TTB

Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Monthly Archives: March 2012

Spring Training: Blue Jays 8, Phillies 5

2B Hector Luna, playing for a spot on the roster, makes a play in the infield. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

John Mayberry Jr was in a terrible slump heading into the final weekend of Grapefruit League play.

That’s why a big weight was lifted off his shoulders in the 7th inning when he snapped a 19-at-bat hitless streak in the Phillies 8-5 loss. It was his only hit in his three at-bats, lifing his spring average .192.

Roy Halladay made his final start before Opening Day on Thursday but lasted only two innings and 45 pitches before a rain delay. He allowed two runs on three hits, including a solo home run to Edwin Encarnacion in the 2nd inning.

Hector Luna, playing second base and for a shot to crack the Opening Day roster, went 2-for-3 to lift his spring average to .327.

Phils add IF Blanco to the mix

The Phillies are bolstering up their middle infield stock heading into the season opener this upcoming Thursday.

By doing so they added infielder Andres Blanco. Blanco, 27, is a middle infielder who was cut by the Nationals the other day.

Blanco opted out of his contract when he knew he wasn’t going to make the Nationals. He will start with Triple-A Lehigh.

Blanco is a really good fielder, though his bat leaves something to be desired. In 32 Grapefruit League at-bats he has only two hits and three runs scored. In 235 games over six Major League seasons, Blanco is a career .255 hitter.

Hector Luna and Pete Orr have shots at making the Opening Day roster. As far as the bull pen, Joe Savery and Raul Valdes have shots to make the team as well. Read why.

Contreras to start season on DL

Jose Contreras is just flat out not ready for the regular season.

The 40-year-old right-hander had only been pitching in games the last two weeks and he’s shown signs of not being close to being ready, which is no shock. That is why Contreras will likely start the season on the disabled list.

It isn’t a health issue, general manager Ruben Amaro said. Contreras could be back in the line up by April 11.

Contreras is going to continue doing what he’s doing, which is to build up arm strength through constant repetitions.

In Matt Gelb’s tweet, he hinted that the same path could be taken for Michael Stutes, who has been experiencing shoulder stiffness.

Season Preview: NL East

Before I begin my NL East season preview, I’d like to take a few sentences to thank John Russo for not assigning me the AL West this year. That division is almost as exciting as a glass of milk. Key word being “almost.” Milk can spoil and that’s exciting.

Expectations: Will lead the league in wheel chairs.
Key Addition: RP Jonathan Papelbon (signed from Boston)
Key Loss: SP Roy Oswalt (free agent)
Projected Record: 100-62 (get 100th win on last day)
Summary: As mentioned in my last column here on TTB, the window is closing. However, it hasn’t shut quite yet. In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. While the Nationals and Marlins have certainly gotten better in the off-season, they’re not there yet. The Phils are still the cream of the crop and it’s still their division to lose.

The addition of Jonathan Papelbon gives the Phillies their first closer since the 2008 version of Brad Lidge (the 2009, 2010 and 2011 updates sucked. Thanks, Windows) and Jim Thome gives the Phils a nice bat off the bench and a healthy achilles on first base. Re-signing Jimmy Rollins gives the Phillies a healthy infielder (for now) and guarantees all of us our daily dose of first pitch pop outs.

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Spring Training: Yankees 13, Phillies 9

It was a bullpen outing for the Phillies today against the Yankees.

With several spots up in the air with an injury to Michael Stutes and the unreadiness of Jose Contreras from last year’s injury, a couple of surprises could make the Opening Day roster.

Kyle Kendrick and Jonathan Papelbon, two locks for the bullpen, struggled the most in the Phillies 13-9 loss to the Yankees. Papelbon was hit around for four runs on three hits and a walk with two strike outs in only 2/3 innings of work. Kendrick put two on the board, allowing five hits and two walks.

On the other hand, Chad Qualls needed to impress and he looked less than impressive, allowing a run on one hit and two walks.

Lastly, Juan Pierre had himself a fine spring game. A day after making the roster, he went 4-for-5 with four singles. He was caught stealing once in the game as well.

Season Preview: AL West

Expectations: The Rangers ditch all of their Braves’ World Series tapes that they’ve studied from the past two years.
Key Addition: SP Yu Darvish (signed from Nippon of the Japanese League)
Key Loss: SP C.J. Wilson (signed with LA Angels)
Projected Record: 93-69
Summary: The Rangers, coming off of their second straight World Series appearance, have one of the best lineups in baseball.

They had four players with 25+ HRs (Adrien Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton). Beltre, Hamilton and Michael Young all hit over .295 while Kinsler and Elvis Andrus added the speed (30 or more steals each).

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Hamels dazzles against Rays

Amidst all the contract talks, Cole Hamels still goes out and makes it look easy.

Hamels looks like he’s in midseason form as he tossed 5.2 innings of one-run ball in the Phillies 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Rays today. He only gave up three hits and struck out seven. His only blemish was a solo home run to Evan Longoria.

Brian Schneider hit a solo home run and Hector Luna had an RBI single.

The Phillies also announced after the game, that outfielder Juan Pierre has been added to the 40-man roster and made the team.

Pierre went 2-for-2 today to bring his spring average to 313.

They also said that Scott Podsednik could still make the Opening Day roster but that looks less likely with Pierre making it. Lou Montanez was informed that he will begin this season in the minors. Hector Luna also remains in the mix to make the team.

Shane Victorino also had a good day at the plate as he went 2-for-4.

The relievers also were very impressive. Joe Savery tossed two scoreless innings and only gave up one hit in that span.

Jonathan Papelbon tossed a scoreless ninth inning to bring his spring ERA to 0.90.

Stutes has shoulder stiffness

RP Michael Stutes. (Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)

Michael Stutes is experiencing some shoulder stiffness and will not start in a bullpen game against the Yankees on Friday.

Stutes, who is a lock to make the bullpen this season, said he had been feeling stiff most of spring, thinking it was just typical stiffness experienced in the spring training. “I finally had to say something,” Stutes said when the stiffness persisted.

The good news is this isn’t serious and Stutes expectes to pitch before the Phillies leave Florida on Sunday. “I’d be surprised if I didn’t throw in a game before we left here,” he said.

Antonio Bastardo will be making the start on Friday in the bullpen-only game.

Season Preview: AL Central

Expectations: Prince Fielder hopes to live up to his father’s legacy in the Motor City, and the Tigers hope to snap a near 30-year title drought.
Key Addition: 1B/DH Prince Fielder (signed from Milwaukee)
Key Loss: DH Magglie Ordonez (free agent)
Projected Record: 97-65
Summary: Expecations are very high in Detroit as the Tigers are coming off a 95 win season and have signed one of the biggest free agents in Prince Fielder. Fielder allows Miguel Cabrera to move back to third base which is his natural position. The combination of Cabrera and Fielder in the lineup should allow the Tigers to score a tone of runs and take control of the AL Central.

The Tigers also have a very strong pitching staff. Justin Verlander is the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP and was a dominating 24-5 in 2011. Combine that with Max Scherzer and Doug Fister, who can win 15 games this year, and this is one of the stronger rotations in the American League.

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Spring Training: Twins 11, Phillies 7

Carlos Ruiz has been hitting the cover all spring, a small positive note in an otherwise dreary spring for the Phillies.

Ruiz went 2-for-3 on the day, pumping his average up to .472 in Grapefruit League play this season. But the Phillies dropped their game, 11-7, the Twins on Wednesday.

Vance Worley got the start and was roughed up. He allowed 11 runs, five of them earned, on 11 hits through four innings. He gave up a two-run homer to Justin Morneau in the 1st and a three-run homer to Luke Hughes in a seven-run 4th that ended his day.

Another thing to consider was the outings by Raul Valdes and David Herndon, who each pitched two scoreless innings of relief. They combined to allow three hits and strike out four.

It should be interesting to see if those two make the Opening Day roster. Jose Contreras doesn’t appear to be ready and candidates Scott Elarton and Jake Diekman were sent down yesterday.

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