josh Beckett was my favorite pitcher. He's kind of my idol, you could say. He's from Texas, he went to high school...about 45 minutes from where I am. Kind of a Texas guy and kind of pitches similar I think.


There is always hot music going in the locker room after games. What kind of music might be found in your collection?

I listen to a little bit of everything. I'd say, before a game, I listen to rap and hip hop. But I'm more of a country guy. I've got a lot of country in the iPod.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blanton Speaks to the World


After Joe Blanton's rehab appearance with the Phillies single A club, the Lakewood BlueClaws, on Tuesday evening, he spoke to the media. Here's a run down of some things the injured pitcher had to say...


On the outing (2 innings, 2 strike outs, 13 pitches, 11 for strikes)...

I went out, good long toss, good bullpen. No pain with either one. If I had normal 5 days rest I probably would have thrown more pitches. I threw a lot in the bullpen and had a good long toss, so I'll just take that into my next rehab start.


On if he wanted to pitch another inning, as he undercut his expected pitch limit of 30 by shutting down the Hagerstown team on 13 pitches over 2 innings...

That was the plan, to go that far. I think I have an outing in a couple days, so...


On if he feels like he is ahead of schedule for a return to the big league club...

I think (the estimate for down time) was 3-6 weeks and I think the whole time we were shooting for the 3. Be optimistic....I've never been hurt before, so I didn't really know how to take it one way or the other, so that's what we were shooting for.


On if there have been lingering effects from the injury or soreness...

No. I threw two bullpens with a day off in between in Philly, and there was a day off before this one. I never felt any soreness from any of those and I never got stiff. Tomorrow will be another good test to see how I feel after some game action. Ya know, (I) put a little more effort level behind the pitches.


On his estimated return date with the Phillies...

It's kind of up to (the team). All I can do...is do what I can do, listen to the trainers and get myself healthy. My mechanics are pretty (much) there.


On his impression of FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood...

It was good. I was only out there a couple of innings, but....I've never pitched in "the SALLY League" before...so it looked like a really nice park and a good crowd and a really nice stadium.


On the extent of his next rehab outing...

I'll see what the plan is. Probably around 45-50 (pitches), about 3-5 innings. I'm just guessing.


On what he's been up to during the down time...

There wasn't a whole lot of days off. I've been doing a lot of arm exercises, from when I got hurt, so I kept my shoulder and elbow nice and strong. I've been playing long toss for a good bit too.


On if he feels the late start after the DL stint could help him in the long run this season, rest wise....

Not really. I've been a 200 inning guy. I haven't always gotten 200-plus, but I've always been around basically 194-197. Always like that, and usually as the season goes, I get better. I hope to still push to 200 (innings).


On who his favorite pitcher was growing up...

Nolan Ryan. Just tough-nosed...went out there everyday. You could see his intensity on the mound, that's what I always liked.



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Read all about Blanton's Lakewood rehab outing by clicking HERE.

Check me out on the radio today, talking Phillies baseball with The Shore Sports Report. I should be on around 3:20pm with Mike & Joe. Tune in on WOBM AM 1160 and Fox Sports 1310 AM by the shore...or listen live on the web by clicking here.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blanton Sharp in Rehab Outing With Lakewood

Phillies starting pitcher Joe Blanton appeared with the single A Lakewood BlueClaws in his first rehab outing on Tuesday night, as he attempts to recover from an injured oblique muscle. Blanton, the Phillies 3rd starter, has been resting and recovering on the disabled list, since March 31st, when he injured his oblique during a bullpen session.

The injury was not something Blanton saw coming at all. "I threw a pitch in the bullpen, thought I felt something. I didn't know if I just kinda pinched my side, or something grabbed, or what. Then I threw another pitch and it felt like somebody stabbed me in my side," Blanton said when discribing how he experienced the strained muscle.

While warming up prior to the game in Lakewood, Blanton expressed frustration, as he wasn't displaying the type of control he expected of himself, early on. A few of his warm up pitches went wide and in the dirt, but none of that translated into the game action, as Blanton displayed excellent command, shutting down 3 batters in the first inning, then topping that with a 6 pitch 2nd inning. Blanton threw first pitch strikes to 4 of 6 batters and threw 11 strikes out of 13 pitches.

When asked about his command, Blanton, who last pitched in a minor league game in 2004, told the media, "I pretty much counted on good command. It wasn't a lot of time off from throwing." Blanton stated that throughout this trip to the disabled list, the first of his career, that he only missed about 9 days of throwing. He has been increasing his distance and staying active throughout his down time.

Looking a bit more lean, Blanton appears to be in better shape than phans may be used to. Asked if he's changed his diet or training routine, Blanton stated, "Not really. I've just been going about the same as always. Just trying to work hard and get better every year."

Blanton's time frame for a return to the Major League Phillies is still up in the air and depends on his progress through rehab work, but a target date of early May looks realistic. A Phillies representative was overheard saying that Blanton will pitch Friday in (double A level) Reading. That would be an longer outing than his two inning effort in Lakewood (possibly 50 pitches), and would set Blanton up to pitch again on Wednesday, April 28th, if he goes on regular rest. Reading is the only one of the three local teams that is home on that date.

The BlueClaws won the game against the Hagerstown Suns 4-3 in 11 innings. The team plans to auction off the uniform Blanton wore on Tuesday benefit BlueClaws charities.

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Fox News Covers Phillies Vomit Mishap

I'm sure nobody missed the story last week about Matthew Clemens, AKA- Vomit Boy, the man who was acting abusive at a Phillies game then had a dispute with off-duty polce captain, Michael Vangelo. Reportedly, Clemens and a friend were drunk while using foul language and spitting, when Vangelo initially complained to security. The friend was ejected, but Clemens stayed behind and proceeded to force himself to vomit onto Vangelo and his 11-year-old daughter. Nearby fans then subdued Clemens until he was removed from the park. Clemens was arrested and charged with assault, reckless endangerment and related charges.

On a recent episode of Fox News Channel's nightly comedic round table program Red Eye, panelists discussed the mishap at Citizens Bank Park. Have a look at that clip.



Highlights of the segment include the go-to mention of Santa Claus being pelted with snow balls decades ago, the host, Greg Gutfeld, referring to Clemens as an "A-hole" and a "fat piece of s***", as well as the widely popular Lady Gaga impression by the Phillie Phanatic.

Other quotables from the clip include panelists stating the following...to answer Gutfeld's question, "What's wrong with Philadelphia?"
"Philadelphia's a great drinking town."
"I think it's kind of impressive to have that kind of vomit aim."
"They're lucky they only walked out with puke on them."

Gutfeld later proclaimed that, "Nothing comes out of (Philadelphia) that's any good. You just hear bad things."

If they weren't trying to be funny, I might take offense and be bothered by the closed mindedness, but this is a program hidden in a nightly 3am time slot, so I'll take it easy on them. They just want attention and who can blame them? Poking fun at certain people will get folks talking about the show, as you see here on PhoulBallz.com. Red Eye is mainly a funny show and I can forgive the panel for being lazy and Philly-ist with their commentary. Many phans should be immune to preconceived notions relating to them, from the national media, by now anyway. However, if you ever happen to see Gutfeld or his imbecile side kick Bill Schulz, perhaps you'll feel a desire to give them a new story to tell, so they can switch gears from snow balls and throw-up...flash them a smile to show them the error of their ways. Then pass gas on them, break something and holler, "Philly in the house!" Let them know that Philadelphia phans' wild nature is harder to control than Ben Roethlisberger's sexual urges and they should watch who they poke fun at.

On a more serious note, Citizens Bank Park is equipped with a system where phans can send text messages about unruly fans and their locations. These messages will be received by the staff at the park and will garner a reply. Security will then be dispatched to deal with the issue. The number to report improper behavior is short code 69050.

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Series Preview: Phillies at Braves, 4/20-4/22


The Phillies hit the road and will begin a 3-game series in Atlanta on Tuesday night. The 3-time defending National League East Division Champions from Philadelphia will get their first regular season look at the rookie with all the hype, Jason Heyward, who is batting .302 through his first 12 Major League games. Following a 7-1 start, the Phillies have lost three of their last four games, including their first series loss of the season, as they dropped 2 of 3 to the Marlins over the weekend. The Braves have a 7-5 record and are hoping to knock the champs down. Read on for details on the pitching match ups for this series and other key notes.


Tuesday, 7:10pm. Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 17.47 ERA) vs. Tommy Hanson (1-1, 2.38 ERA). Kendrick's time in the Phillies' starting rotation could be in jeopardy as the man he is filling in for, Joe Blanton, work his way back from an oblique injury. Kendrick has pitched just 5 2/3 inning in two starts this season. In 7 career games against Atlanta, Kyle is 4-1 with a 3.29 ERA. Hanson has faced the Phillies twice and he is 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA and .321 batting average against in those outings. In 12 starts at Turner Field, Hanson has a 7-3 record with a 3.15 ERA.

Wednesday, 7:10pm. Roy Halladay (3-0, 1.12 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson (1-0, 2.84 ERA). Halladay has allowed just 1 run in 10 1/3 innings against the Braves. Hudson is 4-6 with a 3.79 ERA in 15 career starts against the Phils. Ryan Howard is 12-for-34 (.353 avg) with 5 homers, 10 RBI and 7 walks against Hudson. In 64 career starts at Turner Field, Hudson has a 29-18 record with 3.56 ERA.

Thursday, 7:10pm. Jamie Moyer (1-1, 7.50 ERA) vs. Derek Lowe (3-0, 4.67 ERA). In 5 starts at Turner Field, Moyer is 1-2 with a 5.46 ERA. Troy Glaus against Moyer is 19-for-54 (.352 avg) with 5 homers and 15 RBI. In 14 regular season games against the Phillies, Lowe is 6-1 with a 2.56 ERA. Last year in 17 starts at Turner Field, Lowe had a 6-4 record with a 4.28 ERA. Raul Ibanez is 2-for-25 (.080 avg) against Lowe...both hits are homers. Ibanez along with Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, Juan Castro, Brian Schneider and Jayson Werth are a combined 12-for-96 (.120 avg) against Lowe.


Chipper Jones against Kendrick, Halladay & Moyer is 14-for-33 (.424 avg) with 4 homers and 10 RBI.

Brian McCann hit 5 of his 21 homers last season off Phillies pitchers. McCann is a career .304 hitter in 72 games against the Phils.

Ryan Howard has hit more homers (15) at Turner Field than any other road ballpark. In 42 games there, Howard is a .336 hitter and has a 1.129 OPS.

In 25 career games at Turner Field, Ryan Madson is 4-1 with 2 blown saves and a 1.91 ERA.

"Jay" Happ will miss a turn in the starting rotation, as he has been diagnosed with a strained flexor pronator muscle in his forearm. The team is taking a conservative approach with Happ, hoping he will return to action next week.

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PhoulBallz Q&A with Brody Colvin

Brody Colvin is a 19-year-old starting pitcher for the Class A level Lakewood BlueClaws. Colvin was drafted by the Phillies in the 7th round of last June's amateur draft. After committing to attend LSU, Colvin signed with the Phils on the last possible day last year. Colvin made headlines during the off-season after getting arrested in his hometown in Louisiana and charged with battery and resisting an officer. The 6'3" right-hander has an ERA of 8.00 after 2 starts this month, but that is no reason for alarm, as Colvin is still working on his pitches.

I spoke with Brody after his first home start this past weekend. Here is that interview...


Your fastball was hitting 93mph on the radar gun for your outing on Friday night in the BlueClaws home opener. Do you consider yourself a power pitcher?

Yeah, for the most part, right now, definitely. I like working in and out with my fastball a lot and trying to work in a change up every now and again, but definitely a power pitcher at this stage.


What is your full pitch repertoire?

Four seam fastball, 12-6 curve and circle change up.


You're ranked as the 12th best prospect in the system by Baseball America. How does that type of recognition effect your outlook?

I don't really look too much into those lists right now, being so early in my career. I don't really pay attention to those lists too much.


What are your main goals going forward for the 2010 season?

Throw more strikes, limit the walks, throw my change up more consistently for strikes, and keep hitters off balance.


You signed with the Phillies late last year after committing to LSU. Can you talk a bit about that decision?

I definitely think I had my mind set on pro ball the whole time. LSU was a good second option for me, but the offer (from the Phillies) came late and I decided to run with it.


What was your impression of the home field, FirstEnergy Park, during your outing on opening night?

Aw man, great...great! The best atmosphere that I've ever pitched in front of. Love the fans. Everybody was really great. I loved it.


Was there any sense of urgency to come in and redeem yourself, in the minds of the organization, this spring, after your arrest in the off-season?

That was just a misunderstanding. That's all that was. But, I wanted to get here and show how committed I was to the team and how focused I'm going to be all season.


Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

I'd definitely have to say it'd be three....Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz.


Those guys have different styles....some finesse, with Smoltz being more of a power guy. What made that group so appealing?

Just the way those three worked together. I'm more of a power pitcher, so John Smoltz was probably my favorite out of the three, back in the day. But the way those three worked together, it was just art. It was great.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Leandro Castro is a Dancing Machine

Many of you might recall last year, when the Lakewood BlueClaws' rain delay dance troop made their internet debut. If not, you can refresh your memory by clicking here. During a rain delay last May, many Phillies prospects including Jon Velasquez, Travis D'Arnaud, Moose Mattair, Jacob Diekman and Zach Collier took the field, to entertain the fans who were in attendance, and performed the Cha Cha Slide. This event, as well as other similar occurrences, have given the BlueClaws a reputation for being fun-loving and for caring about their fans.

This past Friday's opening night saw familiar rain delay action as BlueClaws left fielder Leandro Castro took to getting things poppin', somewhat, and entertained his teammates in the dugout during the down time. Sebastian Valle and Domingo Santana can be seen cheering Castro on from the bench.


Through 11 games this season, the 20-year-old Castro is hitting .317 with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 7 RBI and 3 steals. Castro has 4 multi-hit games already this season. Castro, a native of the Dominican Republic, was signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 2007 and is ranked as the 25th best prospect in the system by Baseball America.

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A major shout out goes out to the peachy one, Mister Tug, for image assistance.

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PhoulBallz Q&A with Jiwan James


Jiwan James is the starting center fielder for the Phillies single A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws. The switch hitting 21-year-old is a converted pitcher, who was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2007 amateur draft. He is ranked as the 11th best prospect in the Phillies minor league system by Baseball America and has been called the best athlete in the system. Thus far through 11 games this season, Jiwan is batting .245 with a homer, 10 RBI and 7 runs scored. I had the opportunity to speak with him this weekend. Here is that interview...


How was the home opener on Friday night...the ballpark, the vibe here in Lakewood?

You can just feel the energy in the stadium. Playing on the road, we didn't have as many fans as we did tonight. We were just waiting for the day to get here, to see the stadium, and then, once we did, it was all about the fans.


What are some specific goals you have for the 2010 season?

Just to have a good year. Please the fans and that's about it really.


How about a repeat for Lakewood as South Atlantic League champs? Was seeing the championship banner raised on opening night an inspiration at all?

That's the plan. That's the main goal.


Can I get some comments from you on the transition from pitching to being an everyday player?

I wasn't as hard as people think it was, 'cause I was playing everyday for years. During the season, off-season (as a pitcher) I'd sneak down to the batting cage. I wanted to play everyday, so it was not that hard really. Just a matter of putting the extra work in and trying to catch up.


Baseball America has you ranked 11th in the system. How do those sorts of reviews and that type of recognition effect you or impact your frame of mind as a player?

I try not to think about it really. That's all politics...what people think about you. It really has nothing to do with the way I am going to play on the field or anything else.


What is new BlueClaws manager Mark Parent like as a coach?

Down to Earth. He will tell it how it is. Basically, just go out and play hard and do what you gotta do. If you mess up, he'll let you know. If you do a good job he'll let you know. There's no beating around the bush or anything with him.


What is you favorite baseball movie?

I'm going with Sandlot. I grew up watching The Sandlot everyday. Right across the street from my house, we grew up playing on a little field, and we called it The Sandlot actually, once the movie came out.


If you had the opportunity to give advice to teenage kids hoping to play baseball beyond high school, what would you tell them?

Go out and prepare everyday as if it was your last. Everyday that you don't work, somebody else is. Somebody is working, trying to get the same spot that you want. So just go everyday and give it what you've got.


Who was your favorite player growing up?

Derek Jeter. He plays the game the right way, everybody likes him, never does anything wrong. He's a great person to look up to.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 59

Dick Bartell was a shortstop with the Phillies from 1931-1934. Nicknamed "Rowdy Richard", for his hustling nature and aggressiveness toward the opposing team, Bartell debuted with the Pirates at age 19 in 1927.

With Pittsburgh, Bartell became a regular, splitting time between second base and shortstop, and hit over .300 three straight seasons. After the 1930 season, Bartell was traded to Philadelphia for infielder Tommy Thevenow and pitcher Claude Willoughby. Bartell would continue his solid batting, as he hit over .300 while scoring over 100 runs twice (in 1932 & 1934) and made an all-star team (in 1933) in 4 seasons with the Phillies.

Bartell was likely best known for his efforts and his style of play around the second base bag. During an era when players regularly went hard into opposing infielders with their spikes upward, to get an advantage, Bartell was a master of that sort of cleat action. He was once identified as, "probably the most-hated gent in the National League," by a sports writer. The tough-nosed Bartell told the reporter, "I've never gone out of my way for trouble and I've never side stepped. If some of these guys around figure on getting tough, why, that'll be all right with me." A fiery guy who spoke like that today would surely be loved by Philadelphia phans.

Much like so many other players who excelled in a Phillies uniform during the 1930's, Bartell was shipped out of town to help pay bills. After the 1934 season, Bartell was traded to the Giants for 4 players and cash. Bartell would help the Giants go to two straight World Series in 1936 and 1937. In that 1937 pennant season, he made another all-star team and finished 6th in MVP voting with 14 homers, 62 RBI, 91 runs scored and a .306 batting avg.

Bartell would spend time with both Detroit and the Cubs before landing back with the Giants in 1941. In 1943 he began two years of military service, during World War II. Bartell returned to the Majors and played in 5 games in 1946, then retired from playing. He would go on to manage in the minors and coach for Detroit and Cincinnati.

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Happ Experiencing Forearm Discomfort

Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet reported Saturday night that "Jay" Happ is dealing with some discomfort in his left forearm and could potentially miss his next start, Tuesday or Wednesday in Atlanta. Phils manager Charlie Manuel said they'd know more in the next couple of days.

This news could be serious trouble for the Phillies, who have enough question marks on their pitching staff already. Joe Blanton has been working his way back from an injured oblique. Kyle Kendrick has occupied Blanton's spot in the rotation and has posted a 17.47 ERA over his first two starts this season. JC Romero and Brad Lidge are also attempting to bounce back from injuries while recent tough outings by relievers David Herndon and Danys Baez have left each man with an ERA over 7.

The reserves at the triple A level are not anything to ease the concern. Drew Carpenter is 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA in 2 starts. Ryan Vogelsong is 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 2 starts, but he has walked 9 batters in 9 1/3 innings.

There had been talk of skipping Kendrick's next turn in the rotation because of the Phillies' off day coming up on Monday. That now looks unlikely, as Happ may be the one who gets skipped.

Back to Blanton...many reports have Joe Blanton making his first rehab start this coming Tuesday in Lakewood for the class A BlueClaws. PhoulBallz.com will keep you posted on that.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

PhoulBallz Interviews Lakewood Manager Mark Parent

Mark Parent is the new manager of the reigning South Atlantic League Champions, the Lakewood BlueClaws. Parent, a former Major League catcher, played for the Padres, Orioles and Phillies among other teams during his 13-year playing career. Parent has managed in the Mariners' system and spent some time as the skipper of the Chico Outlaws in the independent Golden League. Hired back in December to lead the BlueClaws, Parent now plans to target a repeat as league champions. I spoke with Mark on Friday, and here is how that went down.


What would you say the team's biggest strengths and/or biggest weaknesses are in the early going thus far?

Well, in the early going, that one inning. Pitching-wise, the weakness we've had is the one inning that we kind of lose focus, or try to get a little cute, or you know, like a guy's throwing 95 and we decide to throw an inning of change ups and breaking balls...we get behind hitters, then throw the fastball and they can catch up to it, if they know it's coming. And that happens more than it should. And, just grinding out at bats. I mean, lately we've had some pretty good at bats, we've just left some guys in scoring position. We've gotta put the ball in play more. We strike out too much. Make the other team make plays too.


What were your first impressions of your home field, FirstEnergy Park, today (Friday was the first time many BlueClaws saw their home field)?

It was outstanding. What they do here, along with the Phillies is fabulous. I mean, I can't fathom being in A ball, when I played, and playing in a stadium like this. The way the fans treat the players, and the way the front office and the organization here with the BlueClaws goes out of their way to help them out, I think it's a good place for these kids to mature as baseball players.


From what you've seen from your players so far, are there some names you could toss out as players you are confident will succeed at higher levels in this sport?

Yeah, I could see a (Anthony) Hewitt, I could see a (Jiwan) James down the road, I could see a (Sebastian) Valle down the road, I could see a (Jarred) Cosart down the road...(Jonathan) Pettibone, (Nick) Hernandez...we got a ton of them. We're just really young right now. A lot of these clubs are filled with college graduates and we're filled with high school age kids and a couple college guys and they're out here competing and they're doing a good job.


I know that you've got a son that's the same age as some of your players. Does that have any effect on how you manage your players?

Well, you gotta expect that they're going to make mistakes, just like your own kids would. I have a 19-year-old son playing baseball at UC Santa Barbara. He messes up and it's just how you go about fixing whatever you're doing wrong. If you're having trouble at the plate, go work at it. Get better. You have a small window here to get better, so our job is to be there for them and ready for the to want to work.


Prior to meeting your players, what had you heard and what were your impressions of some of the guys?

I wanted to go in with my own opinions and in spring training, we meet every day. I found out what I needed to know from the guys who've watched them, but most importantly, I just wanted to see them work. I wanted to see how they work for me...how they fit in the organization and how they fit into our ball club. These guys are low A guys, who have to compete here, to go to the next level. There's four steps up the ladder for these guys and some of them will have the opportunity, but they have to mature first.


What is your favorite baseball movie?

You know what? The one that caught my attention recently was "For Love of the Game". I thought Kevin Costner did a pretty good job. I just thought, being an older player, I could kind of relate to him sitting by himself in the dugout and seeing the game going on and seeing other things. I thought it was great how they portrayed it.

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BlueClaws Drop Ninth Straight Home Opener

The pregame festivities were tussled a bit by the poor weather. But the crowd of 6,794 still witnessed the 2009 South Atlantic League Championship banner raised by season ticket holder Ed Rausch after a delay. They also got to see a flyover, that was planned to coincide with the national anthem, but happened out of sync, as the 108th Air Refueling Wing plane was running low and fuel and had to return to McGuire Air Force base prior to additional bad weather hitting the area. And as the opening day proceedings didn't go the way the home town folks would have liked, neither did the result of the game.

On a night delayed by rain, the momentous season opener at the home park ended as Lakewood has grown accustomed...with a loss. The BlueClaws have lost each of their last 9 home openers.

Lakewood starter Brody Colvin took the loss against the Marlins affiliate Greensboro Grasshoppers. A 7th round pick in last year's amateur draft, Colvin walked 3 batters in the 3rd inning, two of which came around to score and the third forced home a run. That was all the Grasshoppers needed, as they held the BlueClaws to just 2 runs and won the contest 3-2.

After a walk to the Grasshoppers' lead-off batter, Jose Torres, in the top of the 3rd inning, Rand Smith followed with a single off of Colvin. With two runners on, shortstop Terrence Dayleg got them closer to home a sacrifice bunt. Colvin then struck out the next batter and was close to seeing himself out of a jam, for the second straight inning, before he walked the bases loaded by issuing a free pass to Greensboro designated hitter Kyle Skipworth. The third walk of the inning, to catcher Carlos Paulino, then forced Torres home and first baseman Chad Cregar plated two more runners with a single.

New BlueClaws manager, former Major League catcher, Mark Parent said after the game that Colvin's troubles in the third inning were purely mechanical and that Colvin quickly identified the issue to the coaching staff between innings, and rectified the situation the very next inning, when he induced a hat trick of fly balls for 17-year-old right fielder Domingo Santana, in a 1-2-3 inning.

"He lost his mechanics for a second, like young guys do, and it hurt him," Parent said following the first game of the BlueClaws' tenth season. "He was feeling what he did wrong, and he corrected it."

Asked what the problem was specifically, Colvin said, "I lost focus a little bit, and kind of got outside myself. Didn't have my mechanics working that inning and they took advantage of it. Sometimes, when I get flustered, I rush to the plate and I end up falling...dropping my glove, dropping my elbow. I just gotta stay up, stay tall, stay to the plate."

As for the possibility of the weather being a factor, the players, who haven't had much experience playing in cold rain (48 degrees at the time of first pitch) lately, didn't subscribe to that notion. Parent, however, didn't care for the shivery showers. "It was too damn cold, I'll tell you that much. I'm glad I didn't have to play."

Lakewood's 2 runs came in the 4th inning when Sebastian Valle led off with a single and third baseman Adam Buschini followed that with a double. Second baseman Jeremy Barnes, who shined on defense by displaying great range, drove in the first BlueClaws run with a sacrifice fly to center. Darin Ruf, the BlueClaws first baseman, smashed a double that scored Buschini. The BlueClaws could not capitalize on errors by Grasshoppers third baseman Chase Austin on the next two batters, and the scoring was done for the defending SAL Champs, as Greensboro starting pitcher Edgar Olmos posted a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth and the relief combination of Sandy Rosario and Alejanero Ramos held them to just one hit over the final four innings of the game.

Greensboro and the BlueClaws are back at it at 4:05pm Saturday, when righty Curtis Peterson takes on Phils prosect Jonathan Pettibone.

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PhoulBallz.com will have loads of BlueClaws content throughout the season, include exclusive interviews with Brody Colvin and more in the coming days.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Series Preview: Marlins @ Phillies 4/16-4/18


This weekend, the second place Marlins make their first visit of the season to Philadelphia for a three-game series. Highlights of the weekend include Roy Halladay's first start at Citizens Bank Park on Friday and the presentation of 2009 Gold Glove Awards to Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco on Saturday. Read on for details on the pitching matchups and other key notes for this series.


Friday, 7:05pm. Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 6.00 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (2-0, 0.56 ERA). Sanchez is 2-4 with a 5.40 ERA in 7 career starts against the Phillies. Last season, Sanchez was 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in 2 starts against Philadelphia. Ryan Howard is 5-for-14 (.357 avg.) with 2 doubles, 2 homers and 5 walks against Sanchez. Jayson Werth is 1-for-10 (.100 avg) with 7 strike outs against Sanchez in his career. The reigning NL player of the week, Halladay, has made 2 starts against the Marlins in his career...in those games he has a 0-1 record and a 5.00 ERA. No active Marlin has homered off of Halladay.


Saturday, 7:05pm. Ricky Nolasco (0-0, 5.68 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (1-0, 7.50 ERA). In 11 career games against the Phillies, Nolasco has a 5-3 record with a 4.23 ERA. In 5 career starts at Citizens Bank Park, Nolasco is 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA and a .200 batting average against. Carlos Ruiz is just 1-for-11 (.091 avg) against Nolasco in his career. Moyer, the active ML leader in wins, has a 13-4 record with a 2.93 ERA in 17 career starts against Florida. Moyer made 5 starts against the Marlins last season and in those games his record was 2-3 and his ERA was 2.90. In 16 homes games last year, Moyer's ERA was 6.00. Wes Helms is 7-for-19 (.368 avg) with a double, 2 homers and 6 RBI against Moyer.


Sunday, 1:35pm. Nate Robertson (1-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (2-0, 5.06 ERA). In 6 April appearances last year with the Tigers, Robertson's ERA was 9.00. Raul Ibanez is 7-for-29 (.241 avg) with a double and 2 RBI against Robertson. In his career against the Marlins, Hamels has a 2-6 record with a 4.48 ERA in 12 starts. Hamels' career home numbers are 28-17 with a 3.47 ERA and a .232 batting average against, in 57 regular season starts. Chris Coghlan is 6-for-9 (.667 avg) with 2 doubles, 2 homers and 4 RBI against Hamels.



Chris Coghlan is 25-for-57 (.439 avg) with 12 runs scored in 15 games against the Phillies.

Marlins slugger Jorge Cantu has a record of 10 games with a hit and an RBI to open a season. The previous record was 8, set in 1921 by George Kelly of the Giants.

In 47 career games against the Marlins, Ryan Madson has a 3-2 record, with 1 blown save and a 2.94 ERA.

Jayson Werth is a .215 career hitter in 56 games against the Marlins. Werth batted .185 in 18 games against the Marlins last season.

In 80 career games against the Marlins, Ryan Howard is a .319 hitter with a 1.103 OPS. Howard batted .382 in 17 games against the Marlins last season.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

NL Champions Receive Their Rings

Today, as all of baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson and the end of racial segregation in Major League Baseball, the 2009 National League Champion Phillies received their championship rings in a ceremony prior to the game at Citizens Bank Park.
For those of you wondering what the rings looked like, check out the images below.


Raul Ibanez's ring shows that the Phillies won their league 2 straight years.


Opposite side of the ring, showing the result of the National League Championship Series...Phillies 4, Dodgers 1.

A happy group of starting Phils with their rings.

Robinson's number 42 is retired all throughout MLB and will be worn by players on all teams, as a tribute, on April 15th each year, the anniversary of the day Robinson broke the color barrier with the Dodgers.

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Screen caps ripped straight from that great website Phillies.com


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Shane at the Top- Good or Bad?

With some serious concern over how the Phillies' lineup might perform with Jimmy Rollins out due to injury, the team exploded after getting behind by 3 runs early Wednesday, in their first game since Rollins injured his calf at the home opener on Monday.

Shane Victorino, the man assigned to take over the lead-off spot in the batting order for the absent Rollins, had a tremendous night at the plate. Victorino came within a double of being the second player in Citizens Bank Park history to hit for the cycle. Victorino went 4-for-5 with 5 RBI and 3 runs scored.

The initial concern was probably in direct correlation with Victorino's career numbers batting in that lead-off spot. Prior to last night's contest, Shane's stats batting 1st in the lineup looked like this- 44 games, .227 batting avg., 7 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homers, 31 runs, 14 RBI, with an on-base % below .300. In 15 games batting in the lead-off spot last season, Shane batted .200, had a .264 on-base % & had 8 runs scored, but in 14 games batting first in the batting order in 2008, Shane had a .327 avg., with a .403 on-base % & 13 runs scored.

Victorino's production varies no matter where he bats in the order. He batted mostly 2nd in the lineup in 2009 and put up a .307 batting avg & a .370 on-base % in 124 games there. In 81 games batting in that same spot in 2008, Victorino's batting avg. was much lower, at .263 but he still produced a .335 on-base %.

With all that variance in mind, let's just consider that Victorino is a career .283 hitter with a .346 career on-base % and he's got speed. Certainly, he's the best option to bat lead-off at this time, and if his 2010 lead-off debut is an accurate indication of things to come, the first place Phillies will be just fine for the foreseeable future, until Jimmy Rollins returns from his injury.

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