Tag:Philadelphia Phillies
Posted on: July 23, 2011 3:13 pm
 

Gillick unequivocally denies Cubs rumors

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Pat Gillick as the next president of the struggling Chicago Cubs?

If that's the new Hall of Famer's next move, he said Saturday here at the Hall, it's news to him.

Rumors of him possibly taking charge of the Cubs after this season started a few days ago with a Chicago radio station, far as Gillick knows, and the special assistant to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said "it's entirely not true."

"I don't know Mr. Ricketts," Gillick said of Cubs owner Tom Ricketts. "I've never even met him."

Gillick said that he thinks current Cubs general manager Jim Hendry "has done a good job. They've had a lot of injuries. I've always found Jim to be very forthright."

As for his own future, Gillick, 73, said that he will not take another general manager's job.

However, he said he would consider a potential job as a club president.

"I'll take a look at it," Gillick said. "But as far as a lateral move, I absolutely would not do it. I love my situation with the Phillies."

A former GM in Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle and Philadelphia, Gillick said that if executives were depicted on their plaques in a cap, he would choose that of the Blue Jays, where he took charge of his first big league club and cemented his reputation as one of the best in the game.

Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:33 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:16 pm
 

Pitching plans for tonight's All-Star Game

PHOENIX -- Talked to both All-Star pitching coaches during batting practice, Mike Maddux of the Rangers and Dave Righetti of the Giants, and here's the tentative pitching plans for tonight's All-Star Game:

AL starter Jered Weaver is only expected to go one inning. Angels manager Mike Scioscia talked to Rangers and AL skipper Ron Washington and requested Weaver go no more than one inning or 25 pitches because he's due to start Saturday during the Angels' doubleheader in Oakland.

Boston's Josh Beckett is expected to follow Weaver to the mound, according to Maddux. After that, look for either Michael Pineda of the Mariners or Texas' C.J. Wilson. The way things were set up going into the game, Washington and Maddux were planning to use Pineda as the third pitcher in.

After that it's less planned, though Angels rookie closer Jordan Walden has been told there is a good chance he'll pitch in the fifth inning. While that's not guaranteed, Maddux said he did speak with some of the closers because, obviously, not everybody can pitch the ninth.

"Guys used to pitching the ninth inning, we gave everybody a heads up because if we need them early, normally, they wouldn't have even gone to the training table yet," Maddux quipped.

As for overall pitching plans, Maddux had another good line: "The only sure thing is, if Weaver carries a no-hitter into the second inning, he's not gonna get it."

As for the NL, starter Roy Halladay likely will pitch two innings unless he goes through a long first inning. Phillies teammate Cliff Lee will follow him to the mound. Then, Righetti said, it will be either the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw or Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens -- probably Kershaw.

 

Posted on: July 11, 2011 8:13 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:30 pm
 

Jurrjens disappointed not to start, understands

PHOENIX -- He leads the National League in both wins (12) and ERA (1.87), but Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens will be cooling his heels on the bench when the All-Star Game begins Tuesday night.

That's because manager Bruce Bochy chose old standby Roy Halladay of Philadelphia to start, opposing the Angels' Jered Weaver.

Even given Jurrjens' stellar season, it's hard to argue with Bochy. Halladay has been one of the game's elite pitchers for years -- arguably the best over the past several -- and he's tied for second in wins (11), fourth in ERA (2.45), first in innings pitched (143 1/3) and second in strikeouts (138).

The Braves' affable Jurrjens, 25 and participating in his first All-Star Game, was disappointed -- and refreshingly honest -- about being passed over.

"In a way yes [I'm disappointed] and in a way no," he said Monday, smiling. "I'm happy to be here. I got my hopes up a little bit because Doc pitched on Friday, but he deserves it.

"He's been doing it a long time. He's one of the best. You can't go wrong with him. He's one of the best pitchers -- that's why they call him 'Doc'."

The kid may be disappointed, but you've gotta admit, he's logical. Hard to argue with his thinking.


Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Short Hops: All-Star Soria back on track (& more)

This isn't about Mariano Rivera. It's about the Royals' Joakim Soria. But as with so many other things regarding closers, it makes Old Man Rivera look even more sensational than he already is.

OK, here goes: If I were to ask you coming into this season whose save conversion rate since July 31, 2007, is second in the game to Rivera's, whom would you say?

Yes, the answer is Soria, a two-time All-Star whose 92.4 rate since that date is second among all major-league closers to Rivera's 92.9.

Now, here's just one more piece of evidence that Rivera is superhuman: In late May, Soria suddenly fell into a hole and blew five of his first 12 save opportunities. It got so bad that after he blew consecutive save opportunities in late May, he admirably went to manager Ned Yost and essentially removed himself from the role. Something that in all of these years Rivera has never had to do.

Yost handled the situation superbly: He gave Soria a few days off to clear out his mind, eased him back into non-save situations in which he could pitch two innings at a time (to work on his fastball command) and then plugged Soria back into the ninth in early June.

The results, again, have been spectacular: Soria has worked 12 shutout innings in his past 10 games and is six-for-six in save opportunities, while holding opponents to an .098 batting average (4 for 41).

"It was not a big change at all," Soria says. "It was just a mind-set, getting my confidence back. Mechanics-wise, there was nothing to change. I looked at video, and I'm not doing anything different."

Soria isn't a closer with overpowering stuff, nor does he have one lethal weapon like Rivera's cutter. Instead, he throws all of his pitches -- fastball, curve, slider and change. Because he depends on location, problems can arise if he goes four or five days between outings.

"He's a command-guy closer," Yost says. "Command guys rebound so much better from that than stuff guys do.

"I've never had stuff guys who have gone through this rebound -- Derrick Turnbow, Danny Kolb, even Eric Gagne."

Soria, 27, right now is reinforcing Yost's history.

"Bad things make you stronger," Soria says. "If you've always been good, maybe you don't realize what it takes to be good until you go bad."

As for Rivera, who mostly has been immune to slumps throughout his Hall of Fame career, Soria, like everyone else, just marvels.

"He's the best," Soria says. "He's done everything in his career, and I don't think he's ever struggled."

-- Soria and Rivera have met once, at the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium in 2008. But they did not exchange trade secrets. "We didn't talk about the game," Soria says. "We just talked about life."

-- Though they clearly could use reinforcements for a beat-up bullpen, and manager Charlie Manuel wants a right-handed bat (the Padres' Ryan Ludwick? The Twins' Michael Cuddyer?), the Phillies are telling teams that they they're tapped out financially. They're close to the luxury tax threshold and do not want to cross it. Of course, they were also telling rivals the same thing last winter before they shocked everyone by signing free agent pitcher Cliff Lee.

-- Emphasizing Philadelphia's need for a right-handed bat: The Phillies are hitting .196 in their past 13 games against lefty starters.

-- The Red Sox, too, say they do not want to push their luxury tax any higher than it already is, which suggests no pricey mid-season reinforcements. But recent history under general manager Theo Epstein also suggests the Red Sox get what they need and, right now, their internal discussions are centering on a hitter. They're not getting much out of right field, which led to the release of Mike Cameron this week.

-- Mariners officials are scheduled to talk via conference call next week to discuss final strategy leading into the July trade deadline. Though Seattle has done a nice job of staying competitive, the recent 3-7 tailspin could spur the M's to deal Erik Bedard. Though Bedard landed on the disabled list this week with a knee sprain, he could be a very good trade chip.

-- Thanks to Milwaukee's road woes, the Cardinals are back in a tie for first place in the NL Central entering the weekend. But one scout who has watched St. Louis recently remains unimpressed. "Colby Rasmus is so inconsistent," the scout says. "Sometimes it looks like he's not even there at the plate." Then there are the times when Rasmus looks like he is there, like when he homered Tuesday and Wednesday in Baltimore.

-- In St. Louis' defense, the Cards have been so beat up this year, but while Albert Pujols is out, at least third baseman David Freese has returned from the disabled list. "Daniel Descalso was playing third base when I saw St. Louis," the scout says. "And I'm thinking, 'These are the St. Louis Cardinals?'"

-- This is the Phillies' rotation we expected: Philadelphia starters compiled a 1.96 ERA in June. Which, according to STATS LLC makes the Phils the first team since July of 1992 to go a full month under 2.00. Both Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs did it back in July, '92.

-- Quietly, Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick is resurfacing and showing why he will be in demand on the July trade market. He's at 51 RBIs in 78 games after finishing April with a .198 batting average and a .294 on-base percentage. That followed his miserable debut in San Diego last summer when he hit .211 with six homers in 59 games after his acquisition from St. Louis. There have been differences between this year and last: A calf injury nagged at him last year, while this April he was hitting the ball hard, just right at people. "I played terrible last year," Ludwick says. "I wouldn't say I've been playing great this year, but I've been doing what I've been known to do and what they brought me over to do. Drive in runs. Last year, every time I came to the ballpark I was stressed out, wondering if I was going to be able to make contact."

-- Know what's funny? The cover of Florida's media guide is a collage of small photos of historical highlights in Marlins history. And right there front and center, albeit at the bottom, is a photo of Jack McKeon in uniform. No need for updating there. Well, except he's wearing No. 15, and this time around, he's No. 25.

-- Angels manger Mike Scioscia, by the way, is still marveling about McKeon's enthusiasm for managing at 80. Scioscia and the Angels saw McKeon in his 2011 debut a couple of weeks back.

Likes: All-Star voting results coming soon, with the game soon to follow. ... Derek Jeter nearly set to resume his chase for 3,000 hits. ... Kerry Wood off of the DL and back in the Cubs' bullpen. ... From rocky NFL labor talks to rocky NBA labor talks to ... baseball labor talks still quiet and positive. ... The smell of neighborhood grills over the Fourth of July weekend. ... Modern Family boxed set, season 1. I'm just catching up to a show I haven't watched. Very funny. ... My sister's frozen key lime pie. Delicious.

Dislikes: Missed Jason Isbell coming through my town last week because of work commitments. His latest disc with his band, the 400 Unit, Here We Rest, is outstanding.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Driving in to Darlington County
"Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July
"Driving in to Darlington County
"Looking for some work on the county line
"We drove down from New York City
"Where the girls are pretty but they just want to know your name
"Driving in to Darlington City
"Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne's
"We drove eight hundred miles without seeing a cop
"We got rock and roll music blasting off the T-top singing. ..."

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darlington County

Posted on: June 22, 2011 7:17 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 7:20 pm
 

Dee the Flea and Lopes' Philly/LA influence

LOS ANGELES -- He scoots. He scrams. He flips and darts.

The Dodgers list rookie shortstop Dee Gordon at 5-11 and 150 pounds, and while he's still growing at 23, he's already grown much in the eyes of first-base coach Davey Lopes.

See, that's because Lopes has been working with Gordon since 2006, when Gordon's father, Tom, worked in the Philadelphia bullpen and Lopes served as a Phillies' coach.

Dee Gordon was 18 then, and even skinnier.

"He used to come to the ballpark and work out, take ground balls before he signed," says Lopes of Gordon, whom the Dodgers drafted in the fourth round in 2008.

Three years later, here they are, together again on the other coast.

"It's crazy," says Gordon, getting a chance while Rafael Furcal is on the disabled list. "It's the game, I guess."

Lopes was high on Gordon back then, and remains high on him.

"Most people question him because of his build, whether he can stand up to the rigors of a major-league season," Lopes says. "But the only guy I can compare him to is, when Ozzie Smith started, he wasn't very big, either," Lopes says. "And from the left side, you could knock the bat out of his hands, literally.

"He was very thin in San Diego. Maybe not as thin as Dee. But he was no body builder. Can it happen [with Dee]? Who knows? I don't think with Ozzie, people back then said he would be a Hall of Famer."

Lopes isn't putting Gordon in the Hall, rather, his point simply is, who knows? It's tough to put limits on kids this young either way -- what they can't do, or what they can do.

Gordon punched out multi-hit games in six of his first 13 starts -- he's also got four steals -- and he impressed Tigers manager Jim Leyland this week.

"He's going to be a hell of a player," Leyland said. "He's not bigger than a half-minute right now. He's going to be a tremendous player."

In 13 games, he's hitting .273 with a .298 on-base percentage. He remembers Lopes hitting him hundreds of ground balls when he was a kid in Philadelphia, and he remembers watching intently as Lopes talked stealing and baserunning with Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.

"He's very receptive to constructive criticism," Lopes says. "He wants to know when he's done something wrong. And that's the only way to get better.

"He's got a lot of energy. He has good genes, he's been around the clubhouse."

Likes: Congrats to Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper on his new five-year deal in Chicago. Good broadcaster, good guy. ... Cameron Diaz on the Late Show with David Letterman this week. ... Bad Teacher looks like it's going to be a hoot. ... The Drive-By Truckers on Letterman this week. ... Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the art of bringing people together and bridging the gaps between disagreements: Mexican food and beer.

Dislikes:
Goodbye, Big Man.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"We said we'd walk together baby come what may
"That come the twilight should we lose our way
"If as we're walkin', a hand should slip free
"I'll wait for you
"And should I fall behind
"Wait for me"

-- Bruce Springsteen, If I Should Fall Behind

Posted on: June 21, 2011 11:39 pm
 

Rotation against Verlander in All-Star Game

LOS ANGELES -- Detroit's rotation could keep Justin Verlander from pitching in next month's All-Star Game, but an early look at the top pitchers in each league shows few other conflicts right now.

Unless weather fouls things up, both Boston's Josh Beckett (last projected first-half start: Friday, July 8) and the Angels' Jered Weaver (Thursday, July 7) should be available options for American League manager Ron Washington to start the July 12 game in Phoenix.

And in the NL, Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (both would start Wednesday, July 6) would be available to manager Bruce Bochy, as would the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday, July 7) and, possibly, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels.

Hamels currently is projected to start on Tuesday, July 5, and the Phillies have an off day on July 6. If manager Charlie Manuel stays on rotation, Hamels would not pitch again until, possibly, the All-Star Game. If Manuel decides to skip a starter on an off day Thursday (unlikely), then Hamels could wind up starting on Sunday the 10th.

The problem for Verlander, who has one no-hitter and a couple of near-misses this year, is that, barring rainouts, he'll start the Tigers' final game of the first half on Sunday, July 10.

Looking both to keep pitchers healthy and to give All-Star managers real options, baseball last year instituted a rule prohibiting anybody pitching Sunday from working in the All-Star Game. Those pitchers named to the team are still All-Stars and can be in uniform in the dugout, they're just not eligible to play.

Really, it's a no-brainer that for a manager not to juggle his rotation to accommodate the All-Star Game, and that's essentially what Tigers skipper Jim Leyland said this week. His first responsibility is to win games for the Tigers, period.

"Our schedule is what it is," he said. "Our rotation falls the way it does."

Though his Dodgers are buried in fourth place in the NL West -- unlike the Tigers, who are battling for the AL Central title -- Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly says he will handle Kershaw the same way Leyland is handling Verlander.

"I think if his spot comes up Sunday, he pitches Sunday," Mattingly said. "I don't think we can start shifting things around because of the All-Star Game.

"It's an honor to be chosen. If a guy is chosen and he's not able to pitch, you have enough slots [to replace him] and it's still an honor."

Posted on: May 23, 2011 6:36 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 11:25 pm
 

Rays' Shields keeping ball in the park

One key reason why Tampa Bay's James Shields currently leads the AL in both complete games (three) and shutouts (two), ranks second in innings pitched (76 2/3) and fourth in ERA (2.00)?

He's doing exactly what he set out to do this spring: Keep the gopher balls away.

Last year, his 34 home runs allowed were the most in the American League.

This year, his seven surrendered do not even rank in the top 10.

Shields told me this spring that he thought there were a couple of easily explainable reasons why he was so disappointing in 2010 at 13-15 with a career-high 5.18 ERA.

"Bad baseball luck," he said during an early-March conversation in Port Charlotte, Fla. "Take away two or three bad games, and my ERA's 3.60 and nobody's talking about it."

Shields, who dominated the Marlins with 13 strikeouts in Sunday's complete-game win, figured that if he could minimize home runs in 2011, his ERA would drop. And if those two things happened, he'd be well on his way to a rebound year.

Those seven homers allowed in 2011 translate to one surrendered per 42 batters faced.

In 2010, he yielded one homer per 26.4 batters faced.

Not even close.

"I wasn't as good as I wanted to be last year," Shields said. "But there were a lot of positives: 200 innings [203 1/3, to be exact], 180-odd strikeouts [187]."

He keeps going at his current pace in 2011, there will be far more positives this season.

For both Shields and the Rays.

Likes: Texas' Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz and Philadelphia's Chase Utley all coming back this week. ... Knuckleballers. Boston's Tim Wakefield and the Mets' R.A. Dickey just keep on truckin'. ... Lars Anderson's Sports Illustrated cover story this week on the tornado devastation in Alabama. Beautifully done and heartbreaking. ... Music from the old Detroit band The Rockets on iTunes. Loved them back in the day (late '70s, early '80s) and had much of their stuff on vinyl, but it was never released on CD. Hadn't heard the songs in many years, but they stand up very well to the test of time. A shame they never hit it big nationally, because they could rock. ... Minka Kelly on the new Charlie's Angels in the fall. Hello girls, this is Charlie. ...

Dislikes: Red Sox-Cubs 1918 throwback uniforms.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Really love your peaches
"Wanna shake your tree."

-- Steve Miller Band, The Joker


Posted on: April 25, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 9:04 pm
 

Runs down, drought on out West

Major league clubs are scoring the fewest runs per game since 1992, and the drought out west is particularly to blame.

The Angels were shut out Saturday and Sunday by Boston and take a 19-inning scoreless streak into Monday night's series opener against Oakland. No wonder Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter were among those taking early batting practice in Anaheim at 3 Monday afternoon.

The Athletics were shut out in back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday by the Mariners and rank 10th in the American League in runs scored.

The Mariners rank 12th after, in 2010, scoring the fewest runs during a season (513) of any team in the designated-hitter era (since 1972).

Over in the NL, the Padres were shut out in back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday by the Phillies and have scored the fewest runs in the league. If you want to know how feeble to Padres' sticks are, just check in with tonight's starter, Dustin Moseley: The Padres have not scored one single run during the 25 2/3 innings Moseley has been on the mound this season. He's 0-3 with a 1.40 ERA.

The Padres hitters' 186 strikeouts is the most in the majors. Already in games in 2011, the Phillies' Roy Halladay has fanned 14 Padres and the Giants' Tim Lincecum 13. Brad Hawpe has whiffed 22 times in 51 at-bats.

As for the Angels and Athletics, who are set to open a three-game series in Anaheim tonight, the Angels, having been shut out in each of their past two games, have only been blanked three times in a row once in club history. That happened in June, 1978. They've never been shut out three in a row at home.

"Right now, particularly guys we've been counting on to hit in the middle of the lineup, guys are struggling," Angels manager Mike Scioscia says. "We have a  few 3 for 30s -- Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Howie Kendrick ... we've got a pretty strong grouping in the middle that has been struggling for probably the last 10 games collectively.

"If it's just one or two guys, you can rotate them around and get better groupings. But that's not really an option for us right now. We just have to let guys who have hit their whole career hit."

As for the A's, they were blanked for 20 consecutive innings before breaking through against Seattle on Saturday and Sunday with 9-1 and 5-2 victories.

Manager Bob Geren pretty much describes the same scenario Scioscia describes with his Angels.

"Collectively, we had nine guys struggling at once," Geren says. "We have three or four guys really coming out of it now, and some others are feeling better.

"There's definitely a lot better feeling each inning now."

The Athletics were 15th in the AL in runs scored on Saturday morning and still have scored the fifth-fewest total in the AL (80). Their 10 homers are the second-fewest in the majors.

Likes: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel's current deal taking him through the age of 69. After that? "We'll see," Manuel says. ... The Mets' new custom of periodically having players make phone calls to fans, as explained here by our Evan Brunell in Morning Pepper. ... The return of Treme to HBO on Easter evening. ... Great job, Toyota, bringing back the J.Geils Band -- or, at least their music, in the ad featuring the song Just Can't Wait. ... The new disc due from Emmylou Harris, whose voice is one of this country's great natural resources.

Dislikes: Jose Contreras to the DL. Just when he was in the process of reinventing himself yet again. What a job he's done as a closer. Though for you pitch count aficionados, there's this: Contreras was DL'd after throwing 81 pitches over a five-day span. And the Phils allowed Cole Hamels to throw 126 pitches on Friday and Roy Halladay to throw 130 on Sunday. It was, though, only against the Padres. So it wasn't like every pitch was taxing.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"To workers I'm just another drone
"To Ma Bell I'm just another phone
"I'm just another statistic on a sheet
"To teachers I'm just another child
"To IRS I'm just another file
"I'm just another consensus on the street
"Gonna cruise out of this city
"Head down to the sea
"Gonna shout out at the ocean
"Hey it's me"

-- Bob Seger, Feel Like a Number

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com