Thursday, May 31, 2007

Don't look now, but it's the Bond's Circus

Barry Bonds survived the media up in New York and just in case you didn't read any of it, here is some selections of what he had to say while up in the Big Apple:

Here's from New York Newsday:
written by Bob Herzog

" The juicier the questions, the drier the responses were. But unlike Tuesday night, when Barry Bonds blew off the media, the Giants' controversial slugger agreed to a pregame session in the visitors' dugout at Shea Stadium last night.

With steroids a taboo topic, Bonds was grilled about his pursuit of the all-time home run record. He is nine short of Hank Aaron's 755.

When asked about commissioner Bud Selig's noncommittal stance on attending the potential record-breaking game, Bonds said, "I don't have any comments on Bud. Bud's his own man."

Asked about Aaron's flat-out refusal to attend, Bonds added, "I don't have any comments on that, either."

Pressed about Selig being there for Mark McGwire's record-breaking 62nd home run in 1998, Bonds said irritably, "Why do you guys want to keep repeating the same stories every day? Let's just talk about the team, talk about us playing baseball. Can we do that? Can we help educate kids about the sport, or is this all we're going to talk about forever?"

Maybe not forever, but controversial topics rather than conventional ones were clearly on reporters' agendas. When asked about the meaning of the home run record, Bonds replied, "We're not there yet. We're not even close enough to even discuss it at this moment."

A reporter shouted a question from the back of the pack about Bonds' place in history, and the Giants' star didn't hesitate to give a one-word answer. "No."

Of Bobby Bonds Jr.'s recent remarks in the Newark Star-Ledger that he was annoyed about the responses of Selig and Aaron, Bonds said, "I love my brother. That's my blood."

So what he said wasn't too revealling, it's more of the same from Bonds sort of like a dog chasing it's tail- after a while it's just plain easy to do!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Phillies: Sweep or be swept

The Phillies are in the good position of just having swept the Atlanta Braves and now facing a bad position of being swept themselves at home at Citizen's Bank Park by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Just when things were looking up, suddenly we are back at .500 and looking like we may fall through that percentage.

The matchup for tonight's game has Randy Johnson going against Jamie Moyer once teammates in Seattle and now the oldest matchup of leftie vs. leftie in the history of baseball. As I write this blog entry, the Phils are trailing in a pitcher's duel, 1-0 as both Moyer and Johnson are showing off with pitching great games for their teams.

Next up for the Phils will be the San Francisco Giants and the Barry Bonds saga. No rest for the weary with Bonds coming into town and his quest for the Homerun King status. Regardless if you feel that Bonds deserve the record, he brings a an aura with him although most people believe it is a tainted one. The Phils have a much needed off day on Thursday, they'll collect their thoughts and try to regroup for the weekend series with San Fran. I thought Bonds might have a chance to break the record in Philly, now they are pointing towards mid to end June for the time when this will happen. It certainly would have made the fans for into the game if Bonds were going for the record here in Philly.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Garcia at 1-4, how did he land in Philly?

The Phillies came home off the 10 game road trip full of steam and questing to move up the ladder from third place. The Arizona Dbacks, who are a worthy opponent all of a sudden, play some inspired unselfish baseball. The Diamondbacks are successful getting on base, and moving runners. That is as simple as this game is. Get runners in scoring position and get hits to score them, and hopefully out score your opponent.

I sat in the third deck right over the home plate during the opening game of the series against the Dbacks and here is what I observed. Freddie Garcia moved as slow as molasses. His control has so-so. Many times during the game Garcia simply bounced pitches 58 feet from the mound. I was amazed that not that many of these type of pitches from Garcia got past the catcher. Garcia seemed to want to lull his opponents to sleep with his pitching style. Yes, he didn't surrender too many runs in the game, he gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and stuck out 9. The Phillies offense didn't get going until late in the game. If I could offer any advice to Garcia if would be simply to speed up his game a little more. After he was done pitching he walked so slowly off the mound that practically the whole Phillies outfield beat him back to the dugout. Show some spunk, get a bit energized. I don't mean like a Dontrelle Willis but give us some emotion out there on the mound!Garcia was an All Star in 2001 and 2002 while pitching for Seattle.In 2004, Seattle sent him to Chicago with Ben Davis for Jeremy Reed, Miguel Olivo, and Mike Morse. I am going back to look at the 2005/2006 White Sox team that Garcia pitched a lot of wins for, and I am wondering was it Garcia who was dominant or was it the White Sox offense that carried him. In 2005, Garcia led the American League in wild pitches with 20, a feat that he tied fellow White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras in that year. Chicago let him walk away despite Garcia pitching 40 wins for the Sox and only 21 losses during his tenure in Chicago. The Sox traded Garcia to the Phillies for Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez. A move that had everything to do with Pat Gillick who had been the GM in Seattle when Garcia had his all star years. It was a gutsy move by the Chicago Sox GM Kenny Williams who had said that he wanted to make room for some younger phemons that the Sox were grooming. How can you possibly want to trade a guy that has 40 wins for a team in 2 and 1/2 seasons?

The Memorial Day crowd was huge and the Phils had an 8,000 fan walkup to buy tickets to the game for the opener of the series. As I write this, the Phils are playing the second game of the series on Tuesday night and Jon Lieber gave up a quick 5 spot to the Dbacks and it is late in the 7th inning and it remains 5-1 so this isn't a great start to the homestand. Lieber and Garcia seem to be the soft spots in the rotation that much is for sure. Let's see what happens when Hamels, Moyer and the resurgent Adam Eaton, fill out their spots in the rotation.

Here's an article by that reported that Garcia had tested positive for marijuana use during the World Baseball Classic in 2006 as reported by a Venezuelan Newspaper:

A Venezuelan newspaper is reporting that White Sox pitcher Freddy Garcia tested positive for marijuana during the World Baseball Classic. Major League Baseball, knowing that three-quarters of every pitching staff in the game would test positive, doesn't test for weed, but Garcia could receive a suspension from international play for as long as two years. But no problems with MLB ... or with the White Sox, for that matter.
"Freddy has done the tests with us and Major League Baseball, and he's clean," [manager Ozzie] Guillen said. "If something involves you with the club and with Major League Baseball, you do something about it, but it has nothing to do with that.

In other words, since MLB has no policy about weed -- and why should they, really? -- Garcia should have no problems, should be able to keep all his money, keep his job, everything. That sound you hear? Ricky Williams, bashing his head against the wall.

Sox Downplay Garcia Report [Chicago Tribune]

Could this be the reason that Garcia is so slow on the mound?

Rich Baxter

Monday, May 28, 2007

Smoltz tells it like it is... what's wrong with that?

Finally someone has put Brett Myers move into perspective. It might not be popular but it still makes a statement. Smoltz wasn't being anything but honest when he told the media that he never remembers that an Opening Day pitcher gets moved to the bullpen within a month of the opening day game.

On a day to day basis, we Phillies fans can get a jaded view of what's really going on with our ball club. The Phils had more starters than they needed going into Opening Day that is a fact. The team originally penciled Jon Lieber into a relief roll early into the season. He didn't care for it, and made it known that he was a starter. When the Phillies ran into many bullpen problems through April including poor pitching, injuries and the like, they then made the decision to take Lieber out of the pen and put Myers into a roll of setup man in quick fashion. Myers seems to be ok with that, he isn't moaning and complaining about it publicly yet.

Your Opening Day pitcher is supposed to be your marquee name. Your 'go to' guy on the mound. The Opening Day pitcher that is hopefully going to lead the club to the world series. That is the context in which I think John Smoltz meant. You don't just shove your number 1 guy into to bullpen, it just isn't done in the MLB. It's like an insult in a lot of ways. I am glad Myers didn't have that big of a problem with it, because he has been real good in the bullpen but I don't expect him to stay there and I hope the Phillies don't either. Some of the moves the Phillies make have you scratching your head sometimes... They let Randy Wolf walk away, he's making around $7.5 million pitching for the Dodgers this year and he is 6-3 and we bring in Freddie Garcia who never wore the Philly pinstripes and throw $10 million at him and he's been a bust.

So on this Memorial Day I say, let's honor our country and the soldiers who protect it. Let free speech shine, even some comments by John Smoltz! Let's get ready for Phillies baseball tonight because it's dollar dog day and I can't wait for that home plate umpire to shout, "Play Ball!"

Rich Baxter

Sunday, May 27, 2007

First sweep of the season, let's go Phils!

Howard: Two HR's and 4 RBI's on Sunday's win in Atlanta

The Atlanta Braves were home in the friendly confines of their own Turner Field and the Phillies came into town and swept the Bravo's in 3 straight games over the Memorial Day weekend! Now the Phils head home for a short homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks and then they welcome Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants into Citizen's Bank Park for a 4 game set that starts on Friday June 1st and runs through the 4th of June.

This sweep of the Braves returns the favor to the Braves who had swept the Phillies for their first three games to open the season back in April. The Phils started the season 0-3 thanks to the Braves who looked unbeatable for a couple weeks. This win on Sunday afternoon came courtesy of Cole Hamels who earned his 7th win of the season and a couple of homeruns by Ryan Howard who just rejoined the team on Friday night. Even better that the win is the fact that the Phils are now 2 games over .500 and look to be on a steady path coming into Memorial Day at home on Monday night.

I'll be up at the stadium to see Freddie Garcia hopefully pick up his second win of the season as he has been slow to start off for his new team so far this year. Garcia was originally looking like he may be the ace of the staff back in March when Spring Training was being played down in Florida, but that hasn't been the case yet as Hamels has led the team in pitching so far up to this point of the season.

The Diamondbacks are doing well themselves, going 7-3 in their last 10 games. The star of their team seems to be the second baseman, Orlando Hudson, and the left fielder, Eric Byrnes who are both anything but household names in baseball but they are getting the job done for Arizona. The Dbacks have been feasting on the Astros all weekend taking the first two games and as of the time I am writing this are in the lead for a sweep of the 'Stros in the 7th inning on Sunday.

Welcome home Phils! If we keep on like this, then we have our sights on second place by the time this homestand is over! Atlanta is suddenly in reverse after staying hot for 6 weeks or so and they face two red hot teams in the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs in their next two series of games. The Brewers are leading the National League Central and the Cubs are 4.5 games off of the Brewers lead in the division.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Phils go onto Atlanta, then home for Memorial Day!

If the Phillies can win down in Atlanta, that would keep them at arm's reach of the red hot Braves and Mets. The loss last night in Florida was a tough one, the Phils had the chance to win it, with runners on base but they couldn't covert the go ahead run.

The Phils have had a set back with some injuries of late, that is to be expected during the course of a season. I would have thought the Phils may have thought ahead and had some contingency plans in place. They can still win with what they have but a little luck must go along with that. Francisco Rosario is 0-3 with last night's loss against Florida, he is teetering on a patch of thin ice and his value on the team is greatly diminished when he keeps getting beat up and giving up the game like he has been doing.

Let's go into Atlanta and show them who's going to take this division!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

One step forward, two steps back ....

This time of the season could define the whole Phillies season. They play inspired ball for a couple games, and they get you feeling good about them, then they slip back into a cocoon of errors and losing. We are 45 games into the season now, and the Phillies are teetering back and forth on a see saw of wins and losses. They win big one day, then drop one, win one and drop one. 7-3 in thier last homestand but now they are on a short road trip and 7-4 in their last 11 games doesn't sound as good.

The Phillies need an acquisition, a big name to come into the bullpen at this time! The bullpen is the area that most fans and experts on baseball will agree that the team needs the most help. Without any moves like this, the Phils appear to be destined to be a .500 ballclub throughout the year.

Ryan Howard will be back soon, and hopefully he'll be back on track. He needs to get back into a groove and start hitting. Pat Gillick must get on the phones and make something happen for this team, bring us a reliable bullpen pitcher Pat!

p.s. I got to 'high 5' the Philly Phanatic last Sunday at the ballpark! The Mrs. and I were walking the concourse behind homeplate, when out of the blue a large furry green creature ran up to us and slapped our hands as he ran past us.

Rich Baxter / Phillies 2007 Audio Blog

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Phillies go 7-3 at home, land at .500

The homestand stretching back 10 games has been very, very good for the Phils. They didn't sweep anyone, but took all three series at home during the past 10 games with the Cubs, Brewers, and the Jays. The team has fought it's way up to .500 baseball with a day off on Monday, then onto the short road trip to Florida and then Atlanta.

The team seems to have jelled a bit better of the last 10 games, and Ryan Howard has been out for all of the games. Pat Burrell has been coming through for the Phils along with Aaron Rowand who has been getting on base better than most and is in the NL's top 10 leaders for batting average. Starting pitching is starting to carry the game, and when it comes to relief, the team is still in great need of some better consistency.

Cole Hamels is 6-1 and is on fire, he'll get the start for game one in Florida.
Jamie Moyers and Adam Eaton are 4-3 and John Lieber is 2-2. Freddie Garcia is a most disappointing 1-3, he should turn it around soon or the boo birds at Citizen's Bank will be on him soon! Geoff Geary got shelled against Toronto, three homeruns in a matter of a few minutes. That team is scary! On paper the Jays look very intimidating, they have a lot of power on that team. When they get their pitching together they will be contenders.

The Phillies have the ALS Charity event at Citizen's Bank Park on Monday. It will be nice for the fans to get some autographs and have some fun and donate some money to charity all at the same time.

That 's all for now for the Phillies 2007 audio blog, I'll get back to my audio posts when I get some more time to do them! For now, it's just blogging as usual. Be sure to check out one of my favorite Phillies blog, A Citizen's Blog
for some interesting thoughts on the team by Mike Berquist.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day! Phils may sweep today!

The Phils are back home and on fire coming into Sunday, Mother’s Day with the afternoon game at Citizens Bank Park scheduled for 1:35 pm. The Fightins are 5-5 in the last 10 games so these two wins at home against the Cubs have been real important to them. Even as they are winning, the Phils are still 7 games back from division leading Atlanta, the NY Mets are 1.5 games back of the pace that Atlanta is setting. Atlanta is coming into Sunday’s play on a 5 game win streak and 8-2 in their last 10 games.

It was a wild one on Fox on Saturday afternoon. The game went back and forth and really was entertaining. I think Fox really selected a great game for the fans of baseball to watch in this one. Greg Dobbs was the star of this one going 4-4 in his replacement of Ryan Howard who has been added to the DL with a strained left quad, Howard can rejoin the team on May 25th – Chris Coste is again joining the Phils team being called up from Ottawa. Freddie Garcia worked a good game, it wasn’t his best game he’ll pitch this year, but he didn’t get the win as the Phils let the Cubs back into the game with a 5-5 tie that was restarted after a brief rain delay. The Phils managed to pull this one out though with a two out and nobody on base barrage that happened right after Aaron Rowand hit a single and Utley came up and doubled Rowand home, and the star of the game Greg Dobbs lobbed a triple down the right field corner. The rest is history, Carlos Ruiz, played a great game, he added a two run HR just for good measure to seal the Phils 11-7 wild victory. I’ll take these wins anytime! It feels good to win a game like this, instead of losing it.

Time will tell if anyone brings any brooms to the ballpark today, it is Mother’s Day – it’s Chase Utley blanket day for the ladies- Chase will be batting with a pink bat… I can’t wait to get to the park to see this one!

Here is some quick Phils stats before I wrap this one up:

Jimmy Rollins still leads the team in HR’s with 9, he also has 5 triples to lead in triples

Chase Utley has 31 RBI's to lead the team

Aaron Rowand leads the team with a .358 batting average

In Pitching:

Cole Hamels has a 5-1 record to lead the staff, he also leads with 59 SO’s

Brett Myers has mowed down 41 with about ½ the amount of innings that Cole has pitched

Jamie Moyer’s 3.00 era leads the staff for the lowest ERA on the staff

Thanks for joining me on the Fightin Phils audio blog, look for another audio post here real soon!

Rich Baxter

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Fightin Phils Audio Show (May 6 2007)

We still battle the quest for .500 with the Phils, they are in San Fran tonight for ESPN Sunday night baseball. Cole Hamels pitches for the fightin's. Why has Ryan Howard slumped through April and now into May? Listen to the latest edition of the Fightin' Phils Audio Blog show!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I don't blame this loss on Alfonseca...

Tough loss with the Braves last night.

You have got to walk Andrew Jones in that situation! You don't just pitch to a guy like that, he'll kill you everytime. This loss I think gets credited to Charlie Manuel. You have to use a little strategy at times in this game.

At least go out there to the mound before Andrew Jones gets his 3-2 pitch. Andrew Jones should have been walked, in that situation.