Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Grand Time



It's a landmark occasion here on PhoulBallz.com, as everyone prepares to ring in a brand new baseball season.

This site began as a semi-weekly blog affiliated with a Fox Sports Radio station in Trenton, NJ in May 2008. As that year went on and the Phillies drew closer to their second ever world championship, this site matured. Content came more frequently and by the following year PhoulBallz was affiliated with a different division of Millennium Radio, regular radio segments came, as did media credentials and the site grew more and delivered loads of minor league content in addition to MLB news.

These days, PhoulBallz.com continues to serve as a platform for its author, Jay Floyd, to keep its readers as close to the game as possible by offering exclusive, inside content that readers can't get anywhere else.

On this occasion, thanks must go out to many folks who have helped the growth of the site. I would like to offer my appreciation toward those who have helped to turn a hobby into a part-time gig and a full-time obsession.

I must offer my great thanks to Millennium Radio's Tyrone Johnson, who saw the ability in me to write a blog taylored to his radio show's local vision. Additional props go out to Greg Giombarrese and the Lakewood BlueClaws...Joe Giglio and Mike Krenek currently the team of hosts behind 97.3 ESPN's Just a Bit Outside...Asbury Park Press writer Tony Graham...the team from TheGoodPhight.com...The Jersey Jerks Show...Pat Gallen and PhilliesNation.com...contributing writers Kelly & Johnny Bloor, Allen Schatz, Mark Evans, Jake Borup and "Moose" Mattair...the Reading Phillies...and the Trenton Thunder.

While doing this I've gotten to meet baseball executives, professional players, celebrities and a Baseball Hall of Famer. Better than that, though, I've made many new friends through this site and the networking that has come as a result of running it. One of those friends, Chris Jones (also known as @LONG_DRIVE), was nice enough to appear in this post to offer some props. Check out the embedded video below.





Cheers to all those I have thanked and the rest of you for reading the site. I appreciate each of you and your support.

If you don't have it yet, be sure to download the free PhoulBallz.com application on your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch to have all of this site's articles, interviews, Facebook updates as well as its Twitter feed all in one place. Created by Huffco, the app will soon be available for Droid users also. Happy MLB opening day, everyone!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Experts Predict the 2011 MLB Season


With another Major League Baseball season ready to get underway, I inquired with several baseball aficionados this week, to investigate how the 2011 season will pan out in many aspects. The individuals I spoke with were all baseball experts in their own right...Tyrone Johnson, who hosts 97.3 ESPN's Weekend Sports Guide, Michelle O'Malley of the blog known as Chicks Dig The Long Ball, Bill Baer of CrashburnAlley.com, local sports reporter Kevin McGuire, Dick AKA "The Man With the Golden Arm" of 1BlueJaysWay.com, Peter AKA "Whole Camels" from TheGoodPhight, Pat Gallen of 97.3 ESPN and PhilliesNation, Mike Frohwirth from Philliedelphia.com and author of the new baseball themed mystery novel Game 7: Dead Ball Allen Schatz. I provided my own answers to the inquiries as well.

In the graphic below, you will see each contributor's predictions for Phillies wins, how many games Chase Utley will play this season, playoff teams, World Series results as well as award winners in each league. Click the image to enlarge it.


To sum these matters up, the subjects who took part in the survey simply don't think Chase Utley will play anything close to a full season, due to his knee injury. The survey grid obviously shows the majority of the panel likes Boston and Philadelphia as the favorites to advance to the World Series. Also, the win predictions for the Phillies from the experts average out to 96.7 wins. As far as rookies go, former Phillies prospect Kyle Drabek and Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman are well liked. And Albert Pujols stands out as the prime pick to lock down another National League MVP award.

Friend of PhoulBallz Joe Giglio, co-host of 97.3 ESPN's Just a Bit Outside and last season's premiere MLB predictor here on this site, chimed in late, but he likes the Tigers and the Reds in the World Series with Cincinnati coming out on top. Also late, Kevin McGuire added his missing AL Cy Young Award pick as CC Sabathia and believes the Phillies will win the World Series.


In addition to those subjects, I also asked the panel the following questions:

1-Does any NL East rival stand a chance to break up the Phillies' string of division titles? Who/Why?

Tyrone: Nobody has a legit chance to keep the Phillies from winning the division title, but I think the Marlins and not the Braves will finish 2nd, because I trust their pitching staff the most & I think the Braves will have an adjustment to a new manager.

Michelle: The Braves, but only because the Nationals and Mets aren't going to do it, but they have more raw talent than the Marlins. The Marlins may make a strong run for it, though.

Bill: Braves, their pitching is underrated and their offense will probably be superior.

Dick: Not a f$%*ing chance.

Mike F: The Braves are the 2nd best team in the East. If they stay healthy, and the Phillies have severe injury problems, the Braves could finish ahead of them. Both teams will fatten up their records against the Mets and Nats, and both will make the playoffs.

Jay: Despite the Phillies' injury problems, the division will unfold similarly to the way it did last year, with the second place Braves finishing 5 or 6 games behind the Phillies at the end of the year.

Joe G: Atlanta. They won 91 games in 2010, yet might be even better this year. Sign me up for Heyward with a year under his belt, Freddie Freeman over the corpses of Troy Glaus and Derek Lee, Dan Uggla's guaranteed 30 bombs, and a hard throwing pen. Bobby Cox can't be replaced, but Fredi Gonzalez can follow in his footsteps.


2-Will Jayson Werth help to upgrade the Nats? What type of season will Werth have?

Tyrone: I think Werth will keep the Nats out of last place this season. I think his line will be .278 avg, 29 home runs, 98 RBI. He won’t come close to living up to the $$, but he helps them.

Michelle: I don't think he's going to make a lick of difference for the Nationals. Maybe paired with Adam Dunn and Nyger Morgan he would have made a pretty hefty contribution, but the future of the team still rides on Zimmerman and Desmond's shoulders, plus the return of Strasburg and the uncertainty of the rest of the pitching staff. Werth will probably have a "meh" season. He's not playing for a contract anymore and I could picture him becoming complacent in his new atmosphere.

Bill: Yes, Werth should be a five-win player and could find himself in the NL MVP talks.

Kevin: I think Jayson Werth will have a decent season and he may even be an all-star but his total offensive production may slip with less talent around him. I still think he helps the Nats upgrade, without a doubt.

Dick: Nats are still gonna suck for a long, long time. Werth probably won`t hit as many home runs in Nationals Park, but should lead the league in doubles again.

Peter: Yes; 25 HRs; .280/.360/.520.

Mike F: He'll certainly help the Nats. Batting second will deflate his RBI total; he'll finish with 34 HR, to go along with a .283 BA and 86 RBI. He'll post good RISP stats this year, and will be declared "clutch" again.

Joe G: He's a good player, so it can't hurt for 2011. Unfortunately, the dividends of him the in lineup won't be felt until they add more around him and Ryan Zimmerman. Werth's numbers will be Werth: .283-24-94.


3-What sort of impact will Domonic Brown have on the Phillies' 2011 season?

Michelle: I'm not looking for big things from Dom this year. If he gets a fair amount of AB's and just works on the fundamentals, I'll look for the big numbers next year. This is a transitional year for him, especially coming back from an injury so early in the year.

Kevin: I really would love to say he will have a positive impact but until I see any evidence that he can hit at the major league level I remain more skeptical than others. It's not fair to condemn him though as his major league experience is still limited and he has been injured, so hopefully he heals up and finds his swing again so he can provide a spark and some youthful energy at some point in 2011.

Dick: Minimal. The hamate bone takes a while to heal, just ask Lyle Overbay. He broke it in 2007 and the power finally returned last season.

Peter: Brown will spend the majority of the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Allen: His impact will be on the disable list. Brown's got talent, but the injury is simply a set back.

Mike F: He'll play regularly during both Ibanez and Victorino's DL stints, but spend most of the year as the 4th OF (after replacing Mayberry, Jr. in the role in May).

Jay: Brown will be a nice mid-season addition to the Phillies' roster. In the postseason, Brown will steal a key base or slap a clutch hit that brings him instant hero status and validates the hype that has surrounded him as a prospect in recent years.

Joe G: He'll have bigger impact than some are giving him credit for. He'll be an impact hitter by late summer.


4-And lastly, I asked for some bold predictions, relating to any team/player...

Tyrone: I think that David Wright will be traded by the Mets this season in addition to Jose Reyes.

Kevin: Cole Hamels leads the Phillies in wins in 2011. SAID!

Pat: Team: The Cubs win the Central. That’s out there, right? Player: Gordon Beckham of the White Sox goes for .300/25/90.

Dick: Brett Lawrie gets a call up whenever someone gives the Blue Jays a decent offer for Juan Rivera and I think he tears the cover off the ball. Just an animal and plays every out like it`s his last.

Peter: Ben Francisco leads Phillies outfielders in OPS.

Mike F: Adrian Gonzalez will hit 56 HR this year...two fewer than Alex Rodriguez' 58. The Phillies will have the NL's only 20 game winner: Roy Oswalt.

Allen: Jimmy Rollins' offensive prowess will return, as the Phillies shortstop bats over .300 and puts up a 25-25 (25 or more HR, 25 or more steals) season.

Jay: Carlos Ruiz makes the NL all-star team, JC Ramirez joins the Phillies as a September call up and Anthony Gose joins the Blue Jays in that same manner as Toronto falls just short of the AL wild card.

Joe G: Gio Gonzalez will be the break out pitching star of the American League. Trevor Cahill was the Athletics star of 2010, Brett Anderson is the best bet to be it for the next five years, but 2011 will belong to Gio. In fact, I could see him starting the All-Star game in Arizona. Also, Bryce Harper will hit his way to the show by September, arbitration clocks be damned.

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Thanks for reading PhoulBallz.com. Be sure to click the links provided for more quality content from the contributors of this post.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Moose Tracks: Big Leaguer For a Day

Phillies minor league third baseman Moose Mattair spoke with PhoulBallz.com's & PhilliesNation's Jay Floyd once again, to provide an inside glance at spring training in Clearwater.

Mattair was the Phillies' second round draft pick in 2007 out of Southridge High School in Washington state. He later helped the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws win the South Atlantic League championship in 2009. After a rough spring training in 2010, Mattair, who was an all-state basketball player during his high school days, retired from baseball to chase his dream of playing Division I college hoops.

After a year off from baseball and spending last summer with the Boise State University men's basketball, Mattair is back in Clearwater ready to start another season in the Phils' organization. He played in the Phillies' Major League spring training game this past Saturday against the Blue Jays and has described the event here for you readers.

Photo by Joe Wombough

To tell the truth, a while ago when my dad was making plans for his trip to come see me play in spring training, all I could think of was maybe his visit will coincide with a split squad day or maybe I could get called to play for the big league club for a day while he's here. It would mean so much to me, if my dad was here to see it. And sure enough, this past Friday with my dad in town, I looked at the list for Saturday's travel and game assignments, and the Phillies' list had my name on it.

I went to my dad and told him and he was just so excited for me to get to go over there and I was just so excited to be going, but of course it meant more because my dad was going to see it. Of course, I didn't know if I was going to get to play or not. But the Phillies got my dad a really good seat and everything fell into place.

During the game, the coach came to me and told me I was going in to play third if we went 1-2-3 in the seventh inning, and we did, so I got to go in on defense. It was a little more nerve racking to be out there in front of big league fans on that stage, especially for me, since I haven't been in front of any crowd playing baseball in well over a year.

After the half inning in the field, I went back in the dugout and the coach came back up to me and said, "Hey, you're batting in Howard's spot," which put me up fourth that inning. I thought, "If someone gets on, I'm gonna get up to bat in a key spot, down 3 runs." I was really hoping I got a plate appearance.

The first guy got on and I was thinking, "Shoot, I get an at bat!" The second guy got on and I got more excited. Then the third guy got on to load the bases and I got focused and thought, "Alright. Let's do this!" I got in there and kept telling myself to stay calm and relax my hands and let my instincts take over.

I faced righty Casey Janssen and wanted to see a couple pitches, which allowed me to savor the moment. I saw a breaking pitch for ball one. I saw a pitch down the middle that, at the time, I wished that I had hit. I saw a couple more pitches. He got me with a fastball in, that I fouled off to the right side. Then I got a hanging slider that I hit up the middle, driving in two runs and to get us within a run and it was unreal. Just to hear the crowd, to feel the energy when I got to first base and to take a peek up at my dad in the stands from there and seeing the smile on his face...it was a proud moment for him and it was a proud moment for me. I know it was spring training, but it meant a lot to me to have my dad there for my first big league at bat. It was just a wonderful feeling and it's definitely something my dad and I will share for a long, long time.

Winning the championship with the BlueClaws in 2009 was awesome and making my professional debut was great, but to be in that situation when a year ago I wasn't even playing baseball, and to have everything come back around and one year later I'm playing in a big league spring training game, I would say that it's the top moment of my baseball career.

After the game I went in the locker room and checked my phone and all my aunts and uncles and cousins, they were watching on MLB.TV, on the internet, back home. So, that meant a lot to me too. And I got calls from my brother and my mom. It was just a really great moment, and it made me realize that this is what I am supposed to do. I am just so excited to be back playing baseball and I want to have many, many more at bats as well as many, many more RBI in the big leagues, so I just have to keep putting the work in so my family can keep watching me on TV every night, not just once in spring training.

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You can follow Moose Mattair on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Phillies Release Several Minor Leaguers

A source confirmed on Monday night that the Phillies released at least ten minor league players from their contracts earlier in the day.

According to a source within the Phillies organization, the following players were notified of their release on Monday in Clearwater: Justin Beal, Bradley Blanks, Matt McConnell, Adam Buschini, Drew Rundle, Heitor Correa, Matt Hutchison, Marco Davaillo, Mike Bolsenbroek and Eric Massingham.

Beal, 24, posted a 2-3 record with a 2.88 ERA in 20 games with Class A Lakewood and went 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 4 games with short-season Williamsport in 2010. The right-hander was a 28th round draft pick in 2009 out of Missouri Southern State.

Blanks, 26, was signed as a minor league free agent last July and posted a 4-1 record with a 2.73 ERA in 16 games as a reliever for the Williamsport Crosscutters in 2010.

McConnell was a 36th round draft selection in 2009. In 46 combined games last year at Williamsport and Lakewood, the 24-year-old shortstop batted .248 with 5 doubles and 12 RBI.

Correa, a native of Brazil, was a member of the 2009 Lakewood team that won the South Atlantic League title. In 27 games for High A level Clearwater last season, the 21-year-old righty Correa went 8-14 with a 6.62 ERA and a .315 batting average against.

Buschini, a 4th round draft pick in 2009, was teammates with Massingham at Cal Poly. The 23-year-old infielder batted .219 with 2 homeruns in 83 games with Lakewood in 2010.

Rundle was signed as a minor league free agent last August. Originally a 14th round pick in 2006 by the Cubs, the lefty hitting outfielder played in 17 combined games with Clearwater and Williamsport last season.

Hutchison, 23, a right-handed reliever, appeared in 15 combined games last year for the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the Clearwater Thresher. The 22-year-old was a 25th round draft pick last year and went 4-0 with a 3.80 ERA at two levels.

Davaillo, a 20-year-old catcher and utility player had played two season for the Phillies' Venezuelan Summer League team. In 89 games in 2009 and 2010, Davaillo batted .317 with 7 homeruns and an .838 OPS.

Bolsenbroek, who stands 6-feet-8-inches tall, is a righty reliever originally drafted by the Phils in the 42nd round of the 2008 draft. In 18 games with the Lakewood BlueClaws last season, Bolsenbroek had a 0-1 record with a 3.38 ERA.

The 24-year-old Massingham was a 25th round pick in the 2009 draft. The right-handed pitcher posted a 5-2 record with a 3.43 ERA in 34 games as a member of the 2010 Lakewood SAL title team.

**UPDATE 3/29** Also confirmed are two more players that were released on Monday...23-year-old hurler Marshall Schuler, who was a 37th round draft pick last year, and 22-year-old Drew Erwin who pitched in 6 games with the GCL Phillies in 2010.
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mathieson Still Focused Despite Being Sent Down

CLEARWATER, FL- Somehow, despite the recent news that Brad Lidge is set to begin the season on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury, the Phillies didn't see fit to keep fire-balling righty hurler Scott Mathieson around.

Mathieson, who has had a long road back to the big leagues following three elbow procedures (two of which were Tommy John surgeries), appeared in 7 games with the Phillies in spring training this year, posting a 2.00 ERA with 9 strike outs and 6 walks over 9 innings.

The Vancouver, British Columbia native made his Major League debut with the Phils in 2006 as a starter, going 1-4 with a 7.47 ERA, but had his career sidetracked due to arm trouble. This spring, Mathieson was back where he wanted to be and felt that he was primed to return to a regular gig in the big leagues. However, on Saturday, the Phillies sent Mathieson back down to minor league camp.

Mathieson's goal throughout his recovery has been to get back into the Phillies' red pinstripes on a permanent basis and while he is displeased with the assignment to rock Lehigh Valley IronPig duds instead, his focus isn't harmed one bit. "I wasn't too happy about it," Mathieson said in an exclusive interview.

"It's definitely disappointing. I was out to make the team. I didn't accomplish what I set out to do and it's quite frustrating. Aside from the one game where I walked three guys, I felt like I had a pretty good spring, especially while introducing a new pitch (his new split-finger). I felt like I threw pretty well. It's disappointing. It's not where I want to be, but hopefully, it'll help me in the long run so I can get back to the Majors.

"The Phillies are a great team and there's a great group of guys and I'd love to be a part of the team. I'd rather be a Major League pitcher. At this point, hopefully, that'll happen in the near future and hopefully it's with the Phillies."

The 27-year-old Mathieson was told by organization coaches that he probably would not be the closer for Lehigh, a role that he filled last season when he saved 26 games and struck out 83 batters in 64 1/3 innings with the Triple A IronPigs. Coaches expressed to Mathieson that they wish to stretch him out. He was informed on Saturday that he'd be used as a multiple inning reliever and perhaps share some duties, at times, in the 9th inning. This could mean that Mathieson, whose fastball is regularly clocked in the high 90's, is destined to slide into the Phillies' 6th/7th inning role that was once occupied by Chad Durbin.

In his first day back in the minors on Saturday, Mathieson couldn't even join his Triple A teammates, as they had already hit the road for an away game. Mathieson instead pitched with the High A Clearwater club, because they were at home. In that game, he threw 2 innings, struck out 3 batters and did not allow a hit.

The Phillies are now left with 7 healthy relievers (Ryan Madson, Jose Contreras, Danys Baez, JC Romero, Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, David Herndon) officially in big league camp, but continue to claim that nothing is set in stone in regards to the opening day roster.

Mathieson's close pal Mike Zagurski, another former Tommy John surgery patient, also received news that he was being sent to minor league camp on Saturday morning. Zagurski, a lefty, posted a 1.08 ERA in 8 games with 12 strike outs and 1 walk allowed over 8 1/3 innings. Mathieson sounded additionally upset for his friend.

"I feel real bad for him. He had a hell of a spring. He was pretty dominant all throughout spring training. We're in kind of the same boat. Hopefully, he shows something where he'll be one of the first guys to get called up, with me as well."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Blanton Sharp in Phils Win, Lidge News is Bad News

In Clearwater on Friday, the Phillies continued a hot spring and beat the Braves 3-1 to continue leading National League teams in the Grapefruit League in wins with 18.

Joe Blanton shined in the contest, throwing scoreless inning in which he allowed just 5 hits, no walks and struck out 4 batters. In addition to dominating on the mound, Blanton added a single at the plate for the defending NL East division champions.

The Phillies took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning when, with Luis Castillo on base, Jimmy Rollins mashed a pitch from former Phils hurler Rodrigo Lopez deep to right and out of Brighthouse Field.

Ryan Howard added a run in the 3rd inning, when he drove a towering fly ball off the top of the left-center field wall for a triple, plating Rollins.

Placido Polanco played three innings for the Phils at third base and went 0-for-2. Polanco had missed time over the past week with left elbow soreness.


Additionally, the Phillies announced Friday that, for the third time in four seasons as a member of the team, Brad Lidge will begin the season on the disabled list. Lidge has been experiencing recurring pain in his right shoulder and is targeting a period of rest, in order to allow some time to heal.

The right-handed closer pitched against the Twins in the Phillies' exhibition game on Thursday, after sitting out roughly a week, and allowed an earned run in 2/3 of an inning. With Lidge's ERA sitting at a hefty 9.53 in six Grapefruit League games, it is clear that the 34-year-old likely hasn't been at 100% throughout spring training.

Unsure of when the issue initially began, Lidge speculated that he first injured the shoulder early in spring training.

"I don’t know where I did it," Lidge said, when speaking of his ailment. "I’m sure it was in those games early."

Lidge joins all-star second baseman Chase Utley and prized rookie outfielder Domonic Brown as Phillies that will be out of action next Friday for opening day. Lidge is scheduled to be examined by team doctor Michael Ciccoti on Saturday and have an MRI on Tuesday, when the team returns to Philadelphia.

Lidge is hopeful that he'll be ready to see game action before too long and expressed optimism to only miss a couple of weeks of the season.

"Hopefully it’s a mid-April thing," Lidge told the media. "The MRI and Dr. Ciccotti’s review will tell us what we need to know."

If Friday's victory against the Braves serves as any indication, Phils' manager Charlie Manuel could be leaning toward using right-hander Jose Contreras as the substitute in the closer role, as Ryan Madson was used in his usual role of set-up guy in the 8th inning and "The Big Truck", Contreras, pitched a perfect 9th inning to earn the save.

Additional game notes...

-Blanton's spring ERA of 3.21 is second to Roy Halladay's 0.48 among Phillies starting pitchers.

-Luis Castillo notched his first hit in a Phillies uniform. Castillo went 1-for-2 in the contest with 2 walks and a run scored. He is now 1-for-10 with the Phillies in 3 games.

-Despite going 0-for-4 on Friday, Shane Victorino is batting .309 in Grapefruit League play.

-Polanco's .179 batting average this spring is second lowest among returning Phillies regulars. Catcher Carlos Ruiz is batting .176.

-Contreras has struck out 9 and walked NO batters in 8 innings pitched in Grapefruit League games this spring.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oswalt Leaves Start After Being Hit By Line Drive

Could the Phillies be stricken with bad luck? While Chase Utley and Domonic Brown are sidelined with fairly serious injuries that are keeping them out of action, at length, as well as some less significant ailments preventing other Phillies players like Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino and Brad Lidge from playing in Grapefruit League action this week, the current stretch of bad karma continues to add names to the list of players that are missing time for the favorites in the National League East.

Trailing 2-0 to the Rays in Port Charlotte, on Wednesday afternoon, Roy Oswalt served up a pitched to Tampa Bay slugger Manny Ramirez, who returned the ball with authority right toward the pitchers mound. Oswalt had minimal time to react, but was able to turn away just a bit in his follow-through. The ball hit Oswalt behind his right ear and he was immediately removed from the contest. The right-hander left the field under his own power and was taken to a local hospital where he underwent x-rays and CT scans that proved the tough southern superstar was simply bruised.

According to a statement from the team, Oswalt did not experience any dizziness and did not lose consciousness. It remains to be seen if Oswalt will miss a beat as he would be slated to pitch again early next week in his final tune up for the regular season.

Video of the line drive's impact on Oswalt can be seen in the media player below.



High expectations for the four-time defending National League East champions have begun to seem premature as the club's players have experienced several injuries that serve as a reminder that there is quite a long way to go before the Phillies clinch another postseason berth.

Utley has not played at all this spring due to right knee tendinitis and bone inflammation. No known time table is in place for Utley's return. Brown experienced a broken hamate bone in his right hand in a game earlier this month and is recovering from surgery for the issue. The prized rookie is expected to return to baseball activities some time in April.

Additionally, Polanco has been resting due to a hyperextended left elbow. Lidge should be back to pitching for the Phillies in the coming days after a sore bicep in his throwing arm sidelined him last week. Victorino has been out of the lineup since colliding with Raul Ibanez, while trying to field a fly ball in a game on Monday.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vote For PhoulBallz in the 2011 "Phield" Tournament

March Madness is upon us once again. But, I don't mean the college hoops variety, baseball fans. The madness I am referring to is the wild bracket that pits all the best Philadelphia baseball blogs against one another in a winner-takes-all bragging rights fest.

**Now in the third round, PhoulBallz has advanced to the Sweet 16 of this tournament. Click HERE to vote!**

This site, PhoulBallz.com, brings the public closer to the Phillies on a daily basis, as it covers the organization from the bottom to the top. Please allow me to share with you, a list of reasons that PhoulBallz deserves your vote in the The Phield's 2011 Tournament.

1- In the past year, this site has brought its readers TWO exclusive interviews with the Phillies' general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr. No other site has done that. Those interviews can be heard HERE and HERE.

2- Speaking of interviews...PhoulBallz has media access, thanks to its affiliation with Millennium Radio Group's Shore Sports Network. Along with that access comes this list within the list of other interviews that this site has produced within the past year....Joe Blanton, Ryan Howard, Brody Colvin, Jarred Cosart, Billy McMillon, Jiwan James, Vance Worley, Mark Parent, Dickie Noles, Tyson Gillies, world famous rock band Les Savy Fav as well as dozens more, including THIS INTERVIEW with Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. I asked Carlos about the famed "Ice Cream For Chooch" animation created by my pal Tug. It was quite possibly the single best Phils blog moment of the past year. Additionally, do you know which Phils blog brought its readers an exclusive interview with last year's Hall of Fame inductee Andre Dawson? THIS SITE!

3- Players post diary entries here, on PhoulBallz. Whether it's Moose Mattair's chronicle of his cross country journey from Washington to Clearwater or Jake Borup documenting life in spring training, PhoulBallz brings you exclusive inside access to prospects within the Phillies' system.

4- PhoulBallz brings fans exclusive player features that tell stories that no one else can. Need to know why that former number one draft pick is struggling? I'll ask him. Ever ponder about what sorts of jobs the minor leaguers who don't get $900,000+ signing bonuses do during the off-season? I'm on it. Wondering about that Phils prospect who retired from baseball to go play college basketball? We've got that. Craving tales about players' family lives and how baseball fits into them? That's certainly the sort of stuff this site gives you (here and here). And have you ever wished to keep tabs on departed prospects and their abilities to grow sweet facial hair? Yours truly has it covered.

5- PhoulBallz pays tribute to the past unlike any other site. The history of the great sport of baseball is one of its most appealing aspects. Regular readers get frequent lessons on the past of the Phillies organization, via the great Sunday School posts. Examples of those entries can be found by clicking here and here.

6- The top Phillies prospect not named Domonic Brown confirms that PhoulBallz.com should be your destination online for baseball information. Listen to what 2010's most outstanding prospect from the South Atlantic League, "The Boss" Jon Singleton, has to say about it below.



7- And...More players want you to vote for PhoulBallz in The Phield. This week, via Twitter, future bullpen force Justin De Fratus, top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart and 2010 draft pick Jake Borup all declared their support for PhoulBallz.com in the 2011 Phield tournament.



To view the full bracket and to show your support by casting a vote for PhoulBallz.com in the second round of The Phield tournament, visit http://thephield.wordpress.com/ and vote in the embedded polls on their site. While you're at it, if you wish to support one of my other internet homes, PhilliesNation.com, that would be grand also.

Thank you for your support.

Minor League Exhibition Updates

With loads of updates coming out of Clearwater on the big league Phillies, it's about time we took a glance at some of the organization's prospects and their performances in developmental level Grapefruit League action thus far.

24-year-old Josh Zeid, who helped the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws win their second consecutive South Atlantic League title in 2010, then went on to shine the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Mesa Solar Sox has rolled his success into the new year. Thus far in 2 spring starts, the 10th round pick from the 2009 amateur draft, has tossed 5 shutout innings for the Double A Reading Phillies club. Zeid has allowed 4 hits and just 1 walk, while striking out 7 batters.

With Lakewood last year, Zeid sported an 8-4 record and a 2.93 ERA for Lakewood. He fanned 111 batters over 107.1 IP as both a reliever and a starter. In the AFL, Zeid started 4 games, going 3-0 with a 3.86 ERA while holding opponents to a .206 batting average.

Justin Friend, who was selected in the minor league phase of last December's Rule 5 draft out of the Athletics' system, has thrown 4 scoreless innings in 2 appearances with the Phils' Double A club. A 13th round pick in the 2007 draft, the right-handed Friend went 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 36 games with Double A Midland last season. Friend is 24 years old.

Jesse Biddle has thrown 5 2/3 scoreless innings in 2 appearance thus far with the Class A Lakewood team. Biddle, a lefty hurler and native Philadelphian, was last year's top draft pick and posted a 4-1 record with a 3.92 ERA in 12 games combined with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and short season Williamsport in 2010.

Jarred Cosart threw 3 shut out innings and allowed just 1 hit in his lone spring appearance for the High A level Clearwater team thus far. Cosart, the Phillies' 20-year-old top pitching prospect who sports a high-90's fastball, posted a 7-3 record and a 3.79 ERA before having his 2010 season shortened due to an elbow injury.

Joe Savery has had a strong start at the plate. The former top draft pick out of Rice University has converted to an everyday player, after pitching in the Phillies' system for four years. In his first three spring games, Savery, now a designated hitter and first baseman, had 5 hits and has continued to be successful as the exhibition season has rolled on.

Trevor May has appeared in two games...one each for the Double A club and the High A level team. Combined, he has thrown 5 total innings and has yet to allow an earned run. May, a righty, was the Phillies' 4th round draft selection in 2008 and has led his teams to the league title in each of his three seasons in the organization- one with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and two with the Lakewood BlueClaws. In two postseasons with the Class A 'Claws, the 21-year-old May allowed just 1 run in 22 2/3 innings.

Julio Rodriguez, a right-hander, has thrown an outing each for and High A and Class A. In his first appearance, he threw 2 scoreless innings for Clearwater. Then this week, he tossed 3 perfect innings for Lakewood. Rodriguez, 20, is fresh off an amazing 2010, in which he combined to go 7-3 with a 1.89 ERA in 20 games as a starter and a reliever for short season Williamsport and Lakewood. The 8th round pick from 2008 then pitched for his native Puerto Rico in the Pan-American qualifiers and posted a 3-1 record with a 2.00 ERA in 11 games in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

Another former top draft pick, Anthony Hewitt, who was selected in the first round of the 2008 amateur draft out of high school as a shortstop, moved to the outfield last year, spending a lot of time in right field. Hewitt, who struggled at the plate last year, posting a .202 average in 112 games with Class A Lakewood, has been playing with the BlueClaws again this spring and has spent time in centerfield.

Third baseman Travis Mattair, making a return to the Phils' system after taking a year off to try his luck at college basketball, has been playing with the Double A Reading club, seeing time at shortstop in addition to his regular spot at the hot corner. Mattair was a 2nd round pick in the 2007 draft.
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Phillies and Castillo Agree to Deal


With the uncertainty of Chase Utley's ailing knee, the Phillies have added another potential substitute to the mix. Already stocked with new faces ready to fill a void if Utley is unable to open the season on the active roster, Philadelphia has added veteran second baseman Luis Castillo.

The 35-year-old Castillo was released by the New York Metropolitans on Friday. Castillo has been an All-star three times, has won the Gold Glove Award three times and has twice led the National League in stolen bases. Castillo, a switch-hitter, is a career .290 hitter in 15 Major League seasons.

Utley has been sidelined throughout the entirety of spring training with chondromalacia and bone inflammation in his right knee. While Utley has seen some improvement recently and has continued to participate in batting practice, he has still been unable to take on full baseball activities.

Other players in camp witht he Phillies this spring that are competing for a roster spot include Rule 5 pick Michael Martinez, Josh Barfield and Pete Orr. Martinez, is batting .292 with 2 homers and 6 RBI in 22 games played this spring with the Phils. If Martinez is not kept on the Phillies' 25-man Major League roster for the entire season, he must be offered back to the Washington Nationals, as per conditions of the Rule 5 draft. Barfield, formerly of the Padres and Indians, has posted a .344 average with 2 doubles, 1 triple and 3 RBI in 15 games. The lefty hitting Orr, who has played with Atlanta and Washington, is batting .333 with 3 doubles, 3 triples and 2 RBI in 17 Grapefruit League games.

In 11 games with the Mets this spring, Castillo was batting .286 with no extra base hits and 2 RBI.

According to a report, Castillo's deal with Philadelphia is a minor league contract. While the Mets will be responsible for the money remaining on Castillo's previous contract ($6 million), the Phillies would only be required to pay Castillo $414,000, the Major League minimum, to add him to their 25-man big league roster.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 90

Freddy Leach was a laser-armed, athletic outfielder, for the Phillies from 1923-1928. Leach, a Missouri native, was a key offensive contributor for Philadelphia during some rough times.

Leach broke into the Majors in 1923 at age 25 and played in 52 games in a backup role. As a rookie, Leach batted .260 with a homerun and 16 RBI in 108 plate appearances.

The lefty batting Leach spent the following two seasons splitting time in the minors and as a reserve player with the big league club, but won a full-time starting position in the Phillies' outfield in 1926, which he would hold down for three seasons.

Leach's best offensive season with the Phillies came in 1928. In 145 games that year, Leach posted a .304 batting average with a career high 13 homeruns, 96 RBI and 83 runs scored.

During a stretch when the Phillies were stuck in a rut of losing seasons, without much reason for fans to get excited, Leach was a bright spot in the lineup, as he became a .300-plus hitter in four consecutive seasons.

Primarily a left fielder, Leach excelled on the defensive side as well. In 1927, Leach led the National League with 27 outfield assists. The following season, he nailed 29 runners on the bases.

Unfortunately for Leach, his offensive and defensive advancements earned him a ticket out of town. Following the 1928 season, Leach was traded to the New York Giants for pitcher Lefty O'Doul and $20,000. O'Doul promptly proved this to be a great deal for the Phillies by winning the National League batting title while setting the NL record for hits in a single season, which still stands, in his first year with Philadelphia.

As a member of the Giants, Leach continued to be productive, with a .310 batting average in 368 games over three seasons with New York.

Prior to the 1932 season, Leach's contract was sold to the Boston Braves for $10,000. Leech finished out his playing career in Boston. During his lone season as a Brave, a knee cap injury forced his retirement to his farm in Idaho. He passed away in 1981 at age 84.
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Friday, March 18, 2011

More Cuts in Camp

Friday morning, the Phillies trimmed their roster in Major League camp by sending seven men across the complex to minor league camp. Pitchers Mike Stutes, Juan Perez, Vance Worley and Dan Meyer, infielders Freddy Galvis and Jeff Larish as well as outfielder Brandon Moss will all report and be assigned to their respective teams.

Stutes, a right-hander, was extremely impressive in Grapefruit League action with the Phillies. Stutes appeared in 5 games (1 start) and allowed just 1 earned run in 9 innings pitched (1.00 ERA), while he struck out 9 batters and walked just 1 batter. Stutes is likely to see some time with the big club this season, as needs arise in the bullpen.

Left-handed hurler Juan Perez appeared in 5 games with the Phillies this spring and allowed 1 earned run in 5 1/3 innings, while striking out 5 and walking 4. The 32-year-old Perez was signed as a free agent in November.

Righty Vance Worley, an Eastern League All-star each of the past two seasons for the Phillies' Double A affiliate in Reading, had appeared in 4 games with the Phils and posted a 3.86 ERA. In 9 1/3 innings, Worley had given up 9 hits, walked 4 and struck out 6. Worley made his Major League debut with the Phillies last season.

The left-handed Meyer, a New Jersey native who previously pitched in the Majors with Oakland, Atlanta and Florida, had appeared in 5 Grapefruit League games and posted a 2-0 record. His ERA, however, wasn't as sharp at 6.75 in 5 1/3 innings.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis hit a 2-run homer in Philadelphia's game against Toronto on Thursday, but it wasn't enough to keep him around big league camp, as his .182 bating average in 12 games was all the Phillies wished to see from him at this point. Galvis, who is known for his defense, had 3 RBI and a .240 on-base percentage this spring with the Phils.

Larish, who batted .179 in the Majors last season with Oakland and Detroit, was 2-for-20 (.100 avg.) in 10 games with the Phillies this spring. Larish, 28, is a first baseman and third baseman that could offer the Phils depth at the Triple A level.

Moss, a lefty hitter that played in the Majors previously with Pittsburgh and Boston, batted .167 with 2 doubles and 5 RBI in 12 games with the Phillies in Grapefruit League play.

Players that survived the cuts are infielder Josh Barfield, utility and Rule 5 guy Michael Martinez, plus relievers Scott Mathieson, David Herndon and Mike Zagurski.


Additional news out of Clearwater states that Phillies radio voice Scott Franzke has signed a contract extension that will keep him with the club through the 2016 season.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Premiere 2011 Giveaway: Reading's Chooching Owl

It's not quite St. Patrick's Day yet, so I am assuming that most of you do not yet know what you may have planned for Tuesday night, August 2nd. Well, I am here to tell you what you SHOULD BE doing that. How about attending a Reading Phillies game at First Energy Stadium?

Reading will be the place to be in the region that night, as the R-Phils giveaway a Carlos Ruiz "Chooching Owl". The hybrid bird/world champion backstop will don the uniform of the Double A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies and be capable of hooting Carlos' nickname, Chooch.

Presented by FirstEnergy, the guaranteed highlight of the giveaway schedule will be provided to the first 3,000 adults in attendance that night. You can click here to order your tickets.

Ruiz was a member of the Reading Phillies roster in 2003 and 2004, when he combined to post a .278 batting average with 19 homers and 66 RBI in 153 games.

Other noteworthy promotions by the Reading Phils this year include April 14th, when the club will give away Ryan Howard garden gnomes. That same night, one lucky fan will receive a larger than life 550-pound Ryan Howard garden gnome to call his or her own. A Cole Hamels garden gnome will also be given away on June 20th. In addition, the R-Phils will host Darren Daulton for an appearance on June 1st, and "Mr. Belding" will appear on June 22nd.

Shout out to my pal Mike Meech for the heads up on the image above. We've known about this promotion for a while, but hadn't seen a concept image until today. ___________________________________________________________

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Borup's Blog: First Week of Minors Camp

The following is an exclusive guest post by Phillies pitching prospect Jake Borup. From time to time, Jake, who was selected in the 23rd round of the 2010 amateur draft by the Phillies out of Arizona State University, will join us to share his thoughts on his life as minor leaguer. To check out Jake's previous diary entry, click here.


Just wanted to share some thoughts about MY first spring training with the Philadelphia Phillies.

My wife Kyrstin and I packed up the car in Phoenix, and made the journey across the country. We left on a Thursday morn and got to Clearwater on Saturday afternoon. When we got here, it looked like a complete transformation from when I was last here in October for instructional ball. EVERYTHING is Phillies. Phillies this, Phillies that. Wherever I go, I see something Phillies. It is pretty special to be a part of an organization with such an awesome fan base and wide appeal. Just the vibe in the Clearwater area got me excited to start working out. What I didn’t know is that I would be getting my fair share of working out soon enough.

The first official week of Spring Training has been crazy to say the least. I didn’t really know what to expect other than we would be doing a lot of shagging for the hitters during batting practice. Honestly, we haven’t even done much of that so far either. It’s been a lot of early mornings, a lot of stretching, a lot of conditioning, a lot of meetings, a lot of ham sandwiches on Rye (oxy moron??), and some baseball mixed in. The first few days, we spent a lot of time dealing with health issues to get everyone cleared to be on the field and start practicing. Finally on Monday, we got things rollin…Jimmy Rollin.

A typical day is breakfast at 7, early work at 8, orientation at 9, from 9:30-12 we stretch, play catch or long toss, pitchers fielding practice and other defensive drills, shag for hitters and condition. Conditioning typically lasts 20-30 minutes. Then we eat lunch around Noon thirty. Lunch usually consists of sandwiches or wraps and every once in a while they’ll break it down for us and get us a nice meal with salads, chicken, rice, and beans. After lunch, which goes by entirely too quick, we will have some sort of bullpen or intrasquad games. This week, intrasquad games will be replaced with actual games. VERY NICE!! (Borat voice). All in all, my first official week in Spring Training with the Phillies has led me to a lot of good routines and ibuprofen. It’s fun being at the field with the other players. We are all starting to get a sense of camaraderie. It’s competitive, but in a good way.

One of the highlights of the week was when we had the chance to hear from the front office on the 1st official day, one week into camp. Team president David Montgomery, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, assistant GM Chuck LaMar, and trainer Jon May were all in attendance. We had the privilege to hear from Charlie Manuel as well as others. One of the things he said that stuck out in my mind was that he “learns something new every day from Roy Halladay”. Now, for those of you that don’t know the extensive background that is Charlie Manuel’s experience in baseball, let me tell you he has been in the game for over 50 years. He bleeds baseball. It is his life. And for someone who has that kinda background to say that every day he learns something new about the game speaks volumes about that person.

Now, most readers should know about the accomplishments of Roy Halladay on the field, but I sat there and thought to myself that he must be quite the person if he’s teaching so many people about baseball. I have never formally met Roy, and look forward to the day when I do. However, I do know a few things about him that impress me beyond description. He does not say a lot, so obviously he teaches people by example. He works incredibly hard, and sticks to his routines. It is pretty awesome to be so close to all of the guys I’ve looked up to during my baseball years. That’s one of the best parts of Spring Training- watching the big leaguers work.

On a less spiritual note, I got a lot of work to do. Things are coming along good, but I always have to keep telling myself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I am taking things in stride and trying to get a little better every day. The biggest thing for me is to establish command of my fastball on both sides of the plate and throwing my off speed pitches where I want to. I had the chance to face hitters for the first time in 6 months and I was a little rusty. Didn’t think I would be, ‘cause of course I think I’m gonna dominate everyone that steps into the box, but I felt a little out of whack. It will take a few more outings till I feel I have a grasp for things. Hopefully I don’t get waxed in the process. Pitching takes patience, but I like where things are headed. Monday starts a new week and our squad is headed to Dunedin to take on the Blue Jays. I’m scheduled to throw and inning, maybe two, but who knows. Either way, it’s awesome that I get to put on the Phillies uniform and play ball. Gonna be a great spring!

If y’all like what you’ve read and wish to connect with me online, hit me up on that twitter piece… @JakeBorup.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 89

Walter "Butch" Henline was a catcher with the Phillies from 1921- 1926. Henline, a veteran of the first World War, was a solid hitting backstop throughout his professional career.

After breaking into the Major Leagues and playing just one game with the New York Giants in 1921, he was traded, along with Curt Walker and cash for outfielder Irish Meusel. After debuting with the Phillies and posting a .306 batting average in 33 games with the club that year, Henline won the starting catcher's job.

The Indiana native, Henline, had his best year with the Phillies in his first full season in the Majors. In 1922, Henline batted .316, slammed 14 homeruns and knocked in 64 runs to go along with his .859 OPS in 125 games. The rookie also led all National League catchers with a .983 fielding percentage.

The following season, the right-handed hitting Henline's offensive production held steady. He served up a boost in batting average, hitting a career high .324, which was second best among National League catchers in 1923.

However, the arrival of a rookie, future all-star catcher and native Philadelphian Jimmie Wilson, would soon cut into Henline's playing time and he did not play in more than 100 games in a season after 1925.

In 576 career games with the Phillies, Henline, who occasionally played first base and outfield, was a .304 hitter, with 36 homeruns, 231 RBI and 226 runs scored.

Prior to the 1927 season, the Phillies saw fit to deal Henline and sent him away as part of a three-team deal with the Brooklyn Robins and the New York Giants. Henline went to Brooklyn, while the Phils acquired pitcher Jake Scott and second baseman Fresco Johnson. With Brooklyn, Henline was a second string catcher.

Henline closed out his big league playing career as a member of the Chicago White Sox, where he played sparingly for two season.

After his playing days were through, Henline went on to become a minor league and Major League umpire. He was an active official for the 1947 MLB All-star Game. Henline also went on to become the supervisor of umpires in the now defunct Florida International League from 1949 to 1954.

Henline passed away at the age of 62 in 1957.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Phils Make Initial Wave of Cuts

In Clearwater Friday, the Phillies began to trim their big league roster, by sending 16 players off to minor league camp. With games scheduled to begin for the minor league clubs on Monday, this will allow the players to get acquainted with the coaches and teammates briefly, over the weekend.


The following players were assigned to minor league camp-
Brian Bass, RHP
Eddie Bonine, RHP
Andrew Carpenter, RHP
Ryan Feierabend, LHP
Michael Schwimer, RHP
Joel Naughton, C
Tagg Bozied, 1B
Robb Quinlan, IF
Matt Miller, OF

The following players were optioned to minor league camp-

Justin De Fratus, RHP
Matt Rizzotti, 1B
Drew Naylor, RHP
JC Ramirez, RHP
Harold Garcia, IF
Cesar Hernandez, 2B
Carlos Rivero, 3B

Quinlan, who batted .121 last year with the Angels and posted a .111 average with the Phillies this spring, asked for and was granted his release, rather than report to minor league camp.

Rizzotti, who is 25 years old, saw limited game action but slammed a double and a HR in his 5 spring at bats for a .400 average in six Grapefruit League games. Rizzotti sported a .343 average in 125 games. He was also named an All-star at the Double A level in the Eastern League. Based on his achievements last season and his age, it could have benefited both the Phillies and Rizzotti to play the left-handed slugger a bit more during the MLB exhibition season.

Surviving the cuts are righty hurler Mike Stutes, who has been excellent in Grapefruit League play (1 ER, 8 K's, 0 walks in 6 innings) and shortstop Freddy Galvis, who has 1 hit in just 7 at bats this spring.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Phillies Bringing Every Spring Game to Phans

If you haven't noticed, the Phillies are offering their fans a steady stream of access to all Grapefruit League contests this spring. With their product in high demand by fans throughout the region and beyond, the Phillies have committed to bring each spring training game to the public in some fashion.

Unlike any Grapefruit League season before, the Phillies are utilizing their ability to relay game coverage in an advertisement-free fashion, live on Phillies.com. In the absence of televised games and terrestrial radio transmissions, the Phillies broadcast team will alternate duties and bring live play by play to internet users everywhere. The 2011 Grapefruit League season marks the the very first time that the club has made every single spring contest available to phans, according to Rob Brooks, the Phillies manager of broadcasting.

According to Brooks, the organization fell one date short in 2009, when the Phillies broadcasters covered all but one game on its spring schedule in some manner.

The availability of the full spring schedule speaks volumes to the following that the Phillies have developed in recent years. The success, both on the field and financially, that the Phillies have enjoyed since 2007 is unlike any other stretch in the organization's history, as they've won four consecutive division titles, clinched two National League pennants and locked down their second world championship. The popularity of baseball in Philadelphia has grown because of those accomplishments.

Below is the remaining spring schedule and how the Philadelphia faithful can catch their favorite baseball team on a daily basis, including today's televised match up with the Yankees.


Thursday, March 10 vs. Yankees 1:05 PM The Comcast Network
Friday, March 11 @ Orioles 1:05 PM Phillies.com
Saturday, March 12 vs. Rays 1:05 PM CSN, WPHT 1210
Sunday, March 13 @ Twins 1:05 PM PHL 17, WPHT 1210
Monday, March 14 @ Astros 1:05 PM Phillies.com
Tuesday, March 15 @ Blue Jays 1:05 PM Phillies.com
Thursday, March 17 vs. Blue Jays 1:05 PM Phillies.com
Friday, March 18 vs. Pirates 1:05 PM Phillies.com
Saturday, March 19 @ Orioles 1:05 PM The Comcast Network, MLB Network, WPHT 1210
Sunday, March 20 vs. Yankees 1:05 PM CSN, MLBNetwork (delay) WPHT 1210
Monday, March 21 vs. Red Sox 1:05 PM ESPN
Tuesday, March 22 @ Blue Jays 1:05 PM Phillies.com
Wednesday, March 23 @ Rays 1:05 PM MLB Network (delay), Phillies.com
Thursday, March 24 vs. Twins 1:05 PM Phillies.com
Friday, March 25 vs. Braves 1:05 PM ESPN
Saturday, March 26 vs. Blue Jays 1:05 PM PHL 17, MLB Network, WPHT 1210
Sunday, March 27 @ Braves 1:05 PM The Comcast Network, MLB Network, WPHT 1210
Monday, March 28 vs. Astros 1:05 PM CSN
Tuesday, March 29 vs. Pirates in Philadelphia 7:05 PM WPHT 1210
Wednesday, March 30 vs. Pirates in Philadelphia 4:05 PM The Comcast Network

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Charlie Staying Put Through 2013

The Phillies announced Wednesday that manager Charlie Manuel's contract has been extended through the 2013 season.

The new contract squashed the remaining year on Manuel's previous deal and revamps the agreement the Phillies have with Manuel in 2011. The new agreement extends Manuel for two additional seasons, through 2013, and will reportedly pay the native West Virginian between $9.5 and $10 million over the three years.

Via a press release from the Phillies today, team general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. stated, "We are pleased to have come to terms with Charlie. He has been an integral part of the success we've had over the past several years. There was little doubt that he was going to continue to be our skipper past his current contract and we look forward to the next three years with the hopes of continued success."

With Manuel at the helm from 2005 through 2010, Philadelphia has posted the best overall record among all teams in the National League, at 544-428. Manuel has led the team to an unprecedented four consecutive division titles and charged into two World Series during that stretch. In addition, Manuel's Phillies had the best regular season record in all of Major League Baseball at 97-65 last season, despite dealing with a rash of injuries to much of their starting lineup.

Manuel was pleased with the extension and spoke with the media about the relation of his age to the deal and about potentially continuing to manage beyond this contract.

"I set the time on the deal because I’ll be 69 years old when the deal runs out and I’ll sit down and I’ll evaluate where I’m at and talk to them and see where they’re at," Manuel stated. "I think as long as I stay healthy and things like that, I’m probably going to want to stay in the game. I want to manage as long as I can, and if I’m going to retire, I want to retire myself."

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Utley's Knee Still a Great Concern

The Phillies announced Tuesday that there is no progress with Chase Utley's injured right knee and that he will remain out of action in Grapefruit League play, as the player and the team wish to avoid surgical remedies at this time.

An MRI this week resulted in Utley being diagnosed with mild patellar tendinitis, bone inflamation and chondromalacia, which is commonly known as runner's knee and refers to discomfort under the kneecap.

The all-star second baseman, Utley, has been taking batting practice regularly, but has not actively taken part in game action and has been avoiding running and fielding drills in recent weeks.

Utley, who claimed in a meeting with the media on Tuesday that he is taking a big picture approach to his injury, expressed his desire to get healthy, but is focused on not doing anything that could effect his health long-term.

"My goal is to alleviate this as quickly as possible, but still keep in mind that I have a career ahead of me," Utley stated.

The unknowns with Utley's ailment far outweigh the established facts about the issue. While surgery is still a possibility, recovery time with or without it are both quite unclear at this stage.

"I think that's the last resort at this point," Utley said. "We're going to try to exhaust every avenue prior to that and continue to see how it goes and monitor it on a daily basis. Again, it is frustrating. At this point I have to stay positive and stay on top of things, which I think we've been doing."

The current game plan to fill any void left by Utley in the regular season would prominently feature Wilson Valdez, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

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Minor Grapefruit Production

Spring training officially began for Phillies minor leaguers last Friday, but several prospects have been in camp with the big club since last month and have seen game action along side established red pinstripe rocking stars.

While their minor league peers won't begin their own exhibition games until next Monday, prospects such as Justin De Fratus, Mike Stutes, Vance Worley and Scott Mathieson have been tackling relief innings with the Phillies on the parent club's preseason schedule. Also, position players like Matt Rizzotti, Josh Barfield, and Michael Martinez have gotten some time to show off their offensive and defensive abilities.

De Fratus, is a righty hurler that has been on the rise in the Phillies organization since he was drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 amateur draft. Recently ranked as the Phillies' number 5 prospect, De Fratus has had a bit of a tough spring, getting hit around somewhat in his outings. In 3 games, De Fratus has a 0-1 record, with 7 hits and 4 earned runs allowed in 4 innings (9.00 ERA).

Stutes, an 11th round draft pick in 2008 out of Oregon State, is drawing plenty of interest this spring. The right-hander, Stutes, moved to the bullpen in 2010 after starting in his first two pro seasons. This spring, Stutes has been lights-out when he has taken the hill. In 3 Grapefruit League appearances, Stutes has struck out 8 and walked none in 5 innings, while allowing just one earned run on a solo homer.

Worley, an Eastern League all-star each of the past two seasons, made his Major League debut with the Phillies in July last year. Now, the 23-year-old is striving hard to prove himself worthy of making the club this season. In 3 Grapefruit League games, Worley, also a righty, has allowed 3 earned runs in 6 innings, while allowing 10 hits, 2 walks and striking out 1 batter.

Mathieson, who is still on the road back from three separate elbow surgeries, has been working on an improved repertoire by adding a split-finger fastball to his collection of weapons. With the new pitch, Mathieson has been satisfied by his progress and has allowed 2 earned runs in 4 innings (4.50 ERA) and struck out 4, while walking 2 in 3 spring outings. Mathieson is being counted on to contribute out of the Phillies' bullpen in 2010, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

Rizzotti, the 25-year-old slugging first baseman who was recently ranked as the Phillies' number 11 prospect, is fresh off a tremendous 2010 season when he batted .343 with 17 homeruns at three levels of the Phillies system then batted .333 in the Arizona Fall League. A 6th round draft choice in 2007, the left-handed hitting Rizzotti is 2-for-5 with a double, a homerun, 2 RBI and a walk in 5 Grapefruit League games.

Barfield, a righty batting second baseman who was signed this off-season to add depth to the organization, is 5-for-10 (.500 avg) with a .545 OBP, 1 double, 1 SB and 3 runs in 5 games played with the Phillies. If Chase Utley's knee injury continues to linger, Barfield could have a shot at making the club's opening day roster. The 28-year-old Barfield is a .264 hitter in 304 Major League games with the Padres and Indians.

Martinez was taken in the Rule 5 draft by the Phillies, from Washington, in December. The 28-year-old Martinez has never played above the Triple A level, but is versatile, playing second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions during his professional career. Martinez, however, has just 4 hits in 21 at bats (.190 avg), although one of those hits was a homerun. The switch-hitting Martinez must be offered back to the Nationals before the Phillies can assign him to the minors.

Other players worth noting...

3B, Carlos Rivero- .333 average, with a run scored and 2 RBI in 8 games played this spring.

IF, Harold Garcia- 1-for-6 (.167 avg), 1 walk, 4 strike outs.

RHP, Drew Carpenter- 1-0 record in 2 games, with 2 hits allowed, 1 walk and 3 strike outs.

RHP, JC Ramirez- 0-1 record in 2 games. Ramirez had one remarkable outing and one that was poor. He has allowed 4 earned runs in 5 total innings (7.20 ERA) with 5 strike outs and 1 walk.

It remains to be seen which of these prospects will get the opportunity to help the Phillies in the 2011 regular season, but for now, each of them is giving his all to earn a shot at doing so.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Francisco Seems Right

The Phillies have what can only be described as one of the most promising starting pitching rotations in the history of Major League Baseball. Their potential for greatness—not just in the upcoming season but in the foreseeable future—is as large as the price they paid to be in this position, something few teams can say with a straight face.

However, even knowing that great pitching can handily defeat great hitting, the Phillies still have a some hole that needs to be addressed before they can reach that illusive label of greatness.

Now, to check in on your local internet casinos, sports book or other gambling hub, you’ll notice instantly that the Phils’ odds of winning the World Series far surpass any other team’s odds at this early juncture. But let’s not allow expectation to tell the tale. Potentially, there’s still a hole out in right field due to Jayson Werth’s decision to abandon the club for division rival—not on the same level, but still a rival—Washington, when he signed with the club for a whopping $126 million over 7 years.

Maybe Werth was not Philadelphia’s best slugger, and we’ll make no gestures of grandeur for the dearly departed, but .296, 85 RBI and 27 homers in 2010 certainly isn’t chump change. That’s big-time production for any player outside of an elite handful.

To fill this noticeable void, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is looking at a pair of much more affordable players to do the job. Those individuals are rookie Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco, who is set to make just $70,000 over the Major League minimum of $400,000 this season.

Brown, however, fractured the hamate bone in his right hand in a Grapefruit League contest this past Saturday against the Pirates. He has returned to Philadelphia and is scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday. Brown is expected to miss up to 6 weeks, as he recovers.

So, while Manuel and the Phillies coaching staff had previously been prepared to allow Brown and Francisco compete for the starting right field job throughout spring training, Brown's injury and Francisco's .320 average, 2 HR and 6 RBI thus far in 9 Grapefruit League games have virtually locked the man they call "Benny Fresh" into the role of starter. This isn't big league style internet roulette. This is pretty much an easy decision helped along by process of elimination.

Brown, who was working on a new approach at the plate, was batting just .063 in 8 spring training games prior to the injury. Once he recovers from the procedure, Brown should get the opportunity to bounce back slowly in the minors, without the pressure of competing along side established Major Leaguers with the pressure of earning a spot on the Phillies' opening day roster. Until then, it will be Francisco's duty to be an ample shoe-filler for Werth in the Phillies outfield.

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