Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

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).

Read more of this post


Revisiting the Rolen Trade

Scott Rolen was drafted in 1993 as a can’t miss prospect.  He was supposed to be the next great Phillies third baseman, and etch his name right next to Mike Schmidt in Philadelphia lore.

However, it didn’t turn out as planned.  This summer will mark a decade since the player who was supposed to save the Phillies franchise was traded.

Let’s take a trip back to 2002. Heading into the season, Scott Rolen was a three time Gold Glover in his first five full seasons with the club and won the Rookie of the Year in 1997.

2001 was Rolen’s first season with the Phillies that they finished over .500 after failing to post more than 77 wins in any of his previous seasons. It seemed like Rolen was going to be a key part of the Phillies revival.

However, he rejected a 10-year, $140 million contract offer from the Phillies in the offseason and instead signed a one-year, $8.6 million deal.

Rolen criticized management for failing to have a commitment to winning. He also butted heads with manager Larry Bowa. Despite these issues, he made the All-Star team for the first time in his career.

But he was still unhappy. He requested a trade, and on July 29, 2002, the unthinkable happened. The Phillies’ best player, all-star franchise player was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Read more of this post

Phillies Walkup Song Team

Walkup music, it’s become a pretty common topic among fans at the beginning of the season.

Some players like to stick with the classics while others use today’s hottest songs. Music has become so subjective that there is no way possible each player in the line up would find their song on the same iPod (unless that iPod owner is a Phillies fan of course).

As I was driving home from a game a month or two ago, I heard “Dirty Laundry” and was reminded of when Pat Burrell used the song.  I thought about that day’s lineup’s songs and felt like the players used better songs in the past.  So the walkup song team was born!

(Note: As batting walkup songs are relatively new, the team consists of mainly recent players)

Read more of this post

Nacho Report: Lehigh Valley

Welcome to the 2011 edition of the Nacho Report. Last year, the Nacho Report visited Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park and Yankee Stadium.  This year the Nacho Report starts in Allentown, home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  Even though they are a minor league club, they still qualify for the Nacho Power Rankings.

Onto the nacho breakdown.  Coca-Cola Park uses chips that are Tostito-like (but I don’t want to assume that’s what they use).  Apparently, I got the batch of chips from the bottom of whatever bag they came from.  Too many crumblike pieces.  John also got the nachos and his were okay, so I figured mine were the exception, and not the rule.

The nachos I purchased were “Nacho Supreme”, and while the original premise was to grade “basic nachos”, the stomach is in charge.  The “supreme” part of the nachos was the side of chili, instead of just chips and cheese.  Also, the price (of the supreme) was right in line with the basic nachos of the MLB. Read more of this post

Season Preview: AL Central

Chicago White Sox

Expectations: Ozzie Guillen tweets every lineup change from the dugout.
Key addition: 1B/OF Adam Dunn (.260, 38 HR, 103 RBI with Washington)
Key loss: RP Bobby Jenks (1-3, 27 Saves, 4.44 ERA)
Projected record: 92-70

Summary: Most of the puzzle pieces remain from last year’s team, with a power addition of Adam Dunn.  The team has speed (Juan Pierre, Alex Rios), power (Dunn, Paul Konerko) and pitching (John Danks, Mark Buherle).  Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin are all solid ballplayers. The White Sox have a question mark in the bullpen, as they will have Chris Sale or Matt Thornton closing.  Jake Peavy’s injury concerns are troublesome, but as an end of the rotation guy, he won’t be relied on as an ace.

Minnesota Twins

Expectations: Increased amount of man-crushes on all-star catcher Joe Mauer.
Key addition: 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (.260, 14 HR, 41 RBI with Chiba of the Japanese League.
Key loss: 2B Orlando Hudson (.268, 6 HR, 37 RBI)
Projected record: 89-73

Summary: Mauer leads the Twins, who are bitter after two straight first round exits to the Yankees.  The core of the team returns, although key component 1B Justin Morneau missed the second half of last year with a concussion, and has only played six spring training games thus far.  The Twins rotation is decent; no stud ace, but some solid pitchers to get the job done.  One of the biggest question marks is the bullpen.  Joe Nathan is coming off Tommy John surgery, and if he is the Joe Nathan of old, the Twins will be fine.  If not, Matt Capps will be their go-to guy.

Detroit Tigers

Expectations: Leading the league in DUI arrests.
Key addition: C/1B Victor Martinez (.302, 20 HR, 79 RBI with Boston)
Key loss: OF Johnny Damon (.271, 8 HR, 51 RBI)
Projected record: 85-77

Summary: The Tigers underachieved last season going 81-81, finishing 13 games behind the first place Twins.  They added Boston’s Victor Martinez, who is a .225 career hitter at Detroit’s Comerica Park.  Will Martinez continue his struggles at his new spacious home?  He will likely DH for the team, hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, so RBI opportunities will be there.  Detroit’s pitching is good with Justin Verlander, Matt Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

Cleveland Indians

Expectations: The Indians beg Pedro Cerrano and Rick Vaughn to come back and play for the team.
Key addition: OF Austin Kearns (.263, 10 HR, 49 RBI with Cleveland and New York AL)
Key loss: Uhhhh…. I guess 3B Andy Marte (.229, 5 HR, 19 RBI)
Projected record: 70-92

Summary: Carlos Santana has recovered from a knee injury he suffered last August, only two months after being called up to the major league club.  The Tribe are going to rely on their young catcher and OF Shin Soo-Choo, who hit .300 last year, with 22 HR and 90 RBI.  Other offensive weapons, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore, have had trouble staying healthy in recent years.  Pitcher Fausto Carmona had a good year last season (3.77 ERA), despite losing 14 games.

Kansas City Royals

Expectations: Could contend for the AAA Championship.
Key addition: OF Jeff Francoeur (.249, 13 HR, 65 RBI with New York NL and Texas)
Key loss: SP Zach Greinke  (10-14, 4.17 ERA, 181 K)
Projected record: 65-97

Summary: The Royals fortunately have a deep minor league system, stocked up from many years of top draft picks.  However, that won’t help them this year.  They do have 1B Billy Butler, who hit .318 last year.  Top prospect 3B Mike Moustakas is ready for a promotion, and might get one this season.  Unfortunately the Royals traded away their best player, SP Zach Greinke for a boatload of prospects.  It’ll be a while before Kansas City is a competitor again.

Why You Should Vote for Bobby Clarke

The toothless Clarkie smile

Yes, I realize this is a Phillies blog.  But that Bobby Clarke survived a region with the very popular Chase Utley, Claude Giroux and Brian Dawkins, as well as Philly legends such as Bill Barber and Charles Barkley, speaks to how important Clarke was.

First and foremost, championships.  Clarke, the player, won two back to back championships, and led the Flyers to two more before his playing days were over.  The list of other Philly athletes who led their teams to two titles?  Steve Van Buren in 1948-49.  That’s it.  That’s the list.  In 1974, the Flyers faced the big, bad, Bruins, and hadn’t won in Boston in nineteen games.  Until Game 2, when Clarke’s overtime winner changed the momentum of the series, and history was made.

Secondly, hardware.  Clarke was a 3-time league MVP, winning the Hart Trophy in 1973, 1975 and 1976.  He also won the Lester Pearson award, MVP selected by the players, in 1974.  Clarke also won the 1972 Bill Masterton award for perseverance, the Selke in 1983 for best defensive forward, and was one of the 1980 recipients of the Lester Patrick award for his contribution to ice hockey in the United States.

Also, consider the numbers.  When he retired, Clarke was eleventh all time in points, and fourth all time in assists.  He was only the 15th player in NHL history to hit the 1000 point barrier.  He still holds many of the major Flyers team records, including games played, points, assists, plus/minus, and shorthanded goals.  He made nine All Star games in his fifteen seasons and was enshrined in Hockey’s Hall of Fame in 1987.  The Flyers also retired his number #16 in 1984 after he retired.  Clarke was also a charter member of both the Flyers Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

Clarke’s Final Four opponents are legends in their own right.  But vote for the diabetic kid from Flin Flon, Manitoba.

10 Reasons I Can’t Wait for the Phillies

Yeah, the season is like three months away, but here are 10 of my reasons I can’t wait for the Phillies season to begin.

1.  The Countdown to 2012 begins. Come on guys, there’s only like 400 days until Pitchers and Catchers report in 2012!  Can’t come soon enough! Get excited!

2. The wave during games that are 1-0 in the 8th inning against the Braves.  Not enough runs are being scored, let’s see how many times it goes around! Weeeeeee!

3. More blog wars. My computer runs faster than yours so my blog is better! No, I wear slippers while I am blogging so MINE is better! So entertaining to watch!

4. Super creative phrases like “Happy Halladays” or “It’s Cole outside”. Can’t get enough of them! This blog post is Rollins Along!

5. People who call Shane “Rick Dorito” or asking who we traded to get Dom Brown.  Oh, they surely are messing around! Such kidders!

6. Six homeruns per game to the center fielder.  He’s just standing 20 feet from the fence, not moving! It must be a home run if it’s a fly ball! Yay!

7. Numbers debates.  Absolutely love when numbers are the end-all, be-all of debates.  Crunching numbers into my computer instead of watching games is more fun.

8. Six more months of Chris Wheeler.  I love when he harks back on his years of little league experience to explain the game to me. This is surely a “goofy” blog post isn’t it?

9. Sitting on tickets when the team goes on a two week losing skid. They aren’t supposed to lose, why should you buy tickets to watch them when they do?!

10. The always-drunk loud guy sitting near you.  I love his insights, and the players really listen to him when he sits in the 400 level.  I hope he’s next to me every game this year!

2010 Isn’t That Bad

By Dan MacNeal

2010 started with a lot of promise, coming off back-to-back World Series appearances and one championship.  Hopes were high for the 2010 Phillies, but halfway through the year, the team has struggled. They are currently sitting in third place and 5 games behind the hated Atlanta Braves.  Missing Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Placido Polanco among others for a chunk of time hasn’t helped matters.  But, let us hop into the old time machine and travel ten years into the past.

The year is 2000. Ten years to today, the Phillies trotted out a starting lineup including an aging Ron Gant, Alex Arias & Tom Prince.  The Phils beat the Brewers that day, with Chris Brock earning the win.  Wait, WHO? Yeah, Chris Brock. The team ended play on July 4 twelve games out of first, and residing in the NL East basement. Okay, maybe I’m making things a little worse than they seem, because the 2000 team did have a young Pat Burrell, star Scott Rolen and an emerging Bobby Abreu on the roster.

Travis Lee-ve sucking up the Phillies' money.

51 different players played for the Phils that summer.  Most of the names long forgotten, such as Kevin Sefcik, Cliff Politte and Clemente Alverez. (Who the hell is Clemente Alverez?!?)  Jimmy Rollins did get his feet wet, playing 14 games with the big club.  Seriously, letting the 21 year old Rollins play wasn’t any worse an idea than giving Desi Relaford more time at short.

About 1.6 million people went through the turnstiles at the Vet that summer.  To put that in perspective, the Phillies have already drawn over 1.7 million so far this season.  In a stadium that holds about 20,000 less people per game.

Well, my friends, the summer grew long, and a not horrible first half (.453) turned into a Pirates-esque second half (.342) for a grand total record of 65-97. Ouch. Curt Schilling got tired of the losing, demanded a trade, and was dealt to Arizona for four stiffs.  If I mentioned their names, Philadelphia would get mad all over again.  A eight game losing streak helped the Phils finish 32 games under .500, 30 games behind the first place Braves. Terry Francona got the axe at the end of the year, although it probably should have happened sooner.

(For those fans too young to remember, or started watching the Phils seven or eight years after this story, the Phillies stunk at one point in time.  Really stunk bad.)

That summer was brutal. Please bring me back to 2010.

GM for the Day

By Dan MacNeal

If I woke up tomorrow morning as Ruben Amaro, Jr. and GM of the Phillies I’d have a list of what I could do to help the Phillies in one day.   First, if I was Amaro, I’d be going to President David Montgomery’s office (probably find him sleeping, nestled with his World Series ring) and login to his e-mail and delete the tens of thousands of e-mails asking for me to be fired.  Most likely, ol’ Monty doesn’t know how to use e-mail, but I might as well as delete them just in case.

Nice suit, Danny Mac!

Secondly, I’d go down to the locker room and put a wooden chair in front of Danys Baez’s locker, and force him to kick it.  Not talking about one of those weak “I’ll knock the chair down kicks”; I mean a wind up and boot that sucker like a “David Akers trying to nail a 55 yarder to win the game” kick.  Then I’d call up whoever from the Iron Pigs, doesn’t matter who it is.

After I have finished with Baez, I’d find Greg Dobbs whiffing while trying to hit off a tee.  Time to cut bait with him.  Calling up Jason Donald in his place.  Oh, we traded him? Cripes, do we have any decent talent semi-ready for the big leagues? No? Can I still put in a phone call to Nomar? Ok, ok, I’m kidding.  Red rover, red rover send Cody Ransom over….I guess. Not many options with that one. Chuck, keep him glued to the bench until I can trade away a prospect for another journeyman infielder.

Matter of fact, I’m letting everyone in the organization know to not let me do anything involving prospects from here on out.  Dominic Brown must be protected from my destruction.  After that memo is sent out, I’m going to ask Jayson Werth’s agent to grab a bite with me. Wherever he wants, price is no object.  Hopefully I can use this little slump to my advantage for negotiations. How sneaky am I?!?

As for Mr. Ibanez, well fans of the team that won the NL that I built (okay, I know Gillick did most of the work but still), it seems there is nothing really I can do at this point.  Maybe if this was next year and Dom Brown was destroying AAA, putting Ibanez into a bench role would be alright.  No, friends, we may have to ride this one out and hope Rauuuuuulll remembers how to hit.  Only if those sneaky Giants didn’t sign Pat Burrell! Damn, we thought by doing nothing to sign him for two weeks, we’d be able to snatch him up easier! Damn you, Brian Sabien! Who do you think you are?!?

I think next, I’ll head down to McFadden’s and try some of their famous nachos (and you thought this post wouldn’t have nachos in it!!) After that, I’ll spend the rest of my day praying that Halladay’s arm doesn’t fall off until after I’m gone.  If I’m gone, it’s Proefrock’s problem, not mine!

And now, it’s time to wake up.  Boy, listening to McCarthy and Wheels drone on just put me to sleep…wow, dreaming I was GM of the Phils, wow, what a dream.  Or was it…?

This blog post is satire, obviously I do know being a major league GM is hard work and you can’t always listen to the fans or you’ll end up sitting with them (as the old saying goes). Just having a little fun at Rube’s expense.

Father’s Day

By Dan MacNeal

Ever since I was young, my dad and I have shared a love of baseball.  He took me to my first game in 1990 to see my favorite ballplayer, Lenny Dykstra and the Phils take on the Pirates.  We always watched games together when I was young, even when we stunk in the late ’90s. I got my love of the Phils through my dad; him watching Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton growing up turned into Curt Schilling and John Kruk for me. He coached my Little League team for years; always giving me helpful instruction but teaching me to be a team player.  If he wasn’t coaching, he made sure he made it to all my games.

So in the spirit of going to ballgames, I decided to take my dad to the Phillies game today to see them take on the Twins.  He doesn’t get to go to many games these days, so he was as excited as I was when he took me 20 years ago.  Unfortunately my dad’s first time seeing Roy Halladay wasn’t as good as my first time seeing the good Doctor, but that didn’t make the day any less fun.  We talked back and forth about baseball strategies, moments from years past, and had some laughs.  As Minnesota rarely comes to town, this was his first time seeing the Twins and he was also excited about seeing a team he had never seen before.

Growing up, Father’s Day was always spent outside listening to the Phils on the radio, playing some wiffleball in the backyard while food is on the grill.  As with many others, baseball (or some form of it) is always a part of the day.