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Category Archives: Alex Rodriguez

Yankees sweep opening weekend series

It’s opening weekend and the standings show that the Phils are 0-2 to start Grapefruit League play.

Be it that standings don’t matter, there are positives to consider in today’s 7-4 loss to the Yankees in Tampa.

Hunter Pence crushed another two-run homer this spring in as many days, this one coming off Yankees starter Freddie Garcia. Antonio Bastardo pitched a five-pitch 1-2-3 inning in the 6th.

Roy Halladay got the start, going two innings. He allowed a first-pitch solo home run to Alex Rodriguez in the 1st. He only gave up a run on two hits, striking out three.

Domonic Brown went 2-for-4. He was caught trying to steal in the 4th inning.

Michael Martinez had a terrible game in the field, commiting two errors at second base. Ty Wigginton and Brown also committed errors at third base and left field respectively.

Phillies play the Yankees one more time on Monday back in Clearwater. Joe Blanton will get the start.

Albert Pujols Wants All Your Money

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols watches a solo homer in the 9th, his 3rd of the game, leave the park in Game 3 of the World Series on October 22, 2011 in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Bring it by the truck loads.

Whatever team wins the Albert Pujols sweepstakes this offseason, they are going to need a lot of cash to do it.

Pujols is looking at potentially his last big paycheck, one that will not only be the largest of his life but quite possibly the biggest in the history of baseball.

It has become almost a signature to see Pujols standing in the batter’s box, holding his bat in his left hand like a small twig; his hulking glare watching another baseball travel to an undiscovered solar system. And from Brad Lidge in 2005 all the way to last night’s mash-fest, Pujols has continued to do it in the most fitting of times.

Pujols made history. He did something that only Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson have done in baseball: hit three home runs in a World Series game. But that historical feat was only a microcosm of Pujols ridiculous career.

For the past decade, Pujols has been the most dominant player in baseball. And his name is so synonymous with baseball that when you type in the name “Albert” in Google, only Einstein’s name stands higher in the auto-fill.

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Howard for Pujols wasn’t so crazy after all

At 31, Howard and Pujols are two of the top first basemen in baseball. But would swapping teams be better options for the players and teams?

Phillies fans, I present to you a simple hypothetical…

Would you rather have Ryan Howard for five years, $25 million a year or Albert Pujols for 7-10 for around $30 million a year? What if the trade rumors from last season were true? Is Albert Pujols in red pinstripes an ideal situation?

There are no rumors brewing. This is only hypothetical. Would you trade Howard, who is locked up for five years, to St. Louis for Pujols, who is in his last year of his current contract and will be a free agent after the 2011 season?

I’m also tempted to say yes. Here’s why:

I may have beaten this dead horse worse than when Chris Brown beat Rihanna (too soon?). When the Phillies lost Jayson Werth, they lost the value of a right-handed bat in the line up.

Pujols hits right and Howard left. With Pujols in the clean up spot, he balances the top five of their batting order almost perfectly.

Pujols is also the greatest player of the past decade. And with that being said, Pujols still has the ability to be a .300 hitter and add 35-40 homers and 125+ RBIs a season. But people are afraid that Pujols, who turned 31 last month, will be able to keep up that pace for another 5+ years.

Many are also skeptical of Howard’s post-30 success. Howard is also 31, turning so back in November. Here is a look at their 2010 stats and you’ll see a scary disparity between the two:

  • Pujols: .312, 42 HR, 118 RBI, 76 SO, 1.010 OPS
  • Howard: .276, 31 HR, 106 RBI, 156 SO, .859 OPS

I know it’s only one season but Howard’s numbers were a decline from his numbers as a 29-year-old in 2009. Howard hit no fewer than 45 homers and 136 RBIs in the past four years prior to last season. Pujols had a season on par to his career. The only glaring decline was his 118 RBIs which still led the NL so Pujols’ decline was steady through out the league.

For consistent production like that with half the strike outs, I think Pujols would be worth the money to sign him and extend him for the $30 million he will be seeking. Granted it’s A-Rod money but Pujols is no A-Rod nor will he see the decline A-Rod did after his big extension in Texas and New York.

This hypothetical trade works on both sides too. The Phillies will replace a left-handed bat with a right-handed bat, giving Domonic Brown a place in an already left-handed heavy line up. They will also make a significant improvement offensively and fans will no longer groan when Howard strikes out in three pitches.

St. Louis will win by having a very good, game-changing first baseman for another five years, $25 million-per, the money they were hoping to pay Pujols. And with Pujols likely walking, getting a more than capable player to fill most of that enormous hole would be almost too good of an option to pass up.

So if this crazy rumor ever re-surfaces, think about it. It may not be too crazy after all.

So Moyer’d

Veteran lefty Jamie Moyer gave the Yankees a lesson in baseball Wednesday. Seth Wenig/AP.

There were moans and groans coming from the fans knowing that after Roy Halladay’s shelling and Jamie Moyer’s most recent debacle of a start that Wednesday’s game was not going to look good. Well we were all wrong as Moyer pitched eight innings of great baseball to lead the Phillies to a 6-3 win in the Bronx over the red-hot Yankees.

The 47-year-old lefty allowed only two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out five in eight innings. The two runs he allowed were solo homers by Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada. Moyer earned his 265th win on the same day as his 24th year anniversary of his first career win as well.

The Phillies scored six runs on only six hits. Shane Victorino hit a three-run triple off A.J. Burnett in the second inning and Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit back-to-back homers in the third inning.

Burnett, who was rocked for six runs in his last start against the Phillies in game five of the World Series, was tagged for six runs on six hits and four walks in only 3 1/3 innings pitched. The Yankees bull pen came in and pitched 5 2/3 of hitless, one-walk baseball.

Brad Lidge struck out the first to batters in the ninth. But Alex Rodriguez gave Yankees some hope when he hit a two-out RBI double with two strikes on him to make it a 6-3 game. Cano followed up with another two-strike hit to put runners on the corners. But Lidge sat down Posada to end the game.

3B: Victorino (7). HR: Howard (11), Werth (11).

Boxscore.

5 Teams to Watch in the AL

Yankees – They’re the 2009 World Series champions and still kept intact the solid nucleus that got them there. They traded top prospects to land centerfielder Curtis Granderson, a much better defensive asset than Johnny Damon. They also traded Melky Cabrera to the Braves for Javier Vazquez to bolster the starting rotation. With guys like C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Brunett, and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees boast a very good pitching unit. Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in the game and the aging offense led by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira can still put a ton of runs up on the score board. If things go right, they could have another parade down Broadway.

Red Sox – The pitching is truly phenomenal. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka form the best top-four in baseball. The offense is led by top young stars Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Marco Scutaro is hoping to end the revolving door at the short stop position and Adrian Beltre is an offensive upgrade at third. Offensive depth is the only thing that should concern the Sox but they have the pitching to get the job done. David Ortiz is a shell of his old self but it still the DH.

Twins – It’s safe to say that Joe Mauer is the scariest hitter in the AL. The reigning MVP is one of the reasons Minnesota is buzzing prior to the 2010 season. Along with a new outdoor park and a very dangerous lineup featuring Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer, the fans and Twins have high expectations for this year. The only problem with them this year though is pitching. If their starters can have decent years, they could beat out Detroit for the division.

Mariners – Seattle is truly going to be a serious contender in the AL. The addition of Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, and Milton Bradley will revamp a pitching staff and offense in need of fire power. Lee became a hot pitcher again after his last season transformation with the Phillies and will look to create a formidable 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez. Figgins will add speed and Bradley will look to add power to a Mariners lineup that hit 160 homer (12th in the AL) last season.

Angels – Surely they make their case for a serious playoff contender every year but there has to be a breaking point. They improved an already solid lineup with Hideki Matsui and bolstered their bull pen with Fernando Rodney but the team still doesn’t jump out at anyone. The core of the offense is aging in Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Matsui and they lost Figgins to the division rival Mariners. Jared Weaver, Joe Saunders, and newly acquired Joel Pineiro will need to have season like 2009 to give the Mariners a fighting chance in an AL crowded with contenders.

East: Yankees
Central: Twins
West: Mariners
Wild Card: Red Sox

Pennant: Yankees over Mariners

Howard for Pujols?

AP Photos

That is a trade only made in Fantasy Baseball. But a national report and rumor was that the Phillies and Cardinals organizations were in discussions for a trade between Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols. Pujols is arguably the best player in baseball and probably the best player since I was born in 1988. Howard was born in St. Louis and fans would actually be welcome to the idea of having their home-town hero back.

But Ruben Amaro squashed those talks real fast:

“That story is absolutely ridiculous and irresponsible,” Amaro told CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury.

This won’t and shouldn’t happen. Before you call me crazy – look at why this would be a terrible move for the Phillies. Pujols is in his last year of his contract. Howard has two more years after this season. The Phillies are already struggling to find out a way to afford Jayson Werth. Why would they bring in a new first baseman who will ask for more money than Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, 275 million contract years ago.

Howard along with Chase Utley is the face of the Phillies franchise. It would be a joke to let him go for a one-year player in Pujols. The Phillies can not break-up their offensive corps. Instead of making dream trades, they should work on signing Werth long-term.

An Infield Debate for the Ages

After the Phillies let go Pedro Feliz and signed Placido Polanco to fill his position at third, the Phillies found themselves with a complete infield. Almost too complete as a matter of fact.

We have all heard the argument between Yankees and Phillies fans: Who has the better infield in baseball?

Clearly both teams are heads and shoulders the best in their respective leagues. Both hit over 100 homers last season (112-107 – using Polanco’s totals and not Feliz’s) and the Phillies drove in more RBI’s at 393-373. Both also featured two Gold Glovers as Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira earned theirs for the Yankees and Jimmy Rollins won his for the Phillies while Polanco was a winner at second with Detroit.

But I want to be fair on this. I don’t want you guys looking at this site and seeing a biased Phillies fan opinion without hearing the other side. In the red corner will be myself, John Russo. Opposing me in the blue corner will be a die-hard Yankees fan and fellow staff writer on the Whit and Gloucester County Times, Matt Shanley. We are going to discuss the catcher and infield of our respective teams; starters only. The paragraphs written on Yankees players was written by Shanley.

C: Carlos Ruiz vs. Jorge Posada

Ruiz: Chooch has the defensive advantage over Jorge in my opinion. He’s got great reactions and a special presence behind the plate that puts him above a lot of other guys in the league. He came into his own offensively last year in the playoffs, batting .341 with two homer and nine RBI’s. Ruiz had averaged 110 games the past three years at catcher, largely due to the Phillies hoping to keep him healthy and fresh. It worked well in the playoffs like a stated earlier. Adding Brian Schneider will certainly help keep him fresh so he can have another excellent Chooch-tobre.

Posada: Posada is easing more and more into the idea that he may not be an everyday catcher anymore. He’s patched up a questionable relationship with the team’s number two starter A.J. Burnett and, at age 38, Posada hopes to play well with every start he makes as the Yankees’ signal caller while understudy Francisco Cervelli continues to improve. In 111 games last season, Posada accumulated 109 hits, 81 RBIs and 22 home runs.

1B: Ryan Howard vs. Mark Teixeira

Howard: Howard is one of the most exciting baseball players in the National League. He brings to the plate (literally) what very few do – 45+ homers and 130+ RBI’s a season. After shedding some more weight and working on his patience (rose his average 30 points from 2008-2009), Howard could very well be on the verge of a second MVP-season. His glove has also tremendously improved and I hope to see a Gold Glove from him in the future.

 Teixeira: Teix is the third-highest paid player in the Yankees infield, yet, this season, might be the best. Though he faced what some might call a slump last fall, stellar regular season numbers have become routine for the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket. He led the American League in home runs (29) and RBIs (122) in 2009 and finished second in the league’s MVP voting behind Twins catcher Joe Mauer. He’s going into this season in hopes of winning his third Gold Glove and fourth Silver Slugger, and with the American League lacking in first base talent, who’s to say both can’t happen?

2B: Chase Utley vs. Robinson Cano

Utley: There is so much I could say about the best two-bagger in the game today. Utley is one of those players people go to the park to watch. He’s a player that will bring attendance when the Phils hit the road. He has tremendous range in the field and the second prettiest swing in baseball behind Ken Griffey, Jr. His career 162-game averages are .295, 29, 109.

Cano: After a poor excuse for a season in 2008, Cano revitalized his play in ’09. He hit .320 with 204 hits, 24 home runs and 85 RBIs (All career highs). Cano’s durability has been a question in the past, but after leading the Majors in games played with 161 last season, a utility player at second base isn’t the necessity it once was for the Yanks. The biggest issue for Cano this year may be the departure of his long-time best friend Melky Cabrera from the Bronx. Cabrera was traded to Atlanta in the offseason for starting pitcher Javier Vasquez.

SS: Jimmy Rollins vs. Derek Jeter

Rollins: Jimmy brings more to the team than most people think. He’s the best fielding SS in the NL and has had some big seasons in the past. He’s also the resident psychic but offers no predictions this year. He does have high expectations for himself in 2010 as he expects to hit .300 (never done before), commit three or less errors (career low is six), steal 50 bases (47 is highest), and score 150 runs (139 is his highest). Lofty expectations from Young James. Anything close to those numbers could put the Phillies on the road to a third straight pennant.

Jeter: What can possibly be said about Jeter that hasn’t been said before? He’s “The Captain,” the hits king, and this year, he’s playing for a new contract. Yankees majority owner Hal Steinbrenner has publicly said that the Yankees don’t negotiate in-season and Jeter won’t get any special treatment. Coming off a career year in which he had the third-highest batting average in the American League (.334), the second-most hits in Major League Baseball (212), and won his fifth World Series ring, it’s safe to say that the 35-year-old shortstop isn’t slowing down any time soon.

Placido Polanco vs. Alex Rodriguez

Polanco: I’m not even going to argue for Polly to be better than A-Rod. But I will say what Polly brings to the Phils is much greater than what they had with Pedro Feliz. Sure Feliz is a better fielder with the best arm in the game from third but Polanco is a gold glover as well and can hold his own at third. But Polly brings a bat to the hot corner, filling in the only hole the Phillies had last year. He’s always on base and strikes out significantly less. He’ll hit in the two spot. Not many teams can say their first four hitters are infielders.

Rodriguez: The monkey is off his back. A-Rod finally accomplished the unthinkable; he won his first World Series title, and, surprisingly, had a large role in doing so. Last October, the Yankees third baseman batted .250 with a .423 on-base percentage. In fifteen postseason games, he batted in 18 runs, smacked six homers and reached the plate for fifteen runs of his own. Going into 2010 with no lingering hip problems or steroid allegations can only help the three-time American League Most Valuable Player.

Win

That’s all Phillies fans are asking for. Win. It’s that easy. You are the Phightin’ Phils. You are the Team to Beat. You are the Philadelphia Phillies! The Yankees are the best team in baseball and you are going to sit there and be ok with that? You are going to let Alex Rodriguez, a cheater in the game you love to play, walk away with YOUR World Series Ring? You are going to let the Evil Empire take away your season? Are you going to let the NY Post walk all over your team and sit in the news room laughing at your expense?

It’s Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, and Cole Hamels versus a tired rotation. They are exhausted. They need the offense to help them win. Shut down their offense and your guys will support you. They will score. They will hit home runs. They will lead you to victory.

Raul Ibanez: You came to this team to be on a winner. Yea we know you are hurt with that abdomen tear and we know it is damn painful. You have THREE games left. Not one, not two, but three. It’s time to earn that ring that has eluded you for your 14-year career.

Ryan Howard: What the hell happened? You were Mr. October. You took 30 pounds off your gut and put 30 points on your batting average and led the league in RBI’s. You were clutch in the NLDS and NLCS. You can spank the Yankees. You can add a whole new level the legacy you are building in the City of Brotherly Love. Move the hell over, Mike Schmidt because Howard is going to take your spot! You can’t do that by rolling over to the Yankees though.

Cole Hamels: I’m not giving up on you. Why? Because if it comes down to game 7, the ball is in your hands. Over? This season ain’t close to being over. Take a hard look in the damn mirror and look into the eyes of the 2008 World Series MVP pitcher you once were. You are not a wuss. You are not over rated. You are still the ace of this staff in the eyes of many. Act like it.

Brad Lidge: We don’t blame you for yesterday. This team has called on you time and time again and you never gave up. Who cares how many saves you blew. It matters only if you think about it. You learn from your mistakes only if you don’t dwell on them. A loser is someone who is afraid to fail. I winner is someone who is afraid of nothing.

The Phillies: You got rattled but you got right back up. You’re the under dog. You’re the beaten but not forgotten. Your chin is bloodied and your face is battered but you aren’t mailing it in. You are Rocky! You won’t quit. You beat them once. They bleed! They are not a machine. They are human and are beatable.

Do you hear that? “Phillies, Phillies, Phillies.” I hear it too. You still have one game left in the home venue. Leave an impression on the fans, on the Yankees, and on yourself. Leave this city with a win. Go to New York and beat the Yankees!

Phils Fail at Comeback, Yanks Up 3-1

All Brad Lidge had to do was get Johnny Damon out. But he was resilient. Damon fought off every strike-two pitch by Lidge until he got the one he like. After his base hit and steal of second and third, Mark Teixeira walked and Alex Rodriguez drove in Damon to make it a 5-4 game. Jorge Posada tacked on two more with a double to make it 7-4, the final of game four as the Yankees take a commanding 3-1 lead in the World Series. For the record, this was not Brad Lidge’s fault.

Joe Blanton pitched well, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks in six innings of work. He also struck out seven. His counterpart, C.C. Sabathia went 6.2 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, three walks, and striking out six. He was yanked after Chase Utley made it a 4-3 game with his solo homer in the 7th. Mariano Rivera pitched a quick 9th to earn his second save of the series.

The Phillies had to come back twice in the game. Down 2-0 in the first, the Phillies added a run in the bottom half. They then got another in the 4th off a Pedro Feliz double that scored Ryan Howard from second. Howard appeared to have never touched home plate but was ruled safe. In the top of the 5th, Blanton gave up two more runs to make it a 4-2 game.

After Utley made it 4-3 in the 7th, Pedro Feliz hit a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the 8th off Joba Chamberlain to tie it up. The the wheels fell off as Lidge had to face the top of a Yankees order that scored the most runs in the majors and 95 more than the Phillies, who were 4th.

Star of the Game:
Game 1: Cliff Lee
Game 2: AJ Burnett
Game 3: Nick Swisher
Game 4: Johnny Damon

Next Game: Monday in Philadelphia, 7:57 EST
Series: Yankees lead 3-1
Pitching Probables: AJ Burnett vs. Cliff Lee
Gameday Discussion: Liberty Bell Sports

This is for the Phillies. They are on the ropes. They need to win the next three versus the Yankees, two in New York. An easy task? Hell no. A doable task? Yes it is. Cliff Lee has been incredible this post season and will need to give the Phillies some momentum going into New York. The series isn’t over and the Phillies don’t give up. Not ever!

No matter the out come of this series, I’ll still be writing this blog and I will still be loving the Phillies. This is a team that has been the basis of my sports-loving life since I was five and I have never given up on this team. No matter what happens tonight or Wednesday or Thursday, the real fans will still love this team. Go Phils!

Yanks Power Their Way to 2-1

The Yankees won game three 8-5 and took a 2-1 lead in the World Series. Nick Swisher killed the Phillies, going 2-4 with a double, home run, and two runs scored. Andy Pettitte got through six solid innings, only allowing four runs on five hits, three walks, and seven strike outs. Mariano Rivera got the save once again.

The Yankees offense combined with three home runs total thanks to Alex Rodriguez, Swisher, and Hideki Matsui.

Three things after this game: Cole Hamels is a girl, the offense has disappeared, and Joe Blanton needs to pitch his ass off tomorrow. Let’s talk about each item individually.

1) Hamels was attrocious. He lasted only 4.1 innings, allowing five runs on five hits, two walks and striking out three. He pitched no-hit ball through the first three and then saw the wheels fall off. After walking Mark Teixeira on a questionable call in the fourth, Rodriguez hit a two-run homer that barely made it out. In the fifth, Hamels gave up a series of hits that led to three more runs and and early exit with only one out.

The pen couldn’t keep the game close either as JA Happ, Chad Durbin, Brett Myers, and Madson combined to give up three runs and two homers in 4.2 innings pitched. I’m not pitting a lot of blame on them but you need to be good in the World Series. The garbage the Yankees call a bull pen out-pitched you.

2) Ryan Howard struck out three more times and is 2-13 with nine strike outs this series. Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez looked lost at their plate appearances, going a combined 0-11 with a sacrifice fly and RBI. As expected, Pedro Feliz has been a penciled-in out in key situations. Jayson Werth was the only bright spot with his two home runs.

They blew some big opportunities. The first came in the second inning. Yes they got three runs that inning but had the bases loaded with one out and could only get a walked-in run by Jimmy Rollins and a sacrifice fly by Victorino. Utley didn’t show up with a runner in scoring position, keeping the Yankees in the game.

3) Charlie Manuel needs to stick to his gut for game four. They are only down 2-1 in the series and shouldn’t jump to Cliff Lee early for game four. He has Blanton going up against C.C. Sabathia, who wasn’t that sharp in game one. The Phillies can hit Sabathia and they know that. Blanton needs to go out their and do his job. He is a good pitcher and needs to realize that and pitch like it.

Star of the Game:
Game 1: Cliff Lee
Game 2: AJ Burnett
Game 3: Nick Swisher

Next Game: Sunday in Philadelphia, 7:57 EST
Series: Yankees lead 2-1
Pitching Probables: C.C. Sabathia vs. Joe Blanton
Gameday Discussion: Liberty Bell Sports

Oh look! They’re playing the Yankees again. Beat them.

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