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Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Category Archives: Johnny Damon

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

Werth Denies Being Courted By Yanks

It’s almost a sickening feeling when you think about the Yankees taking one of your beloved players. Red Sox fans felt it almost five years ago when Johnny Damon signed with New York. Now Phillies fans are wondering if Jayson Werth will be the next rising star to wear blue pinstripes.

Werth had lunch with Reggie Jackson, one of the Yankee greats who also so happens to be a special advisor for the Yankees. Though a meeting like this could be considered tampering, it falls in that gray area because Jackson wouldn’t have to directly make an attempt to perswade Werth, whose father was a teammate of Jackson’s in the 1980’s.

But Werth denies the fact that the Yankees were interested in him and that Jackson was there to court him reported Paul Hagen of the Philly Inquirer.

“Reggie’s an old family friend,” Werth said after yesterday’s game was canceled. “I’ve known him since I was 7 years old, I think. I’ve known him forever. There’s nothing to tell, really. Two friends having lunch.”

“What we talked about is our business. But, honestly, it was just two friends having lunch,” Werth said.

Do I believe Werth? Yes. Do I believe Jackson would have something to say in regards to the Yankees? Yes. We all know Jackson had an intent to put the bug in Werth’s brain but was smart enough to do it unintentionally.

Damn Yankees.

Free Agency Tracker

MLB.com has it’s Hot Stove Free Agency tracker fired back up. There have been no major signings yet this off season but players like Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu, and Ken Griffey Jr. have resigned with their former teams. The big names this year include Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, John Lackey, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Andy Pettitte, and Chone Figgins.

MLB Trade Rumors Top 50 breaks down where they think some of the top players will go. They have the Phillies projected at picking up reliever Jose Valverde and utility player Mark DeRosa. I hope they are wrong in some signings as they have the Mets getting Holliday and Randy Wolf.

Phils Stay Alive, Head Back to NY

For the Phillies, every game is a must win game. After taking the first game of the series, they fell three straight to the Yankees. After last night’s offensive outburst, the Phillies got back into this series, only trailing 3-2. The bats came alive and Cliff Lee pitched well enough to win as the Phillies fought off a late Yankees rally to win 8-6.

Lee went 7 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out three. Though he gave up five runs, his ERA is an incredible 1.56 in five post season starts and boasts a 4-0 record. His counterpart, AJ Burnett was bounced in the third inning with no outs, only lasting two innings, allowing six runs on four hits and four walks, striking out two.

The offense got going early after the Yankees managed to score a run in the first inning. The Phillies responded the only way they know how to: a lead off single by Jimmy Rollins, a scary hit-by-pitch taken by Shane Victorino, and a no-out three-run homer by Chase Utley. Victorino got hit in the hand and it affected him all game but he will be fine. It’s only a contusion and not a break or fracture.

The offense didn’t stop there as they tacked on three more runs in the third. After back-t0-back walks by Utley and Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth drove in Utley on an RBI single. Raul Ibanez then drove in Howard on a single and Werth hustled all the way to third. Carlos Ruiz was able to beat out a potential double play ball to allow Werth to score, making it 6-2.

The Yankees were able to add one in the 5th to make it a 6-2 game but the Phillies responded in the 7th with a pair of solo homers by Utley and Ibanez. Utley’s HR was his 5th in the World Series, tying Reggie Jackson’s record in 1977.

This is when it got scary. Lee came in the top of the eighth and was credited with all three runs. Chan Ho Park came in and pitched incredible but it was an 8-5 game. Ryan Madson came out in the 9th and got into early trouble. With runners on 1st and 3rd, he got Derek Jeter to hit into an RBI double play. With an 8-6 score, he walked Johnny Damon and then got Mark Teixeira to strike out to end the game and earn the save.

Utley finished the day 2-3 with three runs, four RBI’s and a pair of HR’s. Rollins had a pair of hits from the lead-off spot and Ibanez also had two hits and two RBI’s and a homer. Lee also had a hit, his 3rd of the post season.

Star of the Game:
Game 1: Cliff Lee
Game 2: AJ Burnett
Game 3: Nick Swisher
Game 4: Johnny Damon
Game 5: Chase Utley

Next Game: Wednesday in New York, 7:57 EST
Series: Yankees lead 3-2
Pitching Probables: Pedro Martinez vs. Andy Pettitte
Gameday Discussion: Liberty Bell Sports

The Phillies are still on the ropes but they are punching back. Pedro Martinez is back in New York and back in the spot light. He loves the added attention and I wouldn’t blame him. He has been excellent in his two post season starts and is only win-less because he hasn’t gotten the offensive support he deserved. With the Phillies offense obviously heated back up, he just needs to go out there and pitch like he has.

Andy Pettitte hasn’t pitched on three days rest since 2006. He has a 2.40 ERA in five career starts on that short rest but he is much older now. He will need to stay focused in this outing. He last pitched in game three, giving up four runs in seven innings, allowing five hits and three walks, striking out seven. He certainly is beatable and the Phillies know this.

For extra pumping up, click here.

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!
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