Thursday, October 13, 2016

Familiar faces on the field for tonight's Game 5

Puig would like to come up with a big hit tonight for the Dodgers for sure

It's come down to a Game 5 for the battle in the NL Division series, the Dodgers and the Nationals will square off in Washington tonight to settle who will be going on to the NLCS.

We will see a couple familiar faces as Phillies fans tonight. Jayson Werth with the Nats, who helped the Phils win the Championship back in 2008 and also, Chase Utley, now playing for the Dodgers, who also was on that same 2008 Phillies team and is a longtime favorite with Phillies fans.

Who will triumph tonight? Will it be the home team? The Washington Nationals have been tasting a chance to move onto bigger and better things in the playoffs for the last couple of years. They have the talent but they lost the division series both times in the last couple attempts to move on. The losses in the DS occurred in 2014 and in 2012. This is only the third time in franchise history that the Nats have been in the playoffs.

The Dodgers on the other hand have made the playoffs each of the last 4 years including this year. They haven't advanced to the World Series in those attempts. The closest the LA Dodgers came to the Series was in 2013 when the lost the NLCS to St. Louis.

Both teams are thirsting to advance to better things. Both teams have newly hired managers for this season, so that is very interesting. Both teams have a lot of stars on them. Both teams went 18-12 in their last 30 games of the regular season and both went 11-9 in their last 20 regular season games. The similarities are amazing.

Where things differ are the regular season head-to-head matchup what goes to the Dodgers, these two teams have played 10 times in both regular and postseason play, the Dodgers have won 7 of those games.

It's Hill for the Dodgers vs. Scherzer for the Nats. Both pitchers have high ERA's but the Nats are the Vegas favorites. Who will win this match up?

Here's the latest Vegas odds thanks to Jimmy Shapiro!

Series Prices
Toronto Blue Jays                      -145     (20/29)
Cleveland Indians                      +125     (5/4)

Los Angeles Dodgers                +140     (7/5)
Washington Nationals                -155     (20/31)

Series Correct Scores
Boston Red Sox vs Cleveland Indians
Toronto Blue Jays 4-0                9/1
Toronto Blue Jays 4-1                5/1
Toronto Blue Jays 4-2                4/1
Toronto Blue Jays 4-3                7/2
Cleveland Indians 4-0                 20/1
Cleveland Indians 4-1                 13/2
Cleveland Indians 4-2                 5/1
Cleveland Indians 4-3                 5/1

Odds to win the 2016 World Series
Chicago Cubs                           8/5
Toronto Blue Jays                     9/4
Cleveland Indians                      15/4
Los Angeles Dodgers                9/1
Washington Nationals                9/1

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Release of 2017 schedule helps Phillies look towards a brighter future

If you are a Phillies fan then you probably felt a sense of both joy and trepidation when the 2017 schedule was released by the MLB. Each season gives the opportunity for a fresh start and the hope for some improvement. The Phillies are definitely going to need fresh blood in the playing ranks if any improvement is to come though. The fact is that, although 2016 has been marginally more bearable for fans than the disaster of 2015, the team is not currently strong enough to climb the ladder substantially.  

This does not prevent fans from living in hope though, and the release of the new schedule gets minds and hearts focusing on a future that they hope will be a little brighter. Let’s take a look at what the 2017 schedule is set to bring and what needs to improve as far as the Phillies are concerned.

Starting and finishing in the same place

It remains to be seen whether this is a good or a bad thing, but the Phillies are starting and ending the 2017 season in exactly the same way as they did the 2016 season. Their opening game is due to be played against Cincinnati at the Great American Ball Park on April 3. This is exactly the same fixture with which the Phillies started the 2016 campaign. Also mirroring 2016, the Phillies will close the season with a home fixture against the New York Mets. Hopefully these matching games at the start and finish of the season are not a bad omen.

What needs to change?

Every Phillies fan has their own opinion about what changes are needed. The one thing that there is little debate over is that the quality of players in the Phillies line-up is not good enough. There is a real dearth of class in depth. Even in pitching, where there is arguably most strength, there is the worry of Nola’s injuries. If real improvement is to occur player strength needs to be greater.

The highlights of 2017

No matter what the result of the 2017 season there are some real highlights to look forward to along the way.
  • The visit of the Seattle Mariners in May.
  • The visit to Los Angeles in April.
  • The West coast visit in August which sees the Phillies visit the Angels, Giants, and Padres.

These are just a few of the interesting games Phillies fans have to look forward to during the 2017 season. If you are a fan you may want to make things more interesting and place a bet on some of the fixtures. If you are new to placing a bet then it’s important you understand the legalities of placing a bet online. There is actually a lot of misinformation online, so we recommend the following site to learn the truth about legal online gambling in Pennsylvania. Online betting aside, one thing every Phillies fan is hoping for during the 2017 season is more wins for the team. It remains to be seen if this actually happens.  

Sunday, October 02, 2016

2016 season comes to a close, Howard closes book on Phillies career

Ryan waves and acknowledges the fans, after they send him on his way to end his Phillies career

What a day for a Phillies fan. It's a day that ended the season and what a long season it's been with the Phillies playing the way they have been playing all season. It all ended with a win at Citizens Bank Park earlier this afternoon. It probably didn't matter either way, as the Phils had dropped 9 of their last 10 games anyway but it feels good to at least end the season with a 'W'.

We said goodbye to Ryan Howard. It was the final series that the fans could come out to see him. This wasn't an event that was planned for a long time, in fact, it just came about within the last 10 days of the season, the Phils would play Ryan all weekend to end the season, and give the fans a chance to come out and see him. Maybe a marketing ploy that the front office thought up, and it worked. The good Phillies fans turned out, not a sellout, but a good number of fans on a Sunday to see Howard off turned up and really told him how they thought about him. The last 'piece' from the glory years of just a few years ago was leaving after today.

Ryan will still be getting a check from the Phillies in 2017, it's going to be a very big one as well at $10M to buy him out of the season. That's not to hard to take to the bank. It will take his earnings as a Phillies player to just about $165M, not too bad for playing baseball.

This writer preferred to recall the memories that Howard left with the city and the team that were from a few years ago on the last day of the season. It was in 2007 when all the good things started happening for a team that would go on to win it all in 2008. But, on that last day of 2007, we edged out the Mets to claim the title of NL East Champs, and that was a thrilling time to be a Phillies fan.

A total team effort was in place to do that feat, many of the players from that 2007 team were the same guys that won it all for themselves and the city in 2008. From 2007 on, Philadelphia earned a reputation as a 'baseball' town. Players wanted to come to Philadelphia as the money was good, and the spirit and chances of winning with the team were high.

Now, in 2016 a lot of that spirit has left. The last piece of the World Championship team is gone, as is the last connection to the winning times that this team has had as well. The end of an era, we're promised a return to greatness, but it's taking a very long time. We're now 5 full seasons without a postseason appearance and finishing as poorly as we have the last couple years, it's hard to see that we'll be back in contention anytime soon.

Maybe we'll all have to follow the words of Vin Scully when he said, don't be mad that it's over, just smile and remember cause you were part of it. The winning in baseball will return to this city, it's just a question of when.

Spring Training in 2017 is a long way away, we'll see where that takes us for next season. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

If Sandberg was still managing Phils, there would be calls to run him out of town

Jake Thompson raises his hands in the air, yesterday as the Phils lost 17-0

Somewhere Ryne Sandberg is sitting back and reading these Phillies headlines and quietly shaking his head. The Phils haven't really improved all that much, despite a slightly higher win total this season, and suddenly my thoughts have changed to why we are all giving Pete Mackanin a free pass at every turn in the season.

The Phils suffered the worst defeat in their modern era of baseball yesterday in New York at Citi Field by a score of 17-0. Pundits were quick to look up other shut out losses, Phillies VP, Larry Shenk, tweeted out that the Phils actually lost 28-0 back in 1883. That was then, and this is now Larry, the Phils haven't been beat this bad in the modern era since 9/4/99 when the Phils lost to the Cards by a 22-3 score, that wasn't a shutout but it was a bad beating at Veterans Stadium before 16,357 fans.

Back to my original point, if Ryne Sandberg had still been managing this team yesterday, the headlines would have been how his job is in jeopardy. There would have been people calling for his firing after the season. Pete Mackanin has been with this team for many seasons now, including when Ryne was here and he's getting a free pass.

Pythagorean theory has this team at 60-96 on the year, with the numbers the team has put up, that probably should be the record that they are at. This stat says that the team got lucky on 10 games during the season and that is why they are at 70 wins right now. So, is this Phillies team actually a better team than last year?

What has this team accomplished this season? We've seen we have some players that have some potential. We saw Ryne Howard, who the Phillies have paid a $25M season to, take the bench quite a lot this season. We've seen an anemic offense, arguably the worst offense in terms of numbers in the league.

Maybe there is a reason that Mackanin hadn't been given the chance to manage a big league team in all those seasons he was coaching except for filing in from time to time. There doesn't seem to be many good reasons to talk about why he is still the Phillies manager at this point. The team has played very lackadaisical at various points in the season and couldn't even execute basic baseball plays too. He has had his chance to run with this team and it's turned into what we saw yesterday, a 17-0 loss without much to show for it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

New Phillies Talk Podcast: 2016 Phillies Down to last 10 games, 7 with the Mets

It's time for another edition of Phillies Talk Podcast, we're talking about the end of the season already? Wow, that was another fast baseball season. The Phils are down to their last 10 games and 7 out of those 10 games are against the Mets.

I am on my good friend's podcast called Mets Musings, the great Gary Mack. Gary is interviewing me, and I am asking him some questions about the Mets and we ponder the question if the Phillies are going to try to spoil the Mets chances of making the Wild Card this year. All of this and more on this edition of the Phillies Talk Podcast. Tune into this show!

Phillies hold the key to Mets Wild Card dreams

Phillies collar Sale at CPB

The Phillies whipped up on the Chicago White Sox last night, and their best pitcher, Chris Sale, who gave up 7 H and 6 R on the night against the Phils. Sale hit many Phillies with pitches on the night, in fact, a new record was set with 4 Phillies who were HBP during this game. Sale, who is considered to still be a front runner for the AL Cy Young, was involved in one of the most bizarre sports stories I've ever read earlier in the year when the Sox had a throwback uniform night, and Sale didn't like that the jersey's had collars on them and went into the clubhouse and took a pair of scissors or a knife to all of the jerseys. He was suspended by the team and it cost him $250K plus a $12,500 fine.

The next opponent for the Phillies is the NY Mets, the Phils play the Mets an incredible 7 times of the last 10 games of the season. The Mets need to win every ballgame they can as they are in the middle of an intense Wild Card race. The Phillies now hold an important key to that Wild Card dream of the Mets.

The Amazin' Mets have dropped their last 3 games in a row against the Braves. Who are arguably the worst team in the NL, that is the weird thing about baseball. Some of the teams you think a team would be able to beat, are just not going to let that happen, can the Phillies be the team that shows the door to the Mets playoff dream?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Phils broadcast on TV without McCarthy is more upbeat

Last year and seasons before that, Tom McCarthy took a pause in his season as the main play-by-play Phillies TV announcer to go and do his football games that he does for both college and professional football announcing. That left the Comcast Sports Network in Philadelphia to find a replacement for him and they tapped Gregg Murphy, who has been doing sideline reporting for the network for a few years now.

Murphy wasn't really ready last year  and times prior, when he was elevated to the broadcast booth, his call of the game was kind of off kilter and you could tell that he just wasn't ready to do that job.

Fast forward to this year and last night, and again, McCarthy was gone to do other broadcast duties. His absence from the booth gave Murph another chance at being the play-by-play announcer and surprisingly, he is much improved over last year.

Not only was Murphy's call of the game better, his optimism and positiveness was a welcome change to what we have heard from McCarthy for a good part of the season.

Of course it always helps when the Phillies played as good as they did last night. They banged out 11 hits and 8 runs on the way to a shutout 8-0 win for the 67th win of the year.

The McCarthy-less broadcast booth continues today with the wrap-up game of the series with Miami, it's really a breath of fresh air for Phillies fans. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

First look at the 2017 Phillies schedule

What else can we do now except to hope for better things next season?

Well, nothing like getting you ready a little early, the Phillies released the 2017 preliminary schedule the other day and it's got a few interesting things to point out right off the bat.

How about facing the Washington Nationals for 9 games in the first 5 weeks of the season for one thing. That is very peculiar and then you can look to the other division rival for the Phillies, the New York Mets. We play the Mets a total of 6 times in the first month.

We'll be playing the Texas Rangers next season, and an old fan favorite, Cole Hamels.

A home and home quick two-game series with Boston will be played at both Fenway and CBP on June 12-15th.

We have 4 straight games in Chicago against the Cubs at Wrigley in 2017, will they be the World Champion Cubs? This series runs from May 1st - May 4th.

Another 4-game series against the San Francisco Giants is scheduled for '17 as well, it is an even year this year, will they be the World Champs in 2016? This SF trip is from Aug 17- 20.

Worst picks for road trips next year for the Phils... Arizona, Seattle, then to New York to play the Mets from June 23 to July 2nd. Washington Nats, then to Texas, and finally ending up in Pittsburgh from May 12 to May 21. These road trips have some odd routing that doesn't sound all that appealing.

This was a first look at the schedule, looking forward to seeing some of the promotions that the Phils will have next year. Those promotions usually are announced a few weeks from now. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Phils excel with September call-ups, but is this our team of the future?

Joseph, Quinn, Alfaro... is this the future of the Phillies? We've been rebuilding for so long, it's hard to tell?

The Phillies have looked a little rejuvenated with the September call-ups as many thought they would. The 25-man roster was tired and just not getting the job done on a daily basis as the season went on through July and August.

Tyler Goedel turned in an anemic .184 BA in 90 games, and Peter Bourjus had some bright moments at times, but he was equally bad with only 5 HR and 23 RBI in a 118 games so far this season not counting last night's game for both players. I think I could have done better than that and I am a lot older than either one of them.

The team on the field is essentially a minor league club on the field for the Phillies. Ryan Howard is in his last days in the uniform for the team, and surrounding him are a bunch of players that play well but are they everyday players?

We've been promised a 'rebuild' - but that has not been the case. The Phillies should have taken a page from the Cardinals, who over the last few years have been doing a good job getting new players in who can play and they don't appear like a minor league team as do the Phillies.

We passed the total number of wins last year, whooped to do, I guess that's a good thing, but this season has been horrible in it's own way as well. Only a couple more weeks left and we don't have much to show for it.

If the Phillies management is fielding a minor league team, shouldn't fans be charged a lot less to see this caliber of play? The only way management will start to get this picture is if the fans stay away from the stadium, as painful as that sounds, and not give your hard earned money to an organization that is not committed to winning. Sad to say but true.

p.s.  On the Baltimore Orioles player, Adam Jone,s comment that 'Baseball is a white man's sport' comment he made, that is nothing more less than a racist comment and I am surprised that not more players or writers had the fortitude to call him out for it. Racism has no bounds and when it's ugly head is raised, it's easy to spot sometimes, and this was an easy one.


Sunday, September 04, 2016

Stuck on 60 - Phils can't budge off the 60th win

Only a few more home series remain, the last chance to see Ryan Howard in a Phillies uniform

If it seems like the Phillies have been stuck on 60 wins for a while now, you're right. They earned win 60 back on August 28th when they got a 5-1 victory over the Mets. In fact, they had 57 wins on August 18th a full 10 days before that.

What happened to this baseball team? They seemingly stopped producing and now have only won 4-games since August 20, if you count back to their last 4 wins.

Maikel Franco looked as if he would be close to getting 100 RBI by the end of the season for a little while in the late summer, but that has all but become a pipe dream, as he hasn't been doing too well in the past couple of weeks. Odubel Herrera is the same way, he's become wildly inconsistent as if he is unconcerned about what his future will be on this team or maybe he's become too concerned about what his future is on the team?

2016 will be five full seasons for the Phillies that they haven't made the playoffs, after an impressive run that saw them reach two trips to the World Series, one to the NLCS, and two other division series appearances.

A planned rebuild looked like something was on course early on in the year, it seemed as if this Phillies team would be at least looking at the possibility of a .500 season. Now that seems next to impossible as there are only less than 30 games remaining in the season.

The player who has risen up the most in the past couple weeks has been Cameron Rupp, he has 14 HR and 45 RBI in only 86 games prior to the start of play earlier on Sunday.

Where did the Phillies really go wrong this year? In the month of June, their record was 9-19 for June. June included a 9-game in a row losing streak which really took a lot of spirit out of this team. They snapped out of the June funk, then started to make things look good for them the next couple weeks, but then couldn't sustain it. In the next 13 games after the end of that epic losing streak of 9 in a row, the Phils only lost 3 games through Wednesday, July 6th.

Looking at contracts for next year: Freddie Galvis would be up for arbitration, he is earning $2M for 2016, he put some some good numbers but hasn't been too clutch, he leads the team in GIDP, and needs to put the bat on the ball and get on base more. He is the lowest OBP of any starting everyday player. Odubel is still under club control, he's going to be a bargain next year at club minimum. That is if the Phillies don't bring someone else in for the job. In pitching the Phils may want to try to extend Hellickson if they can at least for another year or two at a decent price, they will have Nola, and Eickoff back at a club minimum.

A lot of work must be done with this team again this offseason, we have some starts down in AAA that can make the jump right into the majors next year. J.P. Crawford got his first invitation to Phillies Spring Training this year, and should compete for the job next season in Spring Training for the big club. Where does that leave Galvis? He could fill out the bench or be a decent back up player for the 2017 team.

For now though, we're still stuck on 60-wins for this season which is again a pretty disappointing way to be at this point in the season.

Phils notes: Vincent Velasquez has been yanked for the year, he's been one of the best pitchers for the Phillies this season, and will be rested for the rest of the season.