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Phillies are Reportedly Shopping Jim Thome; Trade Him ONLY if He Wants

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Yesterday, ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that the Phillies may trade Jim Thome to an American League team, who can use him more appropriately as a designated hitter:

The Philadelphia Phillies are quietly making Jim Thome available to American League teams looking for a designated hitter, executives of two AL clubs said Thursday."

We all knew when the Phillies signed Jim Thome that he would likely be used primarily as a left-handed pinch-hitter as they did with the player Thome essentially replaced this offseason, Ross Gload.  Thome signed to fill that exact role.  A sure Hall of Famer and one of the biggest gentlemen in the game, I would hope the Phillies trade Thome only if it is for his best interests.

When Thome signed, his desires  were clear:

"Everyone knows my dream is to win a World Series"

He came to Philadelphia to do it.  More and more it appears that the Phillies won't be the team to give it to him in what might be his last season in the major leagues.  Thome won American League titles with Cleveland in 1995 and 1997, but failed to win a World Series ring.  He joined the Chicago White Sox the year after they won the World Series, and was traded to make room for Ryan Howard who helped bring the Phillies to their World Series victory.

Thome deserves a ring.  609 home runs, a Hall of Fame career and has many records in the books, but he has not won a championship.  And that's what a guy like Jim Thome plays the game for.

Ruben Amaro may indeed have approached Thome after the interleague series where Thome showed that he could be an effective DH and asked him what he would like.  I could see Thome saying that he was happy here, but if it would benefit the team he would be okay playing for a team like the Chicago White Sox or the Cleveland Indians.   Stark points out that Thome does not have a no-trade clause, but I would hope that the Phillies would not screw Thome over.

If Thome wants to stay - let him stay.  Use him for what you signed him for.  I would love nothing more than to see Thome retire a Phillie.  He will always be one of my favorite players of all time.


Phillies' Ryan Howard Begins Rehab Assignment With Strong Performance for BlueClaws

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Photos: Philliedelphia/Frank Klose

It was a sight so familiar but also so very different.  Ryan Howard returned to his old stomping grounds at First Energy Park in Lakewood, New Jersey to begin his rehab assignment as he works his way back to the Phillies.  Howard is still a fan favorite from his dominant 2002 performance which led to the team retiring his #29 jersey last year.

Not wearing his familiar #29 and larger than his time in Lakewood - perhaps the #52 jersey he wore was all they had that fit - we did see a great deal of the old Ryan Howard.  Howard's personality returned, his batting stance, as did his productivity.  Howard served as designated hitter and did not play the field.

Note: I'm going to recap Howard's at-bats mainly; I am sure you and I do not recognize many of these names or are invested in the victory.

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Batting in his familiar cleanup spot in the lineup, Howard did not bat in the first inning as the BlueClaws went 1-2-3.  Howard's first at bat was a groundout up the middle to shortstop.  The Power used the familar shift we have become so accustomed.

His second at bat in the fourth inning, Howard lined a single up the middle, which advanced Aaron Atherr to advance to third base.  Atherr would go on to score on a Chris Duffy sacrifice fly.

In the fifth inning, Alejandro Villalobos lead off with a strikeout, followed by Kyrell Hudson who popped out.  Kelly Dugan followed with a single.  Aaron Altherr walked.  This brought up Ryan Howard with two on, two out.  A wild pitch advanced both runners; Howard had two runners in scoring position with two outs.  He came through, lining a ball up the middle that caused the Power's shortstop to drive.  Howard legged it out for an infield single and both Dugan and Altherr scored to give him two RBI.

In the seventh inning, Howard would strike out swinging to end the inning.  But in the ninth inning, Howard was part of a comeback which led to a walk-off celebration for the BlueClaws.

The ninth inning was eventful.  Brock Stassi pinch hit and walked.  Kyrell Hudson followed with a double and Stassi went to third.  Kelly Dugan walked to load the bases.  Aaron Altherr flied out for the first out, unable to produce any runs, and Ryan Howard stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.

Howard came just a couple feet from ending the game with a grand slam.  Instead, he would settle for a sacrifice fly to bring Lakewood within one.   Chris Duffy would follow with a two-out single that plated Hudson and Dugan, and Lakewood had a walk-off victory, 7-6.

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A few observations:  

First, yes, Howard is heavy. However, I don't see how any of us would NOT gain weight if we were unable to walk.   He should shed the weight as time goes on.

Second, Howard runs with a bit of a limp.  When he talked to reporters in Philadelphia yesterday, he said he was going to "give 100% of 85%" and that he might not be back to normal until next season.  With such a serious injury, I am sure running could be challenging.  But, he did leg out an infield single and should still be able to contribute.

Third, Howard's bat looked good.  Aside from his strikeout, he made a lot of solid contact up the middle.  The sacrifice fly in the 9th was to the opposite field.  These may not be major league pitchers, but these were 19 and 20 year old kids with lively arms probably scared to death to face Ryan Howard.  It was a good sign.

So, all in all Howard went 2-4 with 3 RBI and a sacrifice.  Not a bad start to a 20-day rehab assignment.  How cool would it have been though if he had cleared the fence for a walk-off grand slam?

Here are a few other sights from tonight's game:

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Recognize this manager?

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Pregame workout

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Beer selection.  They also had $1.00 Coors Lights in center field.

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Phillies Lose Despite Battling Back From 5-0 Deficit

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When the Phillies opted to go with a "bullpen game" in last night's contest against the Pirates, it meant that today's starter had to at least keep the game close heading into the 7th inning for the team or the bullpen to have a chance to win.

It didn't look like that was going to happen for Kyle Kendrick.

Kendrick allowed five runs to the Pirates in the top of the first inning, putting the Phillies in an early whole in a game he needed to pitch well in. The five-run outburst was both the most the Phillies have allowed in the first inning and the most the Pirates have scored in the first inning this season.

Charlie Manuel and the Phillies couldn't afford to go to the bullpen any earlier than the 7th inning in today's game, and that looked like a mountain that Kendrick wouldn't be able to climb today.

He kept his cool, however, and settled into a really nice groove over the following six innings. Kendrick finished with seven innings pitched, allowing the five first inning runs on six hits overall while stiking out six batters. The offensive burst in the first inning proved to be enough for the Pirates though, as Kendrick (2-8, 5.35 ERA) and the Phillies lost this one 5-4 after a valiant comeback effort.

Erik Kratz, who started at catcher in place of Carlos Ruiz, hit a two-run blast to put the Phillies on the board in the second inning. Placido Polanco knocked in the third run of the day for the Phils with an RBI groundout that pulled them within two runs and brought some life into a stadium that fell into a lull after a five-run deficit and several innings of great pitching by both Kendrick and Pirates' starter AJ Burnett (9-2, 3.31 ERA).

Hunter Pence led off the bottom of the 8th inning with a solo blast that brought the Phillies within one run at 5-4. It was Pence's 14th home run of the season and his 45th RBI. The offense couldn't muster up another run, however, despite rallies in both the 8th and 9th innings.

In the 8th, the Phillies had runners on first and second base when Charlie Manuel elected to pinch-hit Jim Thome for Erik Kratz in the 8-hole. Thome struck out for the second out of the inning in yet another disappointing at-bat as a pinch-hitter.

Carlos Ruiz pinch-hit in the pitcher's spot after Thome, but Pirates' first baseman Casey McGehee made a great grab in foul territory to end the threat in the 8th. McGehee twisted and turned when searching for the ball, and ended up halfway into the first row after making the catch. McGehee also hit a three-run home run in the first inning which gave the Pirates the lead for good.

Jimmy Rollins got on base to lead-off the bottom of the 9th inning, but he never reached home as their rally fell short once again. The Phillies dropped their second straight game to the Pirates, who salvaged a split in this four-game series despite losing the first two games at Citizens Bank Park.

 


Chad Qualls Has Been Designated For Assignment by Phillies

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It seems as if millions of prayers have been answered

Chad Qualls has been designated for assignment. In a corresponding move, Jeremy Horst has been called up.

The Phillies signed Qualls to a one-year $1.15 MM contract in the offseason with hopes that he could continue his success as a relief pitcher as he did last season with Arizona. In 2011, Qualls went 6-8 with a 3.51 ERA in 77 games. Things were not as the Phillies or Qualls hoped this season as Qualls is currently 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in 35 games.

Jeremy Horst, who the Phillies acquired from the Cincinnati Reds for Wilson Valdez, is 2-1 with a  2.11 ERA and two saves in 26 games for Triple-A Lehigh.

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Photo: Philliedelphia/Frank Klose

Charlie will no longer have to put Qualls in during a lead-threatening situation anymore. Maybe the Phillies' bullpen can start holding games now. 

Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.


Kyle Kendrick and A.J. Burnett Headline Series Finale

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The Phillies were unable to win this series last night as they fell to the Pirates, 11-7. Although they won the first two games of the series, they are still looking for a series win. In this afternoon's matinée, Kyle Kendrick (2-7, 5.24 ERA) and A.J. Burnett (8-2, 3.24 ERA) will go head to head. Burnett will look to continue his dominance on the mound for a series split while Kendrick will aim to break out of his struggling stretch and give the Phillies a series victory.

Kendrick has struggled tremendously over his past four starts, owning an 8.10 ERA in 22 innings pitched. In his last start, on Saturday against Tampa Bay, Kendrick lasted just four innings against  the Rays, allowing two earned on six hits while striking out six and walking three. Kendrick took the n0-decision in the Phillies' 7-6 win. Kendrick has allowed 18 earned runs over his past four starts and has walked 12 batters. Kendrick will look to improve and turn around his slumpish play today against the Pirates. Making relief appearances on both April 7 and 8, Kendrick pitched 1 1/3 innings against the Pirates allowing an earned run and a hit in those two outings. In his career, Kendrick is 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA. 

Opposing Kendrick and the Phillies will be A.J. Burnett, who is aiming for his eighth consecutive winning start. Burnett got off to a slow start this season, but as of late he has been dominant. In the month of June, Burnett has a 4-0 record and a 2.52 ERA. In Burnett's last start, on Friday against Detroit, he tossed six shut out innings, allowing just two hits while striking out four. Despite being dominant, mostly at PNC Park, Burnett has allowed five home runs in 26 1/3 innings on the road. In his career (100 innings pitched), Burnett holds a 5-9 record and a 5.13 ERA against the Phillies.

You can really blame last night's loss on the Phillies bullpen, it was they who pitched the entire game. The Phillies crossed the plate seven times on 10 hits. Chase Utley went 3 for 5 with a home run last night, but he is not going to be in today's lineup. Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins remained hot with the bat. If Kendrick can keep the run limit against the Pirates down today and the Phillies can score enough runs, they should have no problem taking this game. But then there's a problem with the bullpen. Maybe a couple moves could help?

Today's lineup vs Pittsburgh:

  1. Jimmy Rollins SS
  2. Juan Pierre LF
  3. Shane Victorino CF
  4. Hunter Pence RF
  5. Placido Polanco 3B
  6. Ty Wigginton 1B
  7. Mike Fontenot 2B
  8. Erik Kratz C
  9. Kyle Kendrick P.

TV: CSN ; Radio: 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP

Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.


Utley Silences Doubters After Strong 2012 Debut

 

Chase Utley hadn't played a game for the Philadelphia Phillies since October 7.

Since Spring Training, fans have been left in the dark regarding Utley's health and whether the 33-year-old second baseman would ever play another inning of baseball for the Phillies, or any Major League team, ever again.

It certainly didn't look good for either the Phillies or Utley.

The team got off to a poor start, and the would-be role players became everyday guys on a team that usually boasts a lineup filled with All-Star caliber players. Utley continued to rehab his knees, but many wondered how effective his program would actually be.

Would Utley ever play the sport again? Even if he does play, will he be able to play at a level even close to what we're accustomed to seeing? Will his knees hold up, even if he only has to play half of this season?

When asked if he took these doubts about his future personally, Chase replied, "100 percent."

And, at least for one night, Utley answered these doubters in a huge way.

In his first at-bat since the Phillies' Game 5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, Chase Cameron Utley crushed a 2-2 curveball into the seats in right-center field at Citizens Bank Park.

The crowd, who has been understandibly dormant at times this season, erupted with emotion as Utley sprinted around the bases on what seem to be much healthier knees. This, of course, was just moments after the sell-out crowd welcomed Utley back to the lineup by giving him the biggest, loudest, and most emotional ovation of 2012.

And Utley didn't stop there.

 

He ended up going 3-for-5 with two singles and that solo blast in the first inning. However, his defensive plays throughout the game really put to ease some of the concerns surrounding his knees.

He galloped over towards second base, gobbled up the ball, and proceeded to chase down a Pirates' runner that had no chance of out-running the determined Utley. He ranged all the way over to the first-base line in shallow right field to snag a shallow fly ball.

He made us believe, at least for one night, that maybe the 2012 Phillies aren't ready to give up just yet.


Phillies Newest Reliever is... Brian Sanches

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Well, we knew left-handed pitcher Joe Savery was being sent to Lehigh Valley to join the Iron Pigs but did not know who would be taking his spot on the Phillies' active roster.   According to a source of Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, that pitcher will be Brian Sanches.

In the majors this season, Sanches was 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA.  In the minors, Sanches was much more effective, going 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA.  Despite being effective at AAA, this was not the type of addition Phillies fans hoped for.  Sanches probably will be more of the same.

Sanches was outrighted off of the 40-man roster earlier in the season, so they will have to make room for him to join the team.  That should be easy as David Herndon and Michael Stutes won't be back this season and are occupying 40-man roster spots.  They can simply be moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room.


Phillies Fans Give it to Chad Qualls on Twitter

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Chad Qualls has, um, struggled this season.  But after allowing Wednesday night's game to get out of reach, Phillies fans took to Twitter and his handle @Qualls50 to give him a piece of their minds directly.

There were a couple fans that were nice to him.  Most, however, were nasty:  (Click to enlarge if you need to)

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There were many more, some too nasty for our family-friendly website.  But at least one guy was nice:

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Oh wait, that wasn't nice.  Much of this: too far.


Phillies Bullpen Relieved of Joe Savery After Ugly Loss to Pirates

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After allowing 5 earned runs in the Phillies 11-7 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday, Joe Savery was sent out to AAA Lehigh Valley, according to Jeff Skversky of 6ABC.

Savery often was placed in no-win situations for the Phillies this season, but today had an opportunity to give the Phillies some innings and keep them in the game.  Instead in 2 2/3 innings of work Savery allowed five earned runs.  His ERA now sits at 5.87.

John Finger of CSN Philly points out that the the Phillies are 0-17 whenever Savery pitched this season.  That may have something to do with his pitching.

No move was announced yet as to two will replace Savery, but the team needs help.   Check out my earlier piece on some bullpen pieces available in trade.


Phillies Unveil New Taunting In-Game Entertainment

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When a pitching change occurred during the Phillies' rally in the Bottom of the 7th inning in tonight's game, the Phanavision played an interactive 'cam for the Philly faithful.  No, it wasn't the Bongo Cam. Instead, it was the Wac-A-Parrot Cam, mocking the Pirate Parrot.  Hey, they had to do something to entertain the fans tonight after being forced to witness a horrific "bullpen game". 

Matt Rappa is a contributor for Philliedelphia. You can find him on Twitter at @mattrappa.