Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mark Parent Announces Playoff Rotation and More

The South Atlantic League playoffs begin next Wednesday for the Lakewood BlueClaws. I had the opportunity to speak with manager Mark Parent about various team matters as the post-season approaches. Parent has already begun preparations, as he's reassigned one of his starters to the bullpen and announced his pitching rotation for the first round of the playoffs.

Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.



______________________________________________

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Series Preview: Phillies at Dodgers, 8/30-9/1


The Phillies (73-57) seem back in control after recovering from a poor 4-game effort against the Astros by sweeping the team with the best record in the league in San Diego over the weekend. Philadelphia will visit Los Angeles for a 3-game series against the Dodgers (67-64) beginning Monday night.

Roy Halladay looks to take over the lead in all three pitching triple crown categories (Halladay already leads the National League in strike outs and ERA), as he needs a win to tie Ubaldo Jimenez and Adam Wainwright for the league's top spot with 17 W's.

LA will counter with Japanese born hurler Hiroki Kuroda, who was an excellent history against the Phillies, posting a 1-0 record and a 0.95 ERA against them in 3 starts.

The two teams have met the last two season in the playoffs, with the Phillies coming out on top both times. Philadelphia currently leads the Wild card race, by 1 1/2 games over San Francisco and sits 2 games behind the Eastern division leading Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers are 6 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the Wild card race, while they sit 10 games behind the West division leading Padres.

Continue reading for details on the pitching match ups and plenty more statistical information on this series.


Monday, 10:10pm. Roy Halladay (16-9, 2.22 ERA) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (9-11, 3.56 ERA). In 3 career starts against the Dodgers, Halladay is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA. Former Phillie Rod Barajas is 0-for-9 in his career against Halladay. In 8 starts since the All-star break, Halladay has posted a 6-2 record with a 2.29 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Kuroda is 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA. Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino are a combined 0-for-19 against Kuroda in regular season games.

Tuesday, 10:10pm. Kyle Kendrick (8-7, 4.64 ERA) vs. Carlos Monasterios (3-4, 3.54 ERA). In 5 career starts against the Dodgers, Kendrick has a 2-3 record with an 8.14 ERA. Over his last 5 starts, Kendrick is 2-3 with a 5.53 ERA. Andre Ethier is 5-for-10 with 2 homeruns against Kendrick. Monasterios, who was once acquired by the Phillies from the Yankees in the Bobby Abreu/Cory Lidle trade, was taken in the Rule 5 draft last off-season by the Mets, who later sent Monasterios to the Dodgers. In 9 games since the All-star break, Monasterios is 0-2 with a 2.89 ERA.

Wednesday, 3:10pm. Roy Oswalt (9-13, 3.12 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (11-8, 3.01 ERA). In 6 starts as a Phillie, Oswalt is 3-1 with a 2.18 ERA. In 6 games at Dodger Stadium, Oswalt is 3-3 with a 4.08 ERA. In 5 career regular season starts against the Phillies, Kershaw has posted a 0-3 record with a 5.67 ERA. In his last 4 starts this season, Kershaw is 1-1 with a 2.02 ERA.


Rod Barajas is a career .348 hitter with an 1.146 OPS in 24 games against the Phillies.

Matt Kemp is a .363 hitter in 27 regular season games against the Phillies. In 43 games since the All-star break, Kemp is batting .242.

In 27 career regular season games against the Phillies, James Loney is a .355 hitter.

In 43 games since the All-star break, Jayson Werth has posted a .321 batting average.

Placido Polanco is 2-for-17 (.118 avg) in his last 4 games. Polanco is 2-for-12 (.167) in his career against reliever Octavio Dotel.

In 20 career regular season games against the Dodgers, Brad Lidge has a 3.98 ERA and has blown 4 of 13 save opportunities.

_____________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Mike Sweetie Embraces Philadelphia

Mike Sweeney is the new guy. A part time player. He's been a Phillie for just a few weeks, but with his steadily jovial outlook, his appreciation of the sport, and his seemingly instant devotion to the City of Brotherly Love, Sweeney has already won over more phans than Tad Iguchi did when he was acquired to fill a void in 2007 and helped the Phillies advance to their first post-season in 14 years. Sweeney is also on the fast track to being the next Matt Stairs, who hit a landmark homerun in team history in the 2008 playoffs against the Dodgers and helped the Phils lock down just their second World Championship ever, in relation to approval of the Phillies phaithful.

The newest Phillie respects the uniform, plays hard and he is affectionate. What more could a phan ask for?

On Sunday, Sweeney slugged his first homer as a Phillie, helping to lock down a series sweep against the Padres in San Diego. Those who caught the game telecast witnessed Sweeney celebrating afterward by dishing out hugs to teammates and coaches.

After the game, Sweeney spoke with "Sarge" Matthews, on MyPHL 17. Check out the media player below to listen to some excerpts from that interview.



______________________________________________________

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 74

Bob Boone was a catcher with the Phillies from 1972-1981. Known for his superb defense, Boone was the field general for the Philadelphia team that made the post-season 4 times in 5 seasons, from 1976-1980.

Born in San Diego, Boone attended Stanford University, where he played third base. Boone was converted to a catcher after being drafted by the Phillies.

Boone made his Major League debut as a late season call up in 1972, before taking over as the Phillies' everyday catcher the following season. His strong offensive output (.261 avg., 10 HR, 61 RBI) and his efforts behind the plate earned Boone a 3rd-place finish for Rookie of the Year honors in 1973.

Boone was a 2nd generation Major Leaguer, as his father, Ray, was a third baseman with the Tigers and Indians, among other teams. Bob Boone parented a third generation of Major Leaguers. His sons Bret and Aaron both played ball at the highest level. All four Boone men were All-stars in their careers. The Boones were the first 3-generation family to play in the Majors.

The righty hitting Boone made his All-star debut in 1976. He would also be honored as a National League All-star in 1978 and 1979. In 1977 he won the first of 2 straight Gold Glove Awards. Those feats are even more impressive when considering that future Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Johnny Bench were catchers in the NL at that time.

As a key piece of the team, Boone caught all 6 games of the 1980 World Series, helping the Phillies win their first ever championship. In that series, he batted .412 with 4 RBI.

A knee injury held Boone back in 1981 and his production suffered. As a result, the Phillies sold Boone's contract to the Angels the following off-season.

In 7 seasons with California, Boone won 4 more Gold Gloves and was named to the American League All-star team in 1983. Boone played 2 additional seasons with the Kansas City Royals in 1989 and 1990, where he won one more Gold Glove Award, before retiring from playing.

In 1995, Boone began managing the Royals for parts of 3 seasons. In 2001 he took over as manager of the Reds, but was let go in July, 2003. While in Cincinnati, Boone managed his son Aaron, who played third base for the Reds.

In 2005, Boone was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame. In 10 seasons as a Phillies, Boone posted a .259 batting average, slammed 65 homeruns and drove in 456 runs.

Bob Boone currently serves as Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Development for the Washington Nationals.

____________________________________________________

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Experts Rank Phillies Top 20 Prospects

This week I took part in a media survey, conducted by The Reading Eagle's Mike Drago, that was designed to rank the top 20 prospects in the Phillies system. Twelve individuals who are very close to the Phillies minor league system were asked to rank their own personal top 20, which Drago tabulated and averaged to determine the list of 20.

Normally, these sorts of lists are done by one source, who is not necessarily close to a solitary organization (IE- a national outlet that has correspondents who occasionally view the analyzed players).

In this instance, surveying a dozen analysts, who have seen these players on a regular basis, makes this catalog of Philadelphia prospects the most accurate and reliable one available.

Here are the rankings, including brief reviews for the top half:



Jonathan Singleton

1. Jonathan Singleton: Just 18 and in his first full professional season, the eighth-round pick out of Long Beach, Calif., got off to a sizzling start with Lakewood, hitting over .400 his first month and homering 10 times in his first 41 games. He has tired over the second half of the season; before Aug. 1 his walks equaled his strikeout total.

2. Jarred Cosart: The 20-year-old right-hander has electric stuff, with a fastball in the 97-98 mph range. He was blowing away Sally League hitters in his first pro season (77 strikeouts in 71 innings) before being shut down in late June with elbow issues.

Vance Worley

3. Vance Worley: The 22-year-old right-hander bounced back from a rough second half at Double-A last season to excel this season, earning a brief mid-summer call-up to Philadelphia. He's at Triple-A, where he has been strong, and could get a September call-up.

4. Trevor May: The 20-year-old right-hander got off to a poor start at Clearwater (5-5, 5.01), then rebounded when he was returned to Lakewood (85 strikeouts in 59 innings) in early June. A bit of a setback for a guy ranked by Baseball America as the top pitcher in the organization coming into the season.

5. Sebastian Valle: The 20-year-old is the Phils' top catching prospect and has continued to show power at Lakewood, with 16 HRs and 74 RBIs in 115 games. Not great behind the plate or at throwing out basestealers.


Harold Garcia

6. Harold Garcia: Among the most intriguing players in the system, he was off the radar until a 37-game hitting streak at Clearwater, where he batted .335. He has continued to hit (.293) and show athleticism at second base since his promotion to Reading in July.

7. Brody Colvin: The right-hander appears to be worth the $900,000 bonus the Phils paid him last summer. He has been tremendous over the second half at Lakewood, with a 1.65 ERA over his last 11 starts, and he just turned 20 this month.

8. Scott Mathieson: He has survived two Tommy John surgeries and is throwing as hard, and as well, as ever at age 26. For some reason the Phillies seem hesitant to call him to the big leagues, but he's been a stalwart at Lehigh Valley, with a 2.88 ERA, 24 saves, and 78 strikeouts over 591/3 innings. Could be recalled to Philly in September.

Jiwan James

9. Jiwan James: This converted pitcher is considered the best overall athlete in the Phillies system. Now an outfielder, he has tremendous range and a strong arm, and is just learning to hit. He has held his own with the bat in his first full professional season, batting .274 with 33 steals at Lakewood.

10. Matt Rizzotti: One of the most intriguing players in the system. He and Worley are the only players to advance two levels during the season. He batted .358 at Clearwater before tearing up the Eastern League with increased power in Reading. Had a fast start after moving to Lehigh Valley in early August, but a wrist injury slowed him and now has him on the DL. His .344 batting average is tops in the system. The bat seems legit, but he's blocked by both Ryan Howard at first base and his lack of tools other than his bat.

11. Justin De Fratus, P, Reading

12. Austin Hyatt, P, Reading

13. Michael Schwimer, P, Lehigh Valley

14. Antonio Bastardo, P, Lehigh Valley

15. Jesse Biddle, P, Williamsport

16. Mike Stutes, P, Lehigh Valley

17. J.C. Ramirez, P, Reading

18. Freddy Galvis, SS, Reading

19. Kelly Dugan, OF, Williamsport

20. Julio Rodriguez, P, Lakewood


Read the full piece from the Reading Eagle by clicking here.

______________________________________

Click on the highlighted players' name to check out exclusive PhoulBallz.com interviews with many of the top Phillies prospects.

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Series Preview: Phillies at Padres, 8/27-8/29


Fresh off being swept in 4 games by the Houston Astros, the Phillies (70-57) travel to San Diego to face the NL West's first place Padres (76-50), who have the best record in the league.

The struggling Phillies scored just 7 runs in the 4 games against Houston. Philadelphia has lost 9 games this month. Setting aside one of those losses (a 15-9 defeat by the Dodgers), the Phillies have totaled just 10 runs in their other 8 August losses.

San Diego will send its young righty ace Mat Latos to the mound in game 1, hoping to further extend Philly's rough stretch. Latos has allowed 2 or fewer runs in a franchise record 12 consecutive games. The Phils will counter with Roy Oswalt, who has a 1.90 ERA in 8 career outings in San Diego.

Read ahead for loads of information on the pitching match ups and plenty more analysis on this series.


Friday, 10:05pm. Roy Oswalt (9-13, 3.22 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (13-5, 2.33 ERA). In 5 starts as a Phillie, Oswalt is 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA. In 17 career games against the Padres, Oswalt is 10-2 with a 2.56 ERA. Oswalt is 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA in 6 starts at Petco Park. In 8 home starts this season, Latos is 4-2 with a 2.19 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Latos is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA. Opponents are batting .192 against the 22-year-old Latos this season.

Saturday, 4:10pm. Joe Blanton (5-6, 5.32 ERA) vs. Jon Garland (13-8, 3.25 ERA). In 9 road starts this season, Blanton is 1-4 with a 6.55 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Blanton is 1-0 with a 3.66 ERA. In 5 career starts against the Phillies, Garland is 0-4 with a 7.94 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Garland is 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA. Jayson Werth is 3-for-7 with 2 homers and 4 RBI in his career against Garland.

Sunday, 4:05pm. Cole Hamels (7-10, 3.47 ERA) vs. Clayton Richard (12-5, 3.55 ERA). Hamels, a San Diego native, is 1-1 with a 2.18 ERA in 3 career starts at Petco Park. Miguel Tejada is 9-for-12 (.750 avg) against Hamels in his career. In his last 8 starts, Hamels has posted a 0-3 record with a 2.78 ERA. Richard in his last 6 starts is 5-0 with a 3.47 ERA. In 13 home starts this season, Richard has a 6-3 record with a 3.00 ERA.


Adrian Gonzalez is a combined 18-for-49 (.367 avg) with 6 homeruns against Oswalt, Blanton and Hamels.

Padres closer Heath Bell has been successful in all 13 save opportunities in the 2nd half. During that stretch, Bell's ERA is 1.76 and he has held opponents to a .167 batting average against.

Earlier this week former Phillie Matt Stairs hit his MLB record setting 21st pinch hit homerun. Stairs is batting .200 in 59 games this season with the Padres.

In the past week, Raul Ibanez is 8-for-25 (.320 avg) with a homer and 4 RBI. Since the All-star break, Ibanez's OPS is .920...prior to the break his OPS was .724.

Chase Utley is a career .322 hitter with a .993 OPS in 39 games against the Padres. In 9 games since returning from the disabled list, Utley has posted a .235 avg. with no homers and 3 RBI.

In 36 career games against the Padres, Ryan Howard has a 1.167 OPS. In 16 games at Petco, Howard has a .353 batting average with 4 doubles, 5 homeruns and 19 RBI.

Phillies team ERA- 3.85
Padres team ERA- 3.30

____________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Embarrassing Sweep

Ed Wade's Houston Astros swept the Phillies in Philadelphia this week. The defending National League champions did not look like contenders as they struggled to score runs and let a team that was 15 games under .500 run all over them.

Former Phillies Brett Myers, Michael Bourn, "Jay" Happ and Jason Michaels all performed well to help Houston sweep the Phillies. It was the first time since 2002 that the Phillies were swept at home in a 4-game series.

In game 1 of the series, Brett Myers earned the win, holding the Phillies to just 2 runs over 7 innings while striking out 9 batters.

Mike Bourn had 8 hits in the series. He gets up against his former team and is a career .337 hitter against the Phillies (and just a .260 overall in his career). Bourn and Jason Michaels combined for 5 runs scored in the series, while the entire Phillies team scored just 7 runs.

Last season's Sporting News Rookie of the Year, "Jay" Happ, who was recently sent to Houston in a package for Roy Oswalt, returned to Philadelphia and earned a win. Happ went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just 5 hits and 2 earned runs.

And if getting beat by your own cast-offs wasn't bad enough, the stunning sweep was completed on Thursday afternoon when one of the Beagle Boys, from TV's Ducktales, held the Phillies to 1 run over 7 innings, while striking out 6 batters.

_______________________________________



Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mintken Back With Lakewood, Anticipating Repeat


LAKEWOOD, NJ- It's been a long season for Korby Mintken. The 24-year-old prospect, who was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of South Dakota State University, struggled through four months in Class High A Clearwater this year, posting a .203 batting average that earned him sparse playing time.

Last week, the Phillies demoted Mintken to Lakewood, where the organization felt he could be a contributor for the remainder of the season.

A versatile fielder, Mintken has played 2nd base, shortstop, 3rd base and the outfield at the professional level.

Mintken spent last season with Lakewood, helping the BlueClaws lock down a South Atlantic League Championship, the second in team history. Now that he's back, and Lakewood is returning to the playoffs, after clinching the berth with the first half division title, Mintken is excited for the opportunity to repeat as champion. "(I'm) excited to be a part of this team and maybe get another ring," Mintken told PhoulBallz.com in an exclusive interview.

"There are a bunch of new faces here since last year. Looks like they can play some ball. Everyone's anticipating the post-season, so I can't wait for it."

Production has picked up for Mintken since returning to Lakewood, as he has posted a .438 on base percentage in 8 games. Mintken has reached base safely, via hit or walk, in 7 of those 8 game thus far.

Mintken, a left-handed hitter, feels that the move to Lakewood will be beneficial to his progress, as he plans to work closely with his new manager, former Major League catcher Mark Parent. "(Parent) brings a lot of positive energy. He knows what he's talking about. He has a lot of time in baseball...the Major Leagues especially. Hopefully, I'll learn a lot from him."

Parent was pleased to receive the news that the adroit Mintken was being reassigned to Lakewood. In fact, Parent had inquired with the organization about the possibility of Korby joining the BlueClaws. "He deserves the chance to play a little bit and wasn't getting to play that much (with Clearwater)."

Parent has been open about expressing his desire to put the best club possible on the field for the playoffs, including recent statements that, for selfish reasons, he hoped top prospect Trevor May would remain with the team, when a spot became vacant in the Clearwater pitching rotation. Parent has gotten his wishes granted, as May stuck around and Mintken arrived in time to gel with his teammates before the post-season gets rolling in a couple weeks.

Mintken feels the Lakewood fans played a big role in the team's title run last year. "There's just great energy from the crowd," Mintken said. "(There are) so many smart baseball fans in this area that love to see their players do well, so that helps us strive for more."

Playoffs begin Wednesday, September 8th. Lakewood's first home playoff game is on Friday, September 10th. The BlueClaws' first round opponent has not yet been determined.

Fans can order tickets by clicking here or by calling (732) 901-7000.
_________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One For the Books...

It was surely a wild one that thousands of phans will remember for years and will still be talking about when Tuesday night's losing pitcher David Herndon's full head of dark hair resembles former Phillies reliever Larry Andersen's less than full head of greying locks.


Another solid start by Cole Hamels (7 innings, 2 ER, 8 K, 1 BB) set the stage for some 9th inning heroics, when Jimmy Rollins slugged a solo homerun to deep right field that tied the game at 2 and sent things to extra innings.

The bullpens battled it out, keeping the game locked well past midnight.

Ryan Howard capped off the worst game of his career in the bottom of the 14th inning when, with the Phillies having used all their bench players and down to their last relief pitcher, Howard got ejected after he was rung up for his 5th strike out of the night by fill-in umpire Scott Barry. Howard had already stood with his hands on his hips after a check swing was called a strike by the third base ump, Barry, earlier in the at bat. Barry retaliated by doing the same back to Howard. Howard could be seen on television telling the home plate Greg Gibson that Howard was only mad at himself. Later in the at bat, Barry called the 3rd strike and Howard threw his bat away. Barry immediately threw Howard out of the game, at which time Howard charged Barry and was restrained by teammates, coaches and another umpire, Sam Holbrook.

Ross Gload, who is currently on the disabled list, was also ejected from the game for arguing. Both Gload and Howard could face further disciplinary action.

Howard, who has struck out 18 times in 8 games since his last extra base hit, let his team down with his performance and with his inability to keep his temper in check.

With no offensive substitution options left and the Phillies in a tight spot, Howard completed possibly the worst game a Phillies hitter has ever had...0-for-7 with 5 strike outs, and forcing the Phils to use a starting pitcher, Roy Oswalt, in left field while Raul Ibanez was used to fill Howard's void at first base.

In the 16th inning, the righty Herndon gave up two runs, when Raul Ibanez was unable to handle a throw that could have ended the inning with just 1 run scoring.


Oswalt stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 16th, with two runners on, in the spot vacated by Howard. Oswalt grounded out to third base, locking down a 4-2 loss for the Phillies, who are now tied for the NL wild card lead with San Francisco, who beat the Reds on Tuesday night.

Audio of the aforementioned Andersen's remarkable radio rant that followed the Howard mishap can be heard in the media player below.



________________________________________

Animated image credit to- TheFightins.

Audio hat tip to @Phylan.

Additional images- AP & Philly.com

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Keoni Ruth Speaks With PhoulBallz.com


Keoni Ruth is currently an infielder with the Phillies' Class A affiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws. Singed as a free agent this month, while playing independent ball in Maui, the 25 year old Hawaiian is a versatile fielder who can play multiple positions.

Ruth, a righty batter, was drafted by San Diego in the 21st round of the 2007 amateur draft. He played 3 seasons in the Padres system before finding himself as a free agent this year. Ruth is a friend and off-season training partner of another Hawaii native Keoni DeRenne, who has had three stints with Lakewood this season.

In 18 games thus far with the BlueClaws, Ruth has posted a .224 batting average, laced 6 doubles and driven in 10 runs. In 109 games at 2 minor leagues levels last year, Ruth batted .284 with a .670 OPS.

I had the opportunity to speak with Keoni recently about his transition back into affiliated baseball, his time with the Padres organization and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.




__________________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Series Preview: Astros vs. Phillies, 8/23-8/26


Former Philadelphia general manager Ed Wade's collection of former Phillies, and their Houston teammates, visit Philadelphia to begin a 4-game series on Monday night.

The Astros (54-69) are in 4th place in the NL Central and hope to disrupt the Phillies' (70-53) efforts to win their 4th straight NL East title, by sending Brett Myers to the mound to face his former team for the first time. Myers was a 1st round draft pick of the Phillies in 1999 and played 8 seasons with Philadelphia. The Phillies will counter with right-hander Joe Blanton

After a rash of injuries, the Phillies hope to have their 8 positional opening day starters in the lineup for the first time in 3 months. Phillies players Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley and most recently Ryan Howard have all missed significant time with injuries this season.

The Phillies and Astros split four games played at Citizens Bank Park last season.

Continue reading for details on the pitching match ups and more information on this series.


Monday, 7:05pm. Brett Myers (8-7, 3.11 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (5-6, 5.54 ERA).
In 13 road starts this season, Myers is 2-7 with a 3.96 ERA. In his career at Citizens Bank Park, Myers has a 27-27 regular season record with 10 saves, a 4.17 ERA and 5 complete games. Myers has pitched at least 6 innings in all 25 of his starts this season. In 7 starts since the All-star break, Myers has a 2.36 ERA. In 11 home starts this season, Blanton is 4-2 with a 4.72 ERA. Blanton in his last 5 starts is 2-0 with a 4.06 ERA.

Tuesday, 7:05pm. Bud Norris (6-7, 5.23 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (7-10, 3.51 ERA). In his last 5 starts, the righty hurler Norris is 4-0 with a 3.31 ERA. In 8 road starts this season, Norris is 3-3 with a 5.24 ERA. In his last 7 starts, Hamels is 0-3 with a 2.87 ERA. In his career against Houston, Hamels is 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA.

Wednesday, 7:05pm. "Jay" Happ (3-2, 3.54 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (16-8, 2.16 ERA). In 5 starts with Houston, Happ is 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA. In 26 career games at Citizens Bank Park, Happ's ERA is 4.42. Happ, a lefty, has a 7.50 ERA on the road this year. Halladay has won 6 straight starts and has posted a 1.37 ERA over that stretch. Carlos Lee is 7-for-23 (.304 avg) with 3 homers against Halladay in his career. In 15 home starts this season, Halladay is 10-4 with a 1.84 ERA.

Thursday, 1:05pm. Wandy Rodriguez (9-12, 4.00 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (8-6, 4.58 ERA). In 12 road starts this season, Rodriguez has posted a 3-7 record with a 5.30 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 1.31 ERA. Jimmy Rollins is 4-for-9 (.444 avg) with a homerun against Rodriguez in his career. In his last 6 starts, Kendrick is 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA. Kendrick has a 5.48 ERA in 12 home starts this season.


Jason Michaels is a .323 hitter with 2 homeruns and 8 RBI in 13 career games against his former team, the Phillies. In 125 games at Citizens Bank Park, Michaels is a .305 hitter.

Another former Phillie, Mike Bourn leads the National League with 40 stolen bases. Bourn is batting .224 in 30 games since the All-star break.

Brandon Lyon, who is closing for the Astros while Matt Lindstrom is on the disabled list, has a career 9.82 ERA against the Phillies in 12 games.

Placido Polanco's .318 batting average is tied for 2nd in the National League, behind Joey Votto, who is batting .323.

Jayson Werth is batting .329 with a 1.024 OPS in 63 home games this year. Werth is batting .159 with runners in scoring position this season.

Ryan Howard has 10 homeruns in 36 career games against Houston.

Astros team ERA- 4.30
Phillies team ERA- 3.88

_____________________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ryan Howard Press Conference Excerpts

Here are some clips from Ryan Howard's post game press conference from his rehab outing in Lakewood on Friday, August 20th. The Phillies' Class A affiliate retired Howard's jersey in a pregame ceremony. Howard played with the team during the 2002 season and rehabbed a different injury with the Lakewood in 2007.

Check out the media player below.



________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Howard Returns to Minor League Roots


LAKEWOOD, NJ- On a night when the BlueClaws retired Ryan Howard's jersey and Howard set the franchise RBI record, the visiting Greensboro Grasshoppers weren't very accommodating.

Howard was there to test his recovering sprained left ankle and knock off any rust. Greensboro lefty pitcher Chad James wasn't budging, as he walked Howard in his first plate appearance. The Grasshoppers them employed a fielding shift for the slugger in his second at bat, forcing Howard to ground to the second baseman, positioned in shallow right field.

The 19-year-old James held the BlueClaws hitless through 5 1/3 innings, when Howard took his third turn at the plate, following a Leandro Castro walk. Howard broke up the no-hit bid by James with a double that one-hopped the wall in left-center and scored Castro.

Howard also made an error in the field, when he wasn't able to handle a throw from shortstop Alan Schoenberger.

The Phillies were reportedly targeting Monday as a return date for Howard, to be activated from the Major League disabled list. However, Howard described Sunday as a realistic possibility for a return. "The ankle felt good. It's been getting better everyday. It's just a matter of continuing to the rest of the swelling out, and with that the stiffness goes away," Howard said, after testing his ankle for 6 innings, prior to being pulled from the game for pinch runner Jeremy Barnes.

"I'll probably go down to (Citizens Bank Park) tomorrow, then go over to Lehigh and play and see what they want to do. But, knowing Charlie (Manuel)...once you get back, it's full-bore all the way, so..."

Initially, the BlueClaws had planned to retire Howard's jersey in a ceremony that was scheduled for September 2nd. However, the Phillies' off day was lost when a rained out game against Colorado was rescheduled for that date. With enough notice of Howard's rehab appearance, the Lakewood staff was able to put on a jersey retirement ceremony to be proud of.



Howard's mother, twin brother, son and girl friend were on hand to celebrate as Ryan became the first player in team history to have his number retired. "Having my jersey retired is something special at any level, whether it's the big leagues or here in Lakewood...to have an organization show you that kind of love and respect, it meant a lot to share it with my loved ones," Howard told a crowded conference room after the game.

Howard was pleased to be back where he got his start in full season baseball. "Lakewood will always have a special place in my heart," Howard said. "(Lakewood) was my first long season. This was the first time I got to experience what a real professional baseball season was like. And I'll never forget when I went home and my dad asked me, 'If you could sum up the season in one word, what would you say?' and all I said was, 'Endurance'."

The Phillies All-star, who has posted a .292 average, slugged 23 homers and driven in 83 runs this year set the BlueClaws franchise record for RBI's at 92, passing Randy Ruiz and Travis "Moose" Mattair.

Fans will be able to purchase raffle tickets to win Howard's game jersey from Friday's outing. A portion of the proceeds will benefit BlueClaws charities and a portion will benefit the Ryan Howard Family Foundation.

________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Josh Zeid & Jon Singleton Talk About Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard spent time with the Phillies' Class A affiliate the Lakewood BlueClaws on Friday, on a rehab assignment. Howard has been on the disabled list since August 2nd, with a sprained ankle.

Lakewood trainer Mickey Kozack described Howard's assignment as an opportunity to knock some rust off and stated that Howard was not feeling soreness in his heavily wrapped ankle prior to batting practice.

After spending time ripping line drives onto the berm at FirstEnergy Park during batting practice, Howard took to the field to shag some balls, where he spent a considerable amount of time chatting with pitching prospect Josh Zeid and first baseman Jon Singleton. I asked Zeid and Singleton about their time spent chatting with Howard. Check out the media player below to listen to those full interviews.




_______________________________________________

For more interviews with Jon Singleton click here and here.

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Series Preview: Nationals vs. Phillies, 8/20-8/22


The last place Nationals (52-69) travel to Philadelphia where the Wild Card leading Phillies (68-52) will play host for the 3-game series.

The Phillies have won 5 of 9 in the season series thus far against Washington. The Nats will send Jason Marquis to the mound to try and even things up in game 1 on Friday evening. Marquis threw one inning of scoreless relief against the Phils in last year's divisional playoff round for the Rockies. Philadelphia will counter with Roy Halladay, who has 5 straight wins with a 1.82 ERA against the Nationals franchise dating back to their days in Montreal.

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Lakewood on Friday night. There will be a jersey retirement ceremony prior to the game, as Howard was a member of the BlueClaws during the 2002 season.

Read on for more on the pitching match ups and additional information on this series.


Friday, 7:05pm. Jason Marquis (0-5, 14.33 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (15-8, 2.24 ERA). Marquis is 5-5 with a 5.21 ERA in 21 career games against the Phillies. In 4 regular season starts at Citizens Bank Park, Marquis is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA. Jayson Werth and Chase Utley are a combined 17-for-35 (.486 avg) with 3 homeruns against Marquis in regular season action. In his last 5 starts, Halladay is 5-0 with a 1.62 ERA. In 14 starts at home this season, Halladay is 9-4 with a 1.95 ERA. Ivan Rodriguez is 13-for-32 (.406 avg) with 2 homers in his career against Halladay.

Saturday, 7:05pm. Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 2.97 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (8-5, 4.45 ERA). In 4 road starts, Strasburg is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA and a .229 batting average against. In his last 5 starts, Strasburg is 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA. In 8 career starts against the Nationals, Kendrick is 1-2 with a 6.93 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Kendrick is 3-1 with a 3.07 ERA. Ryan Zimmerman is 7-for-13 (.538 avg) with 4 doubles and a homerun in his career against Kendrick.

Sunday, 1:35pm. Scott Olsen (3-5, 5.14 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (8-13, 3.36 ERA). Olsen is 5-6 with a 5.37 ERA in 14 career starts against the Phils. In his last 5 starts, Olsen is 1-4 with an 8.86 ERA. Jayson Werth is 10-for-20 (.500 avg) with 2 doubles and 3 homers in his career against Olsen. In 14 games against DC, Oswalt is 3-3 with a 3.72 ERA. In 2 home starts as a Phillie, Oswalt is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA. Oswalt has a 4.33 ERA in 6 starts since the All-star break.


Ivan Rodriguez is a career .330 hitter with a .919 OPS in 32 career games against the Phillies.

In 27 career games at Citizens Bank Park, Adam Dunn has 4 doubles and 10 homeruns.

The Phillies are 22-3 when Jimmy Rollins scores a run this season. Rollins is batting .287 in 31 home games this season.

Placido Polanco's .318 batting average leads the team and is tied for 3rd best in the National League.

Brad Lidge has a career 4.28 ERA in 35 games against the Nats. Lidge has strung together 7 straight scoreless outings. Opponents are hitting .190 against Lidge since the All-star break.

Nationals team runs scored- 487
Phillies team runs scored- 571

_______________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stephen Batts Talks With PhoulBallz.com


Stephen Batts, a 19th round draft selection in 2009, is currently playing with the Class A level Lakewood BlueClaws. A versatile fielder, Batts can play all over the diamond and often slips into the lineup as a designated hitter.

In high school, Batts was an all-state soccer goalie in North Carolina. He later attended East Carolina University to play both soccer and baseball.

With Lakewood this season, Batts has posted a .281 batting average, 5 homers and 30 RBI in 71 games, becoming a key contributor for Mark Parent's BlueClaws team. Batts recently strung together a 12 game hitting streak for the playoff bound BlueClaws.

Last week I spoke with Stephen about his offensive production, his choice between soccer and baseball, looking forward to the post-season and more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.




__________________________________________________

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Phillies Notebook, 8/19/10

Plenty of noteworthy happenings are going on all around the Phillies organization.

The Phillies are the leaders for the National League wild card after defeating the Giants in the first two games of their series in Philadelphia. Something I've pondered regarding this...should the Phillies enter the playoffs for the first time in team history as the league's wild card entrant and advance no further, would they fly a flag to honor it like they do for their other post-season achievements and, if so, what color would it be? The Phillies currently fly red flags for World Championships, blue flags for League Pennants and white flags for division titles.

Expect "Bet your sweet ass" to be this season's quote of the year, a la "Get me to the plate, boys!" If you missed Jayson Werth's remarks about what Charlie Manuel had to say recently about Jimmy Rollins' ability to hit, check out the media player below.



Ryan Howard (sprained ankle) is targeting a Monday return to the active roster. It still remains likely that Howard will make a rehab appearance or two prior to getting back in the everyday Phillies lineup. Where could he wind up? Lakewood is home through Friday, Reading hits the road after Thursday, Lehigh Valley is home Saturday and Sunday, and Clearwater is home Thursday and Sunday.

I spoke with Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk this week about injured minor league starting pitchers Nick Hernandez and Jarred Cosart. Schrenk informed me that both hurlers are expected to be sent to post-season instructional ball that begins on September 15th. According to a reliable source, Cosart threw a successful bullpen session on Tuesday and will throw again on Friday. The 20-year-old righty has been sidelined since late June with an elbow strain. Hernandez, out with an injured shoulder, started Wednesday for the Gulf Coast League Phillies and allowed 3 earned runs in 2 innings. The left-hander pitched in 2 games for the GCL Phils in July before experiencing a setback.

Clearwater's back up catcher Torre Langley (pictured) was used as a relief pitcher in game 1 of a double header on Monday. Langley threw a scoreless 2/3 inning. Langley was with Lakewood for part of this season, prior to being promoted to the Threshers. I informed Lakewood manager Mark Parent about the unique situation that Langley found himself in and inquired which position player Parent would consider using as a pitcher in a tough spot. "I'd go to (Stephen) Batts. 'Cause he's crafty. He doesn't throw the ball straight to first base that often, so it's gotta have a little movement on it," Parent said.

Thursday will mark the Phillies' 100th straight home sell out at Citizens Bank Park. Meanwhile, the first place Atlanta Braves drew just 18,105 fans on Wednesday night. Turner Field seating capacity is over 49,000.
_________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Phils Prospect Trevor May Speaks With PhoulBallz

Since returning to Lakewood, Trevor May has straightened out a season that nearly seemed lost. May began the season with a 5-5 record and a 5.01 ERA through 16 outings at high A level Clearwater after after posting a 4-1 record and a 2.56 ERA at short season Williamsport and low A level Lakewood last season. May, who seemed to develop control issues this season, walking 61 batters in 70 innings for Clearwater, was demoted back to Lakewood in July and has shined there, walking just 18 batters in 48 innings overall and posting a 2.44 ERA in 8 starts.

A fourth round pick of the Phillies in 2008, May spent that season pitching in the Gulf Coast League, after signing with Philadelphia, where the Phillies' squad won the league championship. May was also a part of the Lakewood team that won the South Atlantic League title in 2009.

This week, I spoke with Trevor about his improvements, getting passed over for a return to Clearwater and his upcoming quest for a third minor league championship in three year. Check out the media player below to listen to the interview.



__________________________________________________

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter by clicking HERE.


BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

PhoulBallz Interviews Phillies Prospect Michael Dabbs

Mike Dabbs, who was promoted to the Phillies class A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws, from short season Williamsport in July, has hit safely in 19 of the 21 games he has played as a BlueClaw. Dabbs was a 17th round draft selection by the Phillies in the June 2009 amateur draft, out of Oklahoma State University.

Currently riding a 10 game hitting streak, the 23-year-old Dabbs is making it difficult for Lakewood manager Mark Parent to not list his name in the daily lineup.

I recently spoke with Dabbs, a lefty hitting outfielder, about his hitting streak, his teammates and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to that full piece.




____________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter by clicking HERE.


BallHype: hype it up!

Series Preview: Giants at Phillies, 8/17-8/19


In a series with playoff implications, the teams tied for the Wild Card lead
will face off for three games as the Giants (67-52) visit the Phillies (66-51) starting Tuesday night.

Chase Utley, fresh off a rehab assignment in Clearwater, Florida, is expected to be activated from the disabled list for this series. Utley was recovering from a fractured thumb. Ryan Howard (sprained ankle), who is also eligible to be activated from the disabled list is likely to play a rehab game or two prior to returning to the Phillies' lineup.

Colorado won just 1 of 3 regular season games in Philadelphia last year, before the Phillies defeated the Rockies 3-1 in the National League Division Series.

Since August 3rd, Giants starters are 0-7 with a 5.88 ERA in 12 games. Barry Zito will try to right the ship as he takes the mound in the series opener. Philadelphia will counter with Roy Oswalt, who will be making his second home start as a Phillie.

Read on for details on the pitching match ups and loads more information on this series.


Tuesday, 7:05pm. Barry Zito (8-6, 3.44 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (7-13, 3.34 ERA). In 4 career starts against the Phillies, Zito has a 3-1 record with a 3.38 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Zito has posted a 0-2 record with a 3.18 ERA. Placido Polanco is 9-for-13 (.692 avg) in his career against Zito. In 11 starts on the road this season, Zito is 2-4 with a 4.30 ERA. In 16 career starts against the Giants, Oswalt has a 5-8 record with a 3.59 ERA. Batters are hitting .214 against Oswalt in 3 starts as a Phillie. Aaron Rowand is 3-for-17 (.176 avg) in his career vs. Oswalt.

Wednesday, 7:05pm. Matt Cain (9-9, 3.11 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (4-6, 5.69 ERA). In 4 career starts against the Phillies, Cain is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Cain is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA. Chase Utley is 6-for-12 with a double and 3 HR against Cain in his career. In 6 career starts against the Giants, Blanton is 1-3 with a 5.08 ERA and a .301 batting average against. In his last 5 outings, Blanton is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA. Pat Burrell is 2-for-9 (.222 avg) with 2 homers against Blanton in his career.

Thursday, 7pm. Jonathan Sanchez (8-8, 3.60 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (7-9, 3.33 ERA). Sanchez has a 2-1 record a 3.38 ERA in 8 games against the Phillies. Jayson Werth is 0-for-9 in his career against Sanchez. Hamels is 4-1 with a 4.22 ERA in 7 career starts against San Francisco. At home this season, Hamels is 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA. In his last 6 starts, Hamels is 0-2 with a 2.14 ERA.


In 57 games on the road this season, Pablo Sandoval is hitting .215 and has a .564 OPS. By comparison, he has a .327 batting average and a .903 OPS at home.

Aaron Rowand is a .396 career hitter in 17 games against the Phillies with 5 HR and 10 RBI.

In 14 games this month Aubrey Huff is batting .200 with no homers, after posting a .367 avg. with 8 homers in 27 games in July.

Jayson Werth has a career .243 batting avg. in 43 games against the Giants. Werth is batting .361 in 30 games since the All-star break.

In 22 home games this season, JC Romero has a 2.51 ERA. Since the All-star break, Romero has posted a 9.45 ERA in 14 outings.

Raul Ibanez has a career .191 batting average in 15 games against San Francisco. Ibanez is 0-for-18 in 4 games since his career high 18-game hitting streak ended.

Giants team runs- 518
Phillies team runs- 552

_________________________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter by clicking HERE.


BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, August 16, 2010

BlueClaws Updates With Mark Parent

Over the weekend, I spoke with Lakewood BlueClaws manager Mark Parent about a few different matters related to the team, such as Trevor May's progress, the possibility of Eric Pettis being added to the roster, FirstEnergy Park being pitcher friendly and more.

Check out the media player below to listen to the audio of the interview.






Parent also spoke about catching prospect Sebastian Valle having an up and down road trip recently. Parent said of Valle, "His periods between good and bad are starting to get shorter." Parent and hitting coach Greg Legg have worked with Valle on his machanics, and have him focusing on keeping his front shoulder down and keeping his head on the pitch.



In 12 August games, Valle is batting .261 with 4 homers, 14 RBI and a .957 OPS.

___________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter by clicking HERE.


BallHype: hype it up!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 73


Danny Ozark was the Phillies' manager from 1973-1979. During his tenure as the team's general, Ozark led Philadelphia to three straight division titles. In his playing days, Ozark was a first baseman, who was a career minor leaguer in the Dodgers system.

When Ozark took over the team in 1973, the Phillies were fresh off 5 consecutive losing seasons and 3 straight last place finishes. During his first season in charge, the Phillies would again finish in last place, 20 games under .500, but as his core of young talent, like Mike Schmidt and Larry Bowa, developed, the Phillies' win totals rose. Within 2 years, the Phillies were above .500 and in the playoff hunt until late in the season and the most successful era of Phillies history was about to begin.

By 1976, the Phillies were headed to the post-season for the first time since 1950. The Phils would enjoy a 10-game lead over their nearest division rival at the midway point of the season. Despite a lul, which saw their lead decrease to just 3 games in September, the team won 101 games, the franchise's highest win total in its history and won the NL East division title. Being swept out of the playoffs by Cincinatti left Ozark's crew wanting more.

The Phillies bounced back in 1977, cruising to another 101 wins to clinch their first repeat playoff appearance in history. This time around the Phils fell to the Dodgers in the playoffs. Fans became frustrated with Ozark after the "Black Friday" game in the League Championship Series against Los Angeles, when Ozark chose to leave Greg Luzinski in left field instead of replacing him with the superior fielding Jerry Martin, like Ozark had done in late innings for much of the season. Luzinski then misplayed a ball hit by Manny Mota, which sparked a Dodgers game turning 3-run 9th inning rally. The Phillies would lose the series in 4 games.

In 1978, Ozark led the Phillies to another division title, but again the team lost to the Dodgers in 4 games in the League Championship Series.

The following year, in a season plagued by injuries, the Phillies were under .500 on August 31 when the organization fired Ozark and replaced him with Dallas Green.

During his time with the Phillies, Ozark was widely known to make memorable statements. He was once quoted saying that a particular player's "limitations were limitless" and that a particular situation was "beyond my apprehension". Ozark once replied in regards to the Phillies' difficulties with morale that, "Morality is not a factor with this team." In addition, when he was relieved of his duties in 1979, Ozark told the media that, "Even Napolean had his Watergate."

Ozark, who was still pals with Tommy Lasorda, from his time in the Los Angeles organization, returned to the Dodgers to coach. Ozark lasted 3 seasons, until he had a falling-out with Lasorda in 1982.

The Dodgers' archrival San Francisco hired Ozark as a coach on Frank Robinson's staff in 1983. When the Giants were stuck in the basement the following season, Robinson was fired and Ozark was placed as the interim manager for the remainder of the season. The Giants stayed in the basement, going 24-32 the rest of the way. Ozark retired after the 1984 season.

Danny Ozark passed away in May, 2009.

____________________________________________

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter by clicking HERE.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Former Phils Top Draft Pick Hewitt Struggling


The Mendoza Line is typically used as a method by which to critique or ridicule struggling batters. The informal expression referring to a .200 batting average and is named after former Pirate, Ranger and Mariner Mario Mendoza, who was a strong fielder but didn't perform so well at the plate.

Around Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park, however, fans, broadcasters and media alike may begin associating a new name to indicate a .200 average. That name...former Phillies first round draft pick Anthony Hewitt. With an 0-for-4 outing in Thursday's game against the Delmarva Shorebirds, Hewitt's season average dropped to .199. Hewitt, a right-handed hitting outfielder was originally drafted as an infielder out of Salisbury High School in Connecticut.

In 38 games since the South Atlantic League All-star break, Hewitt has posted a .138 batting average and has smacked just 1 homerun. Prior to the break, Hewitt hit .236 with 7 homeruns in 61 games.
Overall this season, Hewitt has struck out 138 times in 376 at bats (37% of the time). He has also walked just 13 times in 99 games played in 2010.

Speaking about his own struggles and what he's working on to bounce back, Hewitt, who steadily works closely with his coaches to improve, told PhoulBallz.com in an exclusive interview, "Just staying positive. Not dwelling on the past. It's just a matter of re-grouping, for myself, to get back out there with a positive attitude."

Hewitt's main problem is plain to see. He needs to improve his pitch recognition. Reporters, scouts, photographers, broadcasters, coaches, the opponents and even Hewitt himself are all aware. "You only get one or two fastballs an at bat, so if I can lay off those sliders or change ups, or just balls in general, it'll help out a lot, when I get fastballs," Hewitt said.

In regards to Hewitt being a former #1 draft pick and the expectation levels for his development, BlueClaws manager Mark Parent stated, "(Hewitt's) out there because he's got to be out there. The Phillies still see something in there. He's got to keep playing in some capacity to see if it's going to click."

"I'd like to protect him and put him against this lefty, or that lefty, but I am not afforded that luxury," Parent added.

Lakewood hitting coach Greg Legg has confidence that Hewitt can make the necessary adjustments to improve, and attributes Hewitt's highs and lows to his age. "The younger the hitter, the harder it is to be consistent. The experience factor is important."

Should that argument apply to a 21-year-old playing his third year of professional ball, in a league with plenty of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds? Likely no. But, Hewitt is still young enough and the Phillies have invested enough money in him ($1.38 million upon signing in 2008), that he's still got opportunities before him. And if all else fails, at least Lakewood could still have claim to the updated moniker for the Mendoza Line, thanks to Hewitt.

_________________________________________



Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter by clicking HERE.

BallHype: hype it up!

Broxton Can't Handle the Chooch


Once again, the Dodgers used Jonathan Broxton to try to lock down a game against the Phillies and once again, the Phillies were the ones actually closing things down.

After Carlos Ruiz smashed the double that scored Jayson Werth and Ben Francisco to lock down another dramatic comeback win, he seemed to have a more difficult time surviving the celebratory barrage delivered by his teammates than he did catching up with the pitch from Broxton that Ruiz drove high off the left-centerfield wall. Ruiz was chased down by Phils players between first and second base, after the winning run crossed homeplate, to congratulate him.

Broxton, who has struggled in the second half, has a 10.13 ERA in 8 outings since the All-star break. Philadelphians have no intentions of hiding their growing love for Broxton, whose reputation as a Phillies punching bag gets larger each time he faces them. The implosion marked the third straight season that the Dodgers experienced a memorable collapse to the Phillies with Broxton on the mound.


The first came in game 4 of the 2008 National League Championship Series, when Matt Stairs hammered a huge homerun to give the Phillies a win.

The next instance occured in game 4 of the 2009 NLCS, when Jimmy Rollins capped off another remarkable comeback, by driving home two runs with 2 outs in the 9th inning.

Broxton's troubles on Thursday night began when he hit Placido Polanco with a pitch. He then walked Mike Sweeney and Jayson Werth to load the bases. Ben Francisco grounded a ball through the legs of third baseman Casey Blake, scoring Polanco and Sweeney, and setting the stage for Ruiz's walk-off style heroics.

The Phillies trailed the Dodgers 9-2, entering the bottom of the 8th inning. Rally time began there, as the Phils plated 4 runs to decrease their deficit to just 3, after Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco and Wilson Valdez each got RBI hits.

The win for the Phillies kept the team just 1 game behind San Francisco in the NL wild card chase and 2 games behind Atlanta in the NL East standings.

Bonus notes...
The Phillies' starting pitcher for all 3 Broxton melt downs- Joe Blanton.
On base for Matt Stairs' 2008 HR- Carlos Ruiz.
Scoring the winning run on Jimmy Rollins' walk-off hit in 2009- Carlos Ruiz.
Man who delivered the walk-off hit in 2010- Carlos Ruiz.

_______________________________________

Get down with PhoulBallz.com on Twitter by clicking HERE.

BallHype: hype it up!

BlueClaws Fall in Close Contest

Another solid outing by starting pitcher Brody Colvin was not enough to lock down a victory as the BlueClaws began a homestand against the Orioles' Class A affiliate Delmarva in Lakewood on Thursday night. In his last start before his 20th birthday, Colvin cruised through the Shorebirds' lineup allowing just 2 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6, in 5 innings in front of 6,149 fans at FirstEnergy Park.

Colvin would allow an unearned run in the first inning, after right fielder Brian Conley doubled and first baseman Mike Flacco grounded a ball that Lakewood third baseman Stephen Batts couldn't handle. The ball was kicked away and Conley scored. Colvin's shine didn't dim after the defensive blunder, however, as he shut down 11 of the next 12 batters, allowing just 1 walk during that stretch.

The BlueClaws had a tough time clapping back in the early going. To start the game, 7 of the first 10 Lakewood batters reached base, including two singles from lead-off man Jiwan James, but the team failed to score, thanks to a poor call by the field umpire on a pick off play, a caught stealing, a fielders choice and a double play.

Lakewood tied the game at 1 in the 5th inning, when recent addition Keoni Ruth, who was signed away from Maui of the independent Golden Baseball League, led off with a double and was driven in when left fielder Leandro Castro laced a single off of Delmarva starter Brent Allar.

Colvin was finished after 5 innings, as his organization imposed per-outing 5 innings limit was reached. Colvin has allowed 0 earned runs in 10 innings over his last two starts, after suffering a loss to West Virginia on July 31st.

"Brody threw very well tonight," manager Mark Parent said after Thursday's match up. "We didn't play very good defense, but he looked really good. His last 2 times out, he has looked really good. The time before that, his mechanics fell apart and he corrected some things and that's what you want to see from a young guy...the ability to correct himself out there on the mound."

Colvin has allowed 0 earned runs in 6 of his last 7 starts.

Regarding the possibility of Colvin's innings limit being lifted as the playoffs approach and games become more important, Parent said, "That's something we've talked about. Chuck Lamar (Phillies asst. general manager in charge of player development) and the other guys are discussing, the closer we get to it, what we're going to do with it."

The 2010 BlueClaws pitching staff's biggest surprise Luke Wertz took the mound in relief of Colvin to hurl 2 shutout innings, while surrendering no hits, walking just 1 and striking out 3 Shorebirds batters. In 18 home games this season, the 24-year-old Wertz has posted a stunningly low 0.25 ERA and held opposing batters to a .133 batting average.

The Shorebirds scored the eventual winning run in the 8th inning, when shortstop Garabez Rosa led off with a double off of reliever Ebelin Lugo. New Jersey native TJ Baxter, Delmarva's left fielder, capped off an 0-for-4 night (bringing his FirstEnergy Park line to 1-for-22 on the season thus far) with a failed sacrifice bunt attempt, as Lugo fielded the ball and threw Rosa out at 2nd base. With one out, Baxter didn't allow his offensive Garden State ineptitude to get the best of him. The 24th round 2008 draft selection jacked his team leading 29th bag to get himself into scoring position. Delmarva third baseman Ty Kelly then followed with a double that drove home the Toms River High School East graduate.

Aaron Swenson earned the win and left-hander Will Startup threw 2 shutout innings to earn his first save with the Shorebirds.

The BlueClaws were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Thursday.

Phillies 2008 first round draft pick Anthony Hewitt went 0-for-4 in the contest for the BlueClaws, bringing his season average down to .199.

Delmarva (51-65) and first half Northern Division winning Lakewood (69-46) continue their 5-game series on Friday at 7:05pm when righty 'Bird Kenny Moreland faces the 'Claws' Trevor May.


Right-hander Joe Esposito, who was recently signed away from the independent Long Island Ducks and served as a reliever for Lakewood was promoted to Clearwater to take Austin Hyatt's spot in the Thresher's starting rotation. Hyatt, an integral pitcher during the BlueClaws' 2009 championship run, was promoted to Double A Reading this week.

_________________________________________________

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.


BallHype: hype it up!

PhoulBallz Talks With Les Savy Fav's Seth Jabour

Normally, when I interview people for the site, it's a player or a coach. That makes the following Q&A session extra special.

A brand new phriend of PhoulBallz has emerged. Seth Jabour, of the exceptional indie rock band Les Savy Fav, took time to chat with PhoulBallz.com this week about fame, the troubles of leaked music, Phillies baseball and more.

Currently on Frechkiss Records, the band also consists of Tim Harrington, Syd Butler, Harrison Haynes and Andrew Reuland. The group pumps out creative content, has a considerably large fan base and loves to perform. No questions asked, Les Savy Fav needs to be on your musical radar.

Hoping to reach some news phans, Seth agreed to answer some questions, so check out what he had to say below.


Seth, you're lead guitarist for Les Savy Fav. What's the best thing about being a rock star?

That all depends on what you mean by 'rock star.' I don't drive an Italian sports car or trash hotel rooms. I guess that archetype is dated. But I love to meet people and perform in front of a crowd.


A lot of folks idolize rock stars and pro athletes. Is the travel involved with touring as glamorous as people imagine? And who has it better, athletes or musicians?

We fly coach and generally travel the roads in a van. I sense a bus in our future, so I expect the glamour factor to step up a bit. As for who has it better - depends on your status in your respective field. My guess is that all the A listers have it sweet. We're like the dudes in the minors - just happy to be playing the game and steadily striving to get noticed.


Baseball fans not familiar with the name Les Savy Fav may unknowingly be familiar with the band's music, as it has been included in some video game soundtracks like MLB 2K7 and Grand Theft Auto IV. What sort of attention has video game exposure brought the band and/or how has that benefited the band?

Don't forget NHL 2K8. Our bassist, Syd, is a big hockey fan. As far as gaining exposure through video games goes, I'd say GTA IV got the most attention throughout the blogging community. I'm a fan of the GTA franchise, so it was a nice feather in my cap.


You grew up in NJ, right? Who were some of your favorite baseball players growing up?

Damn right, Jay! I grew up watching Philadelphia TV stations, so I was a Phillies fan. This was back in - oh, let's see now - the early 80's. I was a fan of Pete Rose (that hair!) and Mike Schmidt (that mustache!). I remember going to see the Phillies play the Cardinals in '80 or '81 and I wanted to meet Mike Schmidt. As my family and I made our way back to our car, I asked my dad where he thought Mike Schmidt was parked. I was under the impression that a post-game Mike Schmidt was parked in the same lot as my folks. What a boob I was.


You now reside in NYC. Are you partial toward either the Mets or Yankees or have you managed to avoid that sort of awfulness?

Nah. Does Newark have a team?


Les Savy Fav's latest release Root For Ruin had its release date pushed up in a rushed fashion after the music leaked online. Talk about what the stress level is like for musicians when something like that happens and how did the band react?

Well, we were pretty bummed, but these days it's par for the course. Tim came up with a clever plan to follow our fans on Twitter with an account called "You Stole Our Record" (now defunct). Anytime someone tweeted about liking our new record, Tim would haunt them, urging them to make a donation to our Pay Pal account. It worked for a little while. Some people took it as a witch hunt and were none too pleased. On the other hand, most folks don't steal music by accident. I think we handled it in stride.


Do other members of the band like baseball or are they partial to other sports?

Syd loves hockey. Andrew likes most sports. He occasionally wears a Mets cap. Harrison is a Chapel Hill native, so college basketball is his sport of choice. I like football. Tim likes skateboarding and swimming.


If you were going to compare the band members to the Phillies, which member would be which player?

I think Tim would be the Phillie Phanatic - hairy, no pants, and a sure crowd pleaser.
Syd would be the team manager, Charlie Manuel. He's great at taking charge of the team.
Harrison would be the Carlos Ruiz of the band - calls the shots in over the plate. Writes the set lists!
I'm not sure where that leaves Andrew and I. Infield and outfield. Andrew provides the punch and the power, so- Ryan Howard? I'm partial to improvising and thinking fast on my feet, as well as being able to switch it up, so- Victorino perhaps?



If you had an opportunity - which you do, here- to reach potential new fans, what would you tell them, to convince folks to check out your music or come see a Les Savy Fav show?

We're one of the best live bands working today. Our music is great to sweat to. It's fun without being funny or goofy. I think fans of anything left of center can appreciate our music.


Thanks to Seth for spending time answering the questions. Readers, you can download Les Savy Fav's new album Root For Ruin LEGALLY directly from iTunes. Also, check out Les Savy Fav's website by clicking this link.

_________________________________________


Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.


BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Chico Outlaws' Girl Pitcher Gimmick

Sprinkled with former big leaguers and career minor leaguers striving to be recognized by a Major League organization, the attention of fans and media, regarding the Golden Baseball League, seems to be focused on the league's 18-year-old female pitcher. Eri Yoshida's knuckleball got her recognized at age 16 and allowed her to become the first female drafted by a Japanese professional baseball team. Just a couple years later, Yoshida is a professional pitcher in North America.

Plenty of hype surrounded the teenager, after she pitched in 11 games last year for the Kobe Cruise 9 and later earned a victory for Yuma in the Arizona Winter League. Yoshida signed with Chico, of the Golden Baseball League, in April this year and made her debut as an Outlaw in May.

Since then, batters in the independent league have figured out Yoshida's deceptive style. In 3 outings from July 23rd-August 1st, Yoshida allowed no fewer than 6 earned runs each time out. Making her first road start for Chico, Yoshida walked 7 batters in 2 1/3 innings in a recent outing against Victoria. The appearance against Victoria, in British Columbia Canada, made Yoshida the first female to pitch professionally in 3 countries.

Despite the rough stretch this summer, Yoshida, nicknamed "The Knuckle Princess", donated the jersey she wore and the bat she used to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, to be included in a "What's Happening Now in Baseball" display. The items share a case with the cap that Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg wore in his Major League debut in June.

Still looking for her first GBL victory, Yoshida, who stands 5-feet-1-inch tall, has posted a 0-3 record with a 12.68 ERA through 7 games with Chico. A starter, Yoshida has lasted 5 innings only once this season. The Outlaws' pitching staff only has 3 pitchers with ERA's over 4.37 and Yoshida's ERA is nearly 5 runs higher than her next closest teammate.

I recently spoke with manager of the Philadelphia Phillies' Single A affiliate, former Major League catcher, Mark Parent, who previously managed the Outlaws, about Chico's lady hurler. Parent wasn't very familiar with Yoshida, but is friends with current Chico manager, Garry Templeton, another former Major Leaguer, and offered up some pity for his pal. "That must be a head ache," Parent said of the circus atmosphere that goes along with having a female pitcher at the professional level.

Many would be hard pressed to not admit Yoshida's presence on the Outlaws pitching staff is not a gimmick to help draw attention to the team and increase attendance. Nettleton Stadium, the Outlaws' home park, was filled nearly to its capacity of 4,200 for Yoshida's debut, which is roughly twice the typical Chico attendance figure. The team and its league are surely receiving more attention because of Yoshida's presence than they have at any other time. No wonder the Outlaws announced 10 days in advance, on Tuesday, that Yoshida is slated to make her next start on August 20th.

Efforts to exploit a situation aside, there's surely nothing wrong with giving someone a chance. However, when a carnival act proves costly by hurting the team's chances of winning and keeps a more deserving player from receiving a chance to shine, perhaps the plug should be pulled on the princess' opportunity.

__________________________________________________

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.


BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Community Happenings


Remember those various "Phanatic Around Town" statues that were placed all throughout Philadelphia as part of a public art project, led by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and the Phillies, that features twenty, life-sized Phillie Phanatic statues located at local attractions? Well, the Phanatic statues will soon leave their posts and an online auction for the many uniquely painted Phanatics will begin on Friday, August 27th, to benefit Phillies Charities Inc.


Former Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams, along with RadioShack, is calling on all area residents to join him in the LIVESTRONG Challenge 5K walk/run that’s taking place in Philadelphia on Saturday, August 21. As a co-captain of “Team RadioShack”, Mitch is looking to participate in the 5k with as many athletes, cancer fighters and survivors, baseball fans, and everyday folks that the Philadelphia region can get.

If you are interested in participating, you can sign up to participate along side "The Wild Thing" in support of LIVESTRONG on Radio Shack's website.


On Saturday, August 21st, the Lakewood BlueClaws will be hosting a blood drive from 7am to 2pm. To mark the event, Central Jersey Blood Center Chief Operating Officer Ryan Ragan will camp out on the roof of Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park for the 4 days leading up to the event. Ragan, who stayed on the stadium's roof for a week last year to raise awareness, will only come down for BlueClaws games.

Blood donated to the Central Jersey Blood Center will help to treat premature babies, burn and trauma victims, patients suffering from leukemia and other cancers, cardiac disease, and many other conditions that require blood products for recovery.

The BlueClaws and the Central Jersey Blood Center encourage folks to sign up early. You can do so by clicking this link.

____________________________________________
Radio reminder....today is PhoulBallz Phillies Wednesday. Check out The Shore Sports Report today around 3:20pm to hear me talking baseball with Joe & Mike. Listen to the show each weekday at 3pm on the air in New Jersey on 1160 WOBM AM and Shore Sports 1310, or listen online by clicking this link.

Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter HERE.


BallHype: hype it up!