Thursday, December 30, 2010

Minor Jobs: A Look at How Prospects Spend Their Off-seasons

As many fans know, not every baseball player gets a huge signing bonus or a large salary. Many minor league players find themselves working in the Autumn and Winter months to supplement their income and to stay busy. A question often wondered by fans: What do prospects do during the off-season? The answer is simple...pretty much anything and everything.

Phillies first base prospect Matt Rizzotti is an individual who typically finds himself working during his time away from the baseball diamond. However, Rizzotti is not working this Winter as a result of having spent much of this off-season continuing to play baseball. Following the 2010 regular season, Rizzotti went to instructional ball in Clearwater for a month, then spent another five weeks playing for Mesa in the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .333 with an .865 OPS in 19 games.

Last year, however, Rizzotti, who was a physical education major at Manhattan College, went back to his roots and worked as a full-time teachers assistant at the high school which he graduated from in Floral Park, NY. Rizzotti, a 6th round pick in the 2007 amateur draft, has also held one position in previous off-seasons that he enjoyed quite a bit, while working for a friend's family. "My best friend's father owns a haunted house in New York City and I usually work there every year too, from September through the month of October. I don't even have to dress up, I just naturally scare people," Rizzotti said in an exclusive interview.

Phillies minor league third baseman and 2nd round pick in the 2007 MLB draft Travis "Moose" Mattair is another player who goes back to his high school, as he has coached basketball there for the past three years. "I was the varsity assistant coach for 2 years and I became the head coach for the freshman girls this season," Mattair said. "I never thought I'd coach a girls sport, but I absolutely love it. It's more than just coaching to me. It's a fun gig, and keeps me in at my old high school where I'm friends with so many of the staff there."

2010 Lakewood BlueClaws pitcher Mike McGuire, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, chose employment where he can stay in shape, during the Autumn and Winter months. "For the past three years, I've been working at a baseball facility, up here in West Chester, PA," McGuire said. "And we've got a nice facility here. We've got pitching mounds and an indoor field. We get about 40-50 kids here every week to coach and give lessons. It's called All Star Baseball Academy. We've got four locations around the area right now.

"I'll get to work with an 8-year-old and give him pitching lessons, or work with a guy who is ready to go to college ball. It's a good routine to have. It keeps me working, I'm making some money and keeping myself baseball ready."

McGuire is one of three active minor leaguers working at his location. The others include lefty hurler Tom Cochran, now in the Reds system, who was once in spring training with the Phillies.

Left-handed pitcher Nick Hernandez, a 12th round draft selection in 2009, stays close to the sport of baseball without being on a field, or in a training center. Hernandez, a 2010 South Atlantic League (Class A) All-star, works for a memorabilia and merchandise retailer. "(It's) called Collectibles of the Game. It is an online retail store that ships apparel, signed items, Christmas ornaments, stockings (and more) to people who make orders online through Amazon or through our website which is CollectiblesoftheGame.com. The company has a retail store at our local mall, but most of our business is done online as we have about 2,000 orders daily during the holiday rush." According to Hernandez, his favorite items to sell are player autographs and Phillies bobble head dolls.

Some of the other gigs that Phillies prospects have had in recent years include sales clerk at Best Buy, wait staff at a Red Robin restaurant, office intern and grounds crew staff member at a golf course.

Other players, who don't work, like top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart, simply train during the Winter months. "I spend most of my time dedicated to baseball," said Cosart, 20, who has spent his off-season working out five days a week and began a throwing program in mid-December after allowing some down time for his prized right arm. "I go to a trainer three days a week to work out and condition as well as do the same exercises by myself on the other two days."

Cosart, who went 7-3 with a 3.79 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings for Class A Lakewood prior to having his season cut short due to an elbow injury, will report to spring training early, on January 15th, in order to work closely with team trainers, coaches and other pitchers.

Rizzotti is another player that stays in shape by working with a personal trainer. "I go to a trainer, basically everyday, about 5-6 days a week. I have a trainer that I got with, he got me in shape last off-season. He loves the stairs...anything can be done- walking and running- it can be done on the stairs," Rizzotti, who dropped considerable weight last Winter stated.

Whether it's work or working out, all of the Phillies prospects I spoke with have their minds constantly focused on baseball all throughout the colder months of the off-season. With visions of fastballs dancing in their heads, spring training can not come fast enough for these ballplayers, especially if their meantime employment isn't the most ideal.

And according to one player, "Rolling 70 sets of silverware at the end of your shift (at a restaurant) truly makes you realize how awesome baseball is, even in the toughest of times."

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter League Updates, 12/28/10

The stove stays hot during the off-season, but there are Phillies and Philadelphia prospects playing games around the world. It's time for another review of the various Winter Leagues.


In the Puerto Rican League-


Righty hurler Julio Rodriguez has pitched very well for the Gigantes. A native of Puerto Rico, the 20-year-old Rodriguez has posted a 3-1 record and a 2.00 ERA in 11 games (9 starts) while striking out 25 batters in 40 innings pitched.


In the Venezuelan Winter League-

Lefty reliever Sergio Escalona, who pitched with the big league Phillies in 2009, has appeared in 22 games for the Tiburones. He has yet to record a decision and has a 4.50 overall ERA. In his last 10 games, Escalona has posted a 2.45 ERA and allowed runs in only 1 appearance. In 50 games at Double A Reading in 2010, Escalona had a 4-8 record with 10 saves and a 3.81 ERA while holding opponents to a .227 batting average. Escalona turned 26-years-old in August.

Fidel Hernandez, a 24-year-old Venezuela native, posted a .206 batting average with just 2 doubles and 2 RBI in 35 games with the Aguilas. During the 2010 regular season, Hernandez, who primarily plays second base, batted .279 with 1 homerun and 22 RBI in 69 games with the High A level Clearwater Threshers and went 7-for-15 (.467 avg) in 4 games with the Double A Reading Phils.

Another member of the Aguilas roster, Harold Garcia has a .286 average through 28 games played. However, Garcia has just one extra base hit (a double) and has been successful in only 1 of 5 stolen base attempts. In the 2010 regular season, The 24-year-old, made headlines by setting the Florida State League hitting streak record at 37 games as a member of the Clearwater Threshers.

Infielder Freddy Galvis batted .188 in 21 games with the Magallanes Navegantes, but he appears done with Winter League action, as he has not seen playing time since November.

Melvin Dorta has not had an outstanding Winter, as his overall average and OPS are just .231 and .555 respectively in 25 games for the Tigres. Having posted a .300 average in his last 10 games, Dorta, a 28-year-old Venezuelan born infielder, is looking to shine after batting .282 in 103 games at Double A and Triple A for the Phillies this year.

With the Cardenales, 20-year-old outfielder Luis Unda played in 4 games, going 3-for-9 (.333 avg). In 2010, Unda was a member of the Gulf Coast League championship Phillies team and batted .245 with a .616 OPS in 44 games with league champs.

Cesar Hernandez, a native of Venezuela, spent the 2010 season with the Williamsport Crosscutters, where he batted .325 with 32 steals as a 20-year-old. In 13 games with the Bravos, he is batting .286 with no extra base hits and no stolen bases.


In the Mexican League-



Catching prospect Sebastian Valle is batting .291 with 8 homers and 27 RBI in 50 games with the Caneros. During the regular season this year, the 20-year-old Valle helped lead the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws to a repeat as South Atlantic League champions, batting .255, slugging 16 homers and driving in 74 runs in 117 games.

With the Aguilas, Angel Chavarin played in two games, but has not seen action in over a month. The 20-year-old catcher batted .192 in 11 games as a member of the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2010.

Brian Mazone, who pitched in 2010 with the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, appeared in 3 games early in the season for the Mexican League's Aguilas, but his time there is over after allowing opponents to hit .390.


In the Dominican League-

2010 Phillies reliever David Herndon appears to have completed his time with the Gigantes, as it has been nearly three weeks since he saw game action. In 6 games, the right-handed Herndon recorded no decisions and allowed no runs.

Lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo has also completed his Winter duties with the Gigantes. In 7 relief appearances, Bastardo, who pitched with the Phillies in the 2010 regular season, recorded 1 save, struck out 7 batters in 9 innings and held opponents to a .100 batting average.

Juan Perez, a lefty pitcher signed by the Phillies this off-season, is another member of the Gigantes pitching staff. In 27 games, Perez, a native Dominican, has a 2-2 record with a 5.52 ERA.

Derrick Loop, who pitched with the High A level Clearwater and Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2010, has a 1-1 record with a 2.79 ERA in 16 games with the Gigantes.

Former Mets outfielder Timo Perez, who played with the Double A Reading Phillies in 2010, has a .279 average with 2 homeruns and 18 RBI in 38 games for the Tigres.

Dominican born infielder Ozzie Chavez is batting .219 with no extra base hits in 15 games with the Toros. Chavez batted .219 during the 2010 regular season in 122 combined games in Double A and Triple A in the Phils' system.


In the Australian League-

With the Bandits, infielder Alan Schoenberger is batting .217 with 2 homeruns and 8 RBI in 17 games. Schoenberger, a 21-year-old native of Australia batted .253 with 5 homers and 35 RBI in 96 games with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws during the 2010 regular season.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

The Heaven Hotline with Harry Caray

PhoulBallz.com recently had the opportunity to connect with a legend of sports broadcasting, live on The Heaven Hotline. I spoke with Radio Hall of Fame honoree Harry Caray, who called baseball games for decades in Chicago.

Harry chimed in with his thoughts on the return of Cliff Lee to Philadelphia, the state of the Cubs and more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.



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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 84

Larry Hisle was an outfielder with the Phillies from 1968-1971. Hisle was a solid athlete who played a season of college basketball at Ohio State before signing with the Phillies and playing professional baseball.

Hisle made his debut as a late season call up in 1968 at the age of 21, after batting .303 in the minors that year. The following year, in his first full season in the Major Leagues, Hisle slugged 20 homeruns and drove in 56 runs to finish fourth in National League rookie of the year voting. Hisle's HR total was good enough for second on the team that year and helped to get him named a Rookie All-star by Topps that season.

In 1970, Hisle struggled and lost confidence, posting a low .205 batting average and only 10 homeruns. After a period of offensive strife, Hisle found himself back in the minors by the middle of the 1971 season. Following the season, Hisle was traded to the Dodgers for utility man Tom Hutton.

Hisle spent a year in the Dodgers' system without playing a game at the Major League level. The following off-season Hisle was swapped twice, first going to the Cardinals for Greg Millikan and Rudy Arroyo, then heading to Minnesota, roughly a month later, with John Cumberland for Wayne Granger.

As a member of the Twins, Hisle would excel and live up to his potential. During his time in Minnesota, Hisle posted a 31-steal season, made an All-star team and led the American League in RBI in 1977, when he drove in 119.

However, following his outstanding 1977 season, in which he slugged 28 homers, batted .302, finished third in Most Valuable Player voting in the American League, Hisle and the Twins could not agree on a new contract and he signed with Milwaukee as a free agent.

Hisle made an exceptional addition for the Brewers in his first season with the club, when he posted a .290 average, mashed 34 homeruns and drove in 115 runs. But after 1978, Hisle was no longer an impact player after shoulder injuries prevented him from playing very much. He was active in no more than 27 games in any of the next four seasons and was out of the Majors following the 1982 season.

These days, Hisle continues to be a fixture in the Brewers' organization and the Milwaukee community. He is currently employed with the Brewers as their Youth Outreach Manager, a position he has held since 2003, and works a great deal in mentoring roles with multiple youth groups. Hisle also served as the 2010 Christmas Seals Campaign Chairperson for the American Lung Association.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas on the Farm

On behalf of myself and The Shore Sports Network, I'd like to wish a happy Christmas to all of our readers that celebrate it.

In recent weeks I've checked in with a several Phillies minor leaguers from various levels of the organization, as holiday spirit was building, to inquire about some of the players' favorite Christmas things. Check out the list of answers from the players I spoke with below.


Santa De Fratus

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS FOOD-

RHP Jarred Cosart..."Favorite food during Christmas is chicken, ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, okra, salad. Ha ha...you name it, I'll eat it."

RHP Justin De Fratus..."My favorite holiday food would have to be tamales. I don't know how many Phillies fans would know what those are, but if you are ever in Southern California during Christmas time, you have to have some."

RHP Jake Borup..."Father-in-law makes red chile enchiladas!"

LHP Nick Hernandez..."My favorite food, or dessert I should say, now when it comes to Christmas time are Oreo Balls. It's Oreos blended up into little bite size balls with some cream cheese that are dipped in white chocolate."

First baseman Matt Rizzotti..."All we really do at my house is eat turkey, so I guess that's my favorite Christmas food."


FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG-

Third baseman "Moose" Mattair..."My favorite holiday song has to be The Christmas Song/Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. That's a new favorite, by the way, last year's was Winter Song by Sarah McLachlan."

Cosart..."I like the song 'Can I Buy These Shoes' because it makes me remember to be thankful for everything we have because it can be taken away at any time."

De Fratus..."My favorite holiday song...O Holy Night. I really like Celine Dion's Christmas CD called "These Are Special Times". You can thank my Mom for that. She listened to that CD a lot when I was younger."

Borup..."O Holy Night and Feliz Navidad."

RHP Mike McGuire..."I'm gonna have to go with the Mariah Carey, All I Want For Christmas is You. It's sexy."

Rizzotti..."That's simple- Nat King Cole, The Christmas Song. You can't get better than the song titled 'The Christmas Song'."


FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIE-

Mattair..."I have two favorite movies. It's a toss up between Elf and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation! Some people have related me to Buddy the Elf, from Elf, at times and I take it as a complement!"

De Fratus..."Probably The Muppet's Christmas Carol. It's so funny."

Borup..."Dumb and Dumber (not Christmas, but I watch it more than any other movie during Christmas time), Christmas Vacation and Home Alone."

Hernandez..."I have a couple favorite Christmas movies which include the entire Home Alone series and Elf."

McGuire..."Without a doubt, it's Christmas Vacation! Cousin Eddie is the best."

Rizzotti..."The Santa Clause is one, Scrooged is another, It's a Wonderful Life is another and then obviously, A Christmas Story, so I have four favorites."


FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TRADITION-

Mattair..."We have an awesome family tradition of getting all the aunts uncles and cousins together on Christmas Eve for a big feast and a gift exchange. Something I look forward to every year! The family just keeps growing, so it's entertaining every year. I have the best family ever!"

Cosart..."Christmas is a time of giving and that is the most fun thing, to see my cousins' and brothers' eyes light up when they open their gifts. It's also an awesome time to spend with family, friends, and my girlfriend."

Borup..."I'm a salty over sweet kinda guy, so Christmas morning, opening stockings, my brothers would always get candy and I would get a can of Black Olives and a jar of hot peppers (jalapenos). There are a lot of cousins, nieces, nephews in the fam, so every year our aunt and uncle would have all the little kids reenact the nativity scene, with wisemen and the whole deal. Cool to see how the little kids played parts and got into the acting it out."

Hernandez..."Since I grew up in Miami, we never had a cold Christmas so after we would open presents, it was straight to the park with the family to race the remote control cars we got. We would stay at the park for hours, play a couple of games and just play with all of our presents. We always got to open one present on Christmas Eve which was always pretty cool because my sister and I would go for the box that was the biggest."

McGuire..."I'd have to say family breakfast. After we all open up presents early, it's one of the few times we get to actually be together as a family. It's just the immediate family, just the five of us."

Rizzotti..."We go out to dinner as a family, 'cause it's my birthday, so we always go out Christmas Eve, and we come home and open presents (with the immediate family). The next day we have the rest of the family over. (As for having my birthday on Christmas Eve) if you ask my parents it's fantastic, 'cause they only get me one gift, but if you ask me, I kinda get jipped, but that's alright."


FAVORITE CHRISTMAS GIFT FROM CHILDHOOD-

Borup..."First gift I loved was a tetherball pole in 4th grade that lead me to be the Ishikawa elementary tetherball champion. Next gift was my first CD player, then when I was 14, I got a pitbull named Jasmine that is still at my parents' house in Mesa."

McGuire..."My first bike. I was like 9 or 10 years old. Dyno VFR!"

De Fratus..."I usually got the same thing every Christmas. I only asked for one thing.....A Rawlings Pro Preferred Glove. I couldn't stand using the same glove 2 years in a row so all I wanted was a new glove each year. I also remember being pretty excited about getting my first electric guitar too. I love to play the guitar and make music."

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Draft Bargain Pettis Speaks on Success and Future

This September, right-handed pitcher Eric Pettis was tossed into the proverbial fire. The Phillies wasted no time moving their late-round steal, from this year's amateur draft, into the crucial postseason schedule of the defending South Atlantic League champions, the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.

Pettis began his professional career swiftly after being selected by the Phillies in the 35th round of the 2010 draft with the Williamsport Crosscutters of the short season NY-Penn League out of UC-Irvine. The 6'2", 200 pound hurler started and pitched in relief en route to posting an 8-0 record and a 1.37 ERA while striking out 67 batters in 59 innings with Williamsport.

By Labor Day, Williamsport had just missed the playoffs by the slimmest of margins and the BlueClaws were beginning their run at a second straight league title, so Pettis, who opened many eyes while becoming a NY-Penn League All-star, was added to the Lakewood roster in an effort to fortify the bullpen.

Pettis was excited to join the BlueClaws at a time when their games meant so much, but asserted that it was certainly a difficult situation at times. "It was weird. It's fun because it's a big playoff atmosphere, but it's tough because you've got to learn all your new teammates and the different quirks in the clubhouse and all that. It was different, but it was fun because I was jumping right into a playoff atmosphere," Pettis stated in an exclusive interview.

Lance Carter, the Crosscutters' pitching coach, is credited, by Pettis, with helping Pettis achieve his tremendous success so early in his pro career, by instilling the proper methods to have a game plan each time he took the mound.

"He did a great job. Talking with me, through every inning, every at bat, to just see what my mind-set was. We worked on mechanical things here and there, but it was more about how you approach each hitter and how you look at each game and prepare yourself."

Pettis, a California native, made his Class A debut in the BlueClaws' postseason opener this year, throwing a scoreless 1 1/3 innings against the Hickory Crawdads (Texas affiliate). "First impressions are a big thing. It was crunch time for (the team) and they're not going to throw me in there if they don't have confidence in me, so I was just glad to have success in my first outing, so I could continue getting out there," Pettis said.

The draft bargain, Pettis, threw 4 1/3 innings in the postseason for Lakewood, allowing just 1 earned run in the process. Pettis projects to begin next season at Single A Lakewood, however, he could certainly be on the fast track to higher levels.

Austin Hyatt, who was a 15th round draft choice by the Phillies in 2009, cruised through NY-Penn league competition in his first professional season, then earned a promotion to Lakewood, to help them during their stretch run toward the SAL title. Hyatt was 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA in 18 regular season games with Williamsport and Lakewood last year. He then excelled with the High-A Level Clearwater Threshers in 2010 (11-5 record, 3.04 ERA, .220 opponents' average) and earned a promotion to Double A Reading by mid-August.

The difference in age, between Hyatt and Pettis, could impact how the organization assigns these players differently by comparison, though, as Hyatt was 24-years-old for most of the 2010 season and age often plays a role in level assignments. Pettis will be 22-years-old until June, so the Phillies will likely feel more comfortable taking a longer look at Pettis in Lakewood, especially with limited room expected on the Threshers' roster as many young prospects (Trevor May, Brody Colvin, Jarred Cosart, Colby Shreve, Jonathan Pettibone & more) are potentially in line to get their shot on the Clearwater mound in 2011.

Going forward, Pettis' outlook should be agreeable with whatever the Phillies determine to be the best course of action, as he will surely continue to be a young prospect to watch, headed into the 2011 season.

"I'm just going to go about my business every day, you know. I just want to try to build on this early success and keep getting better and learn as much as I can."





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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Special Announcement!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, phans of all ages....PhoulBallz.com proudly brings to you and your fancy cellular telephone- THE BRAND NEW PHOULBALLZ.COM iPHONE APPLICATION!

The application will be the newest way to stay in touch with all the happenings around Philadelphia baseball and the minors. Get all the exclusive PhoulBallz interviews, player features, series previews and loads of other exclusive content that readers have come to depend on from this site.

I expect to provide exclusive content to the application for those special folks that take the time to download this unique service.

The versatile and fun app, that will allow users to view all the latest posts, with easy access to the PhoulBallz Twitter feed, all PhoulBallz Facebook updates and much more, can be used on your iPhone, your iPad and your iPod!

Visit the iPhone App Store by clicking HERE to download the application for free.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 83

Fresco Thompson was a second baseman with the Phillies from 1927-1930. A righty batter who played in the Major Leagues in 9 different seasons, Thompson's best years in the bigs were with the Phillies.

Thompson, whose given first name was Lafayette, made his MLB debut in 1925 as a member of the Pirates. After spending the 1926 season with the Giants, Thompson was acquired by the Phillies in a 3-team trade with the Robins (also known as the Dodgers) and the Giants, prior to the 1927 season.

With the Phillies, Thompson posted impressive numbers in his first full season as an everyday player. In 153 games, he batted .303, hit 32 doubles, scored 78 runs and drove in 70 runs. Speed was also a key part of Thompson's game as he stole 19 bags and laced 14 triples in 1927.

Over the next three seasons, Thompson would continue to contribute offensively, notching no less than 34 doubles each season and scoring 99 runs, or better, twice.

Thompson was quoted reflecting on his time with the Phillies, "It was some club. I hit .324 one year and was sixth or seventh in the club batting averages. They wouldn't even let me take batting practice and I wasn't allowed to talk to Lefty O'Doul and Chuck Klein, who were really murdering the ball. Our main trouble was we had no pitchers. We lost games by football scores."

Fresco Thompson's time in Philadelphia ended following the 1930 season when he was traded to the Dodgers along with Lefty O'Doul for pitcher Clise Dudley, pitcher Jumbo Elliot, outfielder Hal Lee and cash.

After limited action with Brooklyn, Thompson's playing days were soon over in the Majors. He soon began managing in the minor leagues and later joined Branch Rickey in the Dodgers front office. Over the next 20 years, Thompson climbed the executive ranks. Thompson was in charge of the Dodgers developmental system until he was promoted to the team's vice president in after Rickey departed in 1950. Thompson held that position until he was later named General Manager of the organization in June, 1968. However, within weeks, Thompson was diagnosed with cancer and died in November of that year at the age of 66.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chatting Baseball on 97.3 ESPN

Tune in around 1:25pm today (Saturday, December 18th) to hear me talking Phillies baseball with the one and only Tyrone Johnson. We'll be talking about the Phillies' stunning acquisition of Cliff Lee and other matters pertaining to your favorite MLB club.


Tyrone is a multi talented Millennium Radio force. Music, politics, current events and sports are all topics you can hear Mr. Johnson discussing on various Millennium owned outlets. He hosts The Weekend Sports Guide each and every Saturday, from noon to 3pm, on Atlantic City's 97.3 ESPN.


You can listen on the air or online. Check it out!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cliff Lee Quotables

The Phillies hosted a press conference on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park to announce the signing of free agent pitcher Cliff Lee, who they traded away last December. Lee signed a 5-year contract worth a guaranteed $120 million on Wednesday.

The deal's annual salaries are laid out like this-
2011...$11 million
2012...$21.5 million
2013...$25 million
2014...$25 million
2015...$25 million
There is a vesting option year for 2016 that could pay Lee $27.5 million. The option year vests if Lee throws 200 innings in 2015, or a combined 400 innings in 2014 and 2015. If the option year does not vest, there is a $12.5 million buyout built in.

Lee and his family loved their time in Philadelphia the first time, and that weighed greatly on his decision to return. Read all about this and more of what Cliff Lee had to say in the press conference excerpts below.


On his return to Philadelphia- "It feels great to land back here in Philadelphia....I never wanted to leave this place in the first place. So, to get an opportunity to come back and be part of this team and this pitching rotation is going to be something that's historic, I believe. I can't wait to get to spring training and get this thing going."

On his attraction to Philadelphia- "I never held any grudges from being traded. I understand it's a business and things like that happen. But, from the moment I got here, on the first day, I knew that it was something special and something that I enjoyed. I wasn't sure if I was going to get an opportunity to come back or not, but the way things played out, I got that opportunity and here I am. When you set back and evaluate your options and you get a chance to pitch in this rotation with Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels...that's all I needed to see right there. Give me a real option to do that, and that was the main thing- getting the chance to be part of that rotation. With this team, it was kind of a no-brainer for me."

On the concept of leaving money on the table- "It's plenty of money. When you hit a certain point, enough's enough. It's just a matter of where you're comfortable, where you're happy, where your family's the most comfortable, what team gives you the best chance to win. At this point, it's about trying to win championships. That's really the number one thing for me. I think this team gives me the best chance to do that."

On the Citizens Bank Park atmosphere- "You can feel the volume. Every game has got an elevated feel to it, compared to everywhere else. It’s completely different. I don’t know what the fans do to create that much more volume and excitement in the stadium, but it’s definitely something extra here. I don’t know what it is, but it’s something they’re doing. But they get excited. They’re passionate fans.

They understand that’s going on. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer, to do that. No, it’s exciting. It’s an historic town. I didn’t realize until I got here how interesting the city is. And my family really liked it. I mean, that played a big part of it.

The feeling of playing on the field feels different than anywhere else. I don’t know how to explain it other than you can feel the volume that’s created by the fans and their intensity."

On his discussions with pal Jayson Werth, who signed with the Nationals- "I don't know if I can say exactly how that conversation went down, here. But, I know once we both got on the free agent market, we both talked about 'Let's try to get on the same team.' Obviously, when he signed with the Nationals and I signed here it didn't happen. But when he found out I was coming here he wasn't the happiest person in the world, I'll put it that way."

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Halladay Named Sporting News Pro Athlete of the Year

Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay was honored as the 2010 pro athlete of the year, in the latest edition of The Sporting News. In his first season with the Phillies, Halladay threw a perfect game during the regular season and notched the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history. His overall regular season record was an impressive 21-10 and his 2.44 ERA helped him lock down the National League Cy Young Award. As the Phillies' ace, Halladay threw more complete games (9) than any other team in the National League.

The issue includes an article written by Halladay. In the piece he mentions the fancy watches he purchased for all his teammates and team staff following his perfect game in May. Halladay references the phrase he had engraved into each gift, "We did it together", and elaborates...

"Looking back on the entire 2010 season, I feel it can be summed up in those four words. I might someday forget the details of the perfect game, the playoff no-hitter and and other individual moments, but never the camaraderie that we had. I include the fans of Philadelphia in that, too. The people who surrounded me throughout the season ere integral parts of my five favorite moments from the best year of my baseball life."

The Sporting News 2010 Pro Athlete of the Year issue, out now, is available on news stands everywhere.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Phils Prospect Cosart Reflects, Prepares For Future

With the release of Baseball America's list of top ten Phillies prospects on Monday, some players will be receiving some much deserved attention. One in particular, Jarred Cosart, is a fireballing right-handed starting pitcher with the potential to move up the organizational rankings very quickly.

The 20-year-old Cosart has excellent command and a superior fastball that regularly hits 97 MPH. As a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws in 2010, Cosart posted a 7-3 record with a 3.79 ERA and 77 strike outs in 71 1/3 innings pitched. He projects to be the type of pitcher whose presence could effect the odds involved in Sports Betting some day, much like Cliff Lee did when news leaked that the Phillies were preparing to sign him this week.

Cosart missed much of the 2010 season with an elbow injury, but the Phillies did a superb job of catching the injury, before it was too late, and shutting him down to prevent further damage. Cosart was was back to 100% in time to spend the month after the season pitching in instructional ball at the Phillies spring training facility in Florida. While there, he experienced no hindrances. The Phillies were satisfied with the progress he made, despite being a bit rusty following the period away from game action. "There were absolutely no setbacks in instructional league, just a little bit of rust having not thrown to live competition for a few months. The arm felt great, though. And overall, the coaches were very pleased with my outings and, obviously, that the arm felt good," Cosart said in an exclusive interview.

Despite missing time, Cosart was able to improve on various aspects of his game. The Texas native developed a better curveball and refined his delivery to enhance deception when it came to his change up. His focus on conditioning, resulting from his rehab work, is likely to keep him in better shape going forward as well.

Cosart, a 38th round draft selection in 2008, did not appear in a game after June 26th last season, when he left a road start after 2/3 of an inning with the elbow discomfort that landed him on the disabled list for the remainder of the season. Looking forward to 2011, Cosart is squarely focused on having an injury-free season and developing himself further. "The biggest goal is staying healthy. I'm 100 percent confident in my pitching ability. I just need to get over the little setbacks I've had. I want to establish myself as one of the best and get better each time I take the mound, every fifth day, as well as the days in between," Cosart said.

The Baseball America list of Phils prospects also included six other players that appeared with the Lakewood BlueClaws championship club in 2010. The opportunity for so many of Philadelphia's best young talent to have bonded together while getting used to the postseason at such an early age could be beneficial to all of them in the long run, as the players move closer to the big show, according to Cosart. "I can't even express the brotherly love that we had in Lakewood. From the coaching staff to the players, everyone got along and we all wanted to win. It would be an honor and a great experience to (some day) put on a Phillie uniform with some of the same teammates I won a South Atlantic League championship with," Cosart said.

With plenty of minor league players' eyes aimed toward the ultimate goal of the big leagues, it's surely a positive thing when those hungry individuals can get to see big league talent up close in the same dugout. During the 2010 regular season, home grown Phillies stars such as Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard, both former BlueClaws, made rehab appearances in Lakewood. Ruiz and Howard were an inspiration to the Lakewood players as each one serves up proof of the organization's ability to draft and develop key talent for the parent club.

"It's exciting to everyone to see that the Phillies like to develop their Major League team from the minor leagues," Cosart stated.

The off-season has brought down-time for Cosart and resulted in him missing the game of baseball. He missed the roar of the crowd so much this off-season that he set up an account on Twitter, in order to interact with baseball fans via the internet. In addition to chatting with the Phillies faithful on a regular basis, Cosart is staying busy this off-season by working out with a trainer and has continued a steady routine of stretching exercises, which he feels is key for a pitcher's health. His throwing routine will begin this week, leading up to an early arrival at spring training on January 15th, where he hopes to prove himself worthy of a move upward in the Phils' system.

Looking forward to rubbing elbows with some more big league talent, Cosart cites the opportunity to work closely with the parent club's premiere pitcher in Clearwater as too good to pass up.

"I wouldn't say I'm heading there early because I missed time, but because I'd like the opportunity to...be able to be around guys like Roy Halladay to learn anything I can that will help me become a better person and player."

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lee Arrives in Philadelphia, Comments on Return

Below is an excerpt from Tuesday night's edition of the PHL channel 17 news. NBC 10's John Clarke located Cliff Lee, upon arrival, at Philadelphia International Airport tonight and asked him for his reaction after news of his agreement to sign a deal to return to the Phillies.




Lee is scheduled to take his physical examination on Wednesday morning. Signing of the new contract will then be finalized and the Phillies will host a press conference in the afternoon to officially announce Lee's return.

In other news, Wednesday afternoon will also feature the Washington Nationals' press conference to announce their new free agent acquisition, Jayson Werth.

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Hat tip to Den Nardo for the video.


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Myster-Lee Team Signs Fourth Ace

It was a move that nobody seemed to expect. But, as the afternoon hours turned to evening hours, baseball insiders began to trickle out rumors online that the Phillies were the previously rumored mystery team making offers to Cliff Lee and, later, negotiations were confirmed by multiple sources. At about midnight the story broke that the Phillies had locked down the services of the man they traded away one year ago...Cliff Lee.

On December 14th, 2009 the big story was the trade to acquire Roy Halladay and the subsequent deal that sent Cliff Lee away to Seattle. It's not possible to forget the months of second guessing that so many Phillies phans did, as they wondered what a rotation that included Halladay, Lee and 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels would have been like. 365 days after Lee left, he's back and the Philadelphia phaithful have their wish...as well as a bonus.

When the Phillies worked a trade in July to acquire ace righty Roy Oswalt from the Astros, there was a wide spread pass on any tension related to the squashed dream of having three aces. Now, not only do the Phillies have three top teir pitchers in their rotation, they have an unprecedented four.

The signing stunned many, but Cliff Lee came home. Reports stated that Lee wanted to return to the Phillies so much that he initiated some of the talks. Other reports confirm that Yankees fans' treatment of Lee's wife played a role in his decision.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. may not be done with the surprises just yet, however. Baseball America's top ten prospect rankings for the Phillies system were released on Monday. Don't be surprised to see Amaro use some of those players to draw a return to fill some others voids on the big league roster, as the off-season rolls on. The trade that brought Lee to Philadelphia, from Cleveland, in July, 2009 initially cost the Phillies multiple names from their top ranked prospects. The same applies to the deal that brought Halladay in from Toronto. The Phillies have a great collection of young talent and a new habit of using it to acquire already-groomed talent.

The contract proposed to Lee is reportedly for 5 years, with a vesting option for a 6th season that could bring the total value of the deal to $135 million.

The 32-year-old Lee will surely now become the hero of all Yankees haters, as it's certainly great to shut that team down, in the minds of baseball fanatics that view New York as the evil empire, but it's a greater feat to turn down their immense pay checks.

Phans now have a few months to decide which nickname to go with for the quintet of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, but some options have already come forth, including R2C2, the Phour Horsemen and the Phantastic Phour. I, however, am partial to one that's been in place for months, as though the linguistic loungers at The701Level.com darn well knew what the nonsensical catchphrases they were making up were leading to. Their concept asserts how legit the rotation will be, by letting the world know that the Phillies starters are "4 RELL".

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Phillies Confirmed to be Bidders on Lee

This afternoon Jayson Stark stated on ESPN.com that the Philadelphia Phillies were the rumored "mystery team" in the mix, along with the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees, for the services of a free agent known as Cliff Lee.

Later in the evening, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal cofirmed via Twitter that the Phillies are involved in the pursuit of Lee. Other info via the likes of Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman (yes, the real one) and others state that the Yankees still have the edge on the monetary value of the contracts offered. However, if location means enough, as Lee stated in the past that he loved his time in Philadelphia, the Phils are certainly a contender to be high on Lee's list of desired destinations.

Other reports state that the Phillies have touched base with multiple teams in an effort to trade Joe Blanton, which would help to free up money in the team's ever-rising payroll. Blanton is owed $8.5 million ($17 million total) in each of the 2 years remaining on his contract.

If the Phillies do re-acquire Cliff Lee, plenty of Phillies fans will be overjoyed. However, it will still stand to be mulled over by some that the Phillies gave up several top prospects for Lee, later gave Lee away for very little to Seattle and then spent more money than they've ever given any pitcher to bring him back. Of course, the Phillies' inclusion in the Lee Lottery could simply be a method by Lee's camp to drive up the offers from the other bidders.


**UPDATE- TR Sullivan broke the news first, on Monday night, that the Rangers were informed that Cliff Lee had reached an agreement with the Phillies. Early reports state that the deal will be in the 5-years/$100 million range. More news as it becomes available.**

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Winter Baseball League Updates


Sure, free agency and the Hot Stove can provide plenty of news at this time of the year, but there are actual games being played...somewhere. Let's take a look around the varying "Winter" leagues that are going on all over the world, to review how players with current Phillies ties are performing.


In the Dominican Winter Baseball League...

Domonic Brown was a member of the Escogido Leones, but left the team last week. After struggling in 9 games for the Leones, Brown's Winter league stint was cut short. He went 2-for-29 (.069 avg) with 1 double and 8 strike outs.

2010 Phillies rookie hurler David Herndon has looked sharp thus far out of the bullpen for the Cibao Gigantes. In 6 games, Herndon has thrown 6 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .167 average without allowing a run.

Phillies lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo is also a member of the Gigantes relief corp. In 7 games, Bastardo, a native of the DR, has a 0-1 record with 7 strike outs and 1 walk in 9 innings. He has held opponents to a .100 batting average while not allowing any earned runs.

Juan Perez, a lefty pitcher signed by the Phillies this off-season, is another member of the Gigantes pitching staff. In 22 games, Perez, a native Dominican, has a 1-1 record with a 6.55 ERA. In his last 10 outings, Perez has a 1.50 ERA and has held opponents to a .091 batting average.

Timo Perez, a one-time New York Metropolitan, who was signed by the Phillies in July and assigned to the Double A Reading club, is posting good numbers for the Licey Tigres. In 36 games, Perez is batting .293 with 2 HR and 18 RBI.

Yohan Flande has not appeared in a game for the Toros since he was released by the Phillies last week. It is possible that the Dominican native has put his Winter league activity on hold until he re-signs with a Major League organization. In 6 games, the lefty Flande was 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA and 13 strike outs in 18 1/3 innings.

In 15 games for the Aguilas, Derrick Loop has a 1-1 record with a 3.24 ERA. Opponents are batting .289 against Loop, who pitched for both Clearwater and Lehigh Valley in 2010.

Switch-hitting infielder Ozzie Chavez, who played for Reading and Lehigh Valley in 2010, is having a rough time in the Dominican league. In 13 games, Chavez is batting .130 with a .416 OPS.


In the Mexican League...

Highly regarded prospect Sebastian Valle is putting up decent numbers for his hometown Los Mochis Caneros. Valle, a righty hitting catcher, has a .243 average with 4 doubles, 3 HR and 12 RBI in 39 games. Valle was ranked number 6 on Baseball America's top ten Phillies prospects released on Monday.

Angel Chavarin, a 20-year-old catcher, played in two games with the Aguilas, but has not seen action in over a month. There is no official word on his status.

2010 Lehigh Valley IronPig pitcher Brian Mazone pitched in 3 games early in the season for the Aguilas, but his time there is likely over after allowing opponents to hit .390.


In the Puerto Rican League...

Righty prospect Julio Rodriguez, who pitched with Williamsport and Lakewood in 2010, is looking solid in PR action with the Carolina Gigantes. In 9 games (8 starts), Rodriguez has a 3-1 record with a 2.20 ERA. Rodriguez also pitched for Puerto Rico in the Pan-American qualifying tournament this off-season.


In the Venezuelan League...

Infielder Freddy Galvis batted .188 in 21 games with the Magallanes Navegantes. Galvis, a switch-hitting 21-year-old, has not played in more than a month.

Harold Garcia is posting decent stats with the Zulia Aguilas. The 24-year-old, who made headlines in 2010 by setting the Florida State League hitting streak record at 37 games with Clearwater, is batting .286 with just 1 extra base hit (a double) in 28 games played. Garcia stole 42 bases with Lakewood in 2009, but is just 1-for-5 in stolen base attempts in the Venezuelan League.

Another member of the Aguilas is 24-year-old Fidel Hernandez, who is batting .200 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI in 32 games. Hernandez, an infielder, was signed at age 17 in 2003 by the Phillies and played with Clearwater and Reading in 2010.

Venezuela native Sergio Escalona has looked quite solid with the exception of one game. Escalona has no decisions and a 5.19 ERA in 14 games with the La Guaira Tiburones. He had one poor outing in which he allowed 4 walks and 5 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning, but has held opponents scoreless in his other 13 relief appearances.

28-year-old infielder Melvin Dorta, who played for Reading and Lehigh Valley in 2010 has picked up his production lately, batting .333 in his last 10 games. Dorta has a .196 overall average in 17 games with the Aragua Tigres.

Luis Unda, a 20-year-old outfielder, played in 4 games with the Lara Cardenales and went 3-for-9. Unda has not played in over a month. In 2010, Unda was a member of the Gulf Coast League championship Phillies team.

2010 Lehigh Valley IronPig Andy Tracy is batting .314 with a HR and 3 RBI in 14 games as a member of the Margarita Bravos. Tracy initially began playing in the Dominican Winter Baseball League, but moved on after his dismal production got him benched. Tracy posted Dom Brown numbers, going 2-for-29 in 8 games, in the DWBL.

Also on the Bravos roster is 20-year-old second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who is a native of Venezuela. Hernandez spent the 2010 season with the Williamsport Crosscutters, where he batted .325 with 32 steals. In 13 games with the Bravos, he is batting .286 with no extra base hits and no stolen bases.


In the Australian Baseball League...

Alan Schoenberger, who played with the Lakewood BlueClaws in 2010, is an Australia native. With the Brisbane Bandits, Schoenberger is batting .227 with 4 doubles and a triple in 13 games.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 82

Henry Lee Meadows was a pitcher with the Phillies from 1919-1923. Meadows was the first player in the 20th century to take the field while wearing eyeglasses. At the time this was quite unique. Journalists wondered how Meadows could find home plate, while opposing batters claimed to fear for their safety. The attention earned Meadows the nickname "Specs".

Meadows, a right-handed hurler, made his Major League debut with the Cardinals at age 20 in 1915 after two winning season in the minor leagues. He was originally a spitball pitcher.

In July 1919, Meadows was traded to the Phillies, along with infielder Gene Paulette, for Doug Baird, Elmer Jacobs and Frank Woodward. Out of his 17 starts for the Phillies that year, Meadows completed 15 of those games and threw 3 shut outs.

The following season, in 1920, Meadows posted wins in 8 of his first 10 starts, but he struggled down the stretch and finished the season with a 16-14 record and a 2.84 ERA. Meadows threw 3 shut outs for the Phils that year also, including a 3-0 blanking of former Phillie Grover Cleveland Alexander and his new team, the Cubs, in August.

That same month, Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch from Yankees pitcher Carl May and died as a result of his injuries. Major League Baseball initiated rules outlawing the spitball and forcing umpires to replace balls after they became dirty.

After the ban on his primary pitch, the North Carolina native, Meadows, had back-to-back losing seasons and saw his ERA rise a considerable amount. In 1921, Meadows posted an 11-16 record with a 4.31 ERA. The following season, Meadows went 12-18 with a 4.03 ERA.

Tired of Meadows' struggles, the Phillies traded Meadows to Pittsburgh, along with infielder Johnny Rawlings for pitcher Whitey Glazer, utility man Cotton Tierney and $50,000 in May 1923. In Pittsburgh, Meadows saw his success return, as he was backed by a stronger club. He went on to post great numbers as a member of the Pirates, winning 19 games or better three straight seasons. He also pitched in two World Series for the Pirates.

"Specs" Meadows pitched with Pittsburgh for parts of 7 seasons, going 88-52 overall. But after struggling at the Major League level at age 34 in 1929, he would land back in the minor leagues. He would pitch three more seasons.

After retiring from playing baseball, Meadows worked for the IRS.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Top Phillies Video of the Year


On the last night of Hanukkah, our annual countdown of top Phillies videos concludes.

Leading to the number 1 ranked clip, here's a rundown of this year's full list of the top 8 videos!

And now, it's on to the top one. So, grab your kippah and check out the media player below to view the top Phillies clip of the year!



You all know the deal...Halladay threw a no-hitter in his playoff debut. It was only the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history. Halladay defined "big time" in 2010 and made Philadelphia proud.

Thanks for helping this site continue to grow. Happy holidays to all of you.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Phillies Winter Meetings Update

While several free agent and potential trade names have been floated around at this week's Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida, with the Phillies organization attached to them, the moves that the Phils have actually made were of minimal impact at the minor league level. In an effort to clear space on their 40-man roster, the Phillies released pitchers Yohan Flande (pictured) and Jesus Sanchez.

Flande, a Dominican lefty hurler that will turn 25 years old prior to spring training, is currently pitching for the Toros in the Dominican Winter Baseball League. In 6 games (4 starts), Flande has posted a 1-1 record with a 4.91 ERA and a .303 batting average against for the Toros. In 27 starts for the Double A Reading Phillies this year, Flande went 10-8 with a 4.38 ERA.

The right-handed Sanchez performed well this season with the High A level Clearwater Threshers as a starting pitcher. In 23 games (22 starts), Sanchez, who turned 23 years old after the season, posted a 9-7 record with a 2.99 ERA. Sanchez was a key pitcher on the Lakewood BlueClaws team that won the South Atlantic League championship in 2009. He was also the last remaining player that the Phillies acquired in the trade that sent Bobby Abreu to the Yankees in 2006.

Flande and Sanchez were among players added to the Phillies' 40-man roster in November 2009 to protect them from last year's Rule 5 draft, the annual selection process aimed at preventing teams from stock piling too much talent in the minors and leaving players there to relatively waste away. Each pitcher is now available to any team that wants to claim them off waivers.

The Phillies' 40-man roster now sits at 38 total players.

According to David Hale, of The News Journal, the Phillies will attempt to reach new contractual agreements with Flande and Sanchez. Each pitcher would need to clear waiver before that happens.

What do these moves translate to? The Phillies likely have their sights set on some players, that they feel two 40-man roster spots could be better utilized on, in the Rule 5 draft this coming Thursday, December 9th. And with so many pitching prospects outshining Flande and Sanchez this season, the organization must not feel too concerned about potentially losing one or both of these individuals.

In other news from the organization, the Lakewood BlueClaws announced that their parent club, the Phillies, would be making a stop at the Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood, NJ on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011, as part of the club's Winter Tour. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will be on hand. Registration for the dinner event is $40 per person and proceeds will benefit BlueClaws charities. To sign up, click here, or contact Amy DeMichele at 732-901-7000 ext 172.

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The 2010 Video Countdown- Number 2

This 7th night of Hanukkah brings the runner up to video of the year. The second best Phillies video of the year is brought to you by the wonderful Cy Young Award winning pitcher known as Roy Halladay.

On May 29th, in Florida, Halladay etched his name into history books everywhere by throwing a perfect game against the Marlins. Plenty has been written about this. Only the video of Halladay himself does the feat any justice. Have a look at the media player below to watch this golden moment from Phillies history one more time.



Happy Hanukkah!
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Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Phils Video Countdown, Night 6

As we continue on with the countdown we do each year during Hanukkah, to mark the top 8 Phillies videos of the year, we come across another clip straight from the minor leagues.

This year's number 3 ranked video comes directly from the minds of two Phils' minor leaguers. In an exclusive interview last month, first base prospect Matt Rizzotti told the story of how he and Reading Phillies teammate Tagg Bozied came up with the concept to produce a promotional video of the pressure bestowed upon the team's cleanup hitter.

Check out the media player below to hear Matt explain what led to the video and then check out the second media player to view the end result.






Happy Hanukkah to all!
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Gillick Elected to Hall of Fame

Former Phillies General Manager Pat Gillick was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday by the 16-member Expansion Era Committee. Gillick, who won 3 World Series as an executive with the Blue Jays (1993-1993) and the Phillies (2008), declared that the announcement was an honor.

"It's really on behalf of all the people I worked with over the years. That's who I feel this honor is for," Gillick stated.

Gillick received 13 votes, one more than required to be elected. Marvin Miller, a longtime executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, fell one vote short of election this year. Candidates must receive 75% of the vote to be elected, thus needing 12 of the 16 votes.

By definition, the Expansion Era covered umpires, managers and executives who made their greatest contributions to the game from 1973 to the present. As for players to be considered, that period was 1973-89.

Currently employed as a senior advisor to current Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., Gillick also led the Baltimore Orioles and the Seattle Mariners to the postseason in the 1990's and the 2000's.

The committee is comprised of seven Hall of Fame players and one manager: Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ozzie Smith and newly named manager of the Phillies' Triple A affiliate Ryne Sandberg, four current Major League executives: Bill Giles of the Phillies, David Glass of the Royals, Andy MacPhail of the Orioles and Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox, and four veteran media members: Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian, Ross Newhan and Tom Verducci. Surely, having individuals on the committee that are quite familiar with or close to Gillick could not have hurt his chances of being elected.

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Werth Signs 7-year Contract with Nationals

As was long expected, Jayson Werth is officially an ex-Phillie after signing a contract with the Washington Nationals. The deal, worth a reported $126 million over 7 years, surprised everyone on Sunday afternoon, a day before the annual MLB Winter Meetings take place in Orlando, Florida. Many analysts and baseball writers felt that the two teams most likely to sign the 31-year-old right fielder were the Angels and the Red Sox.

Werth's deal could set the tone for other free agents, as it comes relatively early in the off-season. Carl Crawford is the other highly sought after outfielder on the market, while Manny Ramirez and others also look to cash in this Winter.

In a conference call with the media on Sunday night, Werth stated, "Obviously, I'm excited to be part of an organization like the Washington Nationals. (Team owner Ted Lerner) is committed to winning. We've got a great GM in Mike Rizzo. He's definitely committed to bringing in quality players and guys that can make a difference. I'm excited to be a part of all that."

Werth's agreement was announced two days after the Washington slugger Adam Dunn left for a $56 million, 4-year contract with the Chicago White Sox. The Nationals took criticism for the departure of their lefty clean up hitter, but quickly extinguished any lingering anger by showing their fans that money isn't an issue and that the organization is committed to building a winning club for Washington.

Dunn had only been out-homered by two players (Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder) in the past two seasons, so replacing him, after he departed for Chicago, seemed to be a challenging task. Adding Werth, who hit 27 homeruns, drove in 85 RBI and led the National League in doubles with 46, in 2010, should fill the void that Dunn left in the middle of the Nationals' order.

In Washington, Werth will join manager Jim Riggleman, who was the bench coach with the Dodgers when Werth played there in 2004. Werth admitted that having Riggleman as his skipper played a role in his decision to sign with the Nats. "Any time you go to war with somebody who's your manager, it helps to know who that person is. Jim's a very honest, straightforward guy. He's a hard-nosed baseball guy. He's an old school guy. Having relations with him in the past helped, I would say."

But what else convinced Werth to leave a 4-time defending NL East division champion in Philadelphia and join a club that finished in last place this year and hasn't had a winning record since 2003? According to Werth, it was the promise of winning.

"They gave me assurance that they're going to go out and get the type of talent that we're going to need to be competitive and to win. That was one thing that's very important to me: winning. I went to Philadelphia in '07, I signed as a free agent because they said we were going to win. I wanted to go somewhere where we were going to win. I went to Philadelphia and we won. I signed here, in Washington, with the same aspirations."

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Phils Video Countdown, Night 5

Here on PhoulBallz.com we celebrate Hanukkah annually by counting down the top Phillies related YouTube videos of the year. Tonight, on this 5th night of the Festival of Lights, we recognize a tie in the 4th spot.

The 4th ranked videos are related and both filmed by me. Back in September, the Phils' Class A alffiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws, won their second consecutive South Atlantic League championship. Several Lakewood players were on the team for both postseason stretches and that group included starting pitcher Trevor May, who celebrated greatly with his sweet dance moves.

Below are two videos. The first clip is of pitcher Josh Zeid locking down the BlueClaws' title by recording the final out while the second features May's boogie time.






Happy holidays!
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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Video Coundown Rolls On...Night 4

Welcome to the fourth night of the annual Phillies video countdown that we do each year during Hanukkah!

On the list of top Phillies videos of the season, we can't forget about this gem, brought to us by the folks at TastyKake. This season's edition of the annual ad that co-stars the Phillie Phanatic and Kirbee Krimpet, also featured a pair of handsome local bloggers/writers that you may be familiar with. "Ryan Petzrawr", of Long Drive and TheFightins.com fame, and yours truly, "Jay Ballz", were on hand this year on a brisk March morning to film the TV spot that was seen during each Phillies game throughout the 2010 season.

While my filmed closeups were not included in the spot, Ryan and some friends were featured more prominently. The screen capture below shows one of the multiple group shots that I was featured in (far left). Ryan happens to be the lucky individual seen high-fiving the Phanatic in every version of this advertisement.


Check out the media player below to watch the commercial in its entirety. And in case you are wondering if this video would be ranked #5 on the countdown if I was not in it...HELL NAWWW, it wouldn't be! It's no secret that I can be partial to folks known as me and my friends and there's nothing wrong with that. Shouts out to other phriends seen in this ad- Kerri, Jaimie and Seth!



Happy Festival of Lights, everyone.
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Friday, December 3, 2010

2010 Phillies Video Countdown, Night 3

If you've kept tabs here, you'd know that Hanukkah marks the annual countdown on PhoulBallz.com where we list the top Phillies videos of the year.

On this third night of Hanukkah, I bring you video #6 for 2010. Check out the media player below to have a look.



This video shows all the key turning points from the Reds vs. Phillies game on July 9th, 2010. I was in Lakewood on this night, covering the Phillies' Single A affiliate the Lakewood BlueClaws. The 'Claws rolled to a 4-3 victory over the Delmarva Shorebirds with the rehabbing Carlos Ruiz leading the way, while the Phillies entered the bottom of the 9th inning trailing 7-1.

As the Baby Phils' clubhouse filled up following the final out in Lakewood, the attention in manager Mark Parent's office turned toward a Big Phillies comeback. First, an RBI hit by Ryan Howard plated Shane Victorino to get the Phils within 5 runs. Then it was a 3-run homer by Greg Dobbs that scored Howard and Jayson Werth to close the gap to 2 runs. With Ben Francisco on base, Cody Ranson came to the plate. Parent's office was filled with coaches, Ruiz, another player or two and a mild mannered media head, all focused on the television. "Cody has pop. He can put one out...," proclaimed roving field coordinator Mike Compton. Ranson did just that, off of Reds closer Francisco Cordero, who relieved starter Mike Leake following the Dobbs blast. As the Lakewood manager's office erupted with excitement, the locker room full of players joined and tuned two more television to the Phillies game.

A 1-2-3 top of the 10th by Ryan Madson led a quick path to the completion of the biggest Phillies comeback win on the season, as Ryan Howard, who started the rally, ended it by smacking a 2-run homer off All-star Arthur Rhodes, following a Raul Ibanez double. Lakewood would go on to have no fewer than 14 walk-off wins and 27 wins in their last turn at bat, during the 2010 season. It certainly can't hurt to have a parent club setting examples to never quit.

On a night when the Phillies' promotional schedule warned of such things, those in attendance likely got more fireworks than they bargained for.

Happy Hanukkah, all.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

2010 Hanukkah Video Countdown, Night 2

Happy second night of The Festival of Lights, everyone!

Tonight, I bring you clip #7 in this year's annual PhoulBallz list of top Phillies videos of the year. Check out the media player below.




This video, while actually just audio with a slide show visual, is my exclusive interview with Carlos Ruiz from July of this year. Ruiz was in Lakewood playing with the Phils' Class A affiliate, the BlueClaws, on an injury rehab assignment. Highlights of the interview include Ruiz speaking about his teammates and revealing the way he likes his ice cream best in his insanely lovable accent.

Happy holidays!

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

3rd Annual Video Countdown

As I do each year around this time, the multi-cultural phamily of PhoulBallz celebrates Hanukkah by counting down the top 8 Phillies videos of the year.

Worth noting is that due to MLB being tight with video availability and embedding restrictions, this normally comes down to the top 8 Phillies videos that are available on YouTube.

So, light the menorah and check out the media player below to begin counting down with us.





In this video brought to you by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Roy Halladay take part in a lengthy question and answer session with Phillies phans. Highlights include Howard talking about Subway sandwiches, Ibanez talking about the support of the Philadelphia crowds, Halladay mentioning how close he was to playing college basketball and Howard reminding us about how superior Davey Lopes was as a first base coach for the Phillies.

Happy hanukkah, everyone. Stay hot.

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PN Roundtable: Relief Pitcher Free Agents

On Tuesday, I took part in a roundtable discussion with PhilliesNation.com. The subject at hand was "Of the currently available free agent relief pitchers, who should the Phillies attempt to sign?"

While some folks feel that names like Scott Downs, Dan Meyer and others are suitable fits for the Phillies bullpen, I disagree. Read what I had to say below, and click HERE to check out what the other PhilliesNation contributors had to say about this matter.


Which free agent relievers should the Phillies target?

NONE OF THEM. Free agent relievers are too hit or miss, as the Phillies and their phans saw last season when Jose Contreras and his statistics were a pleasant surprise, while Danys Baez and his weak production proved to be money virtually wasted. With the Phillies’ current crop of solid pitching prospects, I don’t feel it is necessary to sign a potentially costly free agent.

Sure, there seems to be a need for an additional lefty reliever, but is Scott Downs and the draft pick he could cost the Phillies, as a type A free agent acquisition, absolutely worth the big money he is poised to draw from a potential suitor? Maybe…maybe not. Relievers’ numbers go up and down from year to year and while Downs has posted great stats in recent years, his career ERA is 3.79, which means his output prior to his recent 1.78 and 2.64 ERA seasons was considerably far off.

And what sort of contribution would Chad Durbin offer, if the Phillies re-signed the righty veteran? It’s hard to tell, as he has posted ERA’s of 4.72, 2.87, 4.39 and 3.80 in his most recent four seasons.

The Phillies have several up and coming prospects as well as some familiar big league types that could make a considerable impact out of the bullpen in 2011. Among those pitchers are Scott Mathieson, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Eddie Bonine, Justin De Fratus, Sergio Escalona, Ryan Feierabend and Mike Zagurski. In addition to those guys are a few more young hurlers who might be just a step behind, like Michael Schwimer, JC Ramirez and Austin Hyatt.

Zagurski, Mathieson & others watching Stutes warm up in 2009

With such a full crop of relief talent waiting to step up and contribute behind the core of Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras, as well as the other members of the big league pitching staff (Baez, David Herndon and the “loser” of the proposed 5th starter duel between Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley) already in place, I don’t think the Phillies need to spend money on more risky bullpen arms.

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