Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 1: Check out this great catch from Spring Training




The thing that I love about baseball is the outrageous plays that you see during a season, and it didn't take long for a really great play to happen. Check out this awesome catch that was made in the first day of Spring Training 2014.

Josh Reddick of the Oakland A's made this catch yesterday.

Bobby Abreu happy to be back with Phils



Abreu talks about his new role with the Phillies in 2014


Bobby Abreu made his debut as a Phillie for 2014 yesterday and did what you want to do in a training game and that is see a lot of pitches. Abreu was being selective and he had to walks to show for it in his first game in a Phillies uniform since 2005 when he played all 162 games for the Phillies in his last full season with the team before heading out to the Yankees after playing 98 games in a Phillies uni in 2006.

Abreu knows what his role is going to be on this team should he make it, and that's just fine with him. Doing so well in Winter League games after the MLB season is what gave the Phillies the reason to sign Abreu again.

The Phillies again take on the Blue Jays today after being on the losing end of a 4-3 rain shortened opener yesterday. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Phillies kick off Spring Training season, Schmidt signs up for Sunday plan





The Boys of Summer are back! The Phillies took the field down in Clearwater, Florida for the start of the Spring Training 2014 season. The first opponent for the Phils was the Toronto Blue Jays.

It was great to see the Phils take the field and for a game that means something in the Grapefruit League. It's been a very long winter in the Philadelphia area, that winter continues for us as more snow is dusting the area yet again today and more in the forecast for next week.

Comcast Sportsnet announced that Mike Schmidt, Phillies Hall of Fame player, will be in the broadcast booth for 2014 on Sundays here is the info about this from Comcast:


COMCAST SPORTSNET WELCOMES HALL OF FAMER MIKE SCHMIDT TO PHILLIES BROADCAST TEAM

1980 World Series MVP Joins Comcast SportsNet for “Sundays with Schmidt”

PHILADELPHIA- (February 26, 2014)Comcast SportsNet announces that MLB Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt is joining the network’s Phillies broadcast team for 13 Sunday home games in 2014.  Schmidt, the 1980 World Series MVP, will work as an analyst alongside play by play man Tom McCarthy for “Sundays with Schmidt” broadcasts this season. The addition of Schmidt completes Comcast SportsNet’s new “Championship” broadcast booth, as he will share 2014 analyst duties with 2008 World Series Champions Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs, who were announced on February 11. 

“I am extremely excited to be a part of the Phillies broadcast team,” said Schmidt.  “Comcast SportsNet has put together a great lineup, and now “Let’s play ball!”
       
“Michael Jack Schmidt is one of the iconic names in Philadelphia Phillies history,” said Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia president Brian Monihan. “He brings invaluable insight into the booth, having played his entire career here in Philly, working as a guest instructor in Phillies spring training, and as a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee. The three new analysts, Mike, Jamie and Matt each know what it takes to earn a World Series ring, and will make our Phillies broadcasts entertaining and informative.”

"Given Mike's longstanding ties with the club, he is the ideal person to round out our broadcasting team," said Dave Buck, Phillies Senior Vice President of Marketing and Advertising Sales.  "From his years as one of the most notable players in Phillies history to his more recent roles as Spring Training special assistant  and marketing ambassador, we are excited to continue to expand Mike's duties as he is an integral part of the Phillies family."

Schmidt’s storied Phillies career includes 548 homeruns, three National League most valuable player awards, 12 all-star selections and 10 gold gloves.  He led the team to five National League East division titles, two National League pennants and a World Series championship in 1980, where he was named the series MVP. He is among a select number of Phillies to have both his number retired and his likeness represented in a statue outside Citizens Bank Park.  He is widely recognized as the greatest third baseman in major league history and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995. Schmidt served as a guest instructor during Phillies spring training for 12 years, working with hitters and infielders. He also spent 2004 as the manager of the Clearwater Threshers.

Today, Moyer and Stairs make their debut in the booth during Comcast SportsNet’s first spring training broadcast featuring the Phillies vs. Toronto Blue Jays. Comcast SportsNet will air an additional five games, with The Comcast Network airing a total of 12 games throughout spring training. 

In 2014, Comcast SportsNet will air a record 140 regular season games, including the season opener on Monday, March 31 at 2 p.m. against the Texas Rangers. The Comcast Network will air nine regular season games. All games airing on Comcast SportsNet and The Comcast Network are broadcast in high definition and will feature “Phillies Pregame Live” and “Phillies Postgame Live” programming.
                         
Philadelphia’s NBC10 airs 12 Phillies games in 2014, also in high definition, including the home opener on Monday, April 7 at 3 p.m. against the Milwaukee Brewers. 

For Comcast SportsNet’s announcement on Moyer and Stairs, click here:   http://csnphilly.com\moyerstairsannouncement


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Phillies Talk Podcast: Phillies not to blame in NCCA issue




It's time for another Phillies Talk Podcast with Rich and Jim talking about the Phillies like you won't hear on other shows. This week we look at a number of great things that are happening down in Clearwater and the Spring Training season is starting up in only a couple of days.

The recent report about the NCAA players and the Phillies have the organization looking like the bad guy in a lot of news stories. It's not the Phillies fault, they are following the rules. College players aren't supposed to have agents, that's the rule. 

Apparently Ben has even more problems now as he tweeted that someone stole his laptops from his college room!



All of this and so much more on this edition of Phillies Talk.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Things looking brighter for Phillies so far in 2014





The news has been good so far from the Phillies in the early portion of the 2014 Spring Training season.

Players have been adapting to the new style of the manager, Ryan Sandberg, and have been benefiting from the hard work ethics of Larry Bowa, the new Phillies bench coach. If anything the team has been taking note that this isn't the same of jazz song of the previous Spring Training years. Not that Charlie Manuel didn't do well, because he did a fine job with the teams that he managed, but that the Phillies are going in a new direction with new leadership and trying more to create that team chemistry.

Having Roy Halladay around as a special pitching instructor can only help the whole pitching staff develop. There was a great story here on DelawareOnline.com that explained how well the upcoming Phillies prospect, Jesse Biddle, is benefiting from Halladay's tutelage.

The Phillies are full of players that know what it takes to be successful, that is a major plus going into this season. Yes, they are older, but not too old to fall on their faces. This is a team that is built to win and adding AJ Burnett was just another signal from the Phillies that the team isn't ready to fold up anytime too soon.

We're just about a week away from the opening of Spring Training playing schedule. The players are just getting to get acclimated to the practice field, but soon it will be on the playing field. That is where the Phillies can start letting the naysayers know that they aren't finished yet. This team is still a relevant ball club in the National League.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Optimism's flame is burning for Phillies early on



One of my favorite bands of the early 1980's XTC with Burning with Optimism's Flames


Amidst all of  drubbing that ESPN placed upon the Phillies in this early part of Spring Training, it was kind of hard to get excited about this team for many people. In case you missed it, ESPN had a ranking that had the Phillies finished 29th out of 30 teams for the 2014 season.

I don't know how ESPN can allow that kind of stuff to be published let alone who is responsible for publishing it. How can you figure that the Phillies will go into Spring Training this year in perhaps the best shape that they've been in for a couple of years and expect them to finish near dead last in the MLB?

In the last couple of days we've been hearing from the players themselves. Ryan Howard is saying he can return to greatness, he's certainly not too old to do that. He says he can hit 40 HR's this year and lead this team back to the playoffs. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins have been a little less vocal so far, but the fans have been waiting for these 3 players to get on the same field and play together on the Phillies for a long time now. 2014 will be the time this happens as they all appear to be in great shape.

Adding Marlon Byrd to the picture was at first glance, not too much to get excited about. Byrd though really picked up his game last year and had a career year, can that continue into 2014? Can Domonic Brown pickup on this monster year of last season? If these players can combine and become a force, we may be surprised that this Phillies team may just rise to the top and never look back in 2014.

Signing AJ Burnett was a big plus for this team, although I didn't think they actually needed him to have a great season. It's official this morning with AJ Burnett signing with the Phillies, so we'll have a lot of extra fire power in the starting rotation now with his presence on the team.

So for now, it's more optimism coming out of Spring Training in a quiet sort of way from the Phillies. A lot of the Phillies players have been successful before, they know what it takes to get to the playoffs and World Series, maybe they found the missing ingredients with this team that has been assembled so far.

 


Friday, February 14, 2014

Former Phillies managager Jim Fregosi dies of stroke



Jim Fregosi had been onboard the Divina for a baseball themed cruise when he suffered a stroke



Former Phillies manager, Jim Fregosi, has died of the stroke at 71 that happened on a baseball cruise on the MSC Cruises ship, Divinia, while the ship was at sea. The ship returned to Grand Caymen to get Fregosi to a hospital there.

ESPN reported that Fregosi was moved to a hospital in Florida by helicopter after being in a Grand Caymen hospital for a short time and he was stabilized in Grand Caymen.

Fregosi passed away at 2:36 a.m. this morning in Miami according to Fregosi's son, Jim Fregosi Jr.

The MSC cruise line issued this statement, "MSC's thoughts and prayers are with the Fregosi family during this difficult period," the line's spokeswoman Yvette Batalla said. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

They're baaaaccckkk! Phillies take to the field in Clearwater







Awww it must be nice down there in Florida, even if it's in the low 60's - it sure beats a snow storm (the 11th snow storm of the season for Philadelphia) and the nor'easter that we are experiencing in the tri-state area.






Phillies pitchers/catchers and a few more familiar faces are down in Clearwater today! Full team reports on the 18th of February.








Jim Fregosi recovering from stroke on MLB alumni cruise




1993 Phillies manager Jim Fregosi suffered a stroke on a cruise ship near the Caymen Islands.


Fregosi of course was the manager that the 1993 Phillies team made it to the World Series with. The 1993 was a scruffy and tough bunch of players that were very much old school but really pulled together to overcome what ever shortcomings they may have had on the field by becoming an awesome team that pulled together.

The '93 Phillies were a colorful bunch of players with the likes of John Kruk, Darren Daulton, Danny Jackson, Mitch Williams, and a whole bunch more. They were long odds to get to any playoffs let alone the World Series, but that didn't deter them from their dream of making it.

In a 1993 article published in October for the start of the World Series, Jim Fregosi said he liked to be a private person and didn't seek the limelight and he went on to talk about the baseball business:

"I learned in my first managing job not to take myself so seriously," said Fregosi, who like so many of his players is recycled.


In this day and age that is refreshing. A person that doesn't want it all, he is content with certain successes and aware of certain failures as well. Maybe it's that kind of attitude that the 1993 Phillies had, maybe that's a reason that this team did so well.

Fregosi, now 71 years old, may be moved back to the US soon, according to published reports. FightinPhillies.com would like it's readers to say a little prayer for the former Phil's skipper that he makes it ok.


Jim Fregosi's managerial record:

Rk Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% G Finish
1 1978 36 California Angels AL 2nd of 2 62 54 .534 116 2
2 1979 37 California Angels AL 88 74 .543 162 1
3 1980 38 California Angels AL 65 95 .406 160 6
4 1981 39 California Angels AL 1st of 2 22 25 .468 47 4 First half of season
5 1986 44 Chicago White Sox AL 3rd of 3 45 51 .469 96 5
6 1987 45 Chicago White Sox AL 77 85 .475 162 5
7 1988 46 Chicago White Sox AL 71 90 .441 161 5
8 1991 49 Philadelphia Phillies NL 2nd of 2 74 75 .497 149 3
9 1992 50 Philadelphia Phillies NL 70 92 .432 162 6
10 1993 51 Philadelphia Phillies NL 97 65 .599 162 1 NL Pennant
11 1994 52 Philadelphia Phillies NL 54 61 .470 115 4
12 1995 53 Philadelphia Phillies NL 69 75 .479 144 3
13 1996 54 Philadelphia Phillies NL 67 95 .414 162 5
14 1999 57 Toronto Blue Jays AL 84 78 .519 162 3
15 2000 58 Toronto Blue Jays AL 83 79 .512 162 3
California Angels 4 years 237 248 .489 485 3.3
Chicago White Sox 3 years 193 226 .461 419 5.0
Philadelphia Phillies 6 years 431 463 .482 894 3.7 1 Pennant
Toronto Blue Jays 2 years 167 157 .515 324 3.0
15 years 1028 1094 .484 2122 3.7 1 Pennant
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/13/2014.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Phillies add Burnett but Cole gives some bad news





When his GM career is over, Ruben Amaro can hit the poker circuit as he plays his cards close to the vest, and never gives away his hand. Today, the Phillies signed A.J. Burnett to a 1 year deal to pitch for the Phillies, and it gives another great reason not to be so down on this Phillies team. Yes, the Phillies payroll is higher than ever and yes we know they haven't done much in the past two seasons. I think there could be a trump card being played on Ruben Amaro by ownership though if this team flounders this season. Amaro has been given nothing but cash, cash, cash, to spend and he virtually has nothing to show for it for the past few years.

That was the good news today with the Burnett signing.

The bad news was that Cole Hamels announced that he has a set back. He has an injury coming into Spring Training that will prevent him from opening week, though he says he should be ready to go sometime in April.

That's a lot of news just one more day until Phillies pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater.

It all happens tomorrow in Clearwater, Spring Training games start in about 2 weeks from now. Bring it on!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Pitchers and Catchers primer for 2014 Phillies Spring Training




The Phils will carry on without Roy Halladay this year as pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday


It's that time of the season again, time to think Spring and baseball. I know, we've had a tough winter around here in the Philly area, storm after storm. Some people are just getting their electric back after it being knocked offline for up to a week following a wicked ice storm, how can we focus on baseball? More snow on the way for Wednesday and Thursday, you don't say...


On Wednesday in Clearwater, it will be time to get down to business for a big portion of the Phillies team, that of course is when the pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. It's a magical time of hope, of a new beginning, and of thoughts of previous great years. Each MLB team goes into Spring with a yearning to get to the playoffs and World Series. According to Sportbet.com, these teams have the best chance of winning the 2014 World Series.



In the catcher's spot, we're lucky to have retained a mainstay of the position, Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz has enjoyed a great run with the Phillies. He's meant a lot to this team over perhaps one of the greatest stretches than the Phillies have had in their entire history.


Phillies pitching great Roy Halladay, who now is retired, gave Ruiz some great compliments over the last couple of years especially after Halladay pitched two no-hitters in 2010. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels have praised Ruiz the same way. It's something that pitchers especially know, that intangible trait of melding the right chemistry between pitcher and catcher.


Backing up Carlos Ruiz this year will be the veteran Will Nieves. Nieves is a 10 year veteran who has caught for the Yankees, Nationals, Brewers, and most recently the Arizona Diamondbacks. He steps in and will be a great guy to have in the catcher's position when Ruiz needs a day off, or if he should get injured.


In the pitcher's position, we'll see some familiar faces with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee anchoring the rotation. Lee is arguably this rotation's ace with a 14-8 record last year, after having some incredibly bad luck in 2012 when he went just 6-9. Hamels is a World Series MVP, his season last year wasn't of that caliber, but he is due to really have a great year in 2014. Cole is just 1 more win away from 100 wins as a pitcher with the Phillies for his career.


So what about the rest of the rotation? The Phillies signed a pitcher named Miguel Gonzalez. Little is known about him so far. He's 27 years old, and was highly sought after by up to 7 teams that watched him throw in Mexico last year. Gonzalez is from Cuba, he had to escape Cuba to play in the US. It wasn't the first time for Gonzalez in wanting to get out of Cuba, a couple years ago, Gonzalez tried to escape Cuba for the first time and was unsuccessful, his penalty was a suspension and not playing for 2 years there in Cuba, but he never gave up the hope of eventually fleeing the communist country.


Gonzalez could turn into a great pitcher for the Phillies, again the key word is could. He is highly scouted though and signed a 3 year deal for $12M with the Phillies, so we'll be finding out real soon what impact he has on this Phillies team.


Jonathan Pettibone and Kyle Kendrick will most likely round out the starting rotation out of Spring Training for the 2014 season. Pettibone is only 23, he's the youngest of the Phils starting pitchers. Pettibone was drafted in the third round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Phillies.


So that is a look at the starters and the catchers that will be reporting to Spring Training, tomorrow, a look the relievers, and other pitchers coming to camp this year.




Thursday, February 06, 2014

It's Clearwater or Bust for the Phils Equipment Truck!




Listen in to the Phillies Talk Podcast for February 6, 2014




Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Schilling adds to list of Phillies with cancer






Curt Schilling announced that he has cancer as many published reports have reported. He is the latest Phillies player to announce that he has the illness. The announcement was made on ESPN, which employs Schilling as an analyst.

Though Schilling didn't disclose what type of cancer it is, another Phillies pitcher has been affected by this disease.

Other Phillies that have been publicized with cancer; Tug McGraw, John Vukovich, Ken Brett who died in 2003, and Johnny Oates who died in 2004, and most recently Darren 'Dutch' Daulton. There have been several other major league players have been diagnosed with the same brain cancers that have affected some of the Phillies players. Some wonder if it's more than coincidence though with the Phillies players.

Read a USA Today article from last year after Darren Daulton revealed he had brain cancer last year about the many Phillies who now have had this dreaded affliction.

Schilling has taken a high road on this announcement and looks forward to the battle, it's very early on in the battle.

Here's a quote for Schilling at the announcement:

“I’ve been so very blessed and I feel grateful for what God has allowed my family to have and experience, and I’ll embrace this fight just like the rest of them, with resolute faith and head on.”  

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The naysayers have spoken: ESPN says Phillies don't have a chance in '14



Phillies ESPN




Yes, the Phillies finished near the bottom in every important category in both offense and pitching last year. It was an epic fall from grace for this team, and that is reason enough to believe that the Phillies will not be much better this upcoming season.

ESPN has ranked the Phillies for 2014 just above the Houston Astros for 29th place out of 30 teams right here in this article.  That is some serious predicting by them, it's one that I don't believe but we have to look at the reasons that the ESPN pundits put them just near the bottom.

The Phillies allowed a lot of runs to be scored against them in 2013, and they didn't score enough runs. Their run production was 26th out of 30 teams last year, there is not a chance that you'll have a very successful season with numbers that those.

Are the Phillies that bad though?

The team was put through a myriad of changes in 2013, Charlie Manuel was throwing everything but the kitchen sink into this team and had so many players in different positions, it seemed like a varsity tryout at times. The bullpen wasn't reliable and something really bad happened to this team just after the All-Star Break.

Before the All-Star Break last season, the Phillies looked as if they were shaping up. The team closed a terrible 1st half out with something respectable, moving to .500 baseball and going 48-48 after they were down as much as 9.5 games off of first during the first half.

The problem happened when the team returned after the All-Star Break, though Amaro threatened with sounds of breaking up this group, the team did not have many major moves. Perhaps the addition of someone that was a spark plug would have worked, maybe not. The questions now about this team and why they finished so terribly is a case for the record books now, and yes as several players stated, it all comes down to chemistry and how you deal with things.

I don't think the Phillies are as bad as a team as ESPN thinks in this article. They are at least going to finish a .500 team or better. The team will be at full health, and full strength, let's look back at this article a couple months from now and laugh at how ESPN missed the mark on this one, it wouldn't be the first time.