Philadelphia Phillies: Offense Overcomes Slow Start in 6-1 Exhibition Win

February 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

Hector Luna‘s two-run home run in the seventh inning helped the Phillies pull away from Florida State in Wednesday’s spring exhibition in Clearwater. The Phillies defeated one the NCAA’s top baseball teams by the score of 6-1 after being held scoreless by the Seminoles’ pitching through five innings.

Tyson Gillies scored the first run of the game when Scott Podsednik‘s infield single in the sixth inning gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead. The lead would be short-lived when J.C. Ramirez ran in to some trouble in the top of the seventh inning and Florida State scored their first run. Some poor control, including a wild pitch, was the story of the inning for Ramirez, but one run was all he allowed. Pete Orr, who bobbled a grounder to allow Florida State to make some noise, scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh inning to make amends. The Phillies continued to tack on some runs, benefiting from a balk against Florida State to force in a run before Luna’s blast over the wall.


Other Notes From Exhibition Win

Starting pitcher Austin Hyatt pitched two innings and did not allow a base runner. Hyatt started the game with a pair of strikeouts, and never appeared to struggle too much with command in two effective innings.

Ty Wigginton grounded in to a double play in his first at-bat of the spring, after Hunter Pence had walked on four pitches.

Domonic Brown was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance, and he followed by stealing second base.

First hit of the spring for the Phillies went to catcher Tuffy Gosewisch. His one-out double off the wall in the third inning was followed by a walk by Jimmy Rollins. The Phillies were unable to capitalize, though, with Juan Pierre popping up and Shane Victorino flying out to left to end the inning.

Despite already having the game in the bag, the Phillies opted to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving Florida State pitcher Brandon Johnson a chance to pitch as well.

A total of 4,399 were reported in the attendance.


Next Up

The Phillies will open their Grapefruit League schedule this weekend with a three-game series against the New York Yankees. Cole Hamels will get the first start of the season Saturday afternoon. Dave Bush, Jonathan Papelbon, Dontrelle Willis, Raul Valdes, Chad Qualls and Mike Stutes are scheduled to pitch after Hamels gets in a couple of innings of work.

Roy Halladay will make his spring debut on Sunday when the Phillies make the short trip to play the Yankees. Joel Pineiro, David Purcey, Antonio Bastardo and Phillippe Aumont are scheduled to pitch in the game.

Both games are scheduled for 1:05 p.m. first pitches.


Kevin McGuire is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and add him to your Google+ circle. This article was originally published and appears on Macho Row.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Cole Hamels Wants to Win, Says Phillies Fill That Need

February 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

Cole Hamels says there is no timeline for reaching a long-term contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, but he hopes that his agent and Ruben Amaro Jr. remain in contact while he continues to focus on producing on the field. For Hamels, all that maters most in 2012 is getting back to and winning the World Series.

“All I ultimately want to do is play for a winning team, and the Phillies want to be a winning team,” Hamels said Monday.

Hamels is entering the final year of his current contract, worth $15 million. He signed the one-year contract in January to avoid arbitration. With Hamels suggesting he would like to stay in Philadelphia and the Phillies looking to reciprocate the feeling, the chances appear pretty good that Hamels will work out a contract with the Phillies, whether it is a long-term deal or another multi-year deal.

Hamels will be the third highest-paid pitcher in the Phillies’ projected starting rotation with Cliff Lee being paid $21.5 million and Roy Halladay being paid $20 million this season.

The contract most in the industry point to as a potential model for what Hamels may ultimately sign is Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels. Weaver signed a five-year contract worth $85 million last August, netting him $20 million in the final year of his contract. Hamels could potentially make more as salaries increase for premier players, especially those on the mound.

The Phillies have three pitchers who would be legitimate ace pitchers on any other team, or close to it. Hamels was that guy on this staff before the acquisitions of Lee, Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Lee (uhh, again).

If you took a temperature of what Hamels wants today, it is not necessarily to be the main guy on the mound. Hamels never shied away from wanting to be the best at his position, even referencing Tim Lincecum’s individual accolades at one point when comparing himself to other star pitchers.

Hamels says he is a hard-working competitor, and few would intelligently argue that concept after one of his finest seasons in the big leagues with a career low in ERA (2.79), and dropping his walks allowed (from 61 in 2010 to 44 in 2011) and home runs allowed (from 26 in 2010 to 19 in 2011).

Hamels does not appear to be going anywhere, and that should be great news for Phillies fans. That should mean two more full seasons of Halladay, Lee and Hamels guaranteed. Halladay’s contract expires after the 2013 season, but he has a 2014 option.


Kevin McGuire is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and add him to your Google+ circle. This article was originally published and appears on Macho Row.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Kyle Kendrick Has Stood the Test of Time in Philadelphia

February 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

As pitchers and catchers begin their spring routine in Clearwater, Florida today, the Philadelphia Phillies announced they had signed pitcher Kyle Kendrick to a two-year contract worth a reported $7.5 million. Kendrick will be a part of the Phillies pitching staff now through the 2013 season, avoiding arbitration along the way.

Good for him.

There is no question that we have seen the good and bad of Kendrick in his professional career, dating back to the 2007 season. After going 10-4 in his first year with the club, with a 3.87 ERA, Kendrick was a frustrating 11-9 with a 5.49 ERA in 2008, while the offense pulled him out of trouble on multiple occasions on the way to a World Series championship.

Kendrick’s role was reduced to bullpen duty and emergency starter status when he was not in Lehigh Valley trying to retool his game in 2009. After struggling with command, and with the emergence of J.A. Happ on the mound (or so we thought), Kendrick actually ended the season with a 3-1 record and a very respectable 3.42 ERA, mostly out of relief duty.

With no room on the starting rotation for Kendrick, it appeared as though the Phillies found a good situation for Kendrick, who had adjusted to life out of the bullpen. Having Kendrick in long-relief situations gave the Phillies a decent arm to count on, and one that could be used as an emergency starter if needed.

In 2010, with the Phillies welcoming Roy Halladay to the team, Kendrick was known to arrive to the training facility and shadow Halladay as much as possible, sometimes even beating the hard-working Halladay to the Carpenter complex.

There was no better mentor or model for Kendrick of course as Halladay was set to embark on his first season in Philadelphia, knowing the World Series expectations that were in front of him. Halladay has been a well-documented hard worker, and if Kendrick happened to learn a few things along the way then it could only serve as a benefit for a guy who knows that a trip to Lehigh is never far away.

Kendrick had an up and down 2010 season, going 11-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 33 games, starting 31. He gave up a career high in hits (199) and tied a career high in runs allowed (103) and earned runs (95). A victim of the long ball (26 home runs allowed, a career high), Kendrick also struggled with command at times. But he did show signs of improvement as the season went along at times. Still, Kendrick was inconsistent overall, going 2-3 in September, failing to reach the sixth inning three times in five starts.

Last season Kendrick posted career bests with a 3.22 ERA and 110 hits allowed (with a minimum of 20 games played), while reducing his home runs allowed to nearly half (14) and cutting down on walks (49 in 2010 to 30, with one more intentional walk). Kendrick played out of the bullpen and as a starter, starting 15 games out of 34 total pitched, to once again show his value to the Phillies.

Kendrick is not a strikeout pitcher by any means and will never deserve to be compared to the likes of Halladay, Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels, but his value to the pitching staff should not be understated. He is a ground ball pitcher that relies on contact, and for his place on the starting rotation, or out of the bullpen, that can go a long way.

This two-year contract seems to be deserved. He will see a slight increase compared to his 2011 salary. Now the question will be whether or not he will be needed much as a starting pitcher in 2012. The starting rotation looks as though it will be set with Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Joe Blanton and Vance Worley, but Kendrick will almost certainly be the first man in case of an injury to any of these projected starters. Joe Blanton is hoping to rebound from an injury-riddled 2011 season, and it remains to be seen if Worley can avoid a sophomore slump (the same that hit Kendrick and Happ previously).


Kevin McGuire is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and add him to your Google+ circle. This article was originally published and appears on Macho Row.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Series vs. Florida Marlins Threatened by Hurricane Irene

August 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Update: The Phillies have moved Sunday’s game against Florida to Saturday. The Phillies and Marlins will attempt yo squeeze in a double header before the storm moves through.

The Phillies have an off day on Thursday before hosting the Florida Marlins for a weekend series.

Hurricane Irene, a Category 3 storm, is also heading up the east coast and is going to be in the Philadelphia area this weekend.

The weather could put at least one game on the schedule at risk of postponement. Sunday’s series finale against the Marlins has the most ominous weather forecast, with an 80 percent chance of rain, according to the five-day forecast from The Weather Channel.

And when it does rain, it will be heavy.

Do not be surprised if that series finale is postponed and scheduled for a makeup for the last remaining off day on the schedule, September 15. The Marlins also have that day scheduled for an off day.

But what happens if two games are affected by Irene this weekend?

There is only a 30 percent chance of rain for Saturday, but the storm is expected to come in to the area that night. With a night game on the schedule, who knows what could happen with the game. The game could be scheduled for an earlier first pitch if approved by Major League Baseball, but the Phillies may have to give up the television rights due to MLB‘s contract with Fox for national game coverage.

Depending on the storm’s outlook, though, it may be the only option, because Florida does not make another trip to Philadelphia this season and the idea of a mixed doubleheader on September 22 (Marlins have off, Phillies host the Nationals that night) is not the most ideal.

What could happen is the game could also be moved to September 15 as part of a potential makeup doubleheader. With that day supposed to be the Phillies’ final off day of the season, there might be some objection from the players association and from the Phillies with the postseason looming.

Or, the Phillies could play a larger number of reserve players with expanded rosters, allowing everyday players to rest.


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Philadelphia Phillies: Hunter Pence Shows Just How Far Club Has Come

July 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

With a couple of days to spare before the Major League Baseball trade deadline expired, the Philadelphia Phillies made a move that many thought was becoming less likely to happen.

The acquisition of Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence was made in such a way that ensures outfielder Domonic Brown and pitcher Vance Worley remained in Phillies pinstripes. Instead, the Phillies have packed top prospects Jonathan Singleton and Jared Cosart with Josh Zeid and a player to be named.

It was not all that long ago the Phillies were the team selling off established players in exchange for prospects.

The 2008 World Series champions were built on a homegrown foundation. Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and World Series MVP Cole Hamels all came up through the Phillies farm system. That championship team also consisted of a couple guys the management took a chance on with Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth, and was supplemented by a couple of trade acquisitions in pitchers Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer.

The team’s final piece of the puzzle came in closer Brad Lidge, who was traded from the Houston Astros in exchange for a couple of system products highlighted by center fielder Michael Bourn.

Just three years later the Phillies are led by a number of free-agent signings and traded players. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee both cost the Phillies a number of prospects over the past two years, and Roy Oswalt sent another couple of prospects and J.A. Happ out of town. This latest move to bring in Pence required giving up top pitching prospect Cosart and top hitting prospect Singleton.

In the move to acquire Halladay the Phillies had to give up former top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek and one of the top offensive prospects in Michael Taylor. When all was said and done, the Phillies got to hold on to Domonic Brown, who was sent down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room for Pence.

It is no secret to anyone who follows baseball that the Phillies are playing like a champion on and off the field. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr., since taking over the job, has made it clear that he will make the moves needed to give the Phillies the best chance to win possible. He has done his job, but it will ultimately be up to the players to follow through.

The Phillies were thought to be the World Series favorite last season with a starting rotation with Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels. Now with Lee in the rotation as well, the Phillies have put together the best record in the majors, and Amaro knows that adding Pence to the roster fills the biggest hole in the team. He certainly is not standing pat, which is what Hall of Fame general manager and Amaro’s predecessor Pat Gillick was often known for doing.

Former general manager and current Houston Astros GM Ed Wade set the foundation for the Phillies by retooling the minor league system. Wade’s roster decisions at the big league level were often criticized but the work he did in stocking the revamping the farm system should not go unrecognized.

Wade was in charge when the Phillies drafted a number of the players that would become a key part of the 2008 World Series championship team and he is the one who hired current manager Charlie Manuel.

It was Gillick’s job to get the team over the hump and in to the playoffs. Trading fan favorite Jim Thome was a tough but necessary decision as it brought in Aaron Rowand, who is often said to be responsible for changing the attitude in the clubhouse, and allowed Howard to emerge as an everyday first baseman. Gillick initiated the move to acquire Lidge, although Amaro was said to be the one pushing the negotiations.

Now Amaro has taken the next steps needed to put a tormenting past behind the Phillies. 

Not even 10 years ago I walked up to Veterans Stadium minutes before a doubleheader against the Florida Marlins. As my friend and I walked up to the ticket sales booth to buy some tickets for the day, a fan offered us his tickets. For free. As we reached for our money to offer him the face value, he started running off so he could do whatever else he had planned for that day. He didn’t want to waste his time at a doubleheader.

Today fans would pay high prices for any game in Citizens Bank Park. If that doesn’t tell you how far this organization has come, what does?

Let’s enjoy the ride.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Hunter Pence Worth a Gamble, but for Domonic Brown?

July 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

According to a report by Jim Salisbury of on Friday, the Philadelphia Phillies are keeping tabs on Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence.

“He’s the guy they want,” a baseball official said to Salisbury. “But the price is very high.”

So the question is, how high is too high?

The player Houston would be most likely to receive in return would be Domonic Brown, according to Salisbury. It is easy to understand why. Brown is an up-and-coming prospect whom the Phillies have been grooming to be an everyday outfielder. If the Astros are going to give up on Pence, an all-star outfielder, they would require a player with potential to replace him.

The Phillies and Astros have made a number of trades with each other over the years, especially since former Phillies general manager Ed Wade was hired by Houston for the same position.

For the most part, those trades have paid off well for the Phillies, including a couple of moves to acquire Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt. The Astros in turn have turned prospect Michael Bourne in to an all-star center fielder and have benefitted from acquiring Brett Myers. J.A. Happ has had his ups and downs in Houston.

Should the Phillies be willing to trade Brown if it means getting Pence?

Pence may give the Phillies a better chance to win this season than Brown will, but how many times can the Phillies trade away the future in order to increase the odds of winning now?

It is a tough debate with no certain answers. If Brown develops the way the Phillies would hope, then who is to say Brown does not give the team a better chance to win next year, the year after that and the year after that?

The Phillies’ general manager is known to make a bold move. Since taking over the job from Pat GIllick, Amaro has orchestrated deals to acquire Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Oswalt, Placido Polanco and Cliff Lee (again).

Compared to some of those moves, getting Pence on the roster would seem to be a piece of cake, even if his payroll is said to be maxed out. Nothing should be thought of as impossible with Amaro at the helm.

But should he pull the trigger on Pence for Brown, and likely another prospect or two?

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MLB Trade Rumors: Philadelphia Phillies Interested in Matt Kemp

July 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Could the Philadelphia Phillies be in on the bidding for Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp? Kemp is a player who could fill the void in the line-up from the right side of the plate if the right ingredients are there for the Phillies.

Phuture Phillies, a blog dedicated to covering the Phillies prospects, tweeted innocently enough that the Phillies were in on Matt Kemp, although there have been no confirmed reports from the Phillies beat reporters on the subject. It seems a bit premature to go with the idea at this stage, but there is no question that the Phillies could benefit from being able to add Kemp to the roster.

Kemp enters Tuesday batting .313, is second in the National League in home runs (24, Lance Berkman leads the league with 25) and third in the National League in runs batted in with 72 (one behind Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder). Shane Victorino, who was activated from the disabled list Tuesday, is the only Phillies batter hitting over .300 entering game two of a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs.

Adding Kemp to the mix would certainly give the Phillies line-up a boost in the second half and likely in to the postseason.

More importantly, Kemp has been a durable player over the past few seasons. The Dodgers outfielder played all 162 games in 2010 and played in 159 games in 2009 and 155 in 2008.

If you are wondering about his postseason performances, the Phillies know just what he is capable of after facing Kemp in the 2008 and 2009 NLCS. Kemp’s NLCS numbers are much better than his NLDS numbers in those seasons, jumping from a batting average of .148 in the NLDS to .286 in the NLCS between the two seasons.

Kemp is owed under $4 million for the remainder of the season (presuming he has received half of his $6.95 million for the 2011 season), and the Phillies have already said on multiple occasions that they have maxed out their current payroll. The Dodgers are not likely to offer to pay for the remainder of his contract, considering the state of the organization right now.

The Phillies do have room in payroll ready to clear up after the 2011 season, which could allow some flexibility to bring Kemp on board now rather than try to lure him in during free agency. The contracts of Raul Ibanez, Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge could all come off the books this off-season and Jimmy Rollins could be on the move as well if the team decides not to bring him back.

Kemp to the Phillies still looks to be a bit of a stretch for now, but Amaro has pulled some tricks before so nothing can really be considered out of the question with the trade deadline creeping closer.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Jimmy Rollins Looks for Record in Red Bull Event

June 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins will attempt to break a world record on Monday. Instead of taking a day off, Rollins will take part in Red Bull Ball Park Cranks in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record for longest batted ball, and he is heading to the Ben Franklin Parkway to do it.

The current record stands at 576 feet, which is far out of Rollins’ normal range so he will be making use of advanced equipment to help him out.

“They have some pretty good technology put into it, so why don’t I give it a try?” Rollins said in a report by USA Today. “They spent some money on composite bats and specialized balls. It’s unrestricted. So we’re trying to find out if you could use this ball and this bat, how far can a human possibly hit a ball.”

Red Bull has called on Dr. Lloyd C. Smith from Washington State University’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and Dr. Alan Nathan of the University of Illinois Physics Department, both of whom have experience testing bats for little leagues and college-level teams.

“I’ve hit a ball below the third deck at the Vet. I’ve gone to the second deck a number of times at [Citizens Bank Park] and I’ve gone out to center field. So 420 feet is probably about the furthest I’ve ever hit a ball. With technology, if you get another 160 feet out of it, that would be a lot of fun.”

“In all the years I’ve been in the sports science area, it’s the first time we’ve had a professional player willing and able to test the limits of hitting a baseball,” Dr. Smith said. “We’re extremely excited to see what valuable information we can gather from this merging of science and sport.”

This record attempt was supposed to take place a year ago, but an injury to Rollins within days forced Rollins and Red Bull to put the record attempt on hold. Now after a year of anticipation, Rollins will get his chance to go into the record books.

Fans should also be on the lookout for baseballs printed with a special digital code. Scanning the image in your phone will reveal if you found a winning baseball, giving fans a Rollins autograph and more.

Event Info

Date: June 27, 2011

Time: 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Location: Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Intersection of 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA

Follow updates on Twitter: @redbullphilly @krmcguire

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Philadelphia Phillies: Signing Luis Castillo Is Low-Risk, Average-Reward

March 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

On Sunday, the Philadelphia Phillies signed Luis Castillo to a minor league deal and it makes perfect sense to do so.

Castillo, a second baseman, will either make the major league roster or will be released according to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro. If he makes the roster, the Phillies will only be on the hook for $414,000 (major league minimum) while the New York Mets, who released Castillo on Friday, are paying him $6 million this season.

Castillo is hoping to enter his 16th season in the big leagues after spending the previous 15 seasons almost entirely in the National League East between the Florida Marlins and Mets.

Castillo spent part of 2006 and 2007 in the American League with the Minnesota Twins. Castillo hit .286 this spring with the Mets.

If Chase Utley is to miss a significant amount of playing time at the beginning of the season, having Castillo around may not be a bad option.

Castillo will have to win a roster spot against guys like Wilson Valdez and Josh Barfield. Valdez appears to be the leader for the starting job with Utley out at second base and the signing of Castillo does little to change that.

But having Castillo on the bench looks to be a better option that putting trust in an unproven player like Barfield, despite a very good spring.

In fact, every player this spring who can play second base has been performing well at the plate. Barfield (.344) and Pete Orr (.333) have done well for themselves.

So, where does Castillo fit on the major league roster? It depends on Utley’s status for 2011.

“You know what? [Utley]‘s getting a little better,” manager Charlie Manuel said.

“It’s not coming real fast, but he’s showing — according to the doctors and trainers — he’s starting to get better. It seems like it’s going to take a while, though.”

The reports coming from Phillies suggest that Utley will play in 2011 and he just recently returned to training camp to take batting practice. He has not played in a single spring training game this year and concerns about his health have grown among fans in recent weeks.

If Utley is going to miss some time, the Phillies feel confident in the players they have on board, but if the worst case scenario takes place and Utley is out for the season, having a veteran player at second base like Castillo could prove to be valuable.

Castillo is not Utley and today he may not even be Valdez. His speed has diminished in recent years and his health has been a concern, but he could be a good option for Charlie Manuel to split time with Valdez through a majority of the season.

Valdez can’t be played every day, so somebody needs to be ready to take some time in the field and at the plate.

Castillo could realistically be that guy.

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Placido Polanco and Other Philadelphia Phillies Milestones To Watch in 2011

February 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco is approaching two noteworthy milestones in 2011, but he is not the only one. Let’s take a look at some of the milestones that some Philadelphia Phillies are closing in on this upcoming baseball season (slideshow adapted from this original post on Second String Blog).

Begin Slideshow

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