October 2015

32 In Pinstripes

BowaRookie70s.3.PR.jpg

He was cut from his high school baseball team. He was by-passed by all clubs in the first ever summer draft that took place in 1965. 824 amateur players were drafted but not this skinny shortstop from Sacramento, CA.

On Tuesday, the Phillies announced that Larry Bowa is returning as the bench coach for Pete Mackanin.  It will be his 32nd season in a Phillies uniform. No one in Phillies history has worn their pinstripes longer.  No one is close. Quite a testimony for the 69-year-old.  He was an All-Star-Gold Glove shortstop (1970-1981), third base coach (1988-1996), manager (2001-2004) and back for his third season as the bench coach.

He played in the last game at Connie Mack Stadium (1970), got the first hit in the opening game at Veterans Stadium (1971), managed the Phillies in the last game at the Vet (2003) and the first game at Citizens Bank Park (2004).  Last ejection at the Vet and Jack Russell Memorial Stadium? Bowa. Surprised?

Juan Samuel is also returning to the staff but is switching from first base to third base where he had coached for the Phillies in 2011-12.  Bowa and Samuel are two great instructors for the Phillies young infielders.

A Moment to Remember

08 WS pre game
For the second straight year, the Phillies were in the World Series in 2009. This time the enemy were the New York Yankees.  After opening in Yankee Stadium, the Series switched to Citizens Bank Park on October 31. It was the first time the Phillies were in back-to-back World Series. Consecutive World Championships didn’t happen as the Yankees won in six games.

Winter Ball
OF Cord Sandberg joined 1B Rhys Hoskins in the Australian League . . . RHR Alberto Tirado is now pitching in the Dominican League

Up-The-Middle
Strength up-the-middle is key on championship teams–catcher, shortstop-second base and center field. Over the next six weeks, we’ll examine the players at these positions on the Phillies pennant winners. We begin with the first championship club of 100 years ago:

C Bill Killefer, SS Davey Bancroft, 2B Bert Niehoff, CF Dode Paskert.

You may find this hard to believe, but I never saw them play.  But I do know Killefer was considered the best defensive catcher of his time and Bancroft, a rookie, was a gifted defensive shortstop who wound up in the Hall of Fame after later starring with the New York Giants and Boston Braves. Niehoff was Cincinnati’s starting third baseman in 1914 who moved to second base after the Phillies acquired him in a trade. While he made 50 errors to lead the league, he finished second in assists (411). The fleet-footed Paskert was considered one of the elite defensive outfielders of his era.

Take note that the word defense was used in describing the catcher, shortstop and centerfielder.  You don’t win without good defense up-the-middle.  Next week: we’ll look at the 1950 Phillies players at these four positions.

World Series Morsels
The Mets have never won Game 1 of the WS. They never trailed in 42 postseason innings until Harvey’s first pitch to Escobar in Game 1.

The Royals have scored 19 runs in the eighth inning this postseason.

41 of the 51 teams that took a 2-0 lead in the Series went on to win it, including the last nine.

Phillies 11th GM

Introduced at a Monday morning media conference, Matt Klentak embarked on his first official business as the Phillies new general manager by flying to Clearwater that afternoon and the start of the organizational meetings that night.

carpenteer field

Baseball administration personnel, Pete Mackanin and his staff, player development staff, pro and amateur scouts, athletic trainers and conditioning coaches, vice presidents and those in Florida operations are meeting until Thursday. Most of the meetings will take place at the Carpenter Complex clubhouse. For Klentak, it will be a chance to meet his new teammates, so to speak, for the first time.

Then in two weeks, he’ll be heading for the annual general manager’s meetings in Boca Raton, FL.  Wonder what he’ll do in his spare time.

ap-mattklentak-phillies[1]

Klentak, wearing a red Phillies “P” on his left lapel, was very impressive during the long media conference at Citizens Bank Park. He was relaxed, poised, confident, articulate and animated.  His responses were thorough, his smile came easy and it was evident he has a pleasant personality.

Growing up in Medfield, MA, Matt Klentak was a Red Sox fan, obviously.  He experienced the passion of that fan base and an aggressive media base. As the Phillies general manager, he’ll experience the same in Philly.

He represents the new wave of GM, young Ivy-League grads (Matt became #10). As Andy MacPhail said, “In Matt we found an executive with the keen ability to understand cutting-edge baseball analytics, coupled with superior scouting, player development and leadership skills.”  Disappearing are the grizzled men who began in grass roots baseball and worked their way up the ladder to become a GM.

Klentak, since graduating from Dartmouth College in 2002, has gained valuable experience in video and advance scouting, coordination all of the amateur scouting reports, financial analyses and collective bargaining while working for the Rockies, Office of the Commissioner, Orioles and Angels, where he was the assistant GM the last four years. He, his wife and two daughters will re-locate back to the east coast.

GM List
Klentak becomes the Phillies’ 11th GM. Up until the Carpenter family bought the Phillies, the owner/president made most of the player personnel decisions. Herb Pennock, a Hall of Fame pitcher with the Yankees, was the Phillies first GM in 1943.

Pennock died in 1948 and the Phillies were GM-less until Roy Hamey (1954-58). The list after Hamey includes John Quinn (1959-72), Paul Owens (1972-83), Woody Woodward (1988), Lee Thomas (1988-97), Ed Wade (1998-2005), Pat Gillick (2006-08), Ruben Amaro Jr. (2009-2015) and Scott Proefrock (2015 interim).

At 35 years of age, Klentak is the youngest.  Wade was 42 when he took over in 1998.

World Serious Time
This will be the first time a World Series doesn’t include at least one team that existed in 1903, the year the first official World Series was played.

Some postseason numbers:
Records:  (NY (7-2); KC (7-4).

Team ERA: NY (2.81); KC (4.41). Runs allowed: NY (26); KC (47). Strikeouts: KC (114, 96 innings); NY (91, 80 innings). Saves: NY (5), KC (3). Opponents’ average: NY (.206); KC (.233).

Runs scored: KC (63), NY (43). Batting average: KC (.271); NY (.235). Home runs: KC (15); NY (14). Pinch-hitters: KC (none); NY (1-for-9). (During regular season, KC hitters fanned just 973 times, the fewest in the majors and the only team under 1,000).

So, who’ll win the World Series?  When leading after six innings, the Royals haven’t lost a postseason game in 2014 and 2015. So, Royals in seven.

Kansas City opens its 2016 season at home…..against the Mets.

 

Setting the Tone

UtleyHR6225

Phillies photographer Miles Kennedy captured Chase Utley’s first World Series at-bat, a first-inning home run in St. Petersburg against the Tampa Bay Rays on October 22, 2008.  Chase was the 34th player in World Series history to go deep on his first at-bat. The Phillies went on to win the game.

CBP09 WS

Three days later Citizens Bank Park hosted its first World Series game.

New Coaches
ICYMI Rick Kranitz (bullpen) and John McLaren (catching) have been added to Pete Mackanin’s coaching staff. To say they have experience is putting it mildly.

The 57-year-old Kranitz was the Milwaukee pitching coach for the last five seasons. A fourth-round selection as a pitcher by the Brewers in 1979, Kranitz pitched in the minors but never made it to the big leagues.  He’s been in the game ever since as a minor league pitching coach, pitching coordinator (two organizations), manager and big league bullpen coach and pitching coach (Marlins and Orioles in addition to the Brewers).

McLaren, 64, has been in pro ball since being drafted as a catcher in the seventh round by Houston in 1970. He’s been a minor league manager, big league coach for five different teams and manager twice. He’s also been a scout for two teams and most recently was a pro scout for Oakland (2012-15).

Combined, that’s 81 years in the pro game.

Phil-Ins
Phillies have over a dozen scouts at a big high school showcase in Florida this week.  With college baseball programs soon shutting down their fall schedules, Phillies amateur scouts will be idle for a while.

OF Cornelius Randolph, OF Greg Pickett and INF Lucas Williams will join the Phillies’ Dominican Instructional League starting November 1 for three weeks.

Eight minor leaguers will participate in a strength and conditioning program, October 29 through December 19, at Carpenter Complex: SS Malquin Canelo, OF Carlos Duran, RHP Ricardo Pinto, OF Jose Pujols, RHP Franklyn Kilome, 1B Luis Encarnacion, SS Arquismedez Gamboa and C Deivy Grullon.

Cesar Hernandez is rehabbing his injured thumb in Clearwater as are C Jorge Alfaro (hamstring) and LHP Mario Hollands (Tommy John surgery).
Postseason Morsels
In sweeping the Cubs in four straight games, the Mets never trailed in any game.  Amazing.

During the regular season, the Mets were last in the league with 51 stolen bases.  In nine postseason games, they have nine, most among any team. They also have the most strikeouts, 94. Amazing.

Mets’ Daniel Murphy has hit seven home runs in nine postseason games.  During 130   regular season games, he hit a career-high 14. Can he match that total in the postseason?

His hot October plus the NLCS MVP trophy certainly has increased his value as a free agent.

Kyle Schwarber’s swing reminds me of John Kruk’s.  But Kruk could only dream of having Kyle’s power. Schwarber hit a monster postseason home run that landed on top of the Budweiser sign at Wrigley Field. Kruk would be inside the sign guzzling a Bud.

Schwarber and the Mets’ Mike Comforto played in the Future’s Game in July. Three months later, they were in the postseason.

Behind the Scenes
A Villanova baseball product and first baseman with 12 years of pro experience, Gene Schall turned to scouting for the Phillies in 2008.  Learn all about his career change and the life of an amateur scout at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Utter Ecstasy

The 1980 World Series matched the Philadelphia Phillies against the Kansas City Royals, with the Phillies winning in six games to capture the first of two World Series titles in franchise history to date. The series concluded after Game 6, which ended with Tug McGraw striking out Willie Wilson at 11:29 pm on October 21, 1980. Wilson set a World Series record by striking out twelve times (after getting 230 hits in the regular season) in the six-game set. The Kansas City Royals became the second expansion team, and the first American League expansion team, to appear in the World Series. The AL would have to wait until 1985 before one of their expansion teamsÑthe Royals themselvesÑwould win a World Series. This was the first World Series played entirely on artificial turf. This was also the first World Series since 1920, and the last to date, in which neither team had won a World Series before. With their victory, the Phillies became the final team out of the original sixteen MLB teams to win a World Series.

 

Dallas Green and Larry Bowa celebrate after the Phillies World Series victory over the
Kansas City Royals on October 21, 1980.  The greatest moment in Phillies history
occurred at 11:29 p.m. when Tug McGraw struck out Kansas City’s Willie Wilson setting
off a wild celebration. In each of the Phillies four wins, their reliever struck out a KC
hitter to end the game.

4 R UMAX     Power Look 2000  V2.0 [3]

 


RF Chuck Klein won the National League MVP, October 19, 1932. He edged right-handed pitcher Lon Warneke of the Chicago Cubs, 78-68 in points. Chuck led the NL in games (154), runs (152), hits (226), home runs (38), slugging percentage (.646) and total bases (420).   Hit .348 with 50 doubles, 15 homers, 127 RBI.  It was the only time he won the award, although he finished second in 1931 and 1933.

For other great moments in Phillies history visit http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Winter Ball Notes
Dominican League opened on Thursday and CF Roman Quinn had an impressive debut, 3-for-5, a run, three RBI and a stolen base.  Through Monday, Quinn is hitting .357 in three games, a triple, home run and four RBI. Other Phillies in that league so far include OF Brian Bogusevic, INF Angelo Mora, RHR Jimmy Cordero, RHR Ulises Joaquin, RHR Ryan Sullivan and SS Malquin Canelo.

LHR Elvis Araujo, who ended his rookie season with the Phillies on the disabled list, is pitching in the Venezuela League.

According to http://www.phuturephillies.com OF Aaron Brown has replaced OF Dylan Cozens on the Glendale Desert Dogs roster in the Arizona Fall League.

AFL update: Brown (2-4, R) was in the lineup on Monday night playing centerfield, a game Glendale won, 4-2.  J. P. Crawford (1-4, R, 3 SO) was at shortstop, Andrew Knapp (0-4, RBI) played first and RH Yacksel Rio (3 hitless, scoreless innings) was the starting pitcher and winner (1-0). RH Jesen Therrien pitched the seventh, (1 IP, 3 H, 2 R).

Postseason Tidbits
All four teams in the Championship Series are wearing blue hats. Have no idea on the significance of this brilliant observation.

Since October 1 of a year ago, Cubs merchandise has increased in sales by 1,800%.

Number of Phillies Alumni in the postseason is down to two, Ben Revere (Blue Jays) and Ryan Madson (Royals).

Toronto’s David Price retired 18 consecutive batters on Saturday night but wound up losing.  His postseason record as a starter is now 0-7.  That’s hard to believe.

Mets 2B Daniel Murphy has been in the big leagues since 2008.  He never hit five home runs in one month until now.

Sneak Peek
The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits
is the title of my new book which will be available starting next May in book stores and on-line. Larry Andersen wrote the foreword. Publisher again is Triumph Books (triumphbooks.com).

Book features faces and places in the history of the franchise which was established in 1883. Included is a sampling of historic performances that hold a special place such the team’s very first game, no-hitters ranging from 1885 through 2015, the most dramatic home run, the last batting champion, the greatest strikeout game by a pitcher, the youngest hurler ever to win a game, special World Series accomplishments and the breaking of two all-time hit records. Plus, many other historic performance stories.

 

Flashback Moment

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 19:  Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a game-winning walkoff 2-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 5-4 against Jonathan Broxton #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Four of the NLCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 19, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jimmy Rollins;Jonathan Broxton

 

October 19, 2009, NLCS #4 at Citizens Bank Park: Trailing the Dodgers, 4-3, in the
bottom of the ninth, Jimmy Rollins delivers a walk-off, two-run double off Jonathan
Broxton and a 5-4 win.  Phillies take a 3-1 lead in the Series and win the pennant two
days later.

AFL
Phillies players in Glendale’s first game on Tuesday: SS J. P. Crawford, 1-4, 2 runs scored including the game-winner.  DH Andrew Knapp, a double in 3 AB . . . RH Yacksel Rios, 1 run allowed in 2 innings; LH Tom Windle, 1 scoreless inning, 2 strikeouts; WP: Jesen Dygestile-Therrien, 1 scoreless inning, 1 strikeout . . . In Wednesday’s game, RH Edubray Ramos recorded a one-inning save.  He was the only Phillie in the game.

Phillies scouts assigned to the AFL include Jon Merecurio, Craig Colbert, Howie Freiling, Dave Hollins, Del Unser, Ed Wade and Danny Wright.

FIL
Instructional league’s last game is 1 this afternoon, Yankees at Bright House Field.

Winter Ball
So far in the Venezuela Winter League, Phillies players include: C Willians Astudillo, INF Edgar Duran, C Gabriel Lino, OF Herlis Rodriguez, OF Carlos Tocci, Ps Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Chris Leroux, Manny Martinez, Alexis Rivero and Stephen Shackleford.  Pitching in Mexico, Victor Arano.

1B Rhys (pronounced reese) Hoskins and OF Aaron Brown are playing in the Australia.

More Postseason Honors
Seventeen Phillies prospects are ranked among the top players in the different minor leagues, Baseball America reports:

International League: 3B Maikel Franco (3rd); OF Aaron Altherr (19).
Eastern: SS J. P. Crawford (2), Aaron Nola (6), C Andrew Knapp (14).
Texas: OF Nick Williams (7), C Jorge Alfaro (14), RHP Jake Thompson (17).
Carolina: RHP Nick Pivetta (8).
South Atlantic: SS Malquin Canelo (14), 1B Rhys Hoskins (20).
New York-Penn: RHP Franklyn Kilome (5), OF Jesus Pujols (13), 2B Josh Tobias (19).
Gulf Coast: OF Cornelius Randolph (5), RHP Adonis Medina (18), INF Jonathon Arauz (20).

Early Peek
As everyone knows, the Phillies will have the first selection in next summer’s draft.  One of the highly-rated college pitchers is LH A. J. Puk, a 6-foot-7 junior at the University of Florida. The Gators began their fall baseball program on Tuesday.  It will end November 22.

Included are workouts and scrimmages. Puk is listed to be one of the pitchers in Sunday’s scrimmage.  As CSNPHILLY.com’s Jim Salisbury reported, Pat Gillick will be there. Gillick is returning to his advisory role and will be scouting on the amateur level.

“You ARE The Man”

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 29:  Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies follows watches the flight of his seventh inning grand slam against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 29, 2014 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

Yep, Chase Utley was the man in the 2009 World Series. Even though the Phillies lost, he turned in the greatest hitting performance in team WS history.  Check out the story at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Postseason Tidbits
ICYMI the Cubs won a postseason series in Wrigley Field for the first time….ever. Windy city has turned into Goosebump City.

The Cubs are the first team in major league history to have six different players age 26 or younger homer in one postseason.

1B Anthony Rizzo homered on a 0-2 pitch to give the Cubs the lead Tuesday night.  It was only the second time in his career he homered when down in the count, 0-2.

54 home runs were hit in the Division Series, a new record.  Old one was 50 in 1995 and 2004.

 

 

 

 

Phun Photos

Crowd and teams before start of game at Shibe Park

 

For the first time since 1915, the Phillies were in the World Series.  On October 4, 1950, Shibe Park hosted the first two games against the New York Yankees.

NLCSClinch93_2RR
“Misfits,” “rejects,” “throwbacks,” “outlaws”…those flattering descriptions of the 1993 Phillies were replaced by “National League champions” when they upended the highly-favored Atlanta Braves before 62,502 delirious fans at Veterans Stadium on October 13.

Opening Day
The Arizona Fall League opens its season today.  Seven Phillies prospects are on the roster of the Glendale Desert Dogs who play the Mesa Solar Sox at 12:30 p.m.: SS J. P. Crawford, C Andrew Knapp, OF Dylan Cozens and four pitchers, RH Edubray Ramos, RH Yacksel Rios, LH Tom Windle and RH Jesen Dygestile-Therrien. One of the Desert Dogs’ coaches is Nelson Prada, who coached for the Lakewood BlueClaws.

You can follow the league at http://www.mlbfallball.com.

Postseason Honors
Baseball America has announced its All-Star teams for the different minor league levels. Seven Phillies players are honored:

Overall, second team: C Andrew Knapp
AA: OF Nick Williams, RHP Aaron Nola
Low-A:  OF Carlos Tocci, 1B Rhys Hoskins
Short-season: 2B Josh Tobias
Rookie: OF Cornelius Randolph

Say What?
I know I am on the ancient side in baseball. Well-schooled in the world of wins and losses, ERA, innings and strikeouts for pitchers. When it comes to the world of sabermetrics, I flunk.

Love the MLBTrade Rumors site (www.mlbtraderumors.com). Last week Steve Adams wrote a story about some pitchers who are free agents.  One was Dillon Gee of the Mets.  Here’s a sentence from Adams’ comments about Gee: “FIP and xFIP marks were mostly in line with his career numbers, and he was plagued by factors like a .355 BABIP and a fluky 63 percent strand rate.”

Not picking on Steve Adams, but I wonder if the average baseball fan understands that “fluky” sentence.  I sure don’t. In his brief big league career, Gee is 40-37 with a 4.03 ERA and the enemy is hitting .259 against him.  I understand those numbers.

Postseason Morsels & Opinions
Monday’s statistical summary: 21, 41, 61. Most home runs (21) and most runs (61) in one postseason day.  Where’s 41 fit in? Number of pitchers used in the four games.

LHP Clayton Kershaw, pitching tonight, is 114-56 in his career but 1-6 in the postseason losing his last five. LHP David Price is 104-56 in his career.  In postseason, 2-6 with both wins coming in relief, including Monday. Go figure.

Cubs had two run-scoring squeeze bunts in the second inning of their Saturday night win, a first in postseason history. Monday night, the Cubs hit a postseason record six, one each by the first six batters in their batting order.

Chase Utley’s slide at second base on Saturday night is the most-controversial slide in baseball history.  Did folks expect Chase to tip-toe into second base?

Best broadcasting team: Bob Costas and Jim Kaat of the MLB Network.  What a novel idea, two voices in a booth.

 

Peek at 2017 Roster

Dusted off my old crystal ball to see what the Phillies roster will look like in the future. For some reason, this highly-sophisticated ball skipped to 2017. When asked for 2016, the ball reverted back to 2017. Crystal balls sometimes can be stubborn.

Starting Pitching
Goal this winter is to add a couple of veterans to help ease the innings load on the young arms.  When asked for the identity of these vets, the ball turned cloudy.  RH Aaron Nola and RH Jared Eickhoff have two other spots. In the mix are RH Jake Thompson, RH Zach Elfin and LH Adam Morgan.  Waiting in the wings, RH Ricardo Pinto, RH Alec Asher, and LH Brandon Leibrandt, Nick Pivetta.

Bullpen
RH Ken Giles anchors the pen as the closer. He’ll be joined by a veteran arm plus LH Elivs Araujo, LH Tom Windle with RH Ben Lively, RH Jimmy Cordero, RH Edubray Ramos trying a spot.

Catchers
Some combination of Andrew Knapp, a switch hitter and right-handed hitters, Jorge Alfaro and Cameron Rupp.

First Base
Darrin Ruf from the right side, Brock Stassi from the left side. Crystal ball says something about Alfaro possibly changing positions.

Middle Infielders
J. P. Crawford will be the shortstop and for a long time. Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis will be dueling for second base and a back-up role. Cody Asche is a super sub, first, third, left field, pinch-hitter.

Third Base
Maikel Franco. Period.

Outfielders
Rookie Ramon Quinn will take over in centerfield.  He’s a switch-hitter with a strong arm as he was once a shortstop. Odubel Herrera switches to left field and Aaron Altherr remains in right.  Nick Williams begins as the fourth outfielder.  Fifth outfielder will be a right-handed hitting vet. Waiting in the minors are Dylan Cozens, Andrew Pullin, Aaron Brown, Cord Sandberg, Herlis Rodriguez. All are left-handed hitters, as are Herrera and Williams.

Manager
Pete Mackanin

Bench Coach
Yikes. Crystal ball turned green: Phillie Phanatic? So, who’s going to be the mascot? Chris Wheeler?  The crystal ball turned cloudy again, started shaking and went up in smoke.  They just don’t make quality crystal balls anymore.

Phun Facts
100 years ago today Grover Cleveland Alexander won the Phillies’ first World Series game, 3-1, over the Boston Red Sox at Baker Bowl. Check out the complete story about the 1915 Series at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

George Stephen Vukovich Position: Rightfielder Bats: Left, Throws: Right Height: 6' 0Pinch-hitter George Vukovich is the only Phillies player to hit a walk-off homer in the postseason–10th inning, Division Series against Montreal at the Vet, Game 4, October 10, 1981. 6-5 win tied the series, 2-2.  Expos advanced with a 3-0 win the next day.

HalladayNH37843

Another flashback moment to remember took place October 6, 2010, at Citizens Bank Park when Roy Halladay no-hit the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of the NLDS.  It was Halladay’s first postseason start and second no-hitter in baseball’s postseason history.  The other: the Yankees’ Don Larson’s World Series gem in 1956.

Real View Mirror

Relief ace and NL MVP Jim Konstanty was the surprise starter in game one of the 1950 World Series

 

Jim Konstanty, who relieved in 74 games, was chosen to start the Phillies first World Series game, October 4, 1950. Manager Eddie Sawyer named Jim over 20-game winner Robin Roberts who pitched the 10-inning pennant clincher three days earlier, his fourth start in nine games.  The Phillies second-best starter, 17-game winner Curt Simmons, was in the Army. New York Yankees beat Konstanty, 1-0. (National Baseball Hall of Fame photo).

Last Rear View Mirror Look
For the last time, time to look back at the 2015 season.

The Phillies had two presidents, two general managers and two managers.  Pretty unusual until you look at the Boston Red Sox who did the same. These two franchises met in the 1915 World Series and 100 years later each was in last place.  You may ask what kind of silly note is that.  Honestly, I don’t have an explanation other than I thought of it.

How did the Phillies lose 99 games?  Well, pitching, hitting, fielding, base-running, youth.

Most wins for a pitcher: 6, Hamels, Harang, Nola, Giles. That’s a new Phillies low; previous was 8 by Ray Benge in 1928. Last single-digit leader, 9, Curt Schilling, 1996.  Most pitchers, season: 29, not including Francoeur.  That’s a new high, one more than 2007. 18 rookies appeared in at least one game, 13 being pitchers.  From Baseball-Reference.com: Most batting orders 161 (including pitchers), compared to 144 the year before.  Researched last 30 seasons and 161 is the most.

The Envelope, Please
Time for some postseason awards.  Drum roll, please:

Team MVP: Blanco who was an asset on the field, in the dugout and clubhouse.

Good-Guy: Francoeur. Always upbeat, always smiling and like Blanco, a huge asset.

Outstanding Rookie: Since he was there all season, Herrera.  Amazing season considering he was in AA ball a year ago.  Franco was also very impressive.

Best Trade: Papelbon.  Nationals went from three games up when they acquired him to missing the postseason.

Biggest Surprise: Sandberg’s resignation.

Biggest Disappointment: 5-14 record against the Mets.

Best Percentage: 59.5% in replay challenges.

Most Thrilling Win:  Hamels last game as a Phillie, a no-hitter.

Thank Goodness: Avoiding 100 losses.

Most Painful: Howard’s latest season-ending injury.

Hard To Believe: Phillies finished near the NL bottom in homers (130) but led in pinch-hit homers (10).

Best Move: Naming Mackanin the manager.

Most Consistent: Phillie Phanatic.  He never had a bad game or a slump.

Consolation: Late-season sweep that started the Mets on their way to blowing the home field advantage.

Most Entertaining:  The squirrel that ran across the backstop over to a guide wire and then jumped into the Phillies dugout nearly scaring Chase Utley to death.

Best Radio Comment: “Hinojosa throws 94 miles per hour.  That’s why he wears #94 and I wore #47,” Larry Andersen.

New Book
The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits
is my new book. It will be available starting next May in book stores and on-line. Publisher again is Triumph Books (triumphbooks.com).

Larry Andersen wrote the foreword.  Here’s a small peek: “After just turning 18 and graduating from high school, yes, I actually did, I was chosen by the Cleveland Indians in the seventh round of the 1971 draft. I was stunned that two other pitchers in the state of Washington were picked ahead of me, one in the fourth round and the other in the fifth. That all became a moot point when the Indians threw $10,000 my way to sign with them and spurn a football/baseball scholarship to attend the University of Oregon. It was an easy decision at the time, as Oregon didn’t offer a major in practical jokes.”

 

183 Days Until ’16 Opener

The big, square Sherwin Williams clock in center field at Citizens Bank Park said 5:37 when Giles ended the Phillies season with a strikeout.  Not the same emotion as seven years ago when Lidge ended the season with a World Championship strikeout.  The Phillies faithful of 21,734 were on their feet applauding when Giles tossed the final pitch.

All game long, the fans cheered as sunshine finally replaced dreary wet, cold days.  Buchanan got a standing ovation when he exited the game in the seventh inning.  He waived and tossed his cap into the stands.  He didn’t get the win but goes home fresh from four starts in which he had a 2.49 ERA.  Much better than his 0-5 beginning. Ending on a positive note is huge.

They cheered when Altherr’s triple cleared the bases to give the Phillies the lead in the seventh inning.  They cheered when the Phanatic took off his shirt and gave it to a lucky fan.  They cheered pre-game when Ruiz was saluted for catching four no-hitters.  He received an oil painting from Phillies artist Dick Perez depicting the final out of each no-hitter.

They cheered when prizes were given away between innings, the biggest cheer and prize being a new, red Toyota Camry.

For most of the season, there wasn’t much to cheer about.  Gloom was predicted and at the All-Star Game the Phillies were last in the world 29-62, on their way to perhaps breaking baseball’s record for most losses (120).  A 34-37 record the second half showed some hope for the future.  What made the second half record more impressive was the fact Hamels, Diekman, Papelbon, Revere and Utley were traded during that period of time, putting more emphasis on young players.

Following the last out the players one-by-one left the field, tossing their hats to the fans.  Some took off their jerseys and tossed them. In the clubhouse, it was time to pack and say good-bye.  Players receive first class airfare to their homes.  If they drive, they receive a check covering the amount of a flight.  Some will be playing winter ball. Some will be back, some won’t.  Two coaches weren’t invited back, Mizerock and Nichols.

More changes will be forthcoming.  Soon Andy MacPhail assumes the role as president.  A new general manager is in order.  They’ll plenty of news this winter.

A 162-game baseball season is played in 182 days.  Only 183 days until opening day in Cincinnati. Can’t wait.

Alumni in Postseason
The postseason races and berths have been decided.  Wild card games are first and followed by the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series. Phillies Alumni will be sprinkled throughout baseball this month:

Los Angeles Dodgers, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley . . . Texas Rangers, Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman . . . Toronto Blue Jays, Ben Revere . . . Kansas City Royals, Ryan Madson . . . Pittsburgh Pirates, A. J. Burnett, J. A. Happ, Anthony Bastardo, Joe Blanton.

Saw an LA Times story on Saturday that the Dodgers may go with a rookie at shortstop, Seager. “I’m OK with it,” Rollins was quoted saying. “Obviously, no one is ever happy. I mean, you want to be out there playing, especially this time of the year. But like I said in my meetings, it isn’t about the name on the back, it’s about winning baseball. So if that’s the lineup that is best for us to win, let’s go with that.”

(Phillies Insider will be moving into an off-season mode.  Will post every Tuesday and Thursday and on other newsworthy occasions. Thanks for hanging in this season.  Hope you will continue to follow the blog).

Sweet Sweep

Love Hershey kisses.  Love sweeping the Mets even more.  How sweet.  It was the Phillies first sweep of the Mets at Citizens Bank Park since 2009 and the team’s fifth sweep of the season. Shut out was the Phillies’ seventh and the 14th for the Mets.

Eickhoff ended his season on a high note with double-digit strikeouts for the second straight start.  Last Phillies rookie right-hander to do that was Ray Culp in 1963, twice.  In Eickhoff’s last 30 innings, 27 were scoreless.

One more win and the Phillies avoid losing 100 games.  Hurricane Joaquin may be a factor as to whether the Phillies can get all three games played.  Series with Marlins begins Friday night and ends at 3:05 Sunday afternoon.

This Date In Phillies History
October 2, 2005
Jimmy Rollins ends season with 36-game hitting streak, a club record, in 9-3 win in
Washington.

October 2, 2008
NLDS #2 at Citizens Bank Park: Shane Victorino hits a grand slam home run off CC
Sabathia to cap a five-run second inning that lifts the Phillies to a 5-2 win and 2-0 lead
over the Brewers.

October 2, 2011
NLDS #2 at Citizens Bank Park: Phillies grab a 4-0 lead after two innings but the
Cardinals come back against Cliff Lee to win, 5-4, and even the series at 1-1.

Being that we are in October when postseason play is a daily occurrence, there are a lot of daily flashback moments.  For October 3 and 4 check in at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Book on Horizon
The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits
is the title of my new book which will be available starting next May in book stores and on-line.

But, will try to have a book signing at Bright House Field next March as we did two years ago with “If These Walls Could Talk.”  Triumph Books (triumphbooks.com) was the publisher then and again now..