TTB

Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Monthly Archives: March 2009

Ronny Paulino traded

The Phillies acquired pitcher Jack Taschner for catcher Ronny Paulino from the San Francisco Giants. Taschner is an experienced lefty and the move was done to bolster the bull pen with lefty arms. I had Paulino making the Phillies 25-man roster so I will replace his name with Chris Coste. I won’t add Taschner to the 25 man roster unless he might replace Gary Majewski in the pen.

Read Todd Zolecki’s story in the link above.

Phillies March Madness

I am going to get the Rowan students involved with this finally. I will be doing a little experiment that was inspired to me by both March Madness and the Phillies Nation’s 100 Greatest Phillies. I will make a 64 player tournament like the NCAA basketball tournament but it will be comprised of 64 Phillies players.

I made it up of 4 regions, the 2008 World Series Championship team, the 1993 NL Championship team, the 1980 World Series Championship team, and players from other years. The voting in each round will be done by students around the Rowan campus. The first player to 10 votes in each round will move on. The brackets and first round matchups will look like this:

2008:
1 Chase Utley vs. 16 Chris Coste
8 Brett Myers vs. 9 Pedro Feliz
5 Brad Lidge vs. 12 Ryan Madson
4 Jimmy Rollins vs. 13 Greg Dobbs
6 Pat Burrell vs. 11 Jayson Werth
3 Cole Hamels vs. 14 JC Romero
7 Shane Victorino vs. 10 Jamie Moyer
2 Ryan Howard vs. 15 Carlos Ruiz

1993:
1 Lenny Dykstra vs. 16 Larry Anderson
8 Terry Mulholland vs. 9 Kevin Stocker
5 Mitch Williams vs. 12 Wes Chamberlain
4 John Kruk vs. 13 Milt Thompson
6 Tyler Greene vs. 11 Dave Hollins
3 Darren Daulton vs. 14 Jim Eisenreich
7 Pete Incaviglia vs. 10 Micky Morandini
2 Curt Schilling vs. 15 Ricky Jordan

1980:
1 Mike Schmidt vs. 16 Ron Reed
8 Gary Maddox vs. 9 Manny Trillo
5 Bake McBride vs. 12 Dick Ruthven
4 Tim McGraw vs. 13 Greg Gross
6 Bob Boone vs. 11 Larry Christenson
3 Pete Rose vs. 14 Randy Lerch
7 Greg Luzinski vs. 10 Larry Bowa
2 Steve Carlton vs. 15 John Vukovich

Other Years:
1 Richie Ashburn vs. 16 Mike Leiberthal
8 Jim Bunning vs. 9 Jim Thome
5 Chuck Klein vs. 12 Sam Thompson
4 Ed Delehanty vs. 13 Juan Samuel
6 Dick Allen vs. 11 Scott Rolen
3 Grover Alexander vs. 14 Von Hayes
7 Bobby Abreu vs. 10 Cy Williams
2 Robin Roberts vs. 15 Steve Bedrosian

Here is my bracket for download. I don’t know how long Send Space allows you to keep files up so if the link doesn’t work, just email me at spartanc63@yahoo.com and I will quickly respond with the bracket. You can also either comment the related threads or email me your picks. I will be doing some field reporting as well to get my results.

National League Preview

The Philadelphia Phillies will have a lot of work to do if they want to repeat as NL champions. In order to do that, they will have to get past NL East rivals New York Mets and Atlanta Braves. The competition doesn’t stop there as the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in the Central and the Los Angeles Dodgers will take the West but may see some competition. Here’s an in-depth look at the key teams in the National League.

In the East, the Phillies are still the favorite in the division. They have the best infield in the NL and probably all of baseball with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Pedro Feliz. Their outfield is nothing short of good either with Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, and newly added Raul Ibanez to fill the hole Pat Burrell had left. Pitching will have to play like it did last season to defend that pennant successfully. Cole Hamels is an elite pitcher in the league. He may miss opening day with elbow problems. Brett Myers is his second man with 46-year old Jamie Moyer taking up the third spot in the rotation. Joe Blanton is the guy to keep your eyes on this year. He pitched well after making the move to the NL and should keep up that pace this year. Their bench is deep and their bull pen is strong, being led by closer Brad Lidge and set up man Ryan Madson. They will receive and instant boost once JC Romero is back from his 50-game suspension. Not many holes in this team at all.

The Mets are sick of blowing the season the past two years. They are also sick of blowing saves. So they went out and spent money to bring in closer Francisco Rodriguez, who broke the single season saves record last year. He will definitely rack up saves barring the opportunities he gets but he will blow his fair share too; not my idea of an improvement. There is nothing stellar once you get past ace Johan Santana in the rotation but Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez are decent pitchers. They do have a solid offense led by David Wright and Jose Reyes. Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado are still both dangerous hitters but after you get past the first five, their depth is very shallow. They are lucky because they are one of the better Wild Card teams.

The Braves bolstered their rotation with the signing of Derek Lowe. He will be supported by Javier Vazquez and Jair Jurrjens. Chipper Jones leads the offense and he is supported by Brian McCann, Kelly Johnson, Garrett Anderson and Jeff Francoeur. The Braves are young but always stay in the mix. The Florida Marlins have some young talent in Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez but that’s really about it. The pitching is very weak. The Washington National aren’t any better and will not be a factor at all this season.

In the Central, the Chicago Cubs are sticking by the motto, “Maybe This Year,” once again. They certainly have a good team but always fall very short in the playoffs. Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Alfonso Soriano are the spark plugs of this offense. Kosuke Fukudome really came into his own last season and should still be a key to their offense this season. They also sport one of the best young catchers in the league in Geovany Soto. Jeff Samardzija really turned into a good reliever last year and should see his role increased in the pen. Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmal are the two leading candidates to be the Cubs closer this season.

The Cardinals may very well surprise us this year. Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball and he is healthy. He may be the only super star on that team but he is supported by guys who can play. They got Khalil Green in a trade in the offseason and have Troy Glaus at third still. Ryan Ludwick and Yadier Molino really played well last year and should continue to play well this season. The big story though is the pitching staff. Adam Wainwright will be the staff’s ace and he will be followed up by Kyle Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer. The Cardinals had no true closer last season but expect Ryan Franklin to take the role again. The rest of the division is very weak once you get past the Milwaukee Brewers. They lost CC Sabathia to the Yankees and I don’t see them getting that 2nd half magic they got last season. They have offensive talent but no pitching at all. The Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros do not pose a threat at all and the Pittsburgh Pirates are just awful.

In the West, the Dodgers seem to have things under control over there. They got Manny Ramirez to finally sign. He was the hottest player in the second half last season and the only Dodger who could figure out the Phillies pitching in the post season. Andre Ethier, James Loney, and Russell Martin will all contribute to the sturdy offense they have. They lost Lowe and Brad Penny in the pitching staff but added Randy Wolfe. They will look for Hiroki Kuroda and Chad Billingsley to step up and take control of the pitching. The Diamond backs will have to rely heavily on Brandon Webb’s arm if they want to compete. The San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, and Colorado Rockies won’t be too much of a factor.

The Phillies will take the East and will have the best record in the National League. The Cubs will take the Central in a close race and the Dodgers will easily win the West. The Cardinals should take the Wild Card over the Mets.

The Phillies 25-Man Roster

This is it people. The Phillies will have to have a set roster by Opening Day and I might as well give an opinion of what their roster will look like. There are about 20 locks in my opinion with some uncertainties including spots in the 5th starter, spots in the bull pen, and the bench. I will start with the starting eight, the five starting pitchers, the bench, and then bull pen.

Infield/Outfield: The starting infield is a lock. Ryan Howard at first, Chase Utley at second, Jimmy Rollins at short stop, and Pedro Feliz at third will make up the infield, the same make-up as last year. Utley and Feliz are both going to be available for opening day after missing most of Spring Training with injuries after major surgeries. Howard is the team’s big bat. He has been lighting it up all spring training, giving Phillies fans something to look forward to . He has been the victim of early season slumps the past 2 years and is looking to break that trend.

Utley is their most complete player. He can do it all: hit, field, run, and throw. He is the ultimate player and the best second basemen in the league. Rollins is one of the league’s elite base stealers and shortstops. Feliz is the best fielding third basemen in the league. He has come up with clutch hits in the past and the Phillies hope that continues into this season. Carlos Ruiz will be the starting catcher next year.

In the outfield, the starters will be newly signed Raul Ibanez in left field, Shane Victorino in center, and Jayson Werth in right. Ibanez was signed after they let Pat Burrell go to Tampa Bay. He has a very good bat but he’s a lefty, something the Phillies have too many of. He is also an even worse fielder than Burrell so we will see guys coming in in the late innings to spell him. Victorino is the team’s new spark plug. He is one of the best fielding outfielders in the league and has an extremely strong arm. Base runners must beware when trying to stretch their hits to extra bases. Werth has emerged as a starter half way through last season and will start in right this year. He too has a great glove and can play left if the Phillies bring in someone off the bench to play right.

Starting Pitching: The first four are a lock. Cole Hamels is the team’s ace as one of the best pitchers in the National League. He may not pitch opening day though if his sore left elbow isn’t better by then. His supporting cast starts with Brett Myers. Myers is sort of a headcase who will either pitch amazing or awful. He feeds off of any kind of momentum and the fans know that. He thrives when the fans are standing and cheering him on. The third man in the rotation will be Jamie Moyer, the 46 year-old lefty, is back again. He is their, “Old Faithful” and can bore young hitters into swinging at anything like divsion rival Florida Marlins and playoff opponents Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays.

The fourth guy in the rotations is Joe Blanton who was acquired from Oakland during last season. He pitched really well in the latter half of the season and playoffs. He even his a home run in the World Series. The fifth spot is where there is a lot of speculation. It’s going to be between Chan Ho Park, Kyle Kendrick (was in last year’s rotation), and J.A. Happ. The way it looks, Park should be the 5th guy. He’s not a terrible pitcher and has pitched well in Spring Training. He edges out Happ who will most likely be re-assigned to AAA ball in Lehigh Valley. Kendrick is just terrible in my opinion.

The Bench: Greg Dobbs was the Phillies best PH and can play first and third. Eric Bruntlett was their ultimate utility guy who can play both the infield and outfeild. Geoff Jenkins is their best OF off the bench and will likely take the role of spell guy for Ibanez. Now there are six guys I have had my eyes on to take up the last three bench spots. The first bench spot is back up catcher. That will go to Ronny Paulino. He’s young and will play in the majors until Lou Marson is ready to step up to the bigs. Marson has a lot of potential and can eventually overtake Ruiz and Paulino. Jason Donald was phenominal in Spring Training but he will be wasted talent on the bench. He’ll be playing AAA ball to start the season.

The other infielders include Pablo Ozuna and Chris Coste. Coste will likely not make the team since he was hurt all spring training and will be good trade bait for teams in need of an experienced catcher. He can also play the field. Ozuna is a utility player who signed in the off season. In the outfield, the other two guys are Matt Stairs and John Mayberry Jr. Stairs is the older, fan-favorite while Mayberry shows a lot of promise but is still very immature. I expect Stairs to win it due to his experience but don’t be surprised when Mayberry gets a call up in June along with Donald.

Bull Pen: Brad Lidge is the closer, nothing more to say. His set up man will also be Ryan Madson, another definite lock. Fellow locks will be lefty Scott Eyre, and righties Clay Condrey and Chad Durbin. Filling in that last spot will be Gary Majewski, the young righty who signed with the Phillies in the offseason. He’s just filling in until JC Romero is back from his 50-day suspension for using banned substances.

Here is my 25-man roster for this upcoming season.

Catchers:
-Ruiz
-Paulino

Infielders:
-Howard
-Utley
-Rollins
-Feliz
-Bruntlett
-Dobbs
-Ozuna

Outfielders:
-Ibanez
-Victorino
-Werth
-Jenkins
-Stairs

Starting Pitchers:
-Hamels
-Myers
-Moyer
-Blanton
-Park

Bull Pen:
-Lidge (closer)
-Madson (set up)
-Eyre
-Condrey
-Durbin
-Majewski

Expect Donald and Mayberry Jr. up this year. They are both very good and very young and will be future stars for this franchise.

American League Preview

So this will also be posted in the Whit, Rowan University’s paper. I will be doing both the AL and NL previews and when the season starts, I will be doing weekly recap/previews. Here is the uncut version of my post. A link will be posted when the article comes out:

The AL East used to be a two team division until the Tampa Bay Rays finally showed up and won the division and the A.L. pennant last season. But the New York Yankees are back in business with an unbelievable offseason and the Boston Red Sox revamped to still be competitive. The Central should feature the Detroit Tigers while the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox try to keep up. In the West it should just be the Los Angeles Angels. Here’s a look at the key teams in the A.L.

In the East, the Rays are bringing back some major parts to their A.L. championship team such as Rookie of the Year winner Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, and Dioner Navarro. Their rotation features James Shields, Scott Kazmir, and Matt Garza. The Rays like to play small ball but a power hitter is what Tampa Bay needed. They got that in Pat Burrell, their big offseason signing who will become their DH, a fitting role for him due to his lack of skill in the outfield. This balances out the team, making them more dangerous offensively.

The Yankees re-tooled dramatically in the offseason. Their key signings included pitchers C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and the resigning of Andy Pettitte. They also signed first basemen Mark Teixeira who will instantly boost an offense that was 10th in runs scored last season. Those are just the signings though. The offense still features Alex Rodriguez, who despite the steroid saga and hip injury is still one of the best in the game. They also have captain Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui at the DH. The five-man rotation is filled out with Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain, giving the Yankees the most dangerous rotation in baseball. With five pitchers like that, they should win on pitching alone. Mariano Rivera is still one of the best closers in baseball. They simply have the best team in baseball again.

The Red Sox are still one of the best teams in baseball. Tampa Bay and New York have improved and Boston wasn’t going to sit around and let them have all the fun. The signings of John Smoltz and Brad Penny give them six good starting pitchers. Smoltz will probably see bull pen action which isn’t a bad thing for Boston since he is an ex-closer. Speaking of the pen, it’s anchored by closer Jonathon Papelbon and set-up man Hideki Okajima. The offense is nothing short of amazing either. It features reigning A.L. MVP Dustin Pedroia. He is supported by an excellent offensive cast of Kevin Youkillis, Mike Lowell, and David Ortiz. The outfield also features young centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Bay and JD Drew.

In the Central, the Detroit Tigers look to be the strongest team. They moved Miguel Cabrera to first base due to a lack of glove but he is still a fine hitter. The outfield is very good with Carlos Guillen, Curtis Granderson, and Maglio Ordonez. Marcus Thames is a great bat off the bench and can play the outfield in the late innings. The rotation features great pitching in Justin Verlander, Armondo Galaragga, Jeremy Bonderman, and Dontrelle Willis. They should be good enough to win the division but Chicago and Minnesota are always in the mix.

The White Sox are a shell of the 2005 World Champion team. They lost Joe Crede, Orlando Cabrera and Ken Griffey Jr. in the offseason and didn’t make any vast improvements. They do still have Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye, their two best bats. Gavin Floyd and Mark Buehrle emerged as their two best pitchers and will have to post better numbers to keep Chicago in the mix. The Twins missed the playoffs by a game last year. They added Crede from the White Sox to go with the young stars in Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Pitching isn’t all that awesome this year and could be a problem for them. The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals should not factor into the race too much this year.

In the West, the only team that truly stands out is the Angels. They lost record-breaking closer, Francisco Rodriguez to the New York Mets but won’t have to worry about him blowing saves this year. Instead they added a steady Brian Fuentes who will not blow games. They also a great bat in the outfield in Bobby Abreau to go along with Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter. Pitching is also a strength for the Angels with John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, and Jered Weaver as the main guys in the starting rotation. The Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics don’t really impress and the Seattle Mariners brought Griffey Jr. back but still won’t see much of an improvement.

The Yankees will take the East, the Tigers will win the Central, and the Angels will again run away with the West. The Wild Card will be very interesting as the Red Sox and Rays will battle it all year for the final playoff spot. Next week we will have the National League preview.

The Phillies Tailgate

Tailgating is a part of any sporting or concert event. Everyone knows the Philadelphia tailgate is the greatest tailgate in the country. A successful and fun tailgate includes good food and snacks, plenty of soda, water, and beer, good music, and fun games. Also an important part of a good tailgate is to have atleast 5 and no more than 10 people. I’ve tailgated quite a few times and it’s been really fun. Here’s a guide of good tailgates for all situations, whether it’s people or size of vehicle.

1) Team Spirit: You must be decked out in as much Phillies attire as possible. Hats, jerseys, tshirts, bikini tops (for the ladies), or whatever red you can find. Let the opposing fans know what team you bleed for and show them how a real tailgate is worked. Don’t forget to start chants at random times and boo the hell out of some guy, his wife, and children all wearing Mets crap.

2) Food: There are a few reasons why this is important. The best is because you get hungry when drinking beer and you need something to absorb it so you aren’t trashed before the game (I actually can’t tolerate drunken ass****s at any type of event). Also because the stadium food will cost you an arm, a leg, and your first born son.

Now some great food for the tailgate include simple stuff like nacho chips with salsa, vegetables and dip, and other chips and pretzels. If you have a bigger vehicle with more space, you can bring a tiny grill and make burgers and hot dogs. You can also bring pre-made cold sandwiches and cold subs since they are easier to store in a cooler than a cheese steak.

As far as refreshments, water and soda are fine for the family. Beer is great for the 21+ club. I don’t endorse under-aged drinking but if you do, do it at your own risk, be safe, and use plastic cups. You can be a cheap ass and but Keystone or Natural Ice or can get the main stream Bud, Coors, or Miller, or you can even go over the top and drink Heineken, Corona, or Guinness. Make sure you have something for the women as well such as Smirnoff Ice. You can even get creative and bring some vodka or rum to go with the juice or soda you brought. No tequila shots please. You aren’t trying to get lucky. You’re going to a baseball game.

3) Music: “Good music is good music. Everything else just sucks” – Dave Matthews. He’s right. Everyone has their preferences. I love tailgating with Dave Matthews Band or any hard classic or current rock. Rap is good too but nothing terrible like Lil’ John or Vanilla Ice. People also rock it hard to metal. It all depends on your atmosphere. No thrash metal with kids around.

Some music don’ts:
-Michael Bolton
-Elton John
-Coldplay
-The Jonas Brothers
-Hannah Montana
-country (Except Tim McGraw. He’s got a special place in the hearts of Phillies fans).

4) Games: Tailgate Games LLC has a great site for buying tailgating games. Beer Pong. That’s all I have to say on that. You know what it is. There’s also the Tailgate Toss which is a game where you toss bean bags onto a board with a hole at the top (kinda like horseshoes). Another great game is Washers, which is similar to Tailgate Toss. And then there is Ladder Golf, which is where you throw a string with a ball on each end at a structure with 3 poles and you have to get it to wrap around one of the poles. If there is a grassy area where you can drive in stakes then Horseshoes is my all-time favorite game. I prefer pong or Tailgate Toss as well.

There you have it guys. A simple and small tailgate guide for those how want to try new things or haven’t tailgated before. Have fun this year watching your Fightin’s defend their title. And don’t forget. Please be safe and courteous of other fellow fans. As for Mets fans… F*** ‘em.

Jason Donald: the future of the Phillies.

It’s been another busy week in Phillies news before Opening Day on April 5th versus the Atlanta Braves. Probably the hottest topic of the Phillies blogs has been Jason Donald, the middle infielding prospect for the Phillies.

The Phillies Nation has this to offer on him:

The 24-year-old infield prospect had three hits yesterday, raising his
Grapefruit League average to .379. Add these numbers (plus his 1-for-3, HR line
against Team USA) to his recent U.S. Olympic team and Arizona Fall League totals
and Donald is hitting an oustanding .395 (57-for-144) with 7 HR and 26 RBI.
Since being called up to Reading, Donald is hitting .332 (168-for-506) with 21
HR and 80 RBI. Sure it’s double-A and triple-A pitching he’s facing most of the
time, but one can’t deny the steady – and often dominant – bat Donald is
carrying.

They also bring up a great point about him being behind great infield talent in Chase Utley at 2nd, Jimmy Rollins at SS, and Pedro Feliz at 3rd. He will most likely stay at Lehigh Valley in the AAA and get called up as a utility player.

The Beerleaguer brought up a similar issue and has this to say on where or how to play him:

While there’s little question over his stick, where to play him remains key,
especially with starting third baseman Pedro Feliz on the road to recovery.
While Charlie Manuel has been impressed with Donald’s glove, he hasn’t put in
much time at any position besides shortstop over his career.

This kid was going to get a lot of reps with Utley and Feliz shelved for Spring Training. Unfortunately for Donald, both Utley and Feliz look to be ready by Opening Day. Feliz is still a little bit iffy but we will only know in about three weeks when the Fightin’s come back home to Philly.

Phuture Phils had this final prediction for his fate:

I personally think he’s going to be one of the last cuts from the squad and sent
to AAA where he’ll play both 2B and 3B, mostly 3B.

Also in other news, former Philly Inquirer writer and now MLB.com writer Todd Zolecki did a little story on Ryan Howard’s foul line drive through the Bright House Field press box. The ball flew between Phillies baseball communications employees Greg Casterioto and Kevin Gregg. The ball was hit so hard that it put a hole in the drywall in the back of the press box. Not only did the ball dent the drywall, you can actually see the seams of the ball imprinted on the wall. Ryno even owned up to his damage by signing the hole. Photo from Zo’s page.

A season to remember – slideshow

Throughout the 2008 season, I went to a total of 6 regular season games, 1 preseason game, and 0 play off games (the latter was a huge bummer). I brought my camera with me to 4 games: 6/17 vs Boston; 6/22 vs the LA Angels; 7/4 vs the Mets; and 8/22 vs
the LA Dodgers. I also saw them play the Mets and Blue Jays in the regular season and the Blue Jays in the preseason.

In the Red Sox game, the Phillies lost 3-0 as John Lester earned the win for Boston. In the Angels game, the Phillies lost 3-2 as Cole Hamels pitched great minus his terrible 2nd inning. In the Mets game, the Phillies rallied in the 6th after being down 2-0 to tie it up and Shane Victorino hit the game winning single. Finally, in the Dodgers game, the Phillies plowed the Dodgers 8-1 with Ryan Howard’s 4th inning 2 run home run off Greg Maddux to put the Phillies up 2-1 and ahead for good.

The pictures in this slide show weren’t any true key parts of the season but they showed the players doing what they did best. They also show how the players contributed to this season leading to a World Championship. So enjoy the slide show of pictures I took (yes I know some of them are pretty good) and take the time to read the captions for more information on how these players did.

Phillies Nation scores big

I now have two Phillies blogs I love reading. The first is obviously We Hate To Lose which I am currently not writing for because the founder, Justin Evans wants to take it as a solo project for now. I still recommend it for everyone to read. The second blog I have become a big fan of is Phillies Nation. They are currently running a segment titled “100 greatest Phillies” which they are currently at #23 (Tug McGraw) and also doing recaps of the Spring Training games (by the way, they play Team USA at 12:05 which features Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino. 

But one segment that really stands out and everyone should really read is the interview done with Cole Hamels. I mean how the hell do you score an interview with the World Series MVP? I don’t care how many strings were pulled but this was an excellent read. Some highlights:
On whether not he feels a Cy Young, 20-game season, or a no-hitter will happen this year: “I would like to win 20 games. With that Cy Youngs come and no-hitters just happen.”
On goals next year: “Most of my new goals always start with me being able to pitch every possible start and to amass 200-plus innings.”
On his curve ball: “My curve ball sucks”
Please read the rest, especially his bit on the “Hamels Foundation.” It really gave me a different insight on him. I originally wasn’t a big fan of his because he kind of comes off as a prima dona. You can also learn more about him on his official website
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