Saturday, April 15, 2006

Bullpen Blues

Good thing the Phillies are in Colorado this weekend, the way the bullpen is pitching, the Phils need all the runs they can get. Almost spoiling a grand slam by Utley last night, Julio Santana decides to give up 4 runs and almost blow the game in the 8th. To make matters worse, the only way the Rockies didn't tie the game is because of a great throw from center field by Shane Victorino. Consider this: we all know the Phils are off to a shaky start, it's to be expected with some clubs and usually with the Phillies. However, the bullpen has a combined ERA of 4.88 and a record of 1-2. I'm not saying the starting pitching is any better at this point but when you take a 6 run lead into the 9th inning you would think that even in Colorado that is enough of a margin for a sure victory. The starting pitching needs to improve, we can all agree on that, however unless the bullpen gets better, this is going to be a long year from the 6th inning on.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Utley does it.... almost....

If you watched any of the game between USA and Canada on Wednesday, you'll know by now that Chase Utley nearly pulled team USA ahead in the 8th inning with a blast off current Phillie Scott Matheison. Almost...not quite....Seems to be the common theme amongst American athletes over the last month. Olympics anyone?? While we all thought that Miller, Jacobellis and Cohen would certainly bring home a gold, instead we were all left wondering exactly "What went wrong"? And now another tournament matching country against country, the first annual World Baseball Classic is upon us and once again, high hopes and expectations have been set for Team USA. Already, we've seen the mistakes made in the field, the less than stellar pitching, all the almost, but not quite enough. Team USA has one of the strongest rosters in the tournament if not the strongest pitching rotation. Clemens, Willis, Peavy, Cordero, Nathan, Street, with all this talent, how can you go wrong. Easy, one look at the Domincans boasting Pujos, Ortiz and Tejada, and an undefeated record, it is no doubt that the team to beat in this tournament for the USA will be the Dominicans. However, first it is a matchup with South Africa on Friday where we will see the Rocket for the first time in this tournament. The top two teams in each pool will advance on to the final round. The USA is sure to advance with a Mexico defeat over Canada or a win over South Africa. With the Rocket starting, I'll take bets on the latter, but upsets do happen and as we all saw on Wednesday, nothing is as it seems untill the bitter end.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Goodbye to a legend.....

It came as a shock to me when I heard news the Kirby Puckett had passed away. We all knew that "Puck" had suffered a stroke on Sunday morning in Arizona but I don't think any of us thought this was going to happen. Yes, I do run a Phillies blog and Podcast here however, the Twins were actually the team I followed most closely in my high school days and early 90's when Puckett really became a household name not only in Minnesota but also in the entire United States. I'm not really sure how I came to follow the Twins so intently, I'm not from Minnesota nor have I ever visited there, but sometime in the late 80's I decided that the Vikings were my favorite football team, the North Stars would be my NHL team and the Twins would be my passion in Major League Baseball. Since then, age has brought me closer to my native Central PA homeland and Philadelphia sports in the Phillies and Flyers. Not that any of that matters right now, I just wanted to write about someone who I watched and admired growing up and someone who always seemed to have a smile on his face and always seemed like he was enjoying the game. I was in 10th grade when the Twins defeated the Braves for the 91' World Series. Never will I ever forget the 6th game when Puck hit the game winning home run in the bottom of the 11th. The next night Jack Morris would pitch 10 innings and Gene Larkin would drive home Dan Gladden for the Twins victory in 7 games. Puckett was a huge part of that team, he was the player that stuck out. He was without a doubt in my mind the MVP of that series. When you thought of the Twins, you thought of Kirby Puckett, and I still think back to Kirby stating before game 6 that the "Twins will win". Kirby won game 6 with his play in the outfield and home run in the 11th. A .318 lifetime hitter, Puckett leads the Twins in hits, doubles, at bats and many other categories. A 10 time all-star, we all know that Puck's career was cut short in 1996 due to vision problems, who knows what else he could have accomplished. The baseball world has lost a legend, champion, and friend, Puckett will be missed greatly.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Youngsters get the job done

If anyone feels bad about the Thome trade and is hoping that Ryan Howard doesn't have a sophmore slump, don't worry, you're in good company. It seems much more comforting that the Phils have been able to score quite a few runs against the Yanks and Blue Jays and win 3 of 3 spring training games. Even more perplexing is the fact that during a split squad matchup on Saturday against team Valenzuela, the Phils were shutout. The promise of young Ryan Howard, Gio Gonzalez, Daniel Haigwood, Cole Hamels and about 5 other players who have been invited to spring training seems great. It's not even the fact that Howard went 4 for 4 with 5 RBI's the other day against the Evil Empire, it's the pure excitement that lies in some of these youngsters that hold a lot of promise for the Phils this year. I'll be looking to Gavin Floyd and Cole Hamels to have a standout spring training and hopefully become candidates for a callup later in the season. Haigwood and Gonzalez are two who will probably get spots in AA Reading. Micheal Bourne, Shane Victorino, Matt Kata and Danny Sandoval also have looked good at the plate. Hopefully some of these players will help patch up a few of the depleted bench spots before the season. Look to the youngsters to really make a difference this spring training.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Phillies Weekly Returns!!!

2006, will it be a transition year for the Phils or will it they be able to get those extra two wins that kept them out of the playoffs last year? Only time will tell with Pat Gillick at the helm (see ya Eddie) and a host of new players, the 2006 phills look good in my opinion. It was sad to see Wags, and J Mike exit but I think signing Flash Gordon was probably the Phils best option over the offseason to fill the void left in the back of the bullpen. It appears as if Ryan Madson will be moved to the starting rotation and it will be fun to watch Giovanni Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood develop in the minors after they were obtained from the White Sox in the Thome/Rowand deal. We'll have our first podcast of the season in the next few weeks in the meantime, check out the My Space page and enjoy the 2006 Winter Olympics. And, oh yeah....GO FLYERS!!!!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thome Traded to Chi-Town-Phils get Aaron Rowand in trade

Pat Gillicks first trade within the Phillies organization comes as a relief to me and many other Phillie fans. A tentative trade between the Phils and the Chicago White Sox sends Jim Thome to the Sox for center fielder Aaron Rowand, cash and left handed pitching prospects Giovanni Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood. The trade comes days after it was reported by trainer Jeff Cooper that Thome was in the best shape of his life after working out in Clearwater. There is no doubt that this is a huge weight off of the Phillies shoulders in many ways. It will open up about $24 Million in salary as the Phills have agreed to pay half of the $46 Million on Thome's current contract. It also frees up the first base situtation as Ryan Howard will assume that role full time for the 2006 season. Howard was named rookie of the year for the 2005 season, and along with Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, adds more youth and power to the infield lineup.

After platooning Jason Micheals and Kenny Lofton in centerfield last year, it will be good to have Aaron Rowand full time at Citizens Bank Park this year. Rowand seemed suprised about being traded away from Chicago as he has spent his whole career there. Hopefully Philly will be a welcomed change of pace for Rowand and hopefully he can become a clubhouse leader that he was known for in Chicago. Rowand hit .270 with 13 HR for the White Sox last year.

The Mets are also seriously pursuing Billy Wagner offering him a $30 Mill, 3 year contract with a 4th year option. Gillick had apparently contacted Wags soon after the Mets proposal and had increased the proposal offered by the Phils. Although Wagner still remains a priority for the Phils, starting pitching is also another issue that the Phils need to address. Matt Morris, A.J. Burnett and Paul Byrd remain attractive free agents. With the salary freed up by the Thome trade, it may be possible to lure in one of these starters. If Wagner is not resigned look for the Phils to go after B.J. Ryan of course Trevor Hoffman would be a welcomed addition as well.

Is it possible that Ryan Madson could be added to the starting rotation for 2006? Yes, however I think it would be nice if the Phils could nail down an experienced free agent and possibly have Madson fill the spot of Randy Wolf untill he returns.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Gillick Named Phils New GM

Pat Gillick was officially named the Phillies new GM on Wednesday closing another chapter in the Philadelphia baseball history books. Gillick becomes the Phil's newest member after Ed Wade was fired in October. Gillick of course has quite a track record of success, as he was actually Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Blue Jays in...you guessed it, 1993. His numbers look good, but that was then, this is now. Nicknamed "Stand Pat" in Toronto for his unwillingness to make trades, one can only hope that this is a good thing for the Phillies organization. Gillick will need to come into a situation where trades were made to get certain players and to build this team. The test now is to work with these same players which were signed for long term contracts and figure out a way to shake things up a bit in the organization and hopefully create a fresh start. We all know what is needed, we all know what players are available, Gillick will obviously get his first test this offseason as Montgomery has said that the payroll will not increase over last year. As the winter meetings approach, time will tell if Gillick was the right guy for the job. You can only trust David Montgomery, Bill Giles and everyone else involved with this process that they made the right decision. I think they did, now we need to make things happen this offseason and the first stop after that will be the NL East Pennant.