August 2009

History Lesson

Time for a Phillies history lesson.  30 years ago today, GM Paul Owens made a managerial change in Atlanta.  The Phillies, Eastern Division winners the three previous seasons, were 12.5 games out, resting in fifth place in the six-team division.

Broadcaster Chris Wheeler has a book coming off the presses next month, View From The Booth. Here’s an excerpt from his book……four decades with the Phillies by Wheeler with Harold Gullan:

“I was in my room in Atlanta in the afternoon.  The season had been lost to injuries and the runaway Pirates but we still had a month to go.  I was working on the daily stats and notes, still doing double duty as the traveling PR representative and a part-time broadcaster. A lot of the pre-game material now is computerized but in ‘those days’ we had to type everything on stencils—and it was a lot of time-consuming work.

“The phone rang and it was the Pope (Paul Owens).  He sounded a little agitated and said, ‘I need you in my room right away to talk about something.’ I know I got up there real fast because I didn’t want to keep him waiting. His suite door was half open so I knocked and walked in and sitting there on the couch was Big ‘D” himself (Dallas Green). ‘Bet you’re surprised to see me,’ Dallas barked.  ‘I know you know why I’m here.’

“The three of us spent time talking about a press conference to announce Danny Ozark’s firing and how were going to word the release which was being prepared back in Philadelphia by Larry Shenk. 

“It was a tough day because we all really liked Danny but knew this was part of the business, an unpleasant part but something that just happens and you have to move on.”

Dallas was the Director of Minor Leagues and Scouting at the time and the Pope wanted him in the dugout as an interim manager for the rest of the season to gauge what changes needed to be made.  The Phillies finished 19-11 under Dallas.  When the World Series had ended, Dallas was named manager.

Using a tough-guy style of managing, the Phillies paraded down Broad Street as World Champions a year later. 

“Wheels” remembers were he was 30 years ago.  For you “veterans”, do you remember where you heard the news that Dallas was the new manager?

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Phillies Insider also appears on twitter as barons63.

 

Bats Hibernating

For the first time in three weeks, the Phillies lost a series.  For the third time in three days, the Phillies had excellent starting pitching but the lone win in PNC Park went to the bullpen.

For the entire series, the Phillies bats were in hibernation.  Runners in scoring position? 3-for-28.  If hitting is contagious, then I suppose sleeping is contagious.  It seems as if we only score when we go deep.  Nearly 45 percent of our runs come on home runs.

Good news?  Today’s a new day, a new series, another opponent, another home game, another sellout.  And, the division lead remains at 7. Atlanta comes to town tied for second with the Marlins.  In the wildcard race, they are one of four teams in the running for October baseball.

Roster Expands
September 1 (Tuesday) clubs can increase their rosters from 25 to 40.  Ruben and his staff are discussing which players to bring up from the minors.

Adding a third catcher is number one on the list.  Another lefty or two in the pen is next.  Perhaps a bat or two.

Currently, the Phillies have five players on the DL: J. C., Condrey, Dobbs, Myers and Bastardo.  At some point in early September, these guys may be reinstated to the active roster.  That would be a huge addition.

Retro Night
That’s tonight’s promotion.  On May 19 twenty years ago, the Phillies wore all burgundy uniforms at the Vet.  Larry Christenson was the starting pitcher against Montreal, the only time the Phillies wore that uniform.

He’ll throw out the first pitch tonight wearing that burgundy uniform.

I remember LC commenting in the clubhouse pre-game that day when he saw Greg Luzinski in the burgundy uniform, “Bull, you look like a big grape.”

Minor League Notes
Clearwater CF Javis Diaz stole his 30th base last night, the fourth Phillies minor leaguer to reach that number this season: Anthony Gose (73), Quintin Berry (48) and Harold Garcia (39) . . . 3B Neil Sellers hit his 30th double of the season for Reading two nights ago to become the first R-Phil in the team’s 43-year history to have two seasons of 30+ doubles.  Last night, Sellers had his 31st double and 15th homer in Reading’s 9-6, 13-inning win over Erie.

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Phillies Insider also appears on twitter as barons63.

 

 

 

Ryan Saves Ryan

The Big Piece, Ryan Howard’s nickname as authored by his manager, picked up the pieces of a slumbering offense last night and the seven-game lead in the NL East remained there.

A lot is being said and written about another blown save.  Remember, the top of the ninth, runners on second and third with no outs?  We didn’t score and Madson didn’t have any room for error in the bottom of the ninth.  Until the game-winning homer, the Phillies didn’t have a hit with runners in scoring position.

The Big Piece didn’t leave any doubt about the homer.  It went deep into the stands, not far from leaving the ballpark.  He now has 25 RBI in his last 13 games.  Call him blistering.

Cole turned in a brilliant performance.  Getting him back on track for the stretch and postseason is would be huge. 

Postseason Meeting
Several front office staffers huddled in the draft room this afternoon.  Time to begin planning the postseason issues, media, tickets, security, anthems, first balls, network television, hotels, transportation, hospitality, publications, just to name a few of the topics.

Phillies season ticket holders have already received their invoices for postseason games. 

Group will probably meet on a weekly basis.  In some cases, MLB has set certain deadlines in September for details.

Any club in postseason contention is holding similar meetings.

The regular season ends October 4.  If the World Series goes to game seven, that is scheduled for November 5.  Yikes.

Minor League Notes
Brett Myers
threw two relief innings last night at Reading, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts.  17 of his 24 pitches were strikes.  He faced 7 hitters and threw strike one to all 7 . . . CF Anthony Gose stole 2 bases, giving him 72; fellow teammate, 2B Harold Garcia, stole his 39th . . . Reading closer B. J. Rosenberg struck out the side for his 21st save (Lakewood/Reading total), tops in the organization . . . Reading RF Domonic Brown had an 11-game hitting streak end . . . Williamsport RHP Austin Hyatt (3-0) pitched 6 shutout innings for a victory.  His 18 outs: 7 ground balls and 10 strikeouts.

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Phillies Insider also appears on twitter as barons63.

 

 

Empty Feeling

What appeared to be a tough loss, suddenly became an improbable victory and even more suddenly, ended up as a painful walk-off loss.

Brad, pitching in his fourth straight game, didn’t have it.  Afterwards, he admitted he had an empty tank.

Going into the 9th, the NL’s highest-scoring machine had seen 127 pitches.  They trailed, 3-2, both runs coming on homers by Rollins, the first two pitches he saw in the game.  The offense finished the game 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Sort of an empty tank.

The two run-scoring hits came in the ninth, Big Ben’s pinch double and Shane’s triple.  Big Ben’s RBI was the first by a Phillies pinch hitter since Stairs homered off the Pirates’ Capps on July 11.  Since then, Matt is hitless in 23 at-bats.  Charlie put in the lineup last night to get some Abs, but Matt went 0-for-2.  Charlie had done the same thing with Eric on Sunday and his bat came alive, including a pinch-hit last night.

The Phillies lead the Braves and Marlins by seven games.  The two smallest crowds in the NL yesterday where in Atlanta and Florida.  Speaking of empty.

A Reminder
Sunday’s game with the Braves at Citizens Bank Park has been moved to 8:05 p.m. for an ESPN Sunday Night telecast.

Minor League Notes
Lakewood speedsters, CF Anthony Gose and 2B Harold Garcia, each stole a base last night.  #70 for Gose; 38 for Garcia.  RHP Jesus Sanchez (10-6) pitched 7 shutout innings for the win, his seventh in his last eight decisions. The 21-year old came to the Phillies in the Abreu deal with the Yankees as a catcher and was put on the mound late last season . . . Closers B.J. Rosenberg (Reading) and Michael Schwimer (Clearwater) each recorded their 20th save of the season.  Schwimer is one of eight Phillies minor leaguers who will play in the Arizona Fall League . . . Brett Myers pitches tonight in Reading.

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Phillies Insider also appears on twitter as barons63.

Big Piece Matches Chuck

The Big Piece, as Charlie calls Ryan Howard, put another mark in the Phillies history book.

By topping 100 RBI yesterday, he’s now one of two Phillies to have 30 homers and 100 RBI four consecutive seasons.  Hall of Famer Chuck Klein is the only other Phillie to do the same.

Another Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt, reached 30/100 nine times, but never four consecutive: 1974, 1976-77, 1979-80, 1983-84, 1986-87.

Klein HR/RBI Numbers
1929 43/145
1930 40/170
1931 31/121
1932 38/137

Howard’s Numbers
2006 58/149
2007 47/136
2008 48/146
2009 34/104 and still going

Minor League Notes
Lehigh Valley OF Michael Taylor was placed on the DL yesterday, retroactive to Aug. 22, with a right oblique muscle strain . . . Williamsport SS Jeremy Barnes’ season probably ended because of a broken foot . . . Clearwater SS Freddy Galvis was moved up to AA Reading . . . Gulf Coast League SS Jonathan Villar replaces Barnes at Williamsport.

Brett Myers made his second rehab start last night, this time at Lakewood: 1 inning, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout.  He threw 14 pitches (7 strikes); fast ball was 92-94; threw 4 different pitches (fast ball, curve, slider, split).  Fast ball had good life, comment decent.
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Phillies Insider also appears on twitter as barons63.

 

Unexpected Unassisted

Triple plays are rare.  Yesterday’s was the 31st turned by the Phillies in their history. The first took place on September 8, 1890.  For some reason, we can’t find video of that play.

Even more rare, an unassisted game-ending triple play.  Yep, unexpected unassisted.  Eric’s was only the second in all of baseball history.  The other was by Detroit first baseman John Neun, May 31, 1927, to end the game against Cleveland.

Rare again….Phillies have had two unassisted triple plays, both by second basemen, Mickey Morandini, September 20, 1992, at Pittsburgh, being the first. His came in the sixth inning.

Rare one more time, Eric’s and Mickey’s were exactly the same type play: line drive caught, touch second base for the second out and tag the runner for the third out.

“Mine was a little different, just a little.  I dove for the line drive from (Jeff) King, stepped on second base and was about to throw to first when I noticed Barry Bonds was standing next to me.  So, I tagged him,” said Mickey this morning from his Indiana home.  Unofficially, Eric’s play took four seconds.  “I saw it on replays last night and I believe mine was as quick.”

The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown contacted the Phillies last evening seeking a momento from Eric.  Mickey recalled that second base and his jersey went to Cooperstown.  “I didn’t want to part with my glove because it was my gamer.”  The ball?  “I have a ball but I’m not sure if it is THE ball.  I remember tossing the ball back to (Curt) Schilling.”

One other difference between Mickey and Eric.  Eric is in today’s lineup at shortstop.  Laughing Mickey said, “No, I didn’t play shortstop the next game.”

Two other Phillies triple play notes:
**Team turned three triple plays in 1964, which tied a major league record for most in a season.  It has been matched three times since.

**Randy Ready in 1991 (April 28) against the Padres at the Vet could have turned an unassisted triple play against Tony Gwynn.  Instead, he threw to first base (Ricky Jordan) to complete the play.  Ready’s position? Second base.

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Phillies Insider is on twitter as barons63.

 

 

Contagious

Charlie has often said, ‘Hitting is contagious.”

No better example than last night’s completed sweep of the Diamondbacks, the first in Philly since 1998.

**Last 7 games, Ryan is hitting .346, 6 homers, 16 RBI.

**Last 5 games, Werth, .368, 5 homers, 7 RBI.

**Blanton even got contagious with his first ever 2-hit game.  That was the third straight 2-hit game for a Phillies pitcher.

While the offense is explosive, the pitching staff has been the most consistent entity on the club.  Starters didn’t walk a batter in the 3 games against Arizona.  Remember all the home runs hit against the Phillies?  At the All-Star break, we hit 122, the enemy 121.  Since then, we 41, the enemy 29.  That’s huge.

One last Charlie note: after getting swept by the Marlins at home, he had a meeting with the team after a sloppy Sunday loss.  Since then, the Phils are 8-1.

Minor League Notes
Brett Myers
pitched 1 inning last night for Clearwater.  He allowed 2 hits but struck out the side.  The game was a suspended game from August 7.  Oddly, the box score includes 3 Phillies pitchers, Durbin, Romero and Myers.  Chad and J. C. were on rehab assignments at the time . . . Kyle Drabek, who had given up 11 runs in his 3 previous starts (0-1), won last night for the first time since July 27 with 7 shutout innings in a 6-0 Reading win at Portland.  His fast ball comfort zone was 94-95 on the radar gun.  Counting Clearwater, he is 12-3 this season.

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Phillies Insider is also on twitter as barons63.

UnbeLEEable

LA (also known as Larry Andersen) had an interesting observation of Cliff Lee during last night’s broadcast: “He didn’t come here as advertised.  He’s better.”

Don’t know if a person can pitch any better than Lee has since he put on a Phillies uniform.  His key is simple, run to and from the mound, get the ball, throw the ball and throw strikes.  Reminds me of two other Phillies lefties, Steve Carlton and Jim Kaat.  They both worked fast.

Normally, a pitcher should throw twice as many strikes as balls.  Last night Lee threw 81 strikes and 25 balls. 

The ninth-inning last night had the same atmosphere as the World Series games last fall.  The sellout crowd was on its feet cheering every Lee pitch.  Wonder what it is like to be standing on the mound in the middle of a baseball field and here such fan passion.   I’ll never know.

At times the offense is frustrating, stranding runners in scoring position.  Last night, the strength of the offense stepped forward with four homers.  Two pitches and the Phillies had four runs in the fifth inning.  Wonder what it is  like to stand on the mound and see your pitch land in the seats 400 feet away.  I’ll never know.

Joe Blanton goes for his first win this month in the series finale tonight.  Phillies are 9-7 this month and Joe is 0-2 for three starts.  He’s given up six earned runs in 20.2 innings but winless.

After the game, the Phillies will board two buses for a trip up the New Jersey Turnpike and a four-game series with the Mets that starts tomorrow night and ends Monday afternoon. 

Minor League Notes
Reading Phillies pounded out 20 hits and won, 18-1, last night in Portland . . . Clearwater Threshers pounded out 17 hits and lost, 10-7, at Lakeland . . . Lakewood is “freshening up the crab (logo)” . . . Three minor leaguers won MiLB.com weekly awards last week.

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Phillies Insider also appears on twitter as barons63.

 
 

 

M&M Golden Boys

Hey, perhaps we are on to something here with the M&M Golden Boys.  Or, as Jamie called them, “two old goats.”

Pedro comes at hitters from the right side with breaking balls and change ups; Jamie does the same from the other side.  Only difference, Pedro can get higher readings on the radar gun on occasion.  One thing for sure, with a combined 1,129 games, you know the M&M Golden Boys aren’t going to panic.

Charlie doesn’t know the meaning of the word panic and that’s good.  Writers, radio yappers and their callers and fan bloggers are raising their collective blood pressure with Lidge concerns.  Charlie keeps saying Brad is the closer.  He has faith and confidence. 

Brad was perfect a year ago (41-41), unheard of.  Had he blown 4 saves, we would have been the wild card entry and met the Cubs instead of the Brewers. Who knows what would have happened.

This year he has blown 8 and we lead by 4.5 games.  With a perfect Brad, we led by 2 games after 117 games a year ago.

RISP lately has been a bigger concern.

National TV
MLB Network will televise tomorrow night’s game.  It will be blacked out locally.

Minor League Notes
OF Michael Taylor is day-to-day with a minor oblique muscle strain.  He’s missed the last 3 Lehigh Valley games . . . Williamsport CF Leandro Castro, the NYP’s leading hitter at .342, was 2-4 for the NL team that lost to the AL in the league’s All-Star Game last night.

Alumni Note
Came across a story on Clay Dalrymple, who caught for the Phillies from 1960-68.  Thought some of you older folks (yes, older than the M&M Golden Boys) would enjoy reading about Clay.

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Phillies Insider is also on twitter as barons63.

Twitter Correction

“Memo to Phillies fans just in case: Wednesday (Aug. 19) will mark the 100th anniversary of Phillies being rained out a record 10th straight times,” was posted by “phanatical” on MLB twitter yesterday.

Best information in the Phillies files is that in 1903, the Phillies lost nine straight games to rain, not 10 in 1909.  This information is in “This Date in Philadelphia Phillies History” published in 1979. The late HOF baseball writer, Allen Lewis, was the main author.  I was a minor contributor, not in age but in supplying Phillies history.

A friendly call to the Elias Sports Bureau drew, “Sorry, we don’t keep records of rainouts.”

Next, a friendly call to Dave Smith, a U. of Delaware professor whose hobby/side business is retrosheet.com. Through his coaching this morning, I maneuvered through that website and learned the nine postponements in 1903 are accurate.  10 consecutive postponements in 1909 are inaccurate.

Digging through retrosheet.com, the Phillies were scheduled August 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19 and none of the games were played.

Smith pointed out, “We don’t know why the games weren’t played. That’s still a work in progress.  But, we do know they were scheduled for certain dates and games were not played. Rain is the most logical reason. “

In the world of important issues, 9 or 10 consecutive rainouts aren’t very important.  But, an interesting, but puzzling, twitter post deserved some attention. Thought I’d look into it.  And, if anyone has other information, post it.

Of equally unimportance, this is the 700th Phillies Insider blog.  If you fell asleep 700 times, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.  Who coined that phrase?  The President of Keebler? 

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Phillies Insider also appears on twitter as barons63.

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