July 2007

DLDL

July 31, 2007

Today’s 4 p.m. trading deadline is “Outta Here.”  The NL East was the most active as the Phillies made three moves, the Braves, two and the Mets, one.   

Getting Tadahito Iguchi for second base while Chase Utley rehabs from surgery has already paid dividends for the Phillies.  He’ll help fill the gap.

RHP Kyle Lohse adds some experience to the starting rotation.  Three years ago, the Phillies picked up another veteran right-hander from the Reds, Cory Lidle, on August 9.  Lidle and Lohse are similar, vets who can take the ball every fifth day.   Lide was 7-10 with a 5.32 ERA for 24 starts when we acquired him.  Lohse was 6-12 with a 4.58 ERA for 21 starts. 

Lidle went 5-2 for the Phillies with a 3.90 ERA in 10 starts the rest of the 2004 season.   Lohse has the ability to duplicate those numbers.

Lohse joined the Phillies today and RHP Clay Condrey was sent to Ottawa. 

Michael Bourn had to be placed on the 15-day DL this afternoon with a sprained left ankle.  Michael was on crutches today.  Chris Roberson has been recalled from Ottawa to take Michael’s place on the roster.  Chris was flown to Chicago this a.m. in case a move had to be made.

Shane Victorino has a strained right calf muscle and he, too, is now on the 15-day DL. Jayson Werth, who has been rehabbing in Clearwater, will be recalled and rejoin the team tomorrow in Chicago.  For tonight, we are playing one player short.

In a minor league deal this afternoon, the Phillies picked up RH reliever Julio Mateo from Seattle’s AAA club (Tacoma) for Reading Phillies SS Jesus Merchan.  Mateo, 30 tomorrow, will join Reading.  He’s been lights out at Tacoma, one unearned run and one walk in his last 18 appearances, 3-0, 10 SV and 20 SO over 26.2 IP. 

The Phillies are aware that Julio has domestic violence charges pending against him in New York.  We view this, as any other gender violence, as a very serious matter.  We have recently completed training on domestic violence issues for all of our major league and minor league players.  We will make sure Julio knows that the Phillies treat this issue seriously.  We will also immediately advise him of our employee assistance program and make available to him and his family any and all needed services.

After Mateo’s arrest in May, the Mariners demoted him to AAA and then suspended him for 10 days without pay.  He underwent counseling before returning to the mound.

With Bourn and Victorino now disabled, here’s this season’s DLDL (Darn Long Disabled List):

RHP Freddy Garcia, twice
RHP Jon Lieber, twice
RHP Ryan Madson, twice
C Ryan Budde
C Chris Coste
RHP Scott Mathieson
RHP Tom Gordon
RHP Brett Myers
1B Ryan Howard
2B Chase Utley
OF Jayson Werth
RHP Francisco Rosario
OF Michael Bourn
OF Shane Victorino

Looking to Deal

July 30, 2007

Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro and Mike Arbuckle are with the team in Chicago working the phones and trying to upgrade the starting pitching.  The trade deadline is 4:00 p.m. (EDT) tomorrow.

You’ve heard it before, but the demand for pitching is much greater than the supply.  With 10 NL teams still in the running for post-season play the market is tight because there are fewer teams willing to sell right now.  And, most of the ten are looking for arms.
 
The scarcity of arms and number of teams interested increases the price tag big time.

While Pat and his staff have been in discussions with teams, the pace has been slow.  However, the next phone call could be the one.  It takes a lot of patience, which reminds me of a cartoon I once saw: “Dear God, give me patience, but give it to me now.”

Because the deadline is tomorrow, it doesn’t mean that teams can’t make trades.  It just is a bit more complicated.

Major League teams will place a lot of players on waivers starting today.  The teams will then recall the players who are claimed.  Those players that clear waivers can then be moved at any time the rest of the season.

Three years ago the Phillies picked up a very serviceable pitcher in Cory Lidle from the Reds on August 9.

As they made a run for the post-season a year ago, the Phillies added three veterans in August: LHP Jamie Moyer (the 20th), INF Joe Hernandez (22nd) and 1B-OF Jeff Conine (28th).

Patience.

Condolences
Bill Robinson, a 16-year major league outfielder who played with the Phillies (1972-74; 1982-83) died yesterday in a Las Vegas hotel. 

He was a roving hitting instructor in the Los Angeles Dodgers and was in Vegas, home of their AAA minor league club.

The Phillies send their condolences to his wife Mary; son, William III; daughter, Kelley Ann and three grandchildren.

MVP?

July 29, 2007

Today’s Lineup
Bourn, rf; Iguchi, 2b; Rollins, ss; Howard, 1b; Rowand, cf; Burrell, lf; Dobbs, 3b; Ruiz, c; Kendrick, p.

MVP?
We all know the big man, Ryan Howard, was the league’s MVP a year ago.  After a slow start this season that included time on the DL, Howard is putting up MVP numbers again.

Chase Utley was doing the same thing.  Being sidelined with that broken right hand may affect his chances because he’ll miss up to four weeks of playing time.  If he continues to put up the numbers when he returns, Chase will still be a candidate.

But, there’s another Phillies who deserves MVP consideration…….J-Roll, also known as Jimmy Rollins, who now inherits the third spot in the batting order with Utley on the DL.

Consider these J-Roll numbers:
**1st in NL in triples (13), runs (88), total bases (243); tied for 1st in multi-hit games (41); 4th in extra-base hits (57) and hits (133).
**Leads all MLB switch-hitters in home runs (20).
**Leads all NL shortstops in homers, RBI, triples, extra-base hits, runs and total bases and he wasn’t an All-Star?  Ridiculous!
**Leads all MLB players with 448 runs scored since opening day of 2004.

The one stat that really stands out in my mind: leading the league in total bases. 

Trivia Question!
Who is the last shortstop to lead the National League in total bases?

First one to post the correct answer wins a baseball signed by Rollins. 

Burning Burrell Bat
Pat leads the major leagues with a .433 average during this month (26 hits in 60 AB).  He’s drive in 19 runs in his lat 19 games.

Midwest Bound
Phillies charter flight will leave after the game for Chicago.  The trip includes seven games against the 1-2 teams in the National League Central Division: four with the #2 Cubs starting tomorrow night and then three in Milwaukee against the #1 Brewers.

Tomorrow night’s game (7:05 EDT) is on ESPN.

In their last 48 games against the NL Central, the Phillies are 33-15, dating back to last season.

Welcome "Gooch"

July 28, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup
Bourn, cf; Victorino, rf; Rollins, ss; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Helms, 3b; Iguchi, 2b; Coste, c; Durbin.

Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi said he “would miss the city of Chicago and the crowd cheering me with the ‘”Gooch” sound” after being acquired by the Phillies.  He arrived this afternoon along with his interpreter.  Iguchi will wear #12.

When the Phillies learned Chase Utley’s hand was broken on Thursday, Pat Gillick and his staff began looking over rosters for potential second basemen.  The White Sox called that they may move Iguchi.  Of all the potential available second basemen, the Phillies felt he was the best.  A young arm is what the Sox were looking for.

The Phillies moved quickly and made the deal.  We feel we are definitely in contention and wanted to send a message to the players in the clubhouse, the enemy and the fans.   You can’t replace a Chase Utley but this is the best step to soften the blow.

Abraham Nunez started last night and will return to his utility role.  We needed another infielder to give Charlie Manuel flexibility.

Iguchi carries a $1 million salary for the rest of the season and then he will become a free agent.   

The search for more pitching continues.  That search will be a little more complex simply because of the demand for pitchers is greater than the supply.  The trading deadline is 4 o’clock Tuesday afternoon (EDT).

Yesterday was a roller-coaster day for Joe Thurston, the 27-year-old second baseman.  The Phillies brought him up from Ottawa for the game and then designated him for assignment following the game to make room for Iguchi.    Joe wore # 10 for about eight hours.

The glamour of a baseball player sometimes isn’t so glamorous.  From playing every day at Ottawa, to getting the exciting call to the majors to now sitting for 10 days until he clears waivers so the Phillies trade, release or send him back to the minors.  Only good news for Joe, he receives major league salary until the next assignment.

A BIG Ouch!

July 27, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup
Bourn, cf; Victorino, rf; Rollins, ss; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Dobbs, 3b; Ruiz, c; Nunez, 2b; Moyer, p.

A Big Ouch!
Seeing Chase Utley get hit by that pitch yesterday sent my tummy tumbling.  Then, after he scored a run, he high-fived his teammates in the dugout with his left hand.   Not a good sign. Being as touch as nails, he finished the game.

There’s an x-ray room in the athletic trainer’s area of the clubhouse.  No more transporting an injured player to a hospital for x-rays as was the case when we were at the Vet. 

The results turned fear into reality, a broken hand.

A definite potential MVP candidate this season, Chase will be missed.   The surgery this a.m. was 20 minutes in length.  Recovery time is up to four weeks.

Pat Gillick said in spring training he thought this team had character and that character would help carry the club through the tough times.  There are always tough times in a 162-game schedule.   Other key injuries have happened and this club has remained in the hunt.

Chase echoed Pat’s feelings yesterday when he said, “This team has a lot of character.”

Charlie Manuel has kept the team afloat when all the wheels could have come off.  The team hasn’t quit and it won’t.

Afternoon Activity
Phillies are usually on the field to begin stretching at 4.  Today, there was activity on the field starting an hour earlier.

Abraham Nunez took ground balls at second base for 15 minutes . . . Davey Lopes worked with Michael Bourn on base-running, getting leads off second base . . . Pat Burrell, Wes Helms, Greg Dobbs, Carlos Ruiz were all taking extra batting practice under the watchful eyes of Charlie Manuel and Milt Thompson.

Roster moves included activating Brett Myers, optioning Michael Zagurski to AAA, purchasing 2B Joe Thurston from Ottawa and putting Utley on the DL.

Howard Comes Through

July 26, 2007

Today’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Victorino, rf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Rowand, cf; Burrell, lf; Helms, 3b; Barajas, c; Eaton, p.

It might not have been pretty last night, but the bottom line, it was a win.  That’s all that counts.

Ryan Howard’s 421-foot walk-off homer in the bottom of the 14th provided the victory in a 4-hour, 52-minute game that featured 26 hits, 13 walks, 15 strikeouts and 22 runners left on base.  Each side used eight pitchers and combined, there were 446 pitches thrown. Home plate umpire Sam Holbrook must have seen pitch after pitch in his sleep.

Yes, the bullpen had a meltdown in the ninth. That will happen.  And, the Phillies got a big break in the bottom of the ninth enabling Jimmy Rollins to circle the bases and tie the game.  Luck comes into play during the long journey.

The game ended at 11:57 p.m., a little more than 13 hours shy of this afternoon’s game.  The handwritten note on the eraser board in the middle of the clubhouse said:  “Thursday, 1:05 game; players dressed, 11:15.”

I was told a long time ago by General Manager John Quinn, “If you want to be in this game, you have to learn to sleep fast.”

A handful of players were here at 9:15 this morning, including Chase Utley.  He’s always an early bird.

Fans were setting up tailgating at 9:30 across the street from Citizens Bank Park.

Minor League Notes
Two players from the Clearwater Threshers have been promoted to the Reading Phillies:
**LHP Joshua Outman, who was 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA; 117 strikeouts in 117.1 innings.
**CF Greg Golson, a .286 hitter who was leading the Florida State League with 119 hits.
Reading’s CF, Javon Moran (.298) moved up to Ottawa.

Attendance Notes
Advance sales for the weekend series with Pittsburgh: Friday, 31,000; Saturday, 42,000 (standing room only available) and Sunday, 37,000.

Captain Clutch

July 25, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Victorino, rf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Rowand, cf; Burrell, lf; Helms, 3b; Ruiz, c; Hamels, p.

Front and Center
Center fielder Aaron Rowand, who seems to be the Phillies’ Captain Clutch, was in the center of everything last night.

Three hits, three runs, two doubles, one home run, one outfield assist.  He scored the tying run in the sixth inning and produced the victory with a towering 376-foot homer in the eighth.  He gunned down Jason Bergmann who tried to score from second on a single in the third inning.  It was the Phillies’ major-league leading 31st outfield assist.

Rowand did everything but clean his teammates spikes.  That’s a post-game duty of the bat boy.

Fans really responded to his eighth-inning homer.  They stood and cheered until he popped out of the dugout.  As he went to his position in the top of the ninth, he acknowledged the standing ovation from fans in right field and left field.  Goosebump city.

Since making the last out in the All-Star Game, he is hitting .459.  He has 14 doubles in his last 14 games.  He has a nine-game hitting streak against the Nationals (.459), including four homers.

Phillies Show
This week’s W. B. Mason’s Behind the Pinstripes, a Phillies Magazine TV show hosted by Scott Palmer, has been posted on this site.  Just click on to Fan Forum and look for the Phillies Show.  This week’s edition includes a look back at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium in Clearwater, an interview with No. l pick Joe Savery and a Sunday drive with veteran NL umpire, Jerry Crawford.

Who’s Hot?
Who’s hot in the Phillies minor league system?  Check out the weekly report:
http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/phi/downloads/y2007/ml_reports/0702_0807.pdf

Rookies in Rotation

July 24, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Victorino, rf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Rowand, cf; Burrell, lf; Dobbs, 3b; Ruiz, c; Kendrick, p.

Kyle takes the mound tonight.  As the final two months of the regular season approach, the Phillies have two rookies in their starting rotation, Kyle and J. D. Durbin.

A reader remembered two rookie pitchers played key roles in 1980, Bob Walk and Marty Bystrom.  Walk started the season 5-1 in AAA ball, was recalled in late May, won his first six decisions and finished 11-7.  Bystrom came up in September and was 5-0.

Myers Update
Brett Myers, pitching for the Clearwater Threshers at Tampa last night, struck out three and allowed one hit in one and one-third innings.  He was on a 25-pitch limit. 

Brett will have another rehab assignment tomorrow night in Tampa.  If there are no setbacks, he could be back in the pen later this week. 

If you add Brett to a bullpen of Tom Gordon, Antonio Alfonseca, Ryan Madson, Jose Mesa, J. C. Romero and Mike Zagurski, you have a combined ERA of 3.45.  That’ll work.

Trade Update
Pat Gillick in Marcus Hayes’ Daily News article today: “We’re going to continue to look and try to come up with something that can be an improvement.  Some of the stuff out there isn’t an improvement. What is out there might improve us but the asking price is off the wall.  Astronomical. 

“That might change by the 31st, but right now, you’re hearing these asking prices and you’re
saying ‘Your’re crazy.’”

One thing I will not do in this space is criticize the media.  That is not the purpose of the blog.  That said, the Daily News’ headline on Marcus’ story—“Gillick: Myers about the only pitcher who fits the budget right now.”  For those who are not aware, headlines are written by a person in the sports department, not the writer.  Whoever wrote the headline mistook the word “price” to mean dollars when it really referred to the quality or quantity of players required to make a deal.  As Pat has often said, the Phillies have financial flexibility.

Ryan on Fire

July 25, 2007

A road trip that started out ugly ended pretty.  Now, it is back home for six games against two teams with losing records, the Nationals and Pirates.

The Nationals just completed a 5-2 homestand.  They had back-to-back shutout wins over the Rockies.  Their pitchers haven’t allowed a run in 20 innings.

The Pirates are 1-8 since the second half started after a 9-4 mark just before the All-Star Game.

Still, there are no easy games in this game.  Odds yesterday weren’t in the Phillies favor with Jake Peavy on the mound for the Padres.  The result ended in the Phillies favor.  That’s baseball and that’s why you play the games.

Ryan Howard’s bat has been on fire.  “I’m starting to feel a little better at the plate,” he said on this road trip.  That’s good news for Phillies fans and not so good news for enemy pitchers.

On the one-week trip, Howard was 11-for-22 with five homers, 13 RBI and 10 walks.  For the second time in his career, he has been selected as the National League Player of the Week.

He’s been driving the ball up the middle and to left field which are really good signs.  Against lefties, his 11 homers are the most in the majors.  Last year, he was No. 1 in the same category with 16 homers.

While the Phillies were on the west coast, Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro were checking out the Phillies minor league teams.  Gillick has been in Clearwater since Saturday and he’ll see Brett Myers pitch tonight.  Amaro was in Ottawa for the weekend.

Plenty of seats are available for tomorrow night and Friday night.  Wednesday night (Cole Hamels bobble head) and Saturday night (Howard t-shirt) are both sold out.

Trade Time Coming

July 20, 2007

91

The most hyped trading deadline in professional sports is coming soon.  4 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, July 31, to be exact.  Baseball General Managers are busy making lists and checking them twice in hopes of making moves.

Some teams may move players to get younger or reduce payroll, others may shore up for the pennant race over the last two months.

Pitching is the hot commodity.  That is the primary commodity on the Phillies’ list.  Getting some help will not be easy because the demand for pitchers simply outdistances the supply.

Pat Gillick is a phone-burner.  Weekly conference calls are held with Pat, his staff, major league pro scouts and the team’s pro coverage scouts.  In addition to checking out talent, scouts are also on intelligence missions trying to uncover inside information.

Finding a fit with another team isn’t always easy.  Oh, it is easy to take a yellow pad and make trades. 

Rumor mills will churn daily. The internet will be infested with rumors.

Gossip indicates player movement will be very slow.

Here’s something that isn’t gossip.  The 91 number at the top of this epic?  That’s the number of pitchers who were on disabled lists of major league baseball clubs as of this morning.  Granted, some of those pitchers would be in the minors if they were healthy.  It just goes to show how scarce pitching is these days. 

Attention all Little Leaguers: become pitchers.

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