Sunday, January 29, 2012

Winter Classic leaves Phillies playing field in tatters





Everyone loved the Winter Classic this winter at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Phillies. The entertaining outdoor hockey game though took it's toll on the turf at the Phillies stadium and this past week, the turf was in the process of being replaced. Here's how it looked from the MLB.com report, from just last week. 

I wonder if the playing surface out in the field will be different with the addition of a new type of sod being used? We'll see soon enough, it's almost February and the start of the 2012 season is starting to sound closer and closer.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Who are the Athletes Philly Fans Love To Hate? Comcast SportsNet Counts Down the Top 20 Philly Sports Villains



  Love the concept of hometown video of Philly Sports villains by Comcast, coming soon in the Philly area. If we are the toughest bunch or sports fans, this series will be very successful! Here's more about what we'll see....



   Hear What the Experts Think, Join the Conversation

Five Part Series begins January 29

PHILADELPHIA (January 25, 2012) – On Sunday, January 29 at 10:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet will begin airing, “Philly Villains,” a five-part series where the experts discuss the most disliked athletes, coaches and others associated with Philadelphia sports. In addition to the 20 past and present names, there are a number of dishonorable mentions included.  After each episode fans can log onto CSNPhilly.com to discuss who should have and shouldn’t have made the list or join the conversation on Twitter.

Starting on Sunday, January 29 at 10:30 p.m., the first five Villains will be unveiled. The list includes players from rival teams, players that have had success against Philly teams, as well as some former Philadelphia athletes who fell out of favor or left town on bad terms. The list contains teams, players, coaches, owners, agents, and even some non-humans.

Many of Philadelphia sports personalities share their thoughts on the list including former 76er Charles Barkley, local comedian Craig Shoemaker, NBC10’s Howard Eskin and John Clark, 97.5 the Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli and Tony Bruno; 94WIP’s Rhea HughesIke Reese and Joe Conklin, Philadelphia Daily News’ Marcus HayesJohn Smallwood and Stan Hochman, plus many of Comcast SportsNet’s on-air talent and CSNPhilly.com’s Insiders and columnists.

Comcast SportNet will air a new episode of “Philly Villains” beginning this Sunday, January 29 at 10:30 p.m. with Philly’s #1 villain revealed on Thursday, February 2.  All five episodes of “Philly Villains” will air on Sunday, February 5 beginning at 7:30 p.m., plus the programs will be available to Comcast OnDemand customers on Friday, February 3.

Digital/Social Media
CSNPhilly.com will have a dedicated page to Philly Villains (www.CSNPhilly.com/villains) which will launch on Sunday, January 29 at 10:30 p.m.  Each villain will be highlighted with a video clip from the show, a write up from one of CSNPhilly.com’s Insiders or columnists and user-generated commentary.




Thanks to Maureen at CSN Philly for the details.. this seems like it's going to be a good series.....



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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Valdez leaves Phils for the Reds






Reds pick up a good utility man in Valdez




Wilson Valdez probably won't be an MLB all-star any time soon. His play on the Phillies though, was good enough for him to pitch in and help the team when it most needed it. The Phillies traded Valdez away yesterday to the Cincinnati Reds.

This stint wasn't the first stop in Wilson's career. Valdez has made his rounds around the league but I think the Phillies will miss his contributions this season.

The Phillies landed a pitcher named Jeremy Horst, a minor leaguer, Horst got some playing time last year with the Reds and his numbers don't impress. In 15.1 innings, he gave up 18 hits, 5 ER, of which two were HR, and walked 6. On the bright side, Horst struck out 9. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Phillies broadcaster, Andy Musser, dies at 74



                      Musser's call of Mike Schmidt's walk-off in Montreal




Many fans remembered Andy Musser's easy going style on the broadcasts of the Phillies games that he did for over 25 years from '76 to 2001. Musser died on Sunday, at the age of 74.





Here are some stories around the web about Andy Musser's passing:

  Remembering Andy Musser, a gentleman of the Pressbox - NY Times

  Andy Musser, 74, former Phillies broadcaster - Philly.com

  Longtime Phillies broadcaster, Andy Musser dies - ESPN.com

 Report: Ex-Phillies broadcaster, Andy Musser dies at 74 - Delaware Online.com 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Phillies player numbers over the years






There is a lot of hoopla concerning the number that a certain player wears for a team. The Phillies are no exception, you probably remember when you were growing up what number was popular among younger baseball players by the person on the team who was usually the best and the number he wore.

Thirty-plus years ago in the Philadelphia tri-state area, that number was usually # 20, whoever wore that number on their jersey was usually the best on the team. Of course the number 20 jersey is harkening back to the Mike Schmidt era with the Phillies, now a distant memory for some, and never experienced by many of the younger Phillies fans of today. Mike Schmidt’s #20, was retired by the Phillies on May 20th, 1990. Did you know that Mike Schmidt originally wore the #22 jersey in his debut as a Phillies player in 1972?

A retired player’s number is something reserved only for the very best in baseball. It’s not something that is lightly considered. The Phillies have 5 numbers that are retired and of course the 6th is one that every major league team has which was Jackie Robinson’s #42.

Phillies retired jersey numbers and players that wore the jersey:

1- Richie Ashburn
14- Jim Bunning
20- Mike Schmidt
32- Steve Carlton
36- Robin Roberts
and
42- Jackie Robinson – retired by all major league teams


When you think about certain players, you naturally start thinking of what number that they wore when they were playing, or still are playing for that matter. For me, I always associate the number #14 jersey with Pete Rose, when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. But can anyone remember what number he wore when he was on the Phillies? That same number 14, as the Phillies didn’t retire the number until 2001 for Jim Bunning. Rose played for the Phillies from 1979 to 1983, he then went on to play until his retirement to 1986 at 45 years old.

For a lot of people who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s watching Phillies baseball, the #10 will always be remembered for the scrappy, Larry Bowa, at shortstop. Bowa held the shortstop position for the Phils for 14 years, and always wore the same number throughout his career with the Phillies.

Phillies players who got ‘retired numbers’ with letters!


There are more players with retired numbers than listed above, two more players from the Phillies have ‘retired numbers’ in the form of letters. The reason was simple, Grover Cleveland Alexander is retired with the Phillies by the use of the letter, P. In the days that Alexander played baseball, players didn’t even wear numbers on their jersey’s so the Phillies solved that with the use of a letter.

The other player with a ‘retired number’ that isn’t a number is Chuck Klein. Klein wore numerous numbers with the team, so the Phillies wisely chose ‘CK’ as Klein’s retired number. During the course of his career, Klein wore the number 1,3,8, 26, 29, 32, and 36 jersey.

Harry Kalas was also recognized by the team with a retired ‘HK’ designation. Kalas was the Phillies longtime broadcaster who died on April 13th 2009.

The #45 is always associated with one of the most celebrated Phillies relievers ever, Tug McGraw. I remember McGraw when he pitched with the Mets even before he was with the Phillies, but his famous leap off the mound with his arms pointed to the sky claiming the 1980 World Series victory is one that is forever etched in my memory as a real sign of Phillies greatness and of course Tug’s #45 jersey. Tug retired in 1984, after 19 seasons in the big leagues and passed away at 59 years of age in 2004.

The #8 jersey, now worn by Shane Victorino was also worn by another ‘lifetime’ Phillies player, Bob Boone. Boone held the number 8 jersey from 1973 to 1981 with the Phillies are was behind the plate for hundreds of Phillies wins. Boone started with the Phillies in the late part of 1972, but originally wore the #40 jersey before he switched to the #8 jersey the next season.

Who can forget Curt Schilling's jersey that he wore with the Phillies? Curtis Montague Schilling wore the #38 jersey for his entire career with the Phillies. Of course during the past 30 or more years the most famous number a pitcher has worn with the Phillies has been Steve Carlton’s #32, Steve’s number was retired by the Phillies in 1989.

Other famous Phillies who wore many numbers with the team are very common as well. Particularly, players in the 1950’s and 60’s wore many numbers with teams without too much attachment. Jim Konstanty wore the numbers 26 and 35 during his career with the Phils, while John Vukovich wore several numbers during a few stints as a Phillies player, wearing the 30,26,22, 28, and 18 jersey.   

What was your favorite Phillie? You probably can still see the number of his jersey when you think about which player you admired. Here’s a list of some Phillies are the jersey number that they wore over the years:

Famous and ‘not so famous’ Phillies and their jersey numbers:


                                         

  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wiggy to be regular starting first baseman

 

 

Mayberry Jr.

Mayberry Jr. getting a chance to claim left field this year

 

 

Ty Wigginton can do a lot to raise his own value in the first couple months of the Phillies season. MLB Traderumors.com reports that Wiggy will be getting a lot of the duties at first base in the absence of Ryan Howard.

 

Jim Thome is getting himself ready to play occasional first base, and pinch hit off the bench for the team.

 

In left, it will be a Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix swap out to see who fills the role better.

 

My buddy Jay over at Phoulballz.com followed some of the Phillies prospects, who are in town to workout at the Citizen’s Bank Park complex. A few of the guys took in the Sixers game. Read about that here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hamels one year deal is great for him


Cole Hamels
Hamels collects big dividend in 2012 one year deal

The Phillies threw Cole Hamels a nice bone yesterday as they announced a one year, $15 million dollar deal with him. Considering that Cole made $20.5M over the last three seasons from 09-11 in total, you can believe that Hamels is a very happy guy this morning.

Hamels is a good pitcher, but is he a great pitcher? At 28 years old, he is certainly the youngest of the Phillies aces currently on the team. He is also a World Series MVP, from the 2008 World Series. Cole Hamels isn’t on the sure road to the Hall of Fame though yet, and he does have his weaknesses.

The most amount of games that Cole Hamels has ever won in his 6 year career so far is 15 games in 2007. His average record for all years of his career is  14-10 per season.  His average ERA is 3.39 over six years as well.

Hamels doesn’t give up on the mound, he has been seen as improving. He had trouble with keeping his emotions in check in key moments on the mound, you can see his face change and then usually it won’t be long until he is taken out of the game. He’s worked on that, and has gotten a little better but it’s still there.

This year should be interesting to see how Cole pitches, he can write his own check with a great year for his next contract. Has he been awesomely lights out when he pitches for the Phillies? At times he has, and at times he hasn’t. A pitcher that hasn’t won more than 15 games in a season is just that, you can’t read too much more into the fact that Hamels is an extremely good pitcher but is he great? 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Moyer to pitch for Rockies in ‘12?



MoyerInviewRSBaxter
Moyer after win 250 talking with Sarge



The Colorado Rockies may see one of the guys who has longed to get back into uniform for the Phillies join their team. That of course is Jamie Moyer, who is starting an unlikely climb back into the majors after some serious arm trouble that has been repaired seemingly just in time for the 2012 season.

MLB Trade Rumors reported that Moyer received a minor league offer from the Colorado Rockies for next season. You would think the Phillies would have done the same, and they very well may now that Moyer appears to be back on track to pitch.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Phillies Talk - first podcast for 2012 talking Phillies baseball






Join us for the first podcast of the year for Phillies Talk. It's the longest running independent show that talks about the Phillies. Join Rich Baxter and Jim Mulry on this edition of the show.

Stay tuned for more interesting guests and topics this year, with pitchers and catchers now only a month away from starting a brand new season. Download the show from Android podcasts, or iTunes to listen all year long on your mobile device.

We're looking for a few sponsors this season, so if you have a bar, restaurant, or service in the Philadelphia area or something that will interest the listeners no matter where you and your business is, we need you to sponsor the podcast this season. Just go to the 'Contact' page on the site and drop us an email or give the blog a call.

Millions of reasons to like Kyle Kendrick in 2012



Kendrick Fightin Phillies pic
Kendrick gets another year with Phillies in ‘12



He has 43 wins as a Phillies pitcher, and is still under 30 years old, that is what is keeping the Phillies management happy with Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick received a one year $3.59 million dollar deal for 2012.

While it may not be a great deal for Kendrick in terms of length of the contract, he still is getting a chance to go out there and prove his worth to this team or any other that may be watching Kendrick.

Kyle Kendrick burst onto the scene early in his career by finishing 5th for Rookie of the Year. It was 2007 for Kendrick’s first full rookie year, and he had some real competition for the ROY crown, with Ryan Braun finishing first. Hunter Pence, then with the Astros, finished in the 3rd position in the run for ROY.

Kendrick posted a 10-4 record in his first season as a Phillies starter, starting 20 games. In 2008, Kyle started 30 games for the Phillies and the result was a 11-9 record and an ERA that ballooned up to 5.49 on the season. The downslide that started in the middle of the ‘08 season for Kendrick meant that he didn’t make it to the postseason for the playoffs or the World Series with the club either.

The spring of 2009 wasn’t kind to Kyle and he was sent down to the minors before the regular season started for the Phillies. He started 24 games for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the AAA minors and posted a 9-7 record with a 3.34 ERA on the season. He also was brought up to the Phillies and made the most of it, started 2 games and finishing with a 3-1 record with only being in 9 games and posting a 3.42 ERA.

In 2010, Kendrick got another chance to be a starter with the Phillies. He started 30 games for the Phils, and finished the season with an 11-10 record and a 4.73 ERA. Kendrick had a lot of run support in his starts in 2010 from the offense, his starts for the season were bolstered by a 5.52 average runs per game in his starts.This was also the last time that Kendrick would be making just above league minimum salary at $480K for the year.

In 2011, the Phillies signed Kendrick to a one year deal. Kendrick was only 26 years old, and had piled up quite a few wins for the team, despite the setbacks he faced at various times during his young career. Kendrick adapted to pitching from the bullpen, but the Phillies still feel that he has potential as a starter. For his age, Kendrick is statistically ranked right near a familiar player named Joe Blanton, and some other pitcher’s named John Denny and Kyle Lohse according to baseball-reference.com.

Kyle Kendrick became a millionaire for the 2011 season, he inked a $2.450 million dollar contract that saw him share duties as a starter and reliever. Kyle started 15 games and appeared in a total of 34 games, posting a 8-6 record and a 3.22 ERA for the season.  This stabilization was the motivation for the Phillies brass to want to continue to have the services of Kyle Kendrick.

Kendrick signed a one year $3.59 million dollar deal for 2012 the other day. Being that the average MLB salary overall in 2011 was $3.3 million, this doesn’t seem like a contract that isn’t deserved. I wonder if the Phillies wouldn’t have done better by inking Kendrick to a 2 year deal at $5.5M, but this one year deal continues the Phillies brass faith in Kendrick for one more year.

With a very successful season, Kendrick can again begin to kick start his career, which despite his setbacks, he is still getting paid a lot of money to pitch in the majors. It just seemed like a few years ago that people gasped at Mike Schmidt breaking the $2 million dollar per season mark, which he did in 1982 at age 34. All that said, Schmidt never made more than $2.250 for a season, which was earned his last season in 1989 and his total career earnings weigh in at $17 million total for 18 seasons with the Phillies. Times have changed for sure.

Check out all of Kyle’s stats on Baseball-Reference.com here

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Did Scott Boras ruin Ryan Madson’s career?

 

 

IMG_8000

   Madson will wear the Reds pinstripes in 2012

 

 

This was supposed to be the off-season that Ryan Madson took over the reins of the ‘closer’ in Philadelphia. That was well on it’s way to happening a couple of months ago, but something went seriously wrong. A deal was announced and then suddenly it was unannounced and then we learned Madson’s fate would not at all be with the Phillies, with a surprise signing of Jonathan Papelbon which was announced shortly after the collapse of the Madson supposed deal.

 

A difference in opinion of Phillies GM, Ruben Amaro, and Madson’s agent, Scott Boras, on just what happened with the supposed deal was reported on at ESPN.com today. Amaro said the Phillies talked to Madson’s agent but never had a deal in place for Madson and Boras said that the Phillies offered the deal and just before Madson accepted it, the Phillies reversed course and signed Papelbon from the free agent market.

 

This doesn’t sound right from either side, and the loser in this deal was Ryan Madson. Did Boras end up on the short end of a deal that had him wanting more for Madson? The off-season was starting to drag on and the position of the Phillies was that they needed someone to fill the closer’s role, but they didn’t want to be held hostage by unreasonable demands from Madson’s agent?

 

The Phillies and Boras go back a long way, remember JD Drew? Scott Boras was his agent. Is it only coincidence that the only Phillies player in the last three years on this team was Madson who had Boras as an agent (except for Chan Ho Park in 2009 for a year deal)? JD Drew was the Boras client who perhaps started the Phillies most memorable dealing with him.

 

Time will tell who was right and who was wrong, if Madson has a stellar year this season, he could be in a driver’s seat. It’s important that he was this great year though as he is now on the hot seat. Was it Boras pushing the envelope with the Phillies? Trying to get a piece of the Phillies gravy train? Was it Amaro who was after the Red Sox marquee closer, Papelbon?  We may never know for sure but Madson’s steadiness will be missed by the Phillies this year for sure.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Pitchers and Catchers report in less than 6 weeks for Phillies on Feb. 19, 2012




The end of the season in 2011 came pretty quick for the Phillies just after the NL Division series started, now there is only less than 6 weeks left to go until pitchers and catchers report for the 2012 season.

Pitching wasn’t the Phillies main issue in 2011, the team didn’t do all that badly during the season on offense, in fact they set the highest total wins mark ever for the team at 102 wins. The previous highest win total for a season at 101 has stood for a long time, having been set in 1976 and then duplicated in 1977.

Was the early exit last year in the playoffs just a case of bad luck then? A team not firing on all cylinders when they hit the playoffs? That could be just what happened to the 2011 Phillies team. They knew all along they were probably a sure thing to make the playoffs, but when the time came around to do something good, there was a lack of offense that led to the early exit for the team.

The last three years have been a great time for players to be on the Phillies. I never though we’d be talking about a time that the Phillies were almost keeping up with the New York Yankees when it came to the topic of payroll. In fact, the Phillies aren’t really keeping up with the Yankees per se, but the Phils have the highest payroll of any National League team for the past few years. The Phillies have a 3 year average of $153.2 million per season in the last three years (acccording to the BR website). The average for the Yankees was much more at $203.5 million dollars per season in average for salaries over the last 3 years.

Cliff Lee made $11M last year, but will jump up to $21.5M this season. The players on the Phillies making $20M or more next year will include, Ryan Howard at $20M, Roy Halladay at $20M, and Cliff Lee at $21.5M. Just these 3 players alone make more than the average payroll of the Florida Marlins in total for the average of the last 3 seasons at just about $53.5M.

Here’s the schedule for 2012 Spring Training info for the Phillies:

Pitchers and Catchers: Feb 19

First full workout: Feb. 24

I suspect, it will start feeling a lot more like Spring towards the middle of February, not that we can complain about the weather in the Philadelphia area this winter at all so far.



  Note:  This story was updated on Feb. 7 with new info...

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Chris Jaffe's Hall of Fame predictions now!




Here's a link to Chris Jaffe's picks for the HOF class of 2012, Chris has had a knack for picking this correctly.

Find Chris Jaffe's picks here



The Hall announces who gets inducted next Monday, and since it's that time of the year you might have some interest in the topic (especially w/ former Phillie Dale Murphy among the returning candidates.  Yeah, I know he sucked in Philly, but he did play there and he is on the ballot).  My article doesn't just say will/won't get inducted, but even offers predictions for the exact vote percentage every prominent candidate will get. 

The predictions are based on some analysis and have worked well in the past.  For instance, last year I guessed on 18 candidates, and finished within three percentage points of their actual totals with 14 of them.