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Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Category Archives: Chicago Cubs

Phils Back Blanton; Beat Cubs

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz hits a two-run single in the 4th inning. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The runs needed to come for Joe Blanton and that they did.

Making his fourth start of the season, Blanton went out and did his job while the offense did theirs, leading the Phillies to a 5-2 win Saturday night. The win evened the four-game weekend series up at one apiece.

It was the fourth time in five games the Phillies scored more than two runs, coming after a 16-game start that saw them do the feat only six times.

Besides pitching a quality start, Blanton did his part at the plate as well. In the 4th inning, Blanton extended the inning for the Phillies with his two-out walk to load the bases.

Jimmy Rollins, who has struggled all season and was already penciled-in as a sure out, came up in the clutch, driving in two on a double to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead.

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Game 21: Supporting Joe

Phillies SP Joe Blanton (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

The last outing for Joe Blanton wasn’t a glamorous one.

The Phillies right-hander was whacked around in a 6-1 loss to the Padres, giving up six runs, three earned, on seven hits. Blanton (1-3, 4.34) will look to bounce back in his fourth start of the season against the Cubs.

Not only is Blanton looking to get a win but he’s looking to re-establish himself as a worthy starting pitcher in baseball as well as this star-studded Phillies rotation. Blanton is in the last year of his contract, making $8.5 million — a lot of money for a fifth starter originally paid to be a number three.

Whether the Phillies will look to trade Blanton at the deadline is a mystery; but a move at the deadline involving a starting pitcher could depend on how Blanton’s season is shaping up to be. Blanton will either be trade bait or help could be sought out if Blanton struggles or someone gets hurt.

That is too far into the future to look, just like an sort of panic button being pushed is too early.

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Bats Go Back In Hiding As Phils Lose to Cubs

Phillies SP Roy Halladay walks back to the mound after Cubs CF Tony Campana scores on a Starlin Castro single in the 4th inning. (Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Whatever the Phillies did on their day off yesterday they left their bats at home.

They came back and dropped the first game of the series to the Cubs, 5-1. You could put some blame on home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor, who called a terrible game like usual but in the end the bats didn’t show up when it counted most.

Starting in the 1st inning, the Phils squandered a prime scoring chance off Cubs starter Paul Maholm.

Juan Pierre led off with a single, moved to second on a passed ball and got to third on a Placido Polanco single. But back-to-back pop-ups by Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence and a ground out by Shane Victorino ended the early scoring threat, setting the tone for the offense.

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Game 20: Keep the Bats Rollin’

The Phillies (9-10) would love nothing more than to develop a consistency at the plate.

After an incredibly slow start offensively to the season the Phillies have found themselves scoring 20 runs in the last 19 innings they played. A lot of that can be attributed to Juan Pierre and his .339 batting average from the lead off spot.

Ty Wigginton and Laynce Nix are also having solid starts, splitting time at first base. Nix is hitting .348 (8-for-23) and has an OBP of .400 while Wigginton is hitting .304 (14-for-46). Both have homered and driven in six runs.

The Phillies finished their latest road trip with a series win in Arizona, going 5-5 for the 10-game west coast run. Fans back home will rejoice at being able to watch baseball at 7:05 once again starting with the four-game weekend home stand against the Cubs (6-13).

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Series Preview: vs Chicago Cubs

PHI: 9-10, 4th in NL East; CHC: 6-13, 6th in NL Central

When: April 27-30
Where: Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia, PA)

Probable Pitchers
Friday: Roy Halladay (3-1, 1.50) vs Paul Maholm (1-2, 8.36)
Saturday: Joe Blanton (1-3, 4.34) vs Randy Wells (0-0, 3.60)
Sunday: Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 9.39) vs Matt Garza (0-1, 3.38)
Monday: Vance Worley (2-1, 2.16) vs Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 4.13)

Broadcast Info
Friday, 7:05, CSN
Saturday, 7:05, TCN
Sunday, 1:35, PHL 17
Monday, 7:05, CSN
All Games on 94.1 FM

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Season Preview: NL Central

Co-written by John Russo and Chris Bengel

Expectations: No Pujols, no problem…. wait, you mean we have to rely on Matt Holliday now? Oh crap!
Key Addition: OF Carlos Beltran (signed from San Francisco)
Key Loss: 1B Albert Pujols (signed with LA Angels)
Projected Record: 90-72
Summary: St. Louis knows they lost a huge bat in Albert Pujols to the Angels. They also know they are expecting a lot out of Lance Berkman to have a repeat performance of last season as well as Matt Holliday to be the leader of the offense.

That is why St. Louis brought in Carlos Beltran to take some of the strain off Holliday and Berkman this season, hoping the 34-year-old can stay healthy and revive his career in St. Louis.

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Phils looking at Wood as late-inning reliever

The Phillies are looking to bolster the back-end of their bull pen.

By doing so, they are looking in the direction of former All-Star and Cy Young-candidate Kerry Wood. As reported by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnik, the 34-year-old Wood is on the Phillies radar.

With Jonathan Papelbon as the Phils closer and the health status of right-hander Jose Contreras still up in the air, the Phillies could look at Wood asa good 7th or 8th inning guy.

Last season, Wood was 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 55 appearances for the Cubs. He has experience as a closer as well, so he’s an ideal bull pen option late in games to set up Papelbon.

 

Rule 5 Draft, 2011

The Rule 5 draft is very simple: certain players signed at 18 or 19 are available to be picked up by other teams when they are left off the 40-man roster with at least four or five years within the organization.

This year, the Phillies decided not to make a pick in the draft. To them, there were no “Shane Victorino’s” hovering around this year.

Fearful of losing Jiwan James, they were lucky that he was not picked. James is 24 and hasn’t gotten past single-A ball yet. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a good player but teams see slow progress as a problem.

The Phillies did see a couple prospects picked.

In the Single-A phase, the Chicago Cubs took right handed pitcher Lendy Castillo. Castillo was a converted short stop and is a very raw talent.

In the Triple-A phase, the Phillies lost left-hander Andrew Loomis, third baseman Travis Mattair and catcher Francisco Diaz. The Phillies also made $86,000 in cash for the four prospects lost.

Gelb: Looks like Sandberg is staying in Lehigh

(Yong Kim/Inquirer)

As the Inquirer‘s Matt Gelb points out, it looks like Ryne Sandberg will not be taking his managerial talents to the Windy City or Bean Town.

Sandberg, who managed the Phillies AAA affiliate Lehigh Valley IronPigs to their first post season appearance last season, could very well be back in Allentown, PA next season.

There are only two managerial vacancies left: the Cubs and the Red Sox. Chicago’s newly appointed GM Theo Epstein said he wants a manager with Major League experience as well as not wanting to have to fire the franchise’s HOF second baseman some day. As for Boston, they never even interviewed Sandberg.

The only other major team in the fray was the St. Louis Cardinals. They did in fact interview Sandberg but they went ahead and signed former catcher Mike Matheny as their new manager.

Also as Gelb points out, which was also pretty talked about when Sandberg was signed last year is the possibility to replace Charlie Manuel. By having Sandberg in the system for next season, the Phillies could continue to groom him as a manager, find a spot on their bench for the 2013 season and possibly hire Sandberg as their next manager once Manuel’s contract is up after 2013 and likely retires.

There are still a ways to go for this ultimate scenario to take shape. But for now, the IronPigs will have another season under a great manager.

Five Big Free Agents and Where They Land

Prince Fielder – Milwaukee Brewers
Where he goes: Chicago Cubs
In the hunt: NY Yankees, Milwaukee, Washington

Fielder’s market is pretty wide open with Milwaukee seemingly unable to afford Fielder.

The Brewers must hope co-star Ryan Braun can convince the power-hitter first baseman that there is unfinished business left to be done in Milwaukee and they need each other to succeed. But it’s going to be tough with the Yankees always looking to make their offense seem invincible and the Cubs new GM Theo Epstein looking to get his hands on a top free agent.

I think a Wild Card team in this hunt will be Washington. The Nats shocked the baseball world when they overpaid for Jayson Werth last off season. With the right corps of players along with a handful of stars, they could convince Fielder that baseball’s new dynasty could very well be in the nation’s capitol.

Fielder is the absolute perfect move for Epstein to make. He is not under pressure to make a big move right away but he would be foolish to pass up on a top tier athlete like Fielder.

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