Posts Tagged ‘Joe Blanton

14
Feb
11

PHILLIES: A Preview Before the Preview

As pitchers and catchers have made their way down to Clearwater and the friendly confines of Brighthouse Field, most who care about such a movement would also take that as a sign that the 2011 baseball season is finally starting to take form.

From the perspective of a certain baseball enthusiast/blogger, there isn’t much in the way of news that could be considered more of a breath of fresh air.

In fact, that could probably the best news in, give or take, three months and 13 days.

For those who are wondering and are too lazy to do some simple math or a google search, that was when the 2010 Baseball campaign officially ended as the San Francisco Giants were crowned as World Series champs.

With that said, a Spring Training preview will be up shortly, breaking down everything from..

Beautiful sight, isn't it?

1. Is Joe Blanton going to remain in the fold as the Phillies 5th starter behind R2C2?

2. Will Dominic Brown be able to beat out Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. for the everyday RF job?

3. How will the bullpen shape up without Chad Durbin?

4. Expectations, expectations, and more expectations..

5. Everything else.

Such a breakdown, however, will all come over the span of some six odd weeks before the Phillies take the field against the Houston Astros on April 1st.

In the mean time, if you want to take a look at a couple blogs that will have Spring Training coverage to a capacity much larger than this particular college senior who is roughly 700 miles from any Grapefruit League action whatsoever, a combination of Todd Zolecki’s “ZoZone“, David Murphy’s “High Cheese“, and Matt Gelb and Bob Brookover’s “Phillies Zone” should do the trick.

With that, enjoy the arrival of baseball season.

14
Oct
10

PHILLIES: 2010 NLCS Preview

As we all anxiously await the time early Sat. evening when arguably one of the best and most-anticipated playoff pitching matchups in post-season history will become a reality, it’s finally starting to set in that the Phillies have made their third consecutive National League Championship  Series with relative ease.

While it’s undeniable that the Reds didn’t hit, pitch, and especially field to the best of their ability, it was very clear who was the better team in that series, whether it play on the field or demeanor in the dugout or clubhouse. You don’t have to be a Phillies fan to realize that.

On the other side, the San Francisco Giants will come into their first NLCS since the Barry Bonds era in a similar fashion. In their 4-game series win against the Atlanta Braves, they out-performed an admirable opponent with dominating starting pitching, and while their hitting weren’t necessarily strong, the bats did capitalize when the opportunity presented itself (countless errors by a certain Braves second basemen) to put the series out of reach.

Hmmm, sounds awfully familiar.

With that said, here is the breakdown of the series between the Phillies and Giants.

SCHEDULE WITH STARTING PITCHING PROBABLES

GAME 1 (7:57 PM SATURDAY): Giants ( Tim Lincecum) at Phillies (Roy Halladay)

GAME 2 (8:19 PM SUNDAY): Giants (Jonathan Sanchez) at Phillies (Roy Oswalt)

GAME 3 (4:19 PM TUESDAY): Phillies (Cole Hamels) at Giants (Matt Cain)

GAME 4 (7:57 PM WEDNESDAY): Phillies (Joe Blanton) at Giants (Madison Bumgardner)

GAME 5 (7:57 PM THURSDAY if needed): Phillies (Roy Halladay) at Giants (Tim Lincecum)

GAME 6 (3:57 or 7:57 PM OCTOBER 23RD if needed): Giants (Jonathan Sanchez) at Phillies (Roy Oswalt)

GAME 7: (7:57 PM OCTOBER 24TH if needed: Giants (TBD) at Phillies (TBD)

STARTING PITCHING

The men on the mound will dictate the future of both teams of this series. On one side, you have the tandem now known as H20, along with a bullpen that looks to be reverting back to their ’08 form. On the other side, you have a 2-time Cy Young award winning pitcher, and 3 other bright young arms to fill out the rotation. Even Barry Zito, a past Cy Young award winner in his own right, couldn’t make the post-season roster. So, which side will win out?  Personally, I would have to go with the team who has a certain pitcher who has both a perfect game and a no-hitter under his belt this year. That’s just me.

ADVANTAGE: PHILLIES

BULLPEN

This one is a little tough. The Phillies bullpen, which for the most part has been considered their achilles heal for the entire season, has woken up as of late. A huge part of that is because of closer Brad Lidge, who had a blast from the past type of performance in the final two months of the season, only blowing one save in the 2 1/2 months of play after the all-star break. In addition to that, they also seemed to find some stability in terms of left-handed pitching out the bullpen, as both Antonio Bastardo and J.C Romero had a stellar final month or so. However, even though it may not have shown in their NLDS series against the Braves, the Giants, led by their perennial all-star of a closer Brian Wilson, may be the most consistent bullpen from top to bottom remaining out of the playoff teams.

ADVANTAGE: GIANTS

HITTING

Not even a question here. While Giants do have certain veterans on their team who are used to playoff competition (Juan Uribe, Aaron Rowand, and Edgar Renteria), they struggled mightily as a team at the plate during the Braves series and for that matter the entire season, even with the probable NL ROY Buster Posey, and a re-surging Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff in the lineup. Compare that to a Phillies lineup who, while still struggling a bit in their own right, was amongst the top offenses in all of baseball this year, and clearly is still the more explosive, experienced, and without question better offense in this matchup.

ADVANTAGE: PHILLIES

INTANGIBLES

Both teams are well-managed. Both teams have players on their team who have been in this type of playoff atmosphere before. So, what separating them? The Phillies are returning to the NLCS for the third consecutive year, while the Giants have long been on vacation during that time. In the two previous years, we all know the end result with the Phillies. Now, back in the same spot, with arguably their most talented team when comparing them to the prior two, I just don’t see that end result changing.

ADVANTAGE: PHILLIES

PREDICTION: Phillies in 6

05
Oct
10

PHILLIES: NLDS Schedule and Roster Set

While the Phillies do not need to send in their 25-man roster until 10 AM on Wed., after their most recent workout at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday afternoon, the details surrounding the divisional series against the Reds are now officially finalized. Here is the schedule and NLDS roster (information via “The Phillies Zone” writer Matt Gelb).

SCHEDULE (With Probable Starting Pitchers)

Game 1 (Wednesday at 5:07 PM at Citizens Bank Park): Phillies (Roy Halladay) vs. Reds (Edison Volquez)

Game 2 (Friday at 6:07 PM at Citizens Bank Park): Phillies (Roy Oswalt) vs. Reds (Bronson Arroyo)

Game 3: (Sunday at 7:07 PM or 8:07 PM at Great American Ballpark): Reds (Johnny Cueto) vs. Phillies (Cole Hamels)

Game 4: (Monday at 5:07 PM or 7:37 PM at Great American Ballpark if needed) Reds (TBD) vs. Phillies (Roy Halladay)

Game 5: (Wednesday at 6:07 PM or 8:07 PM at Citizens Bank Park if needed): Phillies (Roy Halladay) vs. Reds (TBD)

ROSTER

PITCHERS (10)

SP Roy Halladay, SP Roy Oswalt, SP Cole Hamels, SP/RHP Joe Blanton, RHP Chad Durbin, RHP Jose Contreras, LHP J.C Romero, LHP Antonio Bastardo, RHP Ryan Madson, RHP Brad Lidge

Those who were left off the roster: SP Kyle Kendrick, SP Vance Worley, RHP David Herndon, RHP Danys Baez, LHP Mike Zagurski

INFIELDERS (8)

1B Ryan Howard, 2B Chase Utley, SS Jimmy Rollins, 3B Placido Polanco, 1B Mike Sweeney, 1B/OF Ross Gload, UTIL Wilson Valdez, UTIL Greg Dobbs

Those who were left off the roster: SS Brian Bocock, 3B Cody Ransom

OUTFIELDERS (5)

LF Raul Ibanez, CF Shane Victorino, RF Jayson Werth, OF Ben Francisco, OF Domonic Brown

Those who were left off the roster: OF John Mayberry Jr.

CATCHERS (2)

C Carlos Ruiz, C Brian Schneider

Those who were left off the roster: C Paul Hoover, C Dane Sardinha

30
Sep
10

PHILLIES: Projecting The NLDS Roster

Now that the Phillies have not only clinched a playoff birth, but have also locked up yet another NL East crown and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, it’s time to erase the next week of meaningless baseball from our memory and actually focus on what’s important.

Yes folks, would be the Phillies fourth straight appearance in the postseason.

As I said in my last post, I would break down the potential playoff roster once everything was clinched. Well, I am a man of my word, and since the Phillies 2010 playoffopener will officially be played Wed, October 7th with an opponent that will TBD, it looks like it is about time to see how the current 33-man roster will dwindle down to 25 once the NLDS starts.

PITCHERS (11): In this breakdown, I have the Phillies keeping four starters and eight relievers. In reality, with the way the schedule looks as of right now (Games on Wed, Fri, Sun, Mon, Wed.), they will most likely use three starters, in which Doc should be ready to go if a fourth game is needed on 4-days rest. With that said, Joe Blanton will most likely be on the playoff roster as a possible 4th game starter, and if not, a middle-reliever if need be.  With Blanton on the roster, along with Danys Baez, who was signed to a deal in the off-season basically to give this team another veteran hard-throwing RHP for the month of October, that means both David Herndon and Kyle Kendrick will be left off, as their normal spot on the 25-man roster should be fulfilled by a second LHP as you will see below. I also project Cole Hamels to start game 2, so he will have the opportunity to pitch at Citizens Bank Park in front of a home crowd, something that worked quite well with him in the last two previous postseasons.

SP: Roy Halladay (Game 1 Starter)

SP: Cole Hamels (Game 2/3 Starter)

SP: Roy Oswalt (Game 2/3 Starter)

SP: Joe Blanton (Game 4 Starter/Middle Reliever)

RHP: Chad Durbin

RHP: Danys Baez

RHP: Jose Contreras

LHP: J.C Romero

LHP: Antonio Bastardo

Setup: Ryan Madson

Closer: Brad Lidge

CATCHERS (2)

This is pretty simple. In a 5-game series, barring injury concerns, there is no need to have three catchers on the roster. With Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz and primary backup Brian Schneider, fortunately, there aren’t any of those concerns. With that said, look for the Phillies to keep a veteran backstop, that being Paul Hoover, in the bullpen as a nice little security blanket close by if the injury bug bites in the NLDS.

C: Carlos Ruiz

C: Brian Schneider

INFIELDERS (7): Aside from the normal starters and Wilson Valdez, Phillies management has some tough decisions to make on this end. Do they keep an extra outfielder with speed such as Domonic Brown or John Mayberry Jr.  instead of Greg Dobbs, who would usually be a shoe-in to play in the postseason if not for his struggles this season? At this point, in a NLDS 5-game series, I think yes. Also, the mid-season addition of Mike Sweeney limits the need for Dobbs as the combination of he, Vladez, Ross Gload have proven that they are able to play the positions that Dobbs can at an even higher level.

1B: Ryan Howard

2B: Chase Utley

SS: Jimmy Rollins

3B: Placido Polanco

UTIL: Ross Gload

UTIL: Mike Sweeney

UTIL: Wilson Valdez

OUTFIELDERS (5): Another tough one here. Aside from the everyday starters and Ben Francisco, the final outfield spot comes down to three guys. Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., and yet again, Greg Dobbs. As a stated before, Dobbs’s lackluster performance this year really leaves him in a difficult position to make the postseason roster in any capacity. When it comes down to Dobbs and Mayberry, the biggest thing here is need. If the Phillies take Mayberry, that leaves only one possible LH situational hitter (Gload) on the bench. While it does depend on who they play in the NLDS, I don’t see Charlie Manuel and company feeling comfortable with that regardless of the opponent. I just don’t. Along with that rationale, taking Brown along for the postseason ride would go a long way towards giving him the proper experience that would allow him to properly implant Jayson Werth in the Phillies outfield once Werth bolts for the allure of dollar signs come the offseason.

RF: Jayson Werth

CF: Shane Victorino

LF: Raul Ibanez

OF: Ben Francisco

OF: Domonic Brown

Well, that was my stab at it. The two toughest calls here are obviously the battle of the last utility spot between Brown, Mayberry, and Dobbs and the decision of who’s going to be the 11th pitcher between Baez, Kendrick, and Durbin.

While I know the anticipation is killing all of you, the good news is that you only have to wait until next Wed. to find out.

03
Aug
10

PHILLIES: Concern for Ryan Howard

The injury bug has been present all-season long in the Phillies clubhouse.

Want proof?

Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Brad Lidge, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton, Carlos Ruiz, Chad Durbin, J.C Romero, Brian Schneider, Antonio Bastardo and the recently departed J.A Happ have all already spent time on the disabled list.  That’s 14 disabled list casualties among the projected 25-man roster for this team at the beginning of the season. For some (Rollins, Victorino, Lidge), their individual stint has even turned into stint(s).

Pluralities are never good when talking about injuries.

However, with Utley and Victorino still on the DL, and Raul Ibanez dealing with a wrist injury, Philadelphia’s injury issues were put under an even greater microscope Sunday after slugger Ryan Howard sprained his ankle sliding into second base.

Ryan Howard's ankle injury is the most recent cause of concern regarding the Phillies.

For the Phillies, losing Howard for a long duration of time may affect the chemistry for this team more than any other injury this season. Bold statement aside, I am not questioning the value of Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins to this team by ranking them under Howard in this comparison of order of importance. They are both all-star caliber players, and they obviously both have very important (and different) roles on this team. With that said, losing a guy who is involved in plating or scoring almost a quarter of the offense’s runs over the course of a season and is one of the biggest threats in baseball with what he can do with one swing of the bat would be absolutely detrimental to the Phillies playoff hopes is in 2010.

The good news?

Nothing’s broken. Howard’s MRI immediately following Sunday’s contest against the Nationals revealed no broken or fractured bones in his ankle, ruling out a possible surgical procedure that would lengthen a DL visit.

The bad news?

This injury, one that was earlier categorized as “a couple day thing” by manager Charlie Manuel on Sunday, may be more severe than we all, including the skipper, originally anticipated. After Howard left Nationals park on Sunday on crutches, it was announced late Monday night by MLB.COM’s Todd Zolecki that instead of traveling with the team to Florida for the Phillies series against the Marlins, Howard would be going to Philadelphia to meet with team doctors about the status of his ankle.

The scenario.

If the doctors conclude that he the condition of the ankle is improving, he’ll fly down to Florida himself, and rejoin the team (maybe not in a active role right away) on Wednesday. On the other side of the spectrum, if the pain and the swollen nature of the injury does not subside substantially (which it hasn’t as of late Monday night) in the next 12-24 hours, then it is very likely that Howard will end up on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Sunday, August 1st.

Sadly, my intuition tells me the ladder might for in store for the Phillies, which if you look at them right now, are a team that can ill-afford the reality of an injury like that to a player like Howard while being in the middle of a pennant race.

21
Jul
10

PHILLIES: Breakdown of Trade Rumors

Been a pretty crazy last 48 hours if I do say so myself.

Kyle Kendrick gets optioned to Triple-A, Jamie Moyer gets hurt and placed on the disabled list, Phillies fall to seven games back in the NL East, and last but not least, ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.

Well, everything except the last one.

Sort of.

Only three games over .500 at the end of July, the hands of the Phillies organization are reaching towards the panic button, and slowly but surely, reaching to push it (and for good reason). With Kendrick and Moyer out of the fold for presumably the rest of the season, that leaves THREE pitchers (Halladay, Hamels, Blanton) who can be deemed as starters based on their big league careers. As most of you know, a normal major league pitching rotation is usually satisfied with FIVE pitchers.

By means of basic subtraction, that means the Phillies have TWO spots they have to fill.

Unless he is dealt, for the time being it looks like one of those spots belongs to J.A Happ. After pitching three scoreless innings with Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, Happ was abruptly pulled from his start vs. Indianapolis. In his postgame press conference, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said that Happ “will be helping us”. Can’t be too sure what is meant by that, especially when it is said by the Good Ole’ Southern Boy himself, but  for the sake of the post, the likelihood of Happ being on a plane to St. Louis as the Phillies potential starter on Saturday night against Colorado is high.

The second spot, well, that’s not so clear. By process of elimination (No Moyer, No Kendrick, No Carpenter), that spot belongs to..VANCE WORLEY. Not really a household name, so if you don’t know him, that’s okay, you can keep your fan card. With a 9-3 record at Reading this year, Worley being added to the big league roster instead of one of the stockpile of pitchers at Lehigh Valley completes the unusual move of promoting a Double-A pitcher straight to the majors for his big league debut.

Unusual, yes it was, but it does happen. Unfortunately for Worley,  it may not get that far.

When Moyer went down with a “strained” left elbow around 8:45 P.M ET Tuesday, that was most likely the cue for GM Ruben Amaro to get on the phone and begin to take the steps on pulling the trigger on a deal to obtain a top-notch starting pitcher that has been speculated about for the past two months. And low and behold, by the end of the night, talks with the Houston Astros to obtain ace SP Roy Oswalt were considered “hot and heavy” by multiple sources, including ESPN Baseball Insider Jayson Stark and FOX Sports Baseball Columnist Ken Rosenthal.

So is Oswalt to the Phillies a done deal?

Probably not, there are multiple obstacles.

The biggest one: Oswalt demanding that his potential new home pick up his $16 million option for 2012 is probably the biggest one.  When all is said and done, that could be too steep of a price for the Phillies who will also have Joe Blanton ($8.5 Mil in 2012) under contract and will most likely try to resign Cole Hamels after a 2011 season where he will be making $9.5 million.

That’s a lot of money to be invested in three arms that are not relatively fresh by MLB standards.

Plus, it’s not like money grows on trees. Well, unless you are the New York Yankees..

Also, Ruben Amaro and company seem to have a contingency plan if the Oswalt deal falls by the wayside.  The Phillies are reportedly in talks with multiple teams about acquiring Arizona’s Dan Haren, Oakland’s Ben Sheets, or Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie. Truth be told, a deal for any of these pitchers might be more attractive than Oswalt at the end of the day because of a lower asking price and cap-friendly contracts.

With all that has been speculated recently (players at the four main levels of organization have been mentioned) on what the Phillies would have to give up, it’s almost impossible to predict who could be in the deal when a deal is done (and it will be done). However, what we do know is that it is going to take a collection of players, most likely three or four in total, and lastly, another team (Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox have been said to be interested) to help facilitate a trade that would bring Roy Oswalt (or Dan Haren) and prospects to Philadelphia. All things considered, I still think they are leaning towards that kind of blockbuster deal rather than a one-year rental on Sheets, Guthrie, or Jake Westbrook.

With that said, here’s the breakdown of who has been mentioned and how they factor into a possible trade for a top-notch starter.

WHAT THE PHILLIES WILL MOST LIKELY HAVE TO GIVE UP

Possibly 1 Everyday Big Leaguer: Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez

1 or 2 Guys who are MLB Ready (or close): J.A Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Scott Mathieson, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Zagurski, Drew Carpenter, John Mayberry Jr., Joe Savery, Vance Worley

1 Top Prospect: Jared Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Brody Colvin, Anthony Gose, Phillipe Aumont, Matthew Way

One of the players who is noticeably absent from that breakdown is Domonic Brown. The rationale there is if the Phillies didn’t include him for deals to obtain Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay, then they won’t include him on a deal for any of these available pitchers, especially since his stock has only grown since Philadelphia pulled off a their last blockbuster this offseason.

Now, it’s quite possible that Brown will be moved. Not denying that. However, I’m going to go out there on a limb and say that it will be restricted to just the Phillies clubhouse, where he will prepare to make his big league debut for the organization that has brought him up through the ranks over the last three years.

Even with this estimate though, and the Brown prediction, so many others are fair game. There are 100+ players within the Phillies organization, and maybe 10 have the “untouchable” label that is so difficult to attain.

Then again, Phillies prospect Kyle Drabek was considered “untouchable” this time last year.

And look what happened to him.

Updates will be given throughout the night..

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

6:30 PM WED: As reported by Phillies MLB.COM Beat Writer Todd Zolecki, Vance Worley was added as an extra long-reliever, much like Drew Carpenter’s recent 24-hour role with the Phillies. Philadelphia now has FOUR starters (Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, and Happ when he’s added) on their roster. No starter announced for Saturday yet, which was Kendrick’s spot.

11:45 PM WED: Phillies scouts are apparently present for Dan Haren’s start tonight. Not surprising, since CSN’s Jim Salisbury believes the Phillies may stick with what they have in terms if pitching if they can’t get Haren or Roy Oswalt. I still think they get one of the two mentioned, but if that is impossible, there is NO WAY they stand pat. In fact, I’m going to go further. Here are two other names who have popped up in trade rumors because of their alleged availability. Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona and Arizona’s Edwin Jackson.

03
May
10

PHILLIES: Welcome back, Phillies Bats..

It’s about time…

When the “best lineup” in all of baseball turned dormant for a recent two-week stretch, it’s safe to say that there was some concern among the Phillies’ faithful.

It’s crazy what 21 runs in 2 games against the rival Mets can do to put things into perspective..

After averaging just over two runs a game in the ten previous games, the Phillies offense did a 360 of sorts, and  knocked around the Mets top two starters in the rotation in consecutive games (Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey), something that surely coincided with the Phillies knocking the Mets out of first place of the NL East at the end of the series.

Shane Victorino has many reasons to celebrate during the Phillies weekend series with the MetsYes, it may be the first week in May, but this could certainly be the slap in the face the Phillies offense needed. The player who may have benefited the most from this non-literal act of violence the most may be OF Shane Victorino. With his average hovering of the Mendoza line before this past weekend, Victorino put together a five-hit series, knocking in eight runs in the three games. To add on to everything, four of those runs were on a tape measure Grandslam that would end up giving the lead to the Phillies for good in the Sunday Night Baseball finale against Santana, who would be taken out of the game two batters later after giving up another homerun to Chase Utley (Utley also broke out of a 1-for-12 week long slump this weekend with a five-hit series).

Case and point, both Victorino and Utley in some senses have been a very hot-very cold hitters since they’ve been mainstays in the Phillies lineup. If this weekend could jump start their “very hot” phase, it would be a huge contribution to the top half of the Phillies order to say the least, as Jimmy Rollins most likely won’t be back until the end of May (at the earliest).

I know, it’s the first week in May, and for a lineup that features five 2009 all-stars, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern. Remember, the Phillies lineup had slumping stretches, during the heat of the pennant race in August for the matter (look at the Philly Phour archives for more on that), and the only thing that came out of that was another trip to the World Series. I’m not saying this past slump shouldn’t be noted, but this past weekend shows that the Phillies offense can turn things around at any point in time, especially 25 games into the season.

However, if the Phillies can carry the momentum from this weekend into a series with the team with best record in the NL (St. Louis Cardinals), the slump really won’t be an issue.

Other Notes

1. Ryan Madson’s chair-kicking exploits are much more serious than initially through. Multiple breaks in his big toe will force the reliever undergo surgery, and miss a large portion of time. My guess..mid-June return. I’m not joking.

2. Joe Blanton makes his first big league start of the season against the Cardinals. What a better way to make your 2010 debut than facing Albert Pujols at least three times.

3. If for some reason Blanton’s health fails him in his first start back, look for Ruben Amaro to charter a plane down south in the direction of  the home of Pedro Martinez (especially if J.A Happ’s rehab continues to be behind schedule). Even he knows the Phillies can’t be consider contenders with Kyle Kendrick and Nelson Figueroa (and other spot-starters) filling out the back end of the starting rotation.

4. Jimmy Rollins can’t shuffle without feeling a sharp pain in his calf. Not good. Especially for a shortstop who also serves as a leadoff hitter and primary base stealer. As mentioned above, look for the Phillies to be playing their games in the month of May  (maybe even longer) with Juan Castro at SS.

5. Roy Halladay. One Month. Five Wins. Three Complete Games. Two Shutouts. Enough Said.

6.  If I were a betting man, I would say the Flyers even up their series with the Boston Bruins on Monday. Just a hunch.




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