Posts Tagged ‘Pedro Martinez

18
May
10

PHILLIES: Rollins Back as the Phillies Roll on..

Jimmy Rollins is officially back in action!

The former NL MVP and catalyst for the most feared lineup in baseball was back up and running at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night, occupying his usual position in the middle of the infield for the Phillies 12-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The return of J-Roll just adds on to the Phillies already stacked lineup

While his presence may not have been needed on Monday, as Kyle Kendrick pitched eight strong innings while Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth put the game out of reach by knocking in 10 of the 12 runs, the game also featured a clearly healthy J-Roll for the first time since early April. When you read the stat line, you will see that Rollins was 2-4 with a double and a RBI groundout in his return. Not too shabby, right?

However, what you won’t be able to see is the fact that  he was able to leg out the double with ease, showing the acceleration and speed that makes him one of the most versatile players in all of baseball when healthy. Also not visible on the boxscore is Rollins’s lack of defensive rust that he showed against the Pirates, making multiple plays in the field that would back up his track record as a perennial gold-glove award winner at the SS position.

Yes, it was just one game. But, the fact of the matter is, if you watched the game against the Pirates, it’s quite visible that the Phillies are a COMPLETELY different team when J-Roll playing. That is offensively, defensively, and even in the clubhouse.  Truth be told, that may not be a good thing, as changing the dynamic of the team that had an NL best 23-13 record entering Monday’s contest may be risky. However, in this case, getting an all-star shortstop and clubhouse leader back in uniform will most likely help, not hurt, a team that has been in the World Series the past two seasons like the Phillies have.

And to think, Chase Utley wasn’t even in the lineup against the Pirates.

OTHER NOTES

: Ryan Howard knocked in six runs and hit his 9th career grandslam on Monday night. He is also virtually hitting .300 (.299 to be exact). The fact that people still complain about his performance (listen to 610 WIP if you don’t believe me) is beyond me.

: If you have been following the Phillies all season, it’s pretty clear that Jayson Werth’s performance to this point is making the front office cringe when thinking about the trade deadline or the off-season. It shouldn’t even get that far. I don’t know how because I’m not a GM or a master in finance, but if the Phillies can figure out some way to sign him to a long-term deal, they need to do it, and do it soon (shaking money of local trees may be the best option).

: To make room for Rollins on the 25-man roster, the Phillies optioned Wilson Valdez to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. After watching his defense, especially against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday night baseball, I pray to the baseball gods that he clears waivers.  Besides J-Roll, not many infielders (including current Phillies backup Juan Castro) have the arm strength and range that Valdez showed in his stint with the big club.  After all, defense wins championships, right?

: J.A Happ is not expected back until at least the beginning of June and Pedro Martinez is rumored to be talking to the Mets about a comeback this season. Hmmmm..

: Aroldis Chapman will make his introduction to the Phillies organization this week.  However, it won’t be in Philadelphia. The Reds top prospect will be pitching against Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday as a member of the Louisville Bats. Could be interesting, especially since the Iron Pigs are heading home from a week-long road trip, the finale being a 15-inning extra inning win against the Gwinnett Braves (Triple-A affiliate for Atlanta).

: Between the Flyers and the Phillies both being in action, it looks like the storyline of the Sixers chances of obtaining a top pick in the NBA Draft Lottery will be overshadowed in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Oh how I hope for Evan Turner..

25
Apr
10

PHILLIES: Happ to DL, Romero Activated

A couple Phillies notes in a weekend where the Flyers and the Eagles took the sports spotlight in Philadelphia.

J.A Happ, as expected, was placed on the 15-day DL with some inflammation in his pitching elbow. While the concern as of this point is minimal, note that Happ has now had a stint on the DL because of some sort of problem in his pitching arm in each of the first three years in the big leagues. Happ’s absence will make it two starters now on the disabled list. The other, Joe Blanton, has been on the DL since the start of the season, but is making progress to the point where he may be back by the beginning of May (May 3rd would be his spot in the rotation). With now Happ and Blanton out of action, Kyle Kendrick’s role will remain as a starter, and the Phillies will use a combination of converted-starter Nelson Figueroa, last year’s ultimate spot starter Antonio Bastardo, and possibly Andrew Carpenter to fill out the rotation.

Just wondering, where is Pedro Martinez right now?

A welcoming addition to the Phillies pen'

As another player bites the dust when it comes to the injury bug, the Phillies actually got a player back in the big league mix this weekend, as J.C Romero was activated to the 25-man roster. Although he has been injury plagued (and allegedly steroid-plagued, although I’m not buying it) for the past two seasons, getting Romero back is still obviously a HUGE upgrade for the Phillies bullpen, as he has been the best left-handed reliever for the Phillies in recent memory. As it stands now, Romero will now join Antonio Bastardo as the second lefty in the bullpen, and will also get his fair share of opportunities as an eighth inning guy, joining Danys Baez and Jose Contreras in that role.

One other note in regards to the roster, Romero coming back right means nothing in regards to a player being sent down (because of the whole injury situation). However, to look into the future a bit, when Blanton or Happ end up coming back, or whoever comes back first, look for David Herndon to be the one who possibly gets the proverbial ax from the big league roster.

23
Jan
10

PHILLIES: Bullpen Starting to Shape Up

First of all, sorry for the lack of posts recently. In addition to it being the off-season, I have also been having some difficulty adjusting to life in Spain, partially due to the time difference and lack of sleep that coincides with studying abroad.

Ten days removed from stepping into Barcelona, things are finally starting to become as normal as living in a new city and a foreign country can be, so I hope to getting back to a regular posting routine.

Now that I got that out of the way, onto the meaningful stuff.

In addition to the the signing of Danys Baez, the Phillies have finalized the contracts of three more pitchers in the past two weeks who will undoubtably be part of the overly complicated pitching staff equation once the season starts in April.

Chad Durbin: I didn’t say that the contracts were for new players. Durbin, who has been a focal point of the Phillies middle relief since the 2008 season, signed two days after filing for arbitration last week. The deal, which will pay Durbin a little over 2 million dollars in 2010, brings a sense of familiarity to a Phillies bullpen that is going through one heck of a makeover. As it appears now, Durbin and Ryan Madson will most likely be the only remaining relievers from the beginning of the 2009 season to be on the Phillies 2010 Opening Day roster (J.C Romero and Brad Lidge will most likely start the season on the DL as they recover from off-season surgery). The Phillies made some good signings which will obviously talked about, but bringing back Durbin was just something they had to do.

A return to where it once started for Brandon Duckworth

Brandon Duckworth: Does the name sound familiar? Well, it should. Duckworth was a fan favorite in Philadelphia as he started his major league career in the City of Brotherly Love, playing for the Phillies from 2001-2003. After his stint in Philly, Duckworth has spent time in Houston and Kansas City over the past five season as both a starter and a reliever. For the Phillies though, Duckworth will most likely vie for a spot in the bullpen, as his addition (along with the next player I’m going to talk about)  will give Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee a plethora of hard-throwing righties to choose from in late game situations. Not a bad luxury to have. However, if Brad Lidge somehow makes it back for the start of the regular season, Duckworth’s fans may have to travel up the PA Turnpike about an hour to see him play at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Jose Contreras: Wow, can’t say I was expecting this. To be completely honest, I’ve never personally been a fan of Contreras since he was just another highly coveted prospect from Cuba that Yankees overpaid for at the beginning of the century. With that said, after acknowledging the way Contreras pitched against the Phillies in during the 2009 NLDS when he was a member of the Colorado Rockies, it’s easy to see that this signing makes a lot of sense for the Phillies, as he will fill the same role as Chan Ho Park did in 2009.

What is that role exactly?

Well, since Contreras’s track record shows success as starting pitcher (went 15-7 with the White Sox in 2005),  I do think that the Phillies will give him an opportunity to battle it out for the last spot in the starting rotation. However, I think the odds are towards Kyle Kendrick (or even Pedro Martinez) getting that opportunity when it is all said and done, as his pitching performance at Lehigh Valley and down the stretch with Philadelphia last season should give him one more shot as a starter for the Phillies. However, if that doesn’t work out, which based on Kendrick’s track record, may happen, Contreras’s versatility gives the Phillies a nice security blanket to go back on if Kendrick’s third stint as a starter does not work out, and they don’t feel comfortable with their options inside their minor league system.

To put this into perspective, I believe both Kendrick and Contreras will make the opening day roster in some capacity.  If it happens the way I think it will (Kendrick as a starter, Lidge out for the first month of the season), then Contreras will start the season as the Phillies main long-relief man just as Park did in the latter part of the 2009 season, as he will sit behind Baez as the new set-up man and Madson as the closer, a role that he both succeeded and failed in during spot duty last season.

Less, than a month until pitchers and catchers report, and I am about to fill out a form to renew my MLBTV subscription.

Good day to all.

10
Dec
09

PHILLIES: 2009 Winter Meetings Recap

For the first year in my young life, I was able to attend the baseball winter meetings.

Sure, I may not have had press credentials, but walking through the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis and seeing Peter Gammons, Ken Rosenthal, and Buster Olney huddled in a corner exchanging information while across the hall Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox, Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, and Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta were at a table eating breakfast together, you can imagine what a prospective sports journalist like myself was feeling.

In the three days I was there, while looking for jobs, I got to talk to some members of the Philadelphia media regarding the moves of the Phillies at the Winter Meetings. Thanks to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Paul Hagen and Andy Martino, and MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, I was able to find out that this was the most boring Winter Meetings for the Phillies in recent memory.

Great.

However, there is still some news regarding past, present, and possibly future members of the Phillies organization.

: Phillies have agreed to terms with Ross Gload, who led the MLB in pinch-hits in 2009 with the Kansas City Royals. In a strange coincidence, the Phillies also have Greg Dobbs on their roster, who led the league in pinch-hits in 2008.

: Former Philles 3B Pedro Feliz has agreed in principle to a 1 year, 4 million dollar deal with the Houston Astros.

: Soon-to-be former Phillies P Brett Myers has been in contact with both the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds. Both Martino and Zolecki hinted that Myers could find a job with couple NL teams that would at least give him the chance to compete for a spot in the starting rotation.

: After getting in touch with the agents of both RP Latroy Hawkins and RP Brandon Lyon, both players signed with different teams. With them off the market, look for the Phillies to contact Jose Contreras.

: Phillies, as expected,  have been in contact with the Toronto Blue Jays in regards to trading for SP Roy Halladay. However, the Angels have emerged as the front-runner to obtain the rights of the former Cy Young Award winner.

: Phillies have been in contact with agents of both RP Chan Ho Park and SP Pedro Martinez in talks to bring them back to Philadelphia next season.

: If the Phillies cannot reach a deal with Martinez, they will fill the role of 5th starter in the rotation internally (Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick) or sign someone else to a 1-year deal, in which John Smoltz is the name that keeps on getting brought up.

: Nothing new to report on the statuses of RP Chad Durbin and RP Scott Eyre. Both are free agents and are seeking 1-year deals with exclusively the Phillies.

As people come and go, updates will be given on this blog.

08
Dec
09

PHILLIES: Who’s In and Who’s Out

With the start of the winter meetings getting underway in the fine city of Indianapolis, the most interesting topic of discussion is where premiere talents such as Roy Halladay, Jason Bay, Matt Holiday, Jon Lackey will end up either via trade or free agency. However, for the Philadelphia Phillies, they didn’t need a hour and 15 minute flight to Indy to get started on putting the possible pieces of the puzzle together that will help bring a World Series parade back to Broad St. 

WHO’S IN

2B/3B Placido Polanco: Phillies fans might recognize this name. Or at least they should. Polanco, a former Phillie who played his last season for the Philadelphia in 2004, was signed to a three-year 18 million dollar deal to replace Pedro Feliz at 3B. While the Phillies will lose a potential gold-golver in Feliz on the hot corner, Polanco is a more than suitable defender (2 gold gloves at 2B for the Tigers), and will give the Phillies more dangerous bat as a perennial .300 hitter who hardly ever strikes out in a lineup that is already potent offensively.

C Brian Schneider: Usually considered a Phillies-killer in his days with the Expos/Nationals and the Mets, Schneider will finally get a chance to play for his hometown team, as the Allentown native grew up a Philadelphia sports fan. Schneider will make around 3 million this year, serving as the primary backup catcher to Carlos Ruiz and the emergency first baseman if both Ryan Howard and Greg Dobbs are unable to play.

OF Dewayne Wise: The player responsible for the arguably the greatest defensive play of the 2009 season (saving Mark Buehrle’s perfect game with a home-run robbing catch) was signed to a minor league contract by the Phillies on December 1st. Wise will report to spring training as a possible fifth outfielder option on the opening day roster, behind the three all-stars (Werth, Victorino, Ibanez) and Ben Francisco on the depth chart.

 UTIL Juan Castro: Another player signed to a minor league deal. Castro will be given ever opportunity in spring training to beat out incumbent UTIL player Eric Bruntlett for a spot on the opening day roster. If he can’t manage that, then shame on him.

WHO’S OUT

3B Pedro Feliz: A sad end to a solid two years with the Phillies for Feliz. Always solid defensively, Feliz hit over .300 with runners in scoring position out of the 7th spot in the order when he was with the Phillies. The only other player to do that for the Philadelphia over those two-seasons was Ryan Howard. That’s pretty elite company. However, the Phillies envisioned Feliz to hit 25-30 HR’s when they signed him before the 2008 season. When he didn’t come close to those power numbers, the organization decided to go a different way with the signing of Polanco. Look out for Feliz finding a home with an AL team who will allow him to play 3B and DH, with Baltimore being the early front-runner as a possible destination. 

 SP/RHP Brett Myers: The tenuous partnership between Myers and the Phillies organization is finally over. Just a week after the Phillies season ended, GM Ruben Amaro made it clear that he would not be renewing Myers’s contract, saying that he wanted to go in a “different direction”. I’ve always been a fan of Myers, but it’s hard to deny that he needs a change of scenery. Myers, even with a clouded injury past, is still projected as a starting pitcher by a handful of teams in baseball. Look for one of those teams, possibly the Texas Rangers, to end up with Myers.

OF Matt Stairs: In case of emergency, use the stairs. If you don’t believe that, just look into your time capsule and turn it back to Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS where Stairs single-handedly saved the Phillies season with a pinch-hit 2-run HR against LA’s Jonathan Broxton that after a year and two months still hasn’t landed yet. While he will always be a hero to Philly sports fans for that sole moment, his career is finished. Sadly, Stairs can no longer catch-up to fastballs that he is used to crushing out of the ballpark, which is unfortunate because Stairs is a dead-red fastball hitter. That’s not a good sign.

C Paul Bako: Another departure due to a free agent singing. Bako performed admirably in his limited role with the Phillies in 2009, but the Schneider signing marked the end of the Paul Bako era in Philadelphia. What a shame..

OTHER POSSIBILITIES 

SP Pedro Martinez= Will the Phillies bring Pedro back after the team was 8-1 in his nine regular season starts during his two-month stint in 2009? My guess is yes.

SP John Smoltz= If the answer to that last question is no, look for Smoltz to be an option to fill the fifth starter role for the Phillies. Age (42) is a question with the future hall-of-famer, but if the Phillies want to give phenom Kyle Drabek one more year in the minors and they don’t view Martinez as an option, look for Smoltz as a possible candidate.

RHP Brandon Lyon= Don’t like this one bit. There’s no question that Lyon has plus-average stuff, but he has struggled mightily the past two seasons both as a closer and a middle reliever with Diamondbacks and the Tigers. It’s not like the Phillies view Lyon as a potential closer, so if they sign him,  his role would be similar to Brett Myers’s during the Phillies 2009 post-season run. I’d personally have Myers.

SP Roy Halladay: A discussion for a different day…

Lastly, I will be present at the final two days of the Winter Meetings, so look for updates to this post.


17
Nov
09

PHILLIES: Movin’ On

It may have taken just under two weeks, but I think I finally got over the fact that the New York Yankees are the current world champions of baseball, as the late Harry Kalas would say.

Before I view it as just water under the bridge, first, a moment of clarity.

As hard as it is to say, the Yankees deserved it. They were the best team in baseball, something that they paid a lot of money to ensure. Nonetheless, they didn’t let the names on the roster define their play, but their performance on the proved it, and A-Rod, Tex, Jeter and company will be sporting some new jewelry come opening day 2010.

Now, onto the Phillies. Tremendous run this year, and that’s not something I would have said moments after Shane Victorino grounded out weakly to first after he was jammed by a historic Mariano Rivera cut-fastball. Plagued by injuries, bullpen issues, and inconsistent play, there were times throughout the season that I truly believed that the Phillies would be watching the playoffs from the bar on the golf course. That obviously wasn’t the case. The credit to get the Phillies two game shy of back-to-back championships goes all around the organization. However, there are two people (besides of course the players) that are mainly responsible for making this past postseason run back to the fall classic possible.

1. Ruben Amaro: Pulling the trigger on a trade that gave the Phillies an ace (Cliff Lee) and a solid utility outfielder (Ben Francisco) for essentially four minor leagues backed up Amaro’s creditability as a general manager. He didn’t let the Blue Jays J.P Richardi bully him into giving up too much for Roy Halladay, and instead “settled” for Lee, who not only was the ace of the Phillies staff down the stretch, but also pitched worlds better than Halladay in the second half of the season. Also, signing Pedro Martinez midway through the season when so many people, even within the organization, questioned the decision, was a good move. Martinez surpassed all his individual expectations, and also bolstered the teams’ pitching staff and overall intimidation level.

2. Charlie Manuel: He will never be the most well-spoken manager in baseball, but based on success and overall approval by his team, Manuel has to be considered among the best skippers in all of baseball after this season. While he may over-manage at times (something that all managers are guilty of), a majority of the major decisions Manuel made over the course of the season were correct. Some of those decisions included benching Jimmy Rollins for a three-game stretch in June, sending both Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge to the D.L against their will, and sticking with Lidge as a closer in the playoffs (yes, this was the right decision). He’s a tremendous presence in the clubhouse, and should be with this team for a long time. 

As I said before, a great run it was. We got to see Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have tremendous seasons and historic postseasons, solidifying their status as perennial stars in the world of baseball. We got to see the birth of one of arguably the best outfield tandems in all of baseball, as Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth all had career years, with Victorino and Werth seeming to be just entering their prime. With pitching, we got to see Cliff Lee prove he wasn’t a fluke Cy Young award winner, Pedro Martinez resurrect his career, and a rookie in J.A Happ flourish into one the organizations bright young stars.

Needless to say, the future is bright for the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

Now, the show must go on, as the first step to repeating as NL champs is already about to begin.

Free Agency.

In the next post, we will talk about those who may join the Phillies through free agency, along with those who will surely leave the club because of the process.

28
Oct
09

PHILLIES: 2009 World Series

The matchup has been determined.

Phillies vs. Yankees, Dynasty vs. Destiny, Broad St. vs. Broadway.

All I can say is..wow.

Ever since the Brad Lidge slider that produced a can-of-corn fly ball that clinched the Philadelphia Phillies a trip back to the World Series six days ago (feels like six months ago), Phillies fans have been left to wait.

And wait..

And wait..

Now, the show must finally go on, starting Wednesday night, with the first pitch slated to go on as scheduled (not without a scare from mother nature) at 7:57 PM in the Bronx.

For the Phillies, it’s a return to the promise land once again. Two trips to the World Series in as many seasons, that’s not bad for a team was predicted to exit the playoffs in the first round, both years. In 2008, the Phillies cruised through the divisional and league championship series in four and five games respectively en route to the World Series. In 2009, the Phillies did, well, the same exact thing. 

Quite frankly, on paper, the Phillies are a much better team than at this point a year ago. Same nucleus of players, just an upgrade in the outfield with Raul Ibanez over Pat Burrell, and the mid-season addition of the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner in Cliff Lee to solidify the starting rotation. Add that with a year of playoff experience, and living up to enormous expectations, this team is built to win the World Series.

On the other hand, this time around, the Phillies won’t be fortunate enough to play the Tampa Bay Rays. 

No disrespect to them, but they weren’t the New York Yankees.

Now, the Phillies will have to face the team with arguably the greatest legacy in all of professional sports.

That’s without mentioning that this team has the highest payroll in baseball, had the most wins in baseball in the regular season, and have been the odds-on favorites to win the 2009 World Series since the all-star break.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

OFFENSE

PHILLIES: Five all-stars in the middle of the order, four of those with 30+ homeruns. Not many teams, none actually, have that type of power. The Phillies overpowered teams offensively throughout the team, and that did not change once the playoffs started.  On the road to the World Series, the Phillies were offensively superior to both the Colorado Rockies and and Los Angeles Dodgers, averaging over six runs a game, almost at run and a half better than they did in 2008.

YANKEES: Led by a half-healthy A-ROD and Mark Teixeira, the Bronx Bombers lived up to their nickname. They were arguably the offensively explosive team in baseball for the entire regular season, leading MLB in homeruns (seven guys with 20+ HR’s), 20 ahead of the 2nd place team in that category, the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Advantage: Phillies, but ever so slightly. The Yankees have a more balanced lineup 1-9, but the Phillies are the more hot offensive team going into the World Series, and the DH in game 1 and game 2 will give them an extra bat in the lineup. Either way you look at it, this could shape up to being one of the best offensive displays in World Series history not only because of the players, but also because of the ballparks.

STARTING PITCHING

PHILLIES: Enter Cliff Lee. Fortunately, Lee has been more than just a breath of fresh air for this Phillies pitching rotation. 2-0 in the playoffs with around a 1.00 E.R.A, he is the unquestioned ace of this staff.  Combine him with the resurrected Pedro Martinez and the ex-World Series MVP Cole Hamels in supporting actor roles as the projected starters for game 2 and game 3, the Phillies are far deeper than they were at this point last year.

YANKEES: For what Cliff Lee is to the Phillies, CC Sabathia is to the Yankees. Actually, he’s probably worth more. The 160 million dollar man for the Yankees was the ALCS MVP, and is a favorite to finish in the top-3 in the AL 2009 Cy Young Award race. Accompanying Sabathia is the enigmatic A.J Burnett in game 2, and  the ageless wonder in Andy Pettitte, who is now the baseball’s all-time leader in post-season wins, for game 3.

Advantage: Slight advantage to the Yankees. I’m going to consider Lee and Sabathia as equals for this argument. A.J Burnett has the stuff to be dominant, while Pedro Martinez ironically has the mentality to be more effective, so they cancel out, with Burnett having a larger upside for a potential gem. What is big in this category is third starter. It’s crazy to think that Cole Hamels could be considered a weak link, but Pettitte, his game 3 projected opponent, has pitched much better down the stretch, especially the the LCS.

BULLPEN

PHILLIES: What a difference the playoffs make. Aside from a game 2 meltdown against the Dodgers in the NLCS, the Phillies bullpen has been pitching much like the ’08 Phillies in this post-season, not the ’09 Phillies that in the regular season blew 16 saves. Most people will say the key to this bullpen is Brad Lidge. If the Phillies are lucky that’s the case. I believe that Chan Ho Park, Brett Myers, and Chad Durbin will play a huge role in this series, especially against a Yankees team who has a penchant of knocking starters out of games early.

YANKEES: The Yankees may not have as many quality relief pitchers as the Phillies, but the ones that they do have are very, very good. With Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, the Yankees have two potentially dominant set-up guys. Note that I say set-up. Once the games get into the 9th, the Yankees bullpen consists of one guy. Mariano Rivera.

Advantage: Not even a question. Yankees.

PREDICTION: I’m obviously bias here, so no analysis required.  

Phillies in 7.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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