May 2008

Manuel's V-8 Machine

Tonight’s Lineup:
Rollins, ss
Victorino, cf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Jenkins, rf
Feliz, 3b
Ruiz, c
Hamels, p

Brett’s Back
A shaky first inning, three runs on three hits, didn’t bode well for Brett Myers.  But, he regrouped and turned in an outstanding performance.  He rode Charlie Manuel’s V-8 Machine to an impressive win and first place in the East.  Over the next seven innings, he gave up three hits and no runs while fanning 11. 

Hopefully, Brett’s early-season troubles are in the rear view mirror.  He pitches like last night, look out.

What can you say about Chase Utley?  The best offensive player in the game? As has been said here, he had a great April, cooled off a bit but has returned to lead this offense (4 HR, 15 RBI, last 5 games).
A V-8 engine is very powerful when all cylinders are working.   Miss a few cylinders and the engine will sputter.  For a while there, Manuel’s V-8 Machine was sputtering.  Not lately as eight of the eight starting players seem to contribute.  Big innings have become the norm (5 or more runs in an inning, 10 times).  At some point, Manuel’s V-8 Machine will slow down but it awesome to watch right now.

Countdown to the Draft
5 more days to baseball’s First-Year Player Draft.

Dykstra, Gordon, Weeks, Roenicke. 

All are available in the draft.  Actually, there are two Dykstras, Cutter, a high school second baseman turned centerfielder and Allan, a college first baseman.  Guess which one is Lenny’s son?  If you guessed the centerfielder, you are correct.

Tom Gordon’s son, Devaris Strange-Gordon, is an infielder who hasn’t been played much baseball but he’s really caught the eyes of baseball scouts with his multiple tools.

Weeks is Jemile, a high school second baseman whose brother, Rickie, is the Brewers’ second baseman.  Gary Roenicke is the nephew of Ron, who played for the Phillies in 1986-87.

There are two other prospects with familiar names.  Kyle Long is a high school first baseman-pitcher, the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie.  Kyle’s brother was the first player taken in the NFL draft last month.  Some kind of athletes in that family!

Then there is a LHP, Daniel Schlereth, out of the University of Arizona.  His dad is Mark, a former NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN Commentator.

This Date
In Phillies history……
1994 Phillies rally for 87 win at Wrigley Field, ending the month with a 1513 record despite losing three starting pitchers (Curt Schilling, Tommy Greene, Ben Rivera) and three regulars (1B John Kruk, SS Kevin Stocker, 3B Dave Hollins) to the disabled list during the month.


Big Weekend Series Starts

Tonight’s Lineup, the first game of a big weekend series:
Rollins, ss
Victorino, cf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Feliz, 3b
Coste, c
Taguchi, rf
Myers, p

Draft Countdown
6 more days until the First-Year Player Draft.

Marti Wolever and his crew worked until 10:30 last night.  Concentration was on ranking more high school pitchers and starting the same process with high school position players.  Three of the eight magnetic boards are now starting to fill up with names in blue (college players) and red (high school).

Speaking of colors, there are three colored dots that may appear on a player’s name plate: red
(medical alert), green (signability issues) and orange (college senior).

Area scouts have players fill out questionnaires that includes reports on present and past injuries. (“A” indicates minimal concerns; “B”, more serious and “C” very serious).  Part of scouting is also being aware of injuries.  The medical reports are passed on to Dr. Michael Ciccotti, who reviews each and every report.  Former head athletic trainer, Jeff Cooper, also sees all the medical reports.  “Coop” serves as an advisor because of his knowledge and experience of dealing with the various types of injuries.  He’s one of the best when it comes to rehabbing injured players.

What’s Happening
Chris Coste will be signing his book from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Majestic Clubhouse Store, Citizens Bank Park . . . Mike Lieberthal will throw out the first ball on Sunday and officially retire from baseball as a member of the Phillies organization . . . WTBS will nationally televise the next two Sunday games. 

This Date
In Phillies history……..
1935 LF Babe Ruth, playing for the Boston Braves, was hitless in one at-bat against the Phillies, the last major league game for “The Bambino”.  Phillies win, 11-6, in first game of a doubleheader at Baker Bowl.
1981 LHP Steve Carlton defeats St. Louis, 6-1, at the Vet to lift the Phillies into first place.  Carlton is 40-9, including the 1980 postseason, after Dallas Green took over as manager in August 1979.  
1982 LHP Steve Carlton wins 191st game with Phillies, moving into second place on the club’s alltime list ahead of Grover Cleveland Alexander.


Colorado to Florida

No, it isn’t a trip but Citizens Bank Park baseball shifts from the Rockies to the Marlins.

Adam Eaton had his second straight solid start last night and the offense delivered again giving the Phillies a sweep of the Rockies.  Glad we are finished with the hurting Rockies (LF, SS, 2B, RF starters on the DL) for the season. When they get healthy, Rockies will put a hurting on teams and it won’t be us.

Chase Utley had a great April, cooled a bit and is red hot again with the bat.  In the last four games: 6 hits (3 homers), 13 RBI.  He leads all NL players in voting for the All-Star team and it should be that way.  Phillies fans need to make sure he continues to garner the most votes.

Hard to believe that the season is nearly two months old and the Phillies are facing the Marlins for the first time.    Being a team in the same division, the two meet 18 times this season, starting tomorrow night.  Attendance should be over 40,000 for each of the weekend games.

The Marlins are on a tough division trip, three in New York, three here and four in Atlanta.

Draft Countdown
Seven more days to the First-Year Player Draft.

Yesterday, Marti Wolever (Director, Scouting) and his crew gathered around a large rectangular table, the first of day-long meetings.  Each person is equipped with his own lap top computer.  All scouting reports are computerized compared to 20 years ago when huge and heavy three-ring binders contained hard-copy reports.

The Phillies have over 800 names in the computer.  The process is to rate the players from top to bottom in four categories: college pitchers, college position players and the same for high school players.  Every player eligible for the draft is assigned a number.  When draft day comes, the team’s announce: “We select # 167, Larry Shenk, a burly right-hander from Myerstown, PA, high school.”

The perimeter of the room contains eight large magnetic boards.  Each player has a magnetic name plate, complete with name, height and weight and school.  As they started discussing college pitchers yesterday, the magnetic name plates got shifted around into a top-to-bottom order.

With the Phillies at home through the first day of the draft, Marti and his crew get to watch some major league baseball, compared to the hundreds of high school and college games they’ve been watching since February.

Minor League Review
Lehigh Valley’s DH-1B-3B-OF Mike Cervenak and LH reliever R. J. Swindle are this week’s player and pitcher of the week winners in the Phillies minor league system:

Every major league team signs minor league free agents in the off-season.  Idea is to look everywhere for possible big leaguers and to help stock AAA and AA rosters.  Both Cervenak and Swindle fit that mold, although the Phillies actually signed R. J. last season out of the independent Atlantic League.

Cervenak, a former 3-time Big Ten selection at Michigan, started his pro career in 1999 in the independent league.  The following year, he was signed by the Yankees to a Class A contract.  He’s never made it to the majors and spent 40 games two years ago in Korea.

Swindle doesn’t have over-powering stuff (fast ball: 79-81; slider: 69-72; curve ball: 52-54; yes, a slow curve) but he keeps tossing zeroes.  He’s allowed 2 runs this season between Reading and LV.  His control is spectacular, 2 walks (1 intentional).  In four minor league seasons, he’s walked just 19.

Why sign players who have been in the independent leagues?  See Chris Coste.  His first five pro seasons were in those leagues.

This Date
In Phillies history
1965 With a blast that carries far over the Coca-Cola sign atop the left-center field roof at Connie Mack Stadium, 3B Dick Allen smashed one of the longest home runs ever, an estimated 529 feet.  It came off the Cubs’ RHP Larry Jackson who lost to the Phillies, 4-2.
1985 Mike Schmidt switches to first base, rookie Rick Schu comes up from Portland to play third base.
1986 Greg Gross gets 100th career pinch hit as Phillies edge Giants, 54.
1989 Mike Schmidt announces retirement from baseball in tearful press conference in San Diego. Returns to Philadelphia for press conference next evening with Philadelphia media.
1993 Terry Mulholland pitches first NL shutout in Mile High Stadium, 60, over the Rockies.

Prepping for the Draft

Tonight’s lineup
Rollins, ss; Victorino, cf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Jenkins, rf; Feliz, 3b; Ruiz, c; Eaton, p.

Prepping for draft
The Draft Room is a meeting room on the Hall of Fame Club level, right around the corner from GM Pat Gillick’s office.
Pat, Ruben Amaro Jr., Mike Arbuckle, Mike Ondo, Rob Holiday and Dallas Green will be part of meetings between now and June 5 when the First-Year Player Draft takes place (2 p.m. start).
They will join Marti Wolever (Scouting Director) who will oversee the draft.  Surrounding Marti will be Jim Fregosi Jr. and Mike Ledna (Scouting Coordinators); regional supervisors John Castleberry (East), Brian Kohlscheen (Central) and Bill Moore (West); Paul Murphy (Area Supervisor for DE, KY, MD, VA, DC, WV) and Chuck LaMar (Director of Professional Scouting).
The first meeting began today and will continue daily until the draft.  More on the draft prep will come later.

While signing autographs last night in the Hall of Fame Club, Tommy Herr was approached by a fan and kidded: “Tommy, you look in great shape.  You could still play second base for us (Phillies).  Oh, I forgot, we have Chase (Utley).”

This Date
In Phillies history….
1983 In a bizarre performance, 3B Mike Schmidt strikes out first four times on 12 pitches and then his 2-run homer in last of ninth to beat Montreal’s Jeff Reardon, 5-3.
1989 3B Mike Schmidt walks with one out in the ninth inning against LHP Terry Mulholland at Candlestick Park in what turns out to be his final at-bat of his brilliant career.


Century High

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss
Victorino, cf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Jenkins, rf
Feliz, 3b
Ruiz, c
Kendrick, p

Century High
Hard to believe that at the start of last week, the Phillies offense was as quiet as a mouse.  Blanked in Washington, 4-0, on the 19th and 1-0 winners the next night.

In their last two games, our offense has exploded for 35 runs.  The 20 runs last night are the most the Phillies have ever scored against the Rockies.  Previous high: 18-1 romp at Mile High Stadium, May 30, 1993.

It is also the highest-scoring game this century for the Phillies. 

Back on July 2-3-4,1999, the Phillies swept the Cubs at Veterans Stadium:
 14-1  Wolf/Mulholland
21-8  Byrd/Farnsworth
 6-2  Schilling/Tapani

Scott Rolen drove in 10 runs in the series and Doug Glanville had 7 hits and 7 RBI. 

It all ended on July 5: Milwaukee 5, Phillies 0.

Enough history.  There’s another game tonight and Charlie Manuel put it in perspective in Ken Mandel’s story on this site: “When we score runs, I’m definitely happy.  At the same time, we keep things in perspective.  We’ll celebrate this now, but when we leave here tonight, we’ll think about the next game.”

What’s Happening
Chase Utley will receive his NL Player of the Month Award for April pre-game tonight . . . Jimmy Rollins is hosting Frederick Douglass School students pre-game as part of his reading program, J-Roll’s Aces . . . Greg Dobbs visited a Baseball Skills Challenge Day for special needs children this afternoon in Haddonfield, NJ . . . Phillies Alumni Tommy Herr (1989-90) will sign autographs in the Hall of Fame Club pre-game.

This Date
In Phillies history
1923 OF Cy Williams hits 15th home run of the month in New York to set a club record for May. The homer was his 18th of the season, a National League record for HRs by the end of May.
1986 Steve Carlton makes 666th start to break Warren Spahn’s National League record for a left-handed pitcher.  Carlton beat the Giants, 6-2, at Veterans Stadium. Last night, Jamie Moyer made his 615th start.


Burrell and Bullpen

B and B came through last night.

Pat Burrell came off the bench with his second career pinch-hit home run to give us the lead. 

But, the win really goes to the bullpen of Ryan Madson, J. C. Romero, Chad Durbin, Tom Gordon and Brad Lidge.  Combined they pitched scoreless baseball for four innings, allowing just three hits. 

Not to be overlooked were the three hits by Ryan Howard, who is getting in a groove.  The big guy can carry this team on his shoulders when he gets hot.

Answering a comment
“No lineups?” was a comment posted yesterday.  Since I don’t travel with the team, it is more cumbersome to post the starting lineups on the road. 

We did try on one trip last year but, for a variety of reasons, it really didn’t work out too well. 

Glad to know the lineups are meaningful to you. Wish there were a simple solution.


This Date
In Phillies history…..

Golly, how time flies.  In 1991, Tommy Greene pitched a 20 nohitter at Montreal, walking 7 and striking out 10, before 8,833.  It just seems as if it was yesterday.

Greene, now 41 and a resident of Glen Allen, VA, has never forgotten the ninth inning.  “I backed off the mound before the last pitch [to Tim Wallach] and thought about Leo [Mazzone].  He was my pitching coach in the minors with the Braves.  Three times under him, I lost a no-hitter with two out in the ninth.  I remembered him saying, ‘When are you going to finish off one?'”

Montreal third baseman Tim Wallach grounded back to Greene, who raised both arms in the air, trotted toward first and flipped the ball to Jordan for the final out.  Before he knew it, Greene was surrounded by his jubilant teammates.

Tommy, a very talkative chap, still dabbles in the game because his son, Seth, is a junior in high school.  But away from baseball, he and a buddy are involved in rehabbing homes.  Tommy’s also close to getting his real estate license.  Once that has been accomplished, he will team with his wife, Lori, who has been a realtor for a number of years. 



On To Houston

Last night, with the big guy leading the way, was an offensive epidemic.  Ryan Howard certainly put a charge in his two homers. 

Biggest thing was winning two of three.

Now, on to Houston for four games against the red-hot Astros.  When they limped out of Philadelphia on April 17, they were in last place in the NL Central, 6-10.  They are 21-11 since and in the hunt.

Where’s Waldo?
Well, this is really where’s Wolever, as in Marti, our director of scouting who will oversee the First-Year Player Draft which starts two weeks from today.

“Since last Thursday, I have been in St. Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, Oklahoma City and now on to Tucson, Seattle, Minneapolis and then home for a day or two before coming into Philadelphia to begin draft meetings that start on Wednesday,” e-mailed Marti.. “The draft should be very deep in talent and we are looking forward to a Phillie first, 6 picks in the top 110.”

Minor League Notes
RHP J. D. Durbin struggled at Lehigh Valley and has been assigned to Reading where he lost this morning, 5-2, to Trenton.  All 4 runs off J.D. were unearned . . . Lakewood 1B Michael Durante, who leads our minor leagues with 10 homers, went on the DL today with a sprained left ankle . . . Lakewood RHP Drew Naylor leads all minor league pitchers with 71 strikeouts . . . Lehigh Valley LHP J. A. Happ leads the International League with 66 strikeouts . . . Reading RHP Carlos Carrasco is tied for the Eastern League lead with 59 . . . There were 357 pitches thrown in last night’s Trenton-Reading game, 195 by the Phillies, 162 by the Thunder, who romped, 15-5.

This Date
In Phillies history……
1983 Phillies pulled off two trades in the same day, getting  LHP Sid Monge from San Diego for OF Joe Lefebvre and LHP Willie Hernandez from the Cubs for RHP Dick Ruthven and RHP Bill Johnson.


Dobbs as in Roy Hobbs

Well, it wasn’t exactly an offensive epidemic, but a win is a win.  Now, we need a win tonight to make it two out of three, the formula needed to wind up on top at the end of the season.

Cole Hamels dominated again.  Can’t pitch much better.  The enemy hasn’t scored against him in 17 innings now.

Greg Dobbs came through as a pinch-hitter….again.  Hitting is difficult.  Pinch-hitting is even more difficult but Dobbs has the knack to do it consistently.  He’s become the Roy Hobbs of pinch-hitters.

It is only May 21 and he already has 10 pinch-hits and 9 pinch-RBI.  He’s halfway to his club record for pinch-RBI he set a year ago.  Phillies records on pinch-RBI date back to 1950.  So, if anybody out there has pinch-RBI info beyond 1950, send it to me. 

We do have club records on pinch-hitting dating back to 1862.  The record for the most pinch-hits is 20 by Roy (Doc) Miller in 1913.  The left-handed hitting Canadian only had 10 other hits that year.  Dobbs will do better.

Coste Meets Senator
Chris met Senator Kent Conrad the senior Senator from his home state of North Dakota earlier today. 

Senator Conrad had contacted the Phillies to arrange a personal meeting the next time the Phillies were in the nation’s capital.  Chris talked baseball and signed some of his books for the staff.

The visit included a tour of the Capital building and lunch in the Senate Dining Room.

It turns out that the Senator’s senior aid, Chris Thome, is a Phillies fan from Philadelphia. Another aid is Jayme Fugelsten, a member of the original Knothole Gang of the Fargo Red Wings where Coste once played.

This Date
In Phillies history……
1936 OF Ethan Allen and P Curt Davis traded to Chicago Cubs for OF Chuck Klein, P Fabian Kowalik and $50,000.
1967 Phillies used only two pitchers in a 2-1, 18-inning win over the Cincinnati Reds at Connie Mack Stadium.  LHP Chris Short worked the first 12 innings and RHP Dick Hall the last 6.  Guess they didn’t pay attention to pitch counts back then.






Hitting Epidemic Needed


Three-game losing streak.  It happens.  On the bright side, last night was just one loss.  On the dim side, we need to regroup and end this.

Offense is scuffling right now with runners on base.  Sunday, it was 3-for-13 with runners on base; last night, zero for 12.  Why?  Don’t know.  Again, it just happens.  Hitting can be contagious as can non-hitting.  We need to get a hitting epidemic. 

Charlie Manuel said it best in the papers today, “We have to play better.  We can’t play .500 baseball and win nothing.”

First-year Player Draft
15 days remain until this year’s draft.  For the second straight year, Major League Baseball will televise (ESPN) the first round  and compensation rounds starting at 2 p.m. on June 5.  The telecast will take place at the Milk House which is part of Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, FL. 

Each team will have representatives in the Milk House for the telecast.  If you haven’t seen Ken Mandel’s story on this site, just click on:

This Date
In Phillies history………..
1983 Steve Carlton strikes out San Diego’s Garry Templeton in 2nd inning for # 3,509, passing Walter Johnson for second place on the alltime list. Lefty is 10 strikeouts behind Nolan Ryan.
1984 74 win in San Francisco gives Phillies a sweep of the west coast, 90; first NL team to do so.
1988 Mike Schmidt hits 535th home run off Andy Hawkins in San Diego to move into 8th place on the alltime list ahead of Jimmie Foxx.
2004 RHP Brett Myers threw the first complete game shutout at Citizens Bank Park, 4-0, over the Dodgers.



Offensive Valleys


Ups and downs, peaks and valleys.

That’s part of a marathon called a baseball season.  Pat Burrell and Chase Utley came out of the shoot swinging a hot bat last month.  Jimmy Rollins went down.  Ryan Howard started slowly as did some other players.

Burrell and Utley have cooled off, Rollins came back and is hot, Howard is getting warmer and Jayson Werth had a career game on Friday.  Pedro Feliz. Carlos Ruiz and Geoff Jenkins haven’t gotten it going offensively and Shane Victorino missed time.  Chris Coste has been swinign a hot bat lately.

As the Phillies begin a seven-game road trip, will the all the bats get hot at one time?  Pat and Chase will get it going again.  Rollins had 12 hits in the just-concluded 6-game homestand.  So, he’s hot, real hot.  Howard showed signs of coming out of it.   Others will get it coing.

Over the course of a season, players are going to have extremes at times.  But, it is a matter of working hard and battling.  Offensive valleys are part of the game and its’ long season.  The best hitters fail seven out of 10 times..

Williamsport Journey
Played the role of a deliveryman today with a car trunk full of Phillies memorabilia, including a 4-foot tall Phillie Phanatic.  Sorry, the stuffed green doll was in the trunk.  Didn’t want it sitting in the car and having nosey people gawking. 

Destination was the Peter J. McGovern Little League Baseball Museum in South Williamsport.  The museum will be setting up a Phillies display on the lower level of the two-level building.  The display will run from June 2 through the end of the baseball season.

We’ll have more about this later in the season.  For more information about the museum, visit the website at  Over 35,000 annually stop in the museum located on the grounds of the Little League headquarters and park where the LL World Series is played every August.

Answering a question
With the double rain delays yesterday, what happened to the Phillies transportation plans?  Benefit of traveling on a charter (airplane or train) is that it waits for the team.  Taking commercial transportation would create tons of problems on days such as yesterday.  It would be a nightmare for Frank Coppenbarger, who has enough gray hair.