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After delay, Blue Jays get best of Phillies

Posted by Kevin Durso

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay wipes his face during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Clearwater, Fla., Saturday, March 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Roy Halladay allowed two runs on three hits in two innings in his final spring start. (Courtesy of SI.com)

After today, there are just three games left that count toward the Phillies spring training record. After that, they all count.

Ultimately, you can't take that record to heart, especially with some of the names that are playing for the Phillies right now.

Despite the losing record, the Phillies are getting better. Today wasn't exactly a pitcher's dream as far as weather was concerned, but the offense continues to get better as the season draws closer.

Roy Halladay was making his final tuneup before his start on Thursday for Opening Day. He pitched a perfect first before allowing two runs in the second. The first came on a leadoff home run by Edwin Encarnacion. Another came on an RBI single by Brett Lawrie.

The rains would come soon after that, causing a 36-minute delay.

Once the teams returned, Halladay was done. He pitched two innings allowing two runs on three hits, and also added three strikeouts.

Eric Thames drove in a run in the third off Raul Valdes. Valdes pitched the third and fourth allowing one run on one hit with one walk and three strikeouts.

Hunter Pence got the Phillies on the board in the fourth with an RBI single.

With David Herndon on the mound in the fifth, he allowed a solo home run to Jose Bautista as the only blemish to his game. Herndon also pitched the sixth, finishing with two innings pitched allowing one run on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

Tyler Knigge allowed a run on a sac fly in the seventh, and Jordan Whatcott didn't fare much better. He allowed three runs on three hits, including a two-run home run by Luis Valbuena.

The Phillies would trim the lead in the seventh on a solo home run by John Mayberry Jr., his first of the spring.

The Phillies cut into the lead in the eighth. Juan Pierre drove home a run with an RBI single. Another run scored on a wild pitch. Hector Luna followed with an RBI single to cut the lead to three.

Juan Sosa would pitch a scoreless ninth, but the Phillies couldn't manage anything more, and lost to the Blue Jays, 8-5.

Looking at the box score, the right players are contributing. On offense, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, Hunter Pence, Laynce Nix, John Mayberry Jr. and Juan Pierre all contributed hits. Hector Luna had another strong game, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Perhaps the hottest hitter of the spring is Carlos Ruiz, who went 2-for-2 at the plate today. That brought his average to a whopping .512 this spring.

On the mound, Roy Halladay had good material in his final tuneup and looked ready to go for his first start on Thursday. Additionally, the only other pitcher likely to make the major-league roster is David Herndon - especially in the wake of injuries to Jose Contreras and Mike Stutes - and he looked fine in his two innings today.

There is just one more game in Florida before the Phillies head back home for two more exhibition games in the final tuneup before the season begins. That game is tomorrow against the Atlanta Braves. Cliff Lee is expected to start.

Kevin Durso is a contributor to Philliedelphia. You can follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.


Saturday's Phillies' Minor League Roster Predictions

Well, more cuts come from Clearwater's Minor League Camps. Bill Rice, Brent Clevlen, and Jeff Lanning are gone. I'm a little surprised by this, since it means they lost some depth, but hey, who knows what the desires are in the upper minors.

Between that and the Blanco signing, that's the news of the day. Here's my try at picking rosters now, beginning with Lehigh Valley:

  • Line-Up: Thompson-CF, Frandsen-SS, Brown-LF, Overbeck-1B, Kratz-C, Montanez-RF, Thurston-3B, Spidale-DH, Orr-2B
  • Rotation:  Hyatt, Elarton, Misch, Bush, Bump
  • Bench: Gosewisch, Blanco, Susdorf, Hulett
  • Bullpen: Schwimer, Aumont, Diekman, Valdes, Horst, Purcey, Sanches
  • DL: De Fratus
Basically, add Blanco to the bench, put Spidale in the line-up, and go. I have a feeling I'll be more wrong here than I think, in part because of the unease with the big league bench, but that's to be dealt with later.
Reading:
  • Line-Up: Gillies-CF, James-RF, Valle-C, Ruf-1B, Kennelly-DH, Castro-LF, Abreu-3B, Hanzawa-SS, Hernandez-2B
  • Rotation: Cloyd, May, Rodriguez, Pettibone, Buchanan
  • Bench: Barnes, Tripp, Suomi, Perdomo
  • Bullpen: Friend, Ramirez, Cisco, Rosenberg, Brummett, Chapman, Gailey
Not a lot of change, but I moved up Barnes.
Clearwater: 
  • Line-Up: Alvarez-OF, Cartwright-2B, Collier-OF, Murphy-1B, Alonso-3B, Hewitt-DH, Rupp-C, Myers-OF, Duran-SS
  • Rotation: Colvin, Biddle, Claypool, Bonilla, Garner
  • Bench: LeRud, Asche, Lavin, Gonzalez, 
  • Bullpen: Neris, Sosa, Shreve, Whatcott, Hollands, Worthington, Kissock
No read changes besides Lavin moved down.

Saturday Phillies Roster Prediction

The Phillies will be out of Florida by Sunday night, as camp is winding to it's conclusion. By Tuesday night exhibition ball will be done, and we'll be talking about real games. It's exciting, but it's also a very competitive time of year, as players compete to make rosters in every system in the league.

Last night, the Phils played the Yankees and scored 9 runs. They lost though. Juan Pierre was thrown out stealing for the fourth time, adding to my concerns. He did have four hits though, which helps. Victorino, Pence, and Ruiz also had multi-hit games. The pitching just stunk. Here's the box score.

The Phillies signed 27 year old utility man Andres Blanco, formerly a National. He's headed to minor league camp.

Now, the 25 man, and the 40 man predictions:

  • Line-Up: Rollins-SS, Polanco-3B, Pence-RF, Thome-1B, Victorino-CF, Mayberry-LF, Ruiz-C, Galvis-2B
  • Rotation: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Worley, Blanton
  • Bench: Schneider, Wigginton, Nix, Pierre, Luna, Podsednik
  • Bullpen: Papelbon, Qualls, Bastardo, Kendrick, Herndon, Savery
  • DL: Howard, Utley, Martinez, Contreras, Stutes
  • In the running: Orr, Valdes
  • 40 Man, Inactive: Brown, Kratz, Valle, Hernandez, Gillies, De Fratus, Aumont, Schwimer, Diekman, Ramirez
In other words, I predicted no changes. I am unsure that Stutes or Contreras will begin on the DL, but we probably won't know that for a few more days. For now though, I don't see another roster emerging. I do see an alternative line-up though, where Mayberry plays First, Pierre plays Left and leads off, and Jimmy hits third, with Pence fourth. 

Doc Makes Final Spring Start As Phillies Take On Blue Jays

Posted by Erik Seybold

Royhalladay5
(Photo Courtesy of Lindsey Crew)

Yesterday's loss was not only annoying, but the game itself was just plain old boring. The Phillies lost the nearly four hour game to the Yankees, 13-9 and brought their Spring record down to 12-15-3. 

Today, Roy Halladay (1-1, 5.40 ERA) will make his final Grapefruit League start before he takes the mound in Pittsburgh on April 5th. Halladay had a rocky start to Spring Training, but has eased in to the rhythm. In Doc's last start on Sunday against the Orioles, he threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while K-ing nine. Today, he will take on his former-Blue Jays for the first time this Spring. The Phillies are 2-2 against the Jays this Spring.

The Blue Jays will start their ace Ricky Romereo (1-0, 0.00 ERA), who has made just three starts this Spring. Romero has not pitched a Grapefruit League game, but on March 26, he started a game for the Jays' Triple-A squad. In that outing, he gave up four earned runs over 13 its in seven innings of work. Romero, who had not allowed a run before, had struggled with his command. Interesting.

Romero will take on a Phillies lineup that could possibly hold the Opening Day roster (not in this order, though).

In other news: The Phillies have signed veteran infielder Andres Blanco to a minor league contract. Blanco most recently played for the Washington Nationals this Spring, but was released. The 27 year-old is a switch hitter at the plate and is a .255/.301/.333 hitter in 654 big-league at bats over seven seasons. Blanco's last MLB appearance was for the Rangers in 2011. 

Today's lineup vs Blue Jays

  1. Vic CF
  2. Polly 3B
  3. J-Roll DH
  4. Pence RF 
  5. Wiggy 1B
  6. Mayberry LF
  7. Luna 2B
  8. Chooch C
  9. Galvis SS
  10. Doc P.

You can watch the game on TV on myPHL 17 LIVE @ 1:05 PM ET.

Erik Seybold is a Contributor for Philliedelphia. You can follow him on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.


Former Phillies LHP Jamie Moyer Makes the Rockies' 25 Man Roster; Oldest Pitcher Ever

Posted by Frank Klose

Jamie_Moyer

I apologize, Jamie, I was one of the skeptical ones.  

According to many sources, Jamie Moyer has made the Colorado Rockies, and will open the season in the Rockies' rotation.  And, Moyer earned it.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post reported that Moyer thanked manager Jim Tracy for putting him on the team.  Tracy did not accept his thank you.

"I stopped him right there. I said thank you is not necessary because we don’t give handouts here.''

I never truly believed Moyer could come back from Tommy John surgery and pitch again.  Shame on me.  This Spring Moyer was 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA.

Moyer will be the Rockies' number 2 starter.  He is the oldest pitcher to ever open the season in a team's rotation.


Phillies Lose a Tough One, 13-9 to Yankees

Posted by Danielle Wilson

Kk

In the final Friday game of spring training and the first night game for the Phillies this spring, left-handed relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo took the hill in Tampa against Michael Pineda for the Yankees.

Pineda struggled early allowing three straight singles to Juan Pierre, Shane Victorino, and Jimmy Rollins. Juan Pierre scored on a single from Hunter Pence in the inning, giving the Phils an early lead. Pierre drove in the next run in the second inning, scoring Carlos Ruiz on an RBI single.

Antonio Bastardo's night was complete after 1 1/3 innings. He allowed no hits, no walks, no runs, and struck out none. Solid.

With Chad Qualls in, the Yankees came back and scored a run on Justin Maxwell's RBI groundout. It would be the only run Chad would allow, but he was a bit shaky tonight, walking two and allowing two hits.

The third inning is where it gets fun. With Jimmy Rollins on first base, Jim Thome smacked an RBI double to right field, scoring J-Roll. After Placido Polanco walked and Ty Wigginton reached on an infield single, Carlos Ruiz drilled a bases clearing double to left-center, putting the Phillies up 6-1.

Jonathan Papelbon had a gruesome outing in the third inning tonight. After allowing a single to Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson hit a two-run homer, cutting the Phils' lead in half. Robinson Cano hit a single following Grandy. Alex Rodriguez and Eric Chavez both struck out, but after walking Russell Martin, Papelbon was sent to the dugout.

Kyle Kendrick stepped onto the mound and made matters much worse. After walking Andruw Jones, Justin Maxwell hit a two-run single, making it a 6-5 game.

In the bottom of the fourth with Kendrick still in, Alex Rodriguez tied it up with an RBI groundout. Eric Chavez followed with an RBI single, giving the Yankees a 7-6 lead. The runs Kendrick allowed were the first runs he allowed all spring.

Placido Polanco tied the game in the next inning with an RBI double, scoring Hunter Pence.

In the bottom of the seventh, pitching prospect Lisalberto Bonilla took the mound for the Phils and gave up a solo bomb to Dewayne Wise to kick off a horrendous inning. After Doug Bernier reached on a fielding error by Hector Luna, Chris Dickerson hit a ground rule double to score Bernier. Dickerson later scored on a single from Eduardo Nunez. 10-7 Yankees.

Colton Murray from Williamsport (I don't have any idea who he is, either), came in to pitch the eighth and allowed a single up the middle which was misplayed by Pete Orr at shortstop. Francisco Arcia scored. Dewayne Wise went deep again, scoring Zoilo Almonte. 13-7 Yankees.

In the ninth inning with two men in scoring position, Laynce Nix drilled a double, scoring two runs. However, that would be all for this ball game. Phillies lose, 13-9.

The Blue Jays will head over to Clearwater tomorrow to face the Phils at 1:05.


Former Phillies Prospect Yohan Flande About to Make Atlanta Braves Bullpen?

Posted by Frank Klose

Johan_Flande

I kind of scratched my head only a little bit back in 2010 when once ballyhooed pitching prospect Yohan Flande was cut loose by the Phillies to clear up space.  The Phillies needed a roster spot, and the Phillies felt they had gotten the best out of him.

However, Flande has had an impressive spring and very well could make the Atlanta Braves bullpen, writes Jared Book of Atlanta Braves blog Tomahawk Take:

Appearing in relief over the Spring, Flande seems to have a small chance to crack the opening day bullpen for the Braves, and if he doesn’t, he could be high up on the recall list should injuries or lack of production happen. 

In  seven Spring Training appearances, Flande is 2-0 and a 0.00 ERA.  Opponents have hit just .139 against him this Spring.

Working against Flande perhaps is his 2011 AAA season, where he went 8-8 with a 4.o1 ERA in 33 appearances between starts and the bullpen for AAA Gwinnett.  Also working against Flande are the six walks he has issued.  The Braves do already have two other left-handed relievers in Eric O'Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel.

The Braves, however, may just have enough injuries that he makes the team.   


Kevin Durso's 2012 MLB Predictions

Posted by Kevin Durso

The Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games and their fifth straight NL East title in 2011. (Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso)

Another baseball season is just days away. It's the best time of the year in my opinion, because for once we can take all the offseason talk and just let the story of the season unfold. That being said, there are still a few days left to keep that talk going. With that, here are my predictions for the 2012 MLB season.

American League

AL East winner – New York Yankees
AL Central winner – Detroit Tigers
AL West winner – Texas Rangers
AL Wild Card Teams (2) – Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels

AL MVP – Prince Fielder (DET)
AL Cy Young – Jon Lester (BOS)
AL Rookie of the Year – Matt Moore (TB)
AL Manager of the Year – Bobby Valentine (BOS)

The AL is mainly a six-team race for five playoffs spots. Not really all that dramatic, but somebody with plenty of talent will be left out. Before the playoff expansion was in the picture, two of those good teams had to be left out of the picture. With only one missing the playoffs, I’m picking against the Rays, who can’t find a way to repeat their comeback from a year ago. It was just too hard to see the Red Sox missing the playoffs once again and pick against the team that had two of the biggest pickups of the offseason.

The Tigers will roll to a Central division title, mainly with the help of Prince Fielder, who will win MVP in my mind. The Red Sox will overcome last year’s shocking turn of events at the end of the season with a Cy Young worthy year from Jon Lester, and behind new skipper Bobby Valentine. The Rays may not make the Postseason, but with Matt Moore still being considered a rookie, I see him impressing many this season.

National League

NL East winner – Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central winner – Cincinnati Reds
NL West winner – San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Card Teams (2) – Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers

NL MVP – Jay Bruce (CIN)
NL Cy Young – Roy Halladay (PHI)
NL Rookie of the Year – Trevor Bauer (ARI)
NL Manager of the Year – Dusty Baker (CIN)

The NL East is incredibly competitive, but with them beating up on each other, I still see only two teams making the Postseason from that division. Injuries or not, the Phillies pitching is too good not to allow them to be successful. Honestly, so is the offense. With everything that happened last season, the Phillies still won 102 games. It’s all about finding away. I think way too many of us reflect on the short Postseason run the Phillies made to realize that the 162 games before that weren’t too bad. Meanwhile, the Brewers will suffer without Fielder and Braun carrying a shadow of speculation over him may hurt his performance. The Giants also return to the top of the West with Buster Posey back and healthy. Hard to pick against the Braves for a wildcard spot being the second-best team in the NL East. The other pick goes to the Brewers, who will still compete, but won’t take the Central title.

The MVP pick then must come from one of these returning teams. I’d say it’s Posey, but the numbers won’t back it up. I’m going with Jay Bruce, who had an excellent season last year, but suffered as part of a mediocre Reds team. In making the playoffs, Bruce will get seen in a different light, and his manager will get accolades for leading them back to the Postseason. Roy Halladay is still the class of all pitchers, so after leading the league in wins, he’ll pick up his second Cy Young with the Phillies. This Trevor Bauer kid is supposed to be really good. He’s got incredible talent, and is supposedly a super-genius in the mechanics of pitching. Not sure how that equates on the field, but he’s got the talent, and now that Bryce Harper isn’t going to play in the majors all season, it opens the door for someone else.

World Series matchup – Tigers vs. Phillies
World Series champion and # of games – Tigers in 6

The Tigers are just going to be so good this season. They’ve got the perfect combination of power and contact in their lineup and a loaded pitching staff. The Phillies are simply the best bet I can find in the NL, which honestly says a lot since they are flying very far under the radar to begin with. As long as there are no surprises, like the Cardinals last season, the Phillies will be back in the Fall Classic. That being said, with the NL being the far inferior league, the Tigers will win the World Series in 6.

Phillies predictions

Total number of Phillies wins - 92
What date does Ryan Howard return to the Phillies lineup (if at all) – July 20
What date does Chase Utley return to the Phillies lineup (if at all) – May 3
Which Phillies ace has most wins and how many – Roy Halladay, 20
To follow up "Good game, let's go eat," what will be Hunter Pence's next catchphrase? – “I want a ring!”

The Phillies will still have to win a decent number of games to be NL East Champions again, injuries or not. In that case, let’s go with a realistic number here. With Howard out until nearly the All-Star Break, in my opinion, forget about 100 wins. If you add in Utley for as long or more, start thinking closer to 90. Just those two players alone could add up to up to 15-20 more wins for the Phillies.

For both of these guys, the return date is in question. I’ve got Howard due back in the days after the All-Star Break. That should be enough to take it slow and let the Achilles’ tendon heal the way he wants while still being somewhat rushed back to help his team. Utley’s was easier to pick.  I say he misses a month of the season if he doesn’t miss the whole season. He’s either going to have a timetable on this or will be back at the closest date he can to help the team should they struggle out of the gate. So I’m thinking May at the latest, or not at all.

The other two answers are somewhat self-explanatory. Halladay will be one of the only 20-game winners this season in all of baseball. Meanwhile, I don’t think we’ll ever see any catch phrase like “Let’s Go Eat!” but if anybody can make the “I want a ring!” line stick as a catch phrase, it’s Pence.

Kevin Durso is a contributor for Philliedelphia. You can follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.


ESPN's Jim Bowden Says Phillies Will Miss the Playoffs; Here's Why He is Wrong

Posted by Frank Klose

Chase_Utley_Charlie_Manuel
Could injuries to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard set the Phillies up for failure?

ESPN asked Jim Bowden, former General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals to write a piece entitled, "10 Bold Predictions for 2012".   One of those bold predictions:  The Philadelphia Phillies will not make the playoffs.

Really?  In a two-wild card world with a Phillies team that features Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Roy Halladay, the Phillies will fall so hard they won't even grab a wild card?

Bowden actually had little to say in the piece, but in a nutshell, this was his reasoning:

"Last year the San Francisco Giants failed to make the playoffs with a rotation just as an impressive at the top with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner. However, injuries and lack of offense led to their downfall."

I do get that the Phillies face serious injury issues, but is this a bit of an overreach?  Even Bowden himself seemed to think so.  Check out this podcast from 97.5 the Fanatic where Bowden explains his rationale to Harry Mayes and Brian Baldinger.

It almost sounds like Bowden had the task of writing this piece, and decided to reach a little bit.  Certainly, he is right, there could be a disaster if one of the aces gets injured, the offense fails, and other unforeseen events occur.  

Host Harry Mayes did make a valid point: this could happen to any  other team.  Mayes and Baldinger were all in agreement that the NL East is much stronger, particularly in Miami and D.C., but the Phillies still should be in the driver's seat.

But, I believe the Phillies are still clearly the NL East favorites.  Here are 20 quick reasons why:

  1. The Mets have no money.
  2. Michael Morse is injured and will begin the season on the D.L.
  3. Carlos Zambrano.
  4. Tyler Pastornicky is hitting .233 this Spring Training.
  5. The Braves' veteran SS option Jack Wilson is injured.
  6. Gio Gonzalez has a 7.20 ERA for the Nationals this spring.
  7. Drew Storen is injured.
  8. Brad Lidge will close games for the Washington Nationals to begin the season.
  9. The Nationals still don't know who will play center field.
  10. Ozzie Guillen and Hanley Ramirez in the same clubhouse.
  11. Josh Johnson has only had two injury-free seasons in his career.
  12. Livan Hernandez, released by the Astros, will join the Braves.
  13. Tim Hudson is out for a month.
  14. Chris Coghlan, Omar Infante, and Emilio Bonifacio will start way too much.
  15. David  Wright battled injuries this Spring.
  16. Chipper Jones is injured. Again.
  17. Martin Prado seems to have disappeared.
  18. Jason Heyward hit .214 this Spring after a disappointing 2011.
  19. Tommy Hanson got a late start to his Spring season after being in a car accident.
  20. Roy, Cliff, Cole.

For his power rankings?  Bowden ranks the Phillies second in the National League.


Phillies Take On Yankees In Nighttime Game, Bastardo To Start

Posted by Erik Seybold

420-20antonio20bastardo
The Phillies will play the Yankees for the final time this Spring when they travel to George M. Steinbrenner Field tonight. With the rosters being shrunken quickly, the Phillies will make most of their cuts by the end of the night. 

Yesterday, Juan Pierre was named to the 40-man roster. Pierre has a .421 batting average in 19 Grapefruit League games and should serve some additional support from the bench this season along with outfield depth.

Tonight, Antonio Bastardo (0-0, 4.26 ERA) will make his first Grapefruit League start. Antonio Bastardo, usually a late-inning relief pitcher, has had velocity issues this Spring which is a concern for the Phillies' best lefty in the pen. The Bastard allowed three earned runs in two thirds of an inning of work in his last outing, against the Pirates. 

Michael Stutes was originally scheduled to start, but he was scratched with shoulder soreness. Stutes said that he has had this soreness for about a week and thought it would go away quickly, but it hasn't. He will remain in minor-league games so he'll be eligible for a back dated DL stint. 

Jonathan Papelbon, Chad Qualls, and Kyle Kendrick are also scheduled to pitch tonight.

The Yankees will send out Michael Pineda (1-0, 3.31 ERA) against the Phillies tonight. Pineda, who started against the Phillies way back in the beginning of March, has only pitched 16 and 1/3 innings in five starts. In his last start against the Phillies, Pineda went just two innings and allowed a hit. That was March 5th. In his last scheduled start, against the Detroit Tigers, Pineda allowed one run on five hits through five innings. Pineda was traded to the Yankees from Seattle earlier this winter.

There is good news tonight as well. Freddy Galvis is back in the lineup after taking a foul ball off of his foot earlier this week. Galvis is playing second base and should be ready for Opening Day.

Today's Lineup @ Yankees

  1. Juan Pierre LF
  2. Shane Victorino CF
  3. J-Roll SS
  4. Jim Thome DH
  5. Hunter Pence RF
  6. Polly 3B
  7. Wiggy 1B
  8. Chooch C
  9. Freddy Galvis 2B
  10. Antonio Bastardo P.

You cannot watch tonight's game on TV.

Erik Seybold is a Contributor for Philliedelphia. You can follow him on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.