June 2009

One plus about this club–actually there are a lot of plusses–is their ability to bounce back.  Resiliency is amazing.

Trailing Beckett 4-1 doesn’t present a pretty rest of the game.  J. A. kept us in the game, despite command problems.  Offense kicked in in the big inning and comeback win #20 was in the books.

Offense certainly would get a boost it J-Roll gets rolling.  He’s too good a player to keep wallowing in the .220 range.

Scuffling Blue Jays come to town tomorrow for three games.  Fan animosity now shifts from J. D. Drew to Scott Rolen. 

Weekend three-gamer with the Orioles ends Citizens Bank Park baseball this month.

An Epidemic
Checking the box scores this morning, there were five complete games in the majors yesterday.  Sometimes it takes a week for five complete games.

Clearwater LHP Yohan Flande (6-1) pitched a 9-inning shutout against Jupiter yesterday at Bright House Field.  It’s the second 9-inning complete game in our minor league system this season.

The other was by Clearwater RHP Kyle Drabek.  He was promoted to AA Reading after his complete game. 



June 14

Fair or foul?

People are still buzzing over Dobbs’ potential game-winning homer on Friday night that was ruled foul.  Charlie asked for a replay but was denied.  The crew chief makes the determination as to whether the replay comes into play.

Good thing about last night’s game, it’s over.  Red Sox swung the bats and we didn’t. 

Beckett is on fire right now, 0 runs in last 13-plus innings, 5-0 since May 5.  J. A. needs to give us innings.  Bullpen has been stretched.

Minor League Notes
Lehigh Valley shortstop Jason Donald will have surgery tomorrow on an ailing left knee and will be sidelined 3-4 weeks. 

Teammate, catcher Lou Marson, is also on the LV DL with a bruised right foot.

The Pen

This time, the formula didn’t work.

Wednesday night in New York, we were held to 1 run on 3 hits through 6 innings.  We came back and won in extra innings.  Next night, 1 run, 4 hits, 6 innings, another come-from-behind extra-inning victory.

Last night, 1 run, 2 hits, 6 innings.  Ryan tied it in the 9th but that was all the scoring we could muster and the Red Sox record at Citizens Bank Park improved to 13-3.  No wonder Terry Francona loves the place.

Three runs Kendrick gave up in the 13th inning ended a 15-inning scoreless streak by the bullpen and dropped us three games under .500 at home. 

Why we struggle at home?  A perplexing puzzle.  Hey, here’s an idea, wear the gray road uniforms at home!

The Pen
Major League Baseball Productions will air the first of a five-part reality series called The Pen.  Tune in at 8 o’clock Sunday night on the MLB Network. 

It is about the Phillies bullpen, behind the scenes using cameras and microphones.  Associate Producer Danny Fields even suited up as a catcher in spring training with a camera attached to his mask.

Other airings: June 21 (9 p.m.), June 28, July 12, July 19, July 26, all 8:30 p.m.  Prior to each new episode, the previous week’s show will air in its entirety. 

National TV
ESPN will carry Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park.  Telecast will be blacked out in the Philadelphia market.


Now, The Hard Part

Raul’s blast and more bullpen zeroes added up to another come-from-behind win last night at New York, ending a tough 10-game, 11-day road trip at 7-3.

With a 23-9 record away from home, we’re on top of the baseball world.  That is an amazing record.

Now, the hard part.

It is a different story at Citizens Bank Park so far this season.  Only two N. L. teams have fewer wins at home than our 12-14 mark, Washington (10-22) and Colorado (9-14). 

Starting tonight, the next 15 games are against American League Eastern Division clubs as interleague play heats up.  We’re 92-110 in interleague play.

Our record against the A. L. teams we’re playing: Red Sox (14-20), Blue Jays (12-12), Orioles (21-21) and Rays (5-10).  Three games against each club except Toronto.  We have six with the Blue Jays.  Our road record in Toronto’s Rogers Centre is 5-4; in Tropicana Field, 2-4.

What’s Next
The draft is completed and now it is time for the area scouts to swoop in on our draftees and get them signed to a professional contract.

Most of the players selected this week will be assigned to the Williamsport Crosscutters or Gulf Coast League Phillies in Clearwater. 

Williamsport Crosscutters
New York-Penn League Pinckney Division, 14 teams . . . 76-game season begins June 19; ends September 6 . . . 30-player active roster, but only 25 eligible for each game . . . No more than four players 23 or older; no more than three players on active list may have four or more years of prior service.

Gulf Coast League Phillies
Gulf Coast Rookie League, 16 teams . . . 60-game season begins June 23; ends August 31 . . . 35-player active roster, but only 30 eligible for each game . . . No player who has three or more years of prior minor league and/or major league service time can participate.

Officially a Sr. Citizen
Among the players we drafted were 3B Robert Amaro and 1B Cory Wine, grandsons of Ruben Amaro Sr. and Bobby Wine, a pair of shortstops a long time ago.

I’m sure of two things:  (1) I’m officially a senior citizen when grandchildren are being drafted, and (2) both Robert and Cory are better hitters than their grandpops!



Don’t remember a better catch than Jayson’s game-saving dive in the 10th inning last night.  Cole struggled but the bullpen put up six zeroes and Chase came through with the game-winning homer in the 11th.

TV ratings the last two nights were season highs for both myphl17 (11 rating on Tuesday night) and Comcast SportsNet (9, last night).

Fans were at the ticket windows this morning.  We’re home only nine games this month, starting tomorrow night against the Boston Red Sox. They’re running their aces to the mound for the three games this weekend, Lester-Matsuzaka-Beckett. 

Draft Update
Rounds four through 30 were held yesterday by conference call with MLB’s New York office. 

The magnetic boards in the Phillies war room are really bare.   Remaining 20 rounds are today.

Brown Injured
Clearwater’s All-Star outfielder Dominic Brown will be lost for close to a month with a broken finger on his right hand.  He was hit by a pitch on Tuesday night.

Pardon Me
MLB gets criticized for starting World Series games at 8:30 (EDT).  NBA Finals are starting at 9.
Perhaps the criticism means MLB is held to a higher standard.

Draft History
Without a first round selection, the Phillies first pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday night was the 75th overall.

Looking over the current Phillies and their overall-selections:

12 Brett Myers, Phillies, 1999, 1st round
15 Chase Utley, Phillies, 2000, 1st
17 Brad Lidge, Astros, 1998, 1st
 Cole Hamels, Phillies, 2002, 1st
22 Jayson Werth, Orioles, 1997, 1st
24 Joe Blanton, A’s 2002, 1st
46 Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, 1996, 2nd
79 Chad Durbin, Royals, 1996, 3rd
92 J. A. Happ, Phillies, 2004, 3rd
135 Jamie Moyer, Cubs, 1984, 6th
140 Ryan Howard, Phillies, 2001, 5th
194 Shane Victorino, Phillies, Dodgers, 1999, 6th
248 Scott Eyre, Rangers, 1991, 9th
254 Ryan Madson, Phillies, 1998, 9th
277 Eric Bruntlett, Astros, 2000, 9th
633 J. C. Romero, Twins, 1997, 21st
1006 Raul Ibanez, Mariners, 1992, 36th















Inside the Draft

Back to the draft drawing board. 

Marti Wolever and his staff closed shop after midnight last night following Day 1 of the draft.  They were back in the war room at 9 this morning getting ready for Day 2 which begins at noon, rounds 4-30.  Remaining 20 rounds will take place tomorrow, starting at 11:20 a.m.

A total of 111 names were selected yesterday, meaning that many magnetic name plates were removed from the Phillies four main boards, college pitchers/players and the same for high school athletes.

Of the top 16 names that were posted on the Phillies boards, all college pitchers are gone.  For college position players, one name was there this a.m.  High school pitchers, five remained and high school position players, three.

Led by Marti, discussions continued this morning on the names that are next in line on the boards.  Calls were made last night and this morning to area scouts for fresh updates.

Long time Phillies athletic trainer, Jeff Cooper, is part of the war room to provide input if there is a medical issue.

Day 1
“Good luck with the draft!  Jamie Moyer.”

That had-written note was left on the Phillies table at the MLB Network studio where the first day’s draft was held last evening.  Jamie was in the studio the day before.

Moyer was drafted as the 135th overall player (sixth round) in 1984 by the Cubs, whose GM then was Dallas Green.  Dallas and I occupied the Phillies table last night.  Dallas got to announce our first selection, outfielder Kelly Dugan, the 75th overall selection (second round).

Each club had two representatives.  Among the 60 reps were Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Al Kaline, Bill Mazeroski and Tommy Lasorda.

With the signing of free agent Raul Ibanez, our first round selection and a compensation pick went to the Mariners.  Not having a first round selection took some of the interest and excitement out of the draft. 

As Seattle was getting close to their selection, Scott Palmer sent a text message, “Howard, Ibanez home runs.”  Where would we be without Raul?  He’s certainly worth a first-round pick.

The impressive studio includes an artificial surface mini infield.  The Phillies table was just to the first base side of the mound.  The Pirates table was to our left. 

The distance from the mound to home plate was much shorter than the normal 60-feet, 6-inches.  When asked if Dallas could still pitch at the shorter distance, he laughed, “With my knees, I can’t get up the mound anymore.”

The commentators (MLB Network announcers for the first/compensation rounds; MLB.com for the remaining selections) were on a stage over our left shoulder.  We heard everything that was said.  But, no monitors to for us to see what was on the air.

MLB Network commentator, Harold Reynolds, who is very good, said before San Diego had the second selection, “The Padres are the most boring offensive team I’ve seen.”  Thought it was awkward especially since the Padres table was about five feet away, directly behind Reynolds. 

As has been reported, our first two selections were very athletic high school outfielders with excellent makeup.  Physical tools are important but so is the mental attitude.  No need to look any further for examples than our big league clubhouse.


Draft Time

5-2 in California could have better.  But, it could have been work.  Scene now shifts to eastern end of the country and a three-game series with the Mets that starts tomorrow night in New York. 

Meanwhile, back at Citizens Bank Park, scouting Director Marti Wolever and his staff are putting the finishing touches in preparation for the First-Year Player Draft.  It begins at 6 p.m. tomorrow with round one live on the MLB Network (6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) and compensation picks and rounds 2-3 on MLB.com (8:40 p.m. to 10:07 p.m.).  Website will have complete coverage of the entire draft, which includes day 2 on Wednesday (12 noon start) and day 3 on Thursday (11:30 a.m. start).  50 rounds is the maximum number of rounds.

Since we gave up our first round selection to Seattle when we signed Raul Ibanez, we won’t pick until the 75th overall selection in round 2.  After that, 106 in round 3. 

Dallas Green and I will be at the MLB Network studio tomorrow and Dallas gets to announce our first selection.  Each team will have two representatives in the Secaucus, NJ, studio.

The Draft Room on the Hall of Fame Club level is Wolever’s war room.   Eight large magnetic boards rim the room.  825 players are listed, blue representing college players and red, high school players.  Every staff member in the room has a lap top and a red binder, which also contains the 825 names.

Players are ranked from the top to bottom in four different categories, college pitchers and position players and the same for high schoolers.  As players are selected, the magnetic name plates are removed.

Some name plates include colored dots, red indicating a health concern; orange, college seniors and green, signability issues.

Today and tomorrow morning will mean more phone calls to the area scouts scattered around the country.   Last-minute calls are made to check out last-minute updates, whether it is an injury inquiry or a signability issue.

Draft Facts
**Since the first daft in 1965, 55,846 players have been selected.

**Right-handed pitchers lead the way, 18,712; catchers bring up the rear, 5,795.

**Last year, 1,504 selections; 1965, 813.

**The Diamondbacks lost three ranked free agents last winter, Orlando Hudson, Juan Cruz and Brandon Lyon.  They will have six selections before the Phillies pick at #75.

Reaching the Majors
According to an estimate by the Elias Sports Bureau, approximately 16,900 players have appeared in at least one Major League game all-time (Phillies, 1,856 different players).  The approximate average length of a career is five years.

There are 750 roster slots in MLB for the most of the year at a given time.  A total of 1,291 players appeared in at least one MLB game a year ago.

Next Post
It will be Wednesday, an inside look at the Phillies first three selections.


Offense to blame

Tough way to end a 7-game fun ride last night.

Pedro, who has played brilliant defense, made a crucial error and Brad couldn’t close it out.  Got to give Pedro credit, he didn’t hide from the media, “I just missed it. I have nothing more to say.” 

Blame really should rest with the offense, 11 runners left on base, 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position.  We had numerous chances to put it away and we didn’t.  Brad had 2 strikes on all but Ethier but couldn’t put them away. 

When we score 3 or more runs, 31-5; 3 or less runs, 1-13. 

Quality pitching is the name of the game and that’s what had us riding high.  Jamie’s turned it around as have all the starters.  Over the long haul, pitching tells the story.

National TV for the next two games, FOX this afternoon and ESPN on Sunday night.  Then, on to New York for 3 with the walking-wounded Mets starting Tuesday. 

We’re home with the Boston Red Sox next weekend, the start of 15 games against the A.L. East.



Big LA Weekend

On to LA where the Dodgers have the best record in the NL (37-18) and also at home (20-6).  We’re 31-20 and riding a 6-game winning streak as the hottest team in the NL and the league’s best road record (19-6).  Perfect setting for a four-game weekend series that features two national telecasts, FOX on Saturday afternoon and ESPN on Sunday night.

LA swept us in four in Dodger Stadium last August, but when we returned in October, we took two of three to get into the World Series.

Everything clicked last night in San Diego, great starting pitching, great defense, another Ryan blast and small ball producing a run (J-Roll single, stolen base, Werth single).  Dobber, J-Roll, Pedro and Chase all turned in Web Gems. 

Always thought the 1980 team was our best defensive team.  Not so sure anymore.

Happ was outstanding, pounding the strike zone in his seven innings.  Over the last 15 games, the starter has pitched into the sixth inning 13 times.  Our record ? 11-4.  

Great to have J. C. back in the bullpen.  He certainly adds depth to an already good pen.

Two buses left Peto Park for LA after the game last night.  Not a long drive.  The Reading Phillies leave after tonight’s game at home in one bus for Manchester, NH, where they play tomorrow night.  This bus ride is seven hours long.  Ah, life in the minors.

Because of the 8 p.m. (EDT) game Sunday in LA, the Phillies charter flight after that game is due to arrive in New York at 6:30 a.m. Monday.  Good there’s no game that day.

RHP Kyle Drabek made an impressive AA debut last night at Reading with seven shutout innings. Recorded 11 ground ball outs.  He joined Reading just in time for the seven-hour bus ride tonight.



Impresive Debut, Birthday

Antonio was impressive last night. 

Anyone making his major league debut has to have butterflies. Especially a 23-year-old.  His composure on the mound was as good as his fast ball.  He almost got to bat before he got to throw a pitch.  The four-spot in the first inning had him on deck before Chooch made the last out.

Taking the mound for the first time with a four-run lead had to help chase some butterflies.  It didn’t look that way as he fell behind Tony Gwynn Jr., 3-0, before striking him out.  Just think he can tell his grandkids he struck out Tony Gwynn, the first batter he faced.

While he was encouraging, Charlie pointed out he basically threw one pitch, a fast ball.  You can’t live in the big leagues that way.  So, let’s not rush and give him a Cy Young Award.

He’s penciled in for his next start Sunday in LA against the Dodgers, an 8 o’clock (ET) national telecast on ESPN.  Big stage.

His last three wins have come on the road, last night in San Diego, May 28 in Buffalo (AAA) and May 6 in Norwich, CT (AA).

Birthday Present
Generally, a person receives gifts when he or she has a birthday.

Raul gave his team a gift on his 37th birthday last night, double, two homers (# 18-19), five RBI.   Everybody said Citizens Bank Park would help his power production.  Well, folks, he’s hitting .346 on the road with 11 home runs.

The man can hit.

Another Debut
RHP Kyle Drabek, number 1 pick three years ago, is making his AA debut tonight at Reading.  Generally, media numbers total five for a Reading Phillies home game.  It is doubled tonight and may go higher.