Mariners point finger at wrong place

Ken Griffey Jr. took a nap — and somehow that is a reporter’s fault.

At least that’s the way the Seattle Mariners see it.

On  Monday the News Tribune ran an article with two unidentified players stating that Griffey went down to the locker room during the fifth inning and preceded to take a nap.

Griffey has denied the report, without actually denying the snooze, but that is hardly the end of the story.

After picking up a win on Tuesday our old friend Cliff Lee started talking during his postgame press conference, then stopped and said he wouldn’t continue until the reporter from the Tribune left the room. Several Mariners players followed suit at their lockers.

Real class there Seattle. As if somehow it is the reporter’s fault that two players spoke up about Griffey — who it can be argued has done nothing but nap all season, batting .200 with zero home runs and five RBIs.

Yeah, punish a paper for you know, actually reporting something.

As if that isn’t enough, we have these great words from Mike Sweeney, designated clubhouse leader, or something like that.

“We will support and fight and take a bullet for Ken Griffey Jr. if we have to. He’s our teammate,” Sweeney said, according to “Nothing is going to divide this clubhouse, especially a makeshift article made up of lies.”

OK, nothing wrong with that. But he followed with this: “We don’t think there are two players who said that (about Griffey sleeping),” Sweeney added, according to the report. “I challenged everyone in that room — if they said that to stand up and fight me. No one stood up.”

So in one breath Sweeney says nothing can divide the team then in the next he challenges his teammates to a fight?

I guess that’s a reporters fault to.

Seattle is a team going nowhere fast and not even the pitching of Lee can change that. It’s time for Griffey to retire, so he doesn’t do any more damage to his reputation. Known for having one of the sweetest swings in the game, Griffey has a better chance of hitting a lottery than he does a curveball these days.

In fact, Griffey probably did his team a favor by being unavailable to pinch hit.

There are plenty of people in the wrong on this one: Griffey, if he did indeed nap, and the players who broke clubhouse rules about keeping things like that away from the media head the list.

The reporter who did his job? He gets no blame from me.

Halladay Strikes Again

Keeping with the theme of Roy Halladay, the Phillies ace had another stellar performance Wednesday, to earn his fourth victory of the season. Philadelphia traveled south to take on division rival Atlanta, who they entered the game tied for first place with.

Halladay, who threw his second complete game shutout of the season, was a major reason the Phillies took a 2-0 win, and moved in on top of the NL East. In his 113 pitches, he allowed only five hits and struck out seven Braves, for 28 on the season.

On the offensive side, Philadelphia received a spark from the middle of their lineup. Jason Werth scored in the 2nd inning on a hit from Raul Ibanez, and in the 6th, Werth notched an RBI, doubling to send Ryan Howard home.

For the fourth time this season, Halladay proved that the Phillies made a great decision, letting go of Cliff Lee and acquiring the right hander. Halladay has been a workhorse for Philadelphia, tossing 33 innings, and he is the only pitcher in the league to have four wins and he is third with an 0.82 ERA.

Hopefully there are more good things to come from Halladay as the season continues.

Old friend Cliff Lee still hurting

Things haven’t started so well in Seattle for Cliff Lee.

Lee told the Associated Press that he still feels pain in his strained abdomen following some on-field work today. The discomfort was enough that Lee said he had no idea when he would be able to return to the mound again.

On the bright side Lee did say that the muscle in his stomach felt better and was happy with the work he was able to get in.

Even if the Mariners feel that Lee won’t be able to go the first week, they may keep him on the active roster for Opening day. Lee has been suspended for five games by Major League baseball for throwing at  Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder twice during an exhibition game last week. By rule, the Mariners are not allowed to fill carry another player for those five days should they elect to put Lee on the DL.

Whatever ends up being the case, we wish Lee well. Though his time in Philadelphia was short, it is still in the forefront of the minds of many Phillies fans.

Whiz Kids or the New and Improved Phitens, who is better ?

 From 1976 to 1980 they won 4 NL East titles, 1 National League Pennant and 1 World Series.

 From 2005 to present they have won 3 National League East titles, 2 National league Pennants and 1 World Series.

The first team included the group known as the Whiz Kids, with nearly every member of the team either in the hall of fame, or close to it, and known nationally as household names due to the exposure they recieved during their dominance.  The second team is still playing so does not have the advantage of securing a historical place in our minds and memories as of yet, but may equal or exceed the ability and statistics of the first group of Phillies superstars. 

This article will attempt to compare the two squad’s core group of players, then and now to determine which team is truly the best Phillies team of all time.  It might be noted the first team played just prior to the advent of steroid allegations and performance enhancing drugs becoming the norm, whereas the second group has played and does play in “the steroid era” of baseball with equal or better statistical results, yet has received no substantiated press regarding the use of these illegal and banned substances.  That by itself in this modern era of sports is remarkable, but what this group has acheived in a short period of time may be more so.

The first group-of Phillies included; Michael Jack Schmidt, Pete Rose, Bob Boone, Greg “The Bull” Luzinski, Tim McCarver, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox and was led by pitchers Steve “Lefty” Carlton, Tug McGraw and Larry Christensen. 

The current group of 21st century Phillies includes; Ryan Howard, Jaysen Werth, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and has had Brett Myers, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, JA Happ and Brad Lidge leading the way from the mound. 

For purposes of a direct comparison, I am not selecting players that only played 2 years or less with either team during the peak, hence the noticable lack of names such as  Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Juan Samuel, Pedro Martinez and the like.

The 1976 to 80 team, over their five seasons averaged  747 runs, 113 Homeruns, 696 RBI’s, 136 stolen bases and a .270 batting average while the pitching staff posted an ERA of under 3.50 for the span.   The two offensive leaders would have to be Rose and Schmidt, with Rose batting .291 with 390 runs and 255 RBI and Michael Jack posting over 200 homeruns, 600 RBI and 600 runs scored over the same 5 year span.

The leaguewide change of focus from defense to offense over the ensuing 30 years is evident when one realizes the Whiz Kids pitching staff ranked 7th league wide with an ERA around 3.00 while the 2008 staff was ranked 4th league wide while the ERA had risen to 3.88.

The offensive numbers of todays Phillies correlate to this change.  The current team is averaging 837 runs scored, 207 home runs, including a team record 224 last year, 706 RBI’s and 120 stolen bases.   Todays squad is led by Ryan Howard, with 220 homeruns, 630 RBI’s, and 460 runs scored over his first 5 full seasons.

The Phillies offensive output has increased by 30-40% while the team ERA has risen by 20% at the same time the league ERA has risen accordingly.   Between the Phillies dominance in the late seventies and early eighties and the current Phillies rise to prominance, the National League East was owned by the Atlanta Braves.  But those Braves dominated by virtue of their excllent pitching staff led by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.  There has not been a National League team that has ever had the dominant lineup from 1st to 7th position that the current Phillies possess.

Last years Phillies saw 4 players hit 30+ homeruns and drive in 90+ runs, as well as six players score 90+ runs and 8 hit 25 or more doubles.   They also had 4 players steal 20 or more bases.  This is the most balanced team to play in the National League in 50 years.  The Whiz Kids were famous simply because the perennial basement dwelling Phillies went to and won the World Series.   The current club should be afforded more respect because they are a better rounded and higher achieving team, and I for one, can not wait for them to close out the National League for 2010 so they can return to the World Series and go 2 for 3 as they take the championship away from the hated NY Yankees and return it to it’s rightful place, in Philadelphia.  This is a team that could easily win 3 or 4 of the next 5 World Series and establish itself in history as a baseball dynasty.

Based on these numbers, I would have to state, the current Phillies ballclub is the best statistical team ever to play baseball in Philadelphia, and I have a feeling the best is yet to come.

There is a new Ace in town

After starting last year against the perennial rival Atlanta Braves, the Phillies will have a chance to start off strong an immediately separate from the rest of the National League East.  Their first 9 games come against 2 teams that went a combined 133-191 in 2009.  With the addition of staff ace Roy Halladay and 5 of their first 8 series coming against sub .500 teams from 2009, the Phillies may have a real shot at the best start in team history.   Halladay may have 3 starts against National League bottom feeders before he is put to his first true test.

It is funny though, from all the reports I have read, and out of all the quotes attributed to Halladay, he seems to have a sense of nostalgia regarding his days with Toronto in the American League.  Here is one of his quotes:  ”I think I’ll miss a little bit of going into Yankee Stadium and Boston, where you’re expected to lose every time you go in there, and being able to walk out with wins.”

This is a man who is not only capable, but confident.  He holds the best record for a starting pitcher against the Yankees in the past 55 years among pitchers with 22 or more starts in that span.  He won 1 Cy Young and seriously competed for 2 others in the last decade in the American League, and now he gets to face teams who average fewer hits, a lower slugging percentage and less home runs.   He will also get to totally confound the oppositions pitchers when their turn at the plate arrives.   We haven’t had that kind of swagger here since the days of Mitch Williams, and in my opinion, Halladay has earned the right to swagger more than “The Wild Thing” ever did.

What I am most curious about however, is how will he do at the plate ?  He has faced an opposing pitcher at the plate rarely if ever in his career.   I mean, we all know he can pitch, but he is arriving in the city of brotherly love as the second highest paid player on the team, behind Ryan Howard, and what the fans really want to know is that they got good value for their money.

I mean, really, when the Phillies traded for Cliff Lee midseason last year, they knew he could pitch too, but who would have guessed he would go 7-33 with 2 doubles ?  It wouldn’t have surprised me if he had gone without a hit in his 12 starts as he got used to taking a stance at the plate as opposed to his accustomed place on the mound.   And how about his nonchalant fielding prowess on comebackers and infield pop ups late in the season and during the playoffs ?  And his exuberant dash to and from the mound every time out ?  Are we going to get a show from Halladay or just solid relentless pitching ?  His regimen already indicates he has an extremely strong work ethic, showing up at 5:30 each morning to begin his workout, normally ahead of the rest of the staff.  But the important question is, will he entertain us as he wins games, or will he just shut ‘em down and send them packing ?

Obviously I want to see some wins, I really feel he has to have at least a 15 win season to validate his salary and contribute to this team making a run at a fourth straight NL East title.  But it would also be nice to see a show.  Get the crowd into it, in the way Lee did last year, and Hamels did the year before.  After all, the Phillies may finally be in a position to get some national respect; after being a laughingstock for a century, they are seriously being considered a strong contender for not only the post season this year, but to return to the World Series.

Seriously, if  Halladay bats .050 and goes 15-5 with an ERA under 3.5 or better, it will still be an enormous upgrade for this team.  They are finally getting a solid staff in place that will enable them to dominate any team in a 5 or 7  game series, and that is what matters.  The only real question mark that remains is closing games.  Will we get the Lidge of 2008 who was nearly flawless, or the Lidge of 2009 who posted a 7+ ERA and set the record for blown saves ?  That, more than any one factor will most likely contribute to the Phillies successful return to the World Series.  I can’t wait for the baseball season to get underway so we can get some answers to these questions and get a chance to check both Halladay and Lidge out.

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Gearing up to go for 4 in a row

Thank God, baseball is back ! 

Pitchers and Catchers reported a day early as the Phillies get geared up to try to make it 4 in a row.  The role that used to belong to the Atlanta Braves as the perennial team to beat seems to have been handed over to our Phitens.   The Braves and Marlins both made off season moves that indicate the team in their sights is in fact the Phillies.  The Mets also signed Jason Bay for 66 million for four years to improve their chances at being competative.  They may finish 15 games out instead of 24, but will never seriously challenge.

I believe this year the race is a two team one.  The Braves and the Phillies, although unlike most of the late eighties through early this century, the Phillies are the team with the slight edge prior to the start of the season, thanks in part to their off season acquisition of Roy Holliday, the pitcher many expected them to sign when they ”settled on” Cliff Lee last year.


I respect the man as a pitcher and a player, and think he did amazing things for the Phillies, especially in his first 6 starts after the trade, and through the 2009 playoffs and World Series.

But seriously, as good as he was, the Phillies are markedly better with Halliday in the rotation.

The Phillies finished the season last year first in runs, and slugging, second in stolen bases and on base percentage.  They hit a team record 224 home runs as well.  They finished 6th in ERA.  So the obvious place for manager Charlie Manuel to focus on improvement was at pitcher. 

Some improvement may have occurred without management intevention, one thing in particular being right knee surgery to 33 year old closer Brad Lidge.  He may startle some with a year closer resembling his stellar 2008 after a lackluster 2009.  He contributed to both the Phillies 3rd straight National League East title as well as their World Series loss.  He has been quoted as saying he wants to end the season on Broad Street again, obviously with different results.  A repaired right knee may allow him to complete his follow through more quickly as well as hold runners on base better, two things he was unable to do at his normal level of competance at the close of last season, when it mattered most.

 So it is starting to take shape here, the 2010 pitching rotation.  Cole Hamels as the throwback Ace.  Roy Halliday as the entering Ace.  Jose Contreras as the Ace in waiting.   J A Happ as the rookie phenom.   Joe Blanton as the workhorse.   Madsen and Baez as middle relief.   Romero, Kenrick and Durbin as the bullpen crew.  Brad Lidge as THE CLOSER (Goat or hero, depending on which Lidge we get apparently)

With much of the offense returning intact, notable exception being the addition of Placido Polanco, these Phillies should once again chase the 100 win mark.  I, for one, can hardly wait for opening day.  Unlike last year when I was exiled to the deep south, this year, I will be there in person to watch my favorite sports team of all time take to the field.

Three becoming the number for the Phillies

For the third time in a week the Phillies locked up one of their starters with a three year deal.

It is being reported that Carlos Ruiz and the team have agreed to an $8.85 million, three-year contract that avoids salary arbitration.

Ruiz joins Joe Balnton and Shane Victorino as members who have joined the three-year club last last few days.

Three has indeed been a magical number for the organization. When the team acquired ace Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays, they singed him to an extension that guaranteed to keep him in town for the next three years. The team then worked quickly to lock up Balnton, Victorino and Ruiz for what they hope will be three more years of success, including this year where they look to make their third trip to the World Series in — you guessed it — three years.

This is great news for Phillies fans as almost all of the starters will be in place until at least 2011 and most until 2012. Given the age of the core there is no reason to expect decline from the majority of the players and improvements are still possible. The one player who has yet to be locked up is Jayson Werth, who could taste the free agent market after the upcoming season. With the payroll already set to pass $140 million and not much coming off the books next season outside of Jamie Moyer’s $7 million it may be difficult to keep Werth, who appears on the verge of stardom.

Baseball is a business and it is impossible to keep all of the pieces together, but Ruben Amaro Jr. has done an excellent job of keeping the large majority of things the same.

Now all that is left is making sure the level of play remains the same.

The signing of Ruiz basically closes the book on the Phillies’ offseason. Last week the team added veteran — and I mean veteran — pitcher Jose Contreras, so the bullpen is pretty much set. I wouldn’t mind seeing another starter added to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation, but with the Phils maxed out on funds, anyone they bring in would be a long-shot at best.

With that said it would be hard to grade this offseason anything lower than a B+ with the only flaw being the decision not to roll the dice on keeping Cliff Lee for one more season and giving the team the best rotation in the game.

Lee blindsided by trade

Phillies fans weren’t the only ones shocked that the team traded Cliff Lee.

Lee was also blindsided by the move.

 In a telephone interview with a member of the Associated Press, Lee said he thought he would end his career in a Phillies uniform.

“At first, I didn’t believe it. I thought we were working out an extension with the Phillies,” Lee said. “I thought I’d be spending the rest of my career there. … I was under the impression they wanted to keep me there for a long time. In my mind, it was going to happen.”

Lee went on to say that he in his agent were prepared to present a counter offer to the Phillies initial extension offer that was sent out last week.

Instead Lee was sent packing.

Even with the acquisition of Roy Halladay callers and hosts have bashed Ruben Amaro on talk radio for not rolling the dice financially and keeping both aces.

Amaro has repeatedly said that the team could not afford to give away seven of their top prospects over the last six months and not bring back any in return. There is a hole in that theory though. Had the Phillies kept Lee for a season and then let him walk in the offseason they would have received two first round picks for losing a top free agent. That means the team would have had a full year of Halladay and Lee together and been able to refuel their farm system soon after.

I’m not buying the money issues either. If the extra nine million was really too much to take on then there could be other ways to cut some salary. Joe Blanton will make around $7 million this year and the team surely could have traded him in a salary dump off type move.

It’s hard to criticize a GM who just brought the best pitcher in baseball to town, but when he had a chance to have a second ace on his staff and balked on the move, it oddly enough becomes just.

Halladay in, Lee out; prospects in, prospects out

Aces coming and going, prospects in and out, who said December isn’t baseball time?

The Phillies have reached an agreement that will bring Roy Halladay to Philadelphia from Toronto in exchange for prospects. Halladay has also agreed to a 3-year, $60 million contract, with a fourth-year option.

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee is headed to Seattle in a move being made to clear cash and restock the farm system.

So is it a good move or bad move? Did the Phillies give up too much or get a steal? Couldn’t the team have kept Lee for the season to form the greatest rotation in baseball?

Let’s discuss.

 What the Phillies get: It is rare in sports that a team can acquire a player that is a sure thing. Halladay is exactly that. He sports a career record of 148-76 with a 3.43 ERA and a Cy Young to his record. Consider that all of those stats came in the offense-heavy American League and you can figure Holladay to do even better in the NL. He has never dealt with lingering injuries and consistently gives his team over 200 innings a season. He also had nine complete games and four shutouts last season. In short: He is the definition of a front line ace.

The Phillies also get a bunch of unknown in pitching prospects Phillippe Aumont and right-hander Juan Ramirez, as well as outfield prospect Tyson Gillies. Reading up on these players the verdict is pretty split. Some have said the Phillies basically got back in talent what they gave away to Toronto, while others feel that there is not a player in the bunch with the potential of Kyle Drabek, who is heading to the Blue Jays. Aumont (21) is considered the best of the bunch, but struggled in AA last year going 1-4 with a 5.09 ERA in 15 starts.

 What they lose: Cliff Lee became Mr. Philadelphia in his short time with the Phillies. From his workman-like attitude to ability to dazzle on the mound, fans loved Cliff Lee. He did everything and more than the team could have asked for when they acquired him from Cleveland, highlighted by his 4-0 postseason record.

Kyle Drabek is the one prospect that people in Philly have been raving about for the last two years. Drafted in the first round in 2006, Drabek is 19-10 with a 3.70 ERA in his minor league career. In AA ball last here he pled up 150 strikeouts in 158 innings. Amaro always said he would not give up Drabek in any trade, including one for Halladay. He changed his tune and hopefully for the right reason

Michael Taylor was another top prospect and a guy that figured to be a replacement for Raul Ibanez in a couple of years. Last year he hit .320 with 20 home runs in AA, showing the talent the Phillies hoped for when they drafted him in 2007.

Travis D’Arnaud was considered more of a long-term project at the catching position and would have had little chance of breaking through a farm system already stocked at the position.

 Verdict: As long as the Phillies can win another championship with Halladay leading the way it doesn’t matter if Drabek becomes a superstar. The Phillies want to win now and Halladay fits that bill. Trading away Lee doesn’t though. The Phillies are sticking to their story that they can’t push their payroll over $140 million but with all of the money made from the past two postseasons there is no reason to believe they couldn’t have scratched out another $9 million for Lee.

In the end, they gave up prospects and got an ace while they also gave up an ace to get prospects. No holes were filled, while none were created. For now one has to give this move at least a mild thumbs up for the fact that the man many consider the best pitcher in baseball is now wearing a Phillies uniform.

What to my wondering eyes should appear? Everything

The Sixers and Flyers won on the same day?
Yea right and the Phillies are trading away Cliff Lee and bringing in Roy Halladay.
What a wild 24 hours it has been for Philadelphia sports fans. Fresh off one of the more exciting games of the NFL season — the Eagles Sunday Night win over the Giants — the fireworks kept coming.
The news that Roy Halladay is coming to town (I would expect the deal to become official at some point Tuesday) has had an interesting effect on the area’s sports fans. Some love it already, while others can’t quite grasp the idea of sending away Lee, who was 4-0 in the postseason. The whole deal hinges on Halladay agreeing to a contract extension, which would keep him in Philadelphia for an additional three years.

And while we were suddenly filled with baseball talk on a Monday in September the Sixers went out and did something they hadn’t done the last 12 games — win.
Thaddeus Young had one of the best games of his short career, posting 26 points to go with 14 rebounds and Iverson looked comfortable in a 20-point effort. Not only did the Sixers win, but they dominated, going up by 20 in the second quarter and cruising to a 117-101 victory.
Looking to spark his team, Eddie Jordan decided to bench Elton Brand and start Jrue Holiday in the backcourt with Iverson. For at least one day it worked, as Holiday had 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists, showing his all-around game.
While the Sixers were on their way to victory the Flyers had a remarkable feat, scoring two goals in a single period. Trailing 1-0 in the third, the Black-and Orange fought back with a pair of goals to down the Bruins. The win also helped the Flyers leapfrog the Rangers in the standings.


So to recap, in the last day and a half the Eagles beat the Giants to take over the NFC East lead, Phillies got the ball rolling on acquiring Roy Halladay, the Flyers past the Rangers and the Sixers beat somebody.


Enjoy it, because days like that don’t come around much.

Halladay In Philly – Deal Could Be Close is reporting that Roy Halladay is in Philadelphia to take a physical and possibly to try to work out a contract extension.  The Phillies would like to have an extension worked out with Halladay before completing a trade for the Blue Jays right hander.  Halladay wants to pitch in Philadelphia and will waive his no-trade clause if the Phillies and Blue Jays can work a deal out.

Although it is unclear what package the Phillies are going to offer, one possibility being rumored is that the Phillies would first trade Cliff Lee for prospects and then flip those prospects to the Jays for Halladay.  Lee is a free agent after the 2010 season and he has said he wants to test the free agent market rather than sign an extension during the season.   Since Halladay has said he wants a trade done before Spring Training, the Blue Jays have likely moved off the package they wanted at the trade deadline when they required both J.A Happ and Kyle Drabek.   Another possibility is that a third team has entered into the mix, possibly the Seattle Mariners who would acquire Lee from the Phillies while Halladay would go from the Jays to the Phillies and the Jays would get a mix of prospects from both the M’s and Phillies.

In other news, former Phillie Randy Wolf met the Milwaukee media today after signing a 3-year, $29.75 million dollar deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.  Wolf’s contract is the 3rd largest in the club’s history for a pitcher.  Wolf was 11-7 with a 3.23 era last year for the Dodgers in a career high 34 starts.

Free Agent John Lackey appears to be close to signing a 5 year, $85 million dollar deal to join the Boston Red Sox.  Lackey was taking a physical today so a deal could be close.

Road to a Dynasty is going to cost $$$

If the Phillies want to become a dynasty, I offer 5 suggestions to send them on their way. They have a good balanced ball club, one that has won the National League east three times in a row, been to 2 World Series and won one. That is a good 500 or so games for the team. But to truly become a dynasty, they need to sustain this level of play for 1000 or so more games.

That is tough in an arbitration filled, salary capped, league unless they plan on spending half a billion dollars each and every off season like the Yankees seem to do. Frankly, as much support as the Phillies get, I still  don’t think they can afford to do this, and I doubt the fans will support them spending that kind of money in the city of brotherly love unless they become perennial champions first.

But short of spending billions there are a few steps they can take to ensure success for years to come, simply by adding the right pieces to the existing nucleus of this years club and securing the worthy pieces they already have in the fold to make sure they don’t find greener pastures elsewhere.   Chase Utley was ranked the 6th best player in baseball, Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard should be in the top ten as well. Cliff Lee is a top five pitcher, and Cole Hamels is probably a top ten pitcher, JA Happ is the runner up rookie of the year.  Beyond that, the team is really a group of utility players, position players, run producers and role models.

In addition to this strong nucleus, now that trading season has begun, here is what I would do if I were Ruben Amaro.

1.) I would do whatever it takes to sign Placido Polanco to play third base next year.  5 years for $40 million perhaps.

2.) I would sign Omar Vizquel to replace Bruntlett as the end all-be all utility middle infielder.  4 years for $10 million.

3.) I would sign Ryan Howard up for the rest of his career, with a rich contract full of performance bonuses and incentives, this is the guy who hits 40 homeruns, drives in 140-150 runs, scores another 100 and has a strikeout total that is dropping and a fielding percentage that is rising.  This is a motivated player, 2005 rookie of the year, 2006 MVP, and in my opinion 2008 MVP as well; we CANNOT let him go.  He has three years secured right now, that leaves him a 32 year old in his prime either arbitrating or shopping himself as a free agent.  Wrong !!  He should get something in the 9 figure area now that he proved himself for the fourth straight year, remember he was asking for $18 million a year, before accepting a three year buyout deal in February for $54 million, but is entitled to  Texiera/ARod/Jeter type money and will go get it elsewhere in 2012 if he doesnt get it here.   Figure 5-6 more years at $130 million.

4.) I would sign Jimmy Rollins for another 5 years, slightly sweeter than his previous 2005 deal, to keep him in the leadoff role through 2015.  Figure $40 million here.

5.) I would sign Victorino to a long term contract as well.  Shane and Rollins are looking to be perennial run scoring gold glove machines, and having them 1-2 or 1-3 or whatever in the lineup in front of Utley, Howard and Werth means opposing pitchers dont stand a chance.  You can lock down Shane for $10 million for 4 years.  $40 more million.

Also, I would tie up Chan Ho Park with a multi year deal.  Park is by far the best deal for the money, and a known prospect who performed as well as any other bullpen hopefuls the Phillies are looking at.  $10 million ?  It seems a lot but in baseball salary terms, a drop in the bucket !

Think of it, Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Polanco, Ibanez, Werth, Ruiz, with Francisco, and Vizquel occasionally spotting the starters makes one hell of a lineup.   Everyone of those guys could score 100, drive in 100, hit 30 doubles, 20 homeruns,  steal 20 bases, and have an OPS  between .600 and .900.

Then you have Lee, Hamels, Blanton, and Happ as a four man rotation with Park, Madsen, Eyre, Durbin and probably Lidge since Charlie loves the guy in relief. Who thinks that group WON”T win 100 games next year ? And using these numbers plus those already signed onto contracts, that still places you around 8th in the league in overall payroll.

Because I can sense a dynasty in the making, I only hope Amaro and Manuel sense the same thing and are committed to spending the resources to make it happen.  It won’t be billions but it WILL be $250,000,000 +.   But think of it, $250 million is less than the largest contract in baseball for one person, and it secures a championship caliber TEAM potential through 2015 or so !!  The key is to do it now, and get it done, and then reap the rewards for the next 5-8 years to come.   The fans in Philadelphia are long suffering and certainly deserve it !

Phillies win Game 5, keep title hopes alive

Even with six run lead heading into the eighth inning it wasn’t easy for the Philadelphia Phillies.

In the end, though, Philly got exactly what it needed. Game Six is on the way.

Chase Utley pounded two home runs and Ryan Madson pitched a shaky ninth inning to close out an 8-6 victory for Philadelphia.

The Phillies offense got going, pounding out six runs over the first three innings off New York starter A.J. Burnett.

Phils’ ace Cliff Lee was in control until the eighth, when the Yankees knocked him out by plating three runs and making it an 8-5 game.

With the lead at three Charlie Manuel opted to stay away from struggling closer Brad Lidge and go with Madson. Although it wasn’t easy, Madson did the job and the World Series is going back to New York.

Tuesday will be an off day as Game 6 s slated for Wednesday night.

The Phillies are still down, but are very much alive.

This World Series isn’t over by a long shot.

Game Highlights:

-      Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning, Utley hit a three-run home run that electrified the Citizens Bank Park crowd and gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead.

-      Philadelphia kept the offense coming in the third. After  Utley and Ryan Howard walked to lead off the inning, Jayson Werth ripped an RBI single that plated Utley. Raul Ibanez followed with an RBI single that chased A.J. Burnett after just two-plus innings. Carlos Ruiz then added an RBI groundout, giving the Phillies a 6-1 lead.

    Utley and Ibanez each hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to push the score to 8-2.

-     Cliff Lee pitched seven strong innings, but faltered in the eighth, allowing three runs, two of which came on a Alex Rodriguez double.

-      In the ninth, Jorge Posada greeted Madson with a double and Hideki Matsui to put runners on the corners. Representing the tying run, Derek Jeter bounced into a 4-6-3 double play that plated Jorge Posada, but put a big dent in the Yankees rally. With two outs Johnny Damon singled up the middle, bringing Mark Teixeira to the plate. Mired in a slump all World Series, Teixeira struck out to end the game.

Phillies World Series hopes rest on Lee

While the Philadelphia Phillies former ace is already talking about next season, the current staff ace will do his best to keep this season alive.

Cliff Lee takes the mound tonight at Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies hope to extend the World Series to six games against the New York Yankees.

New York is on quite a run winning three straight contests, taking the Phillies home crowd out of play. Tonight Lee will look to slow down the Bronx Bombers and repeat his Game 1 performance when he pitched a complete game and allowed just one unearned run.

He will be opposed by A.J. Burnett, who also has a victory in the series, as he held the Phillies in check for seven innings in Game 2. Burnett will be throwing on two-days rest.

Philadelphia fans had hoped this day would not come. Coming into the World Series everything seemed to be clicking. Ryan Howard was as hot as he had ever been, the offense was clicking in unison and the pitching was superb. Now Howard is swinging and missing at breaking balls, the offense is getting solo home runs instead of three-run shots and the pitching has been spotty both in the rotation and the bullpen.

Baseball is a funny game. You can be as hot as fire one week and as cold as ice the next. The Phillies don’t have a week to catch fire though; they have a matter of hours. When their backs are against the wall the Phillies have shown their character and punched back. With the threat of the Yankees celebrating a World Series championship on their own field, I would expect that trend to continue.

There are plenty of question marks surrounding the Phillies for Games Six and Seven, but the biggest is whether they will get there.

By the end of the night the season could be over. Or, the Phils could be two wins away from a second-straight World Series title.

Game Time: 8:07

Lights out on Philadelphia?

It wasn’t a blown save, it was something much worse.

Bard Lidge allowed three runs in the ninth inning and the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-4, to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the World Series, Sunday night.

Pedro Feliz hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 8th off Joba Chamberlain to tie the game at 4-4 and give the Phillies the momentum heading in to the ninth. Lidge came in and got the first two hitters out, as it appeared his postseason reconciliation was going to continue.

Then it all fell to pieces.

Johnny Damon hit the blooper of all bloopers to keep the inning alive. Damon, not the fastest runner these days, stole second and third on the same play as the Phillies were playing a shift against Mark Teixeira, as no one was covering third.

This was Lidge’s first big mistake. With Feliz accepting the throw down to second, there was no one to cover third except for Lidge who never even attempted to get over there. From there he hit Texeiria, let up a double to Alex-Rodriguez, a single to Jorge Posada and it was all over.

While Lidge will take most of the heat for this loss, there is plenty to go around.

-         The Phillies hit two home runs, again solo shots, as the team had trouble getting men on base.

-         In the fifth inning Chase Utley tried to toss the ball to Rollins with his glove in an attempt to start a double play instead of taking his time to transfer the ball and just get one out. As a result he got no outs and the Yankees would score two runs that innings.

-         Joe Blanton pitches OK, but took the crowd out of the game early by allowing two runs in the first inning.

-         What is going on with Raul Ibanez?

-         Ryan Howard had a broken-bat single, but again looked helpless against the breaking ball.


It is now desperation time in Philadelphia as the Phils must win three straight to defend their World Series title. It can be done, certainly, but the Phils will need to play a lot better than they have through four games. Cliff Lee takes the ball tonight against A.J. Burnett.

The Phillies have been a team that plays well when their backs are against the wall, but this is bigger than any test they have had this season.

We will see if there is any magic left, or if it is “lights out” for the Phils.