Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
Posted on: October 24, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:50 pm

Phillies decline options on Oswalt, Lidge

In a move that comes as no surprise, the Phillies announced Monday that they have declined their 2012 contract options for starter Roy Oswalt and reliever Brad Lidge.

It's still possible that either or both could return next year at a lower salary, and general manager Ruben Amaro said he would remain in contact with both pitchers' agents. But the Phillies had no intention of paying $16 million for Oswalt (the price of his option), or $12.5 million for Lidge (his option).

Instead, they'll pay buyouts of $2 million to Oswalt and $1.5 million to Lidge.

The 34-year-old Oswalt battled back trouble this year, when he went 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in his first full season with the Phillies. Lidge, who is also 34, was limited to 25 games because of injuries, but had a 1.40 ERA.

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 7, 2011 11:07 pm

Cardinals head to NLCS -- and not the Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- The Cardinals were a deserving playoff team, and now they're a deserving second-round playoff team.

But what the heck happened to the Phillies?

Chris Carpenter was great. This Cardinals team is talented and tough.

But what happened to the Phillies?

Sorry, but for the second straight night, we had a Game 5 that was just as much about the losers as it was about the winners. And if Thursday was a "terrible day" for the Yankees, Friday was much, much worse for the Phillies.

They won more games than anyone. They have more aces than anyone. They sell out every night. They "know how to win."

And they just lost in the first round.

This isn't to take anything at all away from the Cardinals. Their all-Central Division NLCS with the Brewers should be loads of fun, with two teams with tons of history and plenty of animosity.

But what happened to the Phillies?

Sorry to keep coming back to it, but this team was a bigger lock than the Yankees or Red Sox ever were. This team has five straight division titles, and had been in three straight Championship Series.

This team had Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.

This team is done. And the Cardinals aren't.

The Cardinals were pronounced done themselves, prematurely as it turned out, when they were 10 1/2 games back in the wild-card race in the waning days of August.

But they started winning, and didn't stop. And the Braves stopped winning.

They still had to play the Phillies, and in the fourth inning last Sunday night, they were down one game to none in the series and 4-0 to Cliff Lee in Game 2.

Ryan Howard, who drove in the first two runs that night, didn't get another hit in the series, and made the final disappointing out of the season for the second straight year. At times, it felt like the Phillies as a team never got another hit, with the exception of the Ben Francisco pinch-hit home run that won Game 3.

Carpenter was brilliant in Friday's Game 5. The Cardinals got a run against Halladay early on, with a Rafael Furcal triple and then a Skip Schumaker double.

The Cardinals had a great night, and a great series.

But what happened to the Phillies?
Posted on: October 5, 2011 8:45 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 9:34 pm

Cardinals win sets up 'dream matchup' in Game 5

ST. LOUIS -- The Phillies didn't want or need this tension.

Baseball should love it.

The Phillies and Cardinals are headed to Game 5. That means Roy Halladay is headed for a meeting with Chris Carpenter.

The Phillies didn't want it, because the alternative was celebrating Wednesday night in St. Louis and heading to their fourth straight National League Championship Series. Instead, they'll play Game 5, because the other Roy (Oswalt) gave up a two-run double and a two-run home run to David Freese, and the Cardinals won Game 4, 5-3.

And now it's Halladay vs. Carpenter, in a matchup of ex-Blue Jays teammates who have gone on to win Cy Youngs elsewhere.

Perfect (even if the Phillies don't agree).

"I think it's a dream matchup because the two guys are great," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Wednesday afternoon. "They have maintained a relationship. I mean, you can't ask for anything better scripted than that.

"It's as special as it gets."

This Phillies-Cardinals series has already been special, with close games and comebacks. It deserved a Game 5.

And now it gets one.

Posted on: October 5, 2011 3:19 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 4:57 pm

Holliday in Cardinals Game 4 lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Matt Holliday has made it back into Tony La Russa's Cardinals lineup for Game 4.

La Russa said Wednesday afternoon that he actually made out two Game 4 lineups, one with Holliday and one without him. He said a decision on whether Holliday plays would come after Holliday takes batting practice and tries to throw before the 8:07 ET game, which the Cardinals must win to keep their season alive.

But Holliday said after batting practice he intends to play. "I'm good enough," said Holliday. "I can help the team in some way. That's all I'm hoping to do."

Holliday hurt his right middle finger on Sept. 13 in Pittsburgh, and he has played sparingly since then. He has just two at-bats in the series with the Phillies, and the Cardinals even considered replacing him on the roster.

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 4, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 10:52 pm

Game 3 concerned Phils, but they win it

ST. LOUIS -- This was the game the Phillies were concerned about.

They knew the numbers. They knew Jaime Garcia has dominated them. They knew that basically every hitter they would send to the plate has terrible career numbers against the young Cardinals left-hander.

Hey, numbers aren't everything.

Ben Francisco was 1-for-9 against Garcia when Charlie Manuel sent him up to pinch hit in the seventh inning (and, according to, the hit was an infield single). Now he's 2-for-10, and the second hit was a three-run home run that gave the Phillies a 3-2 Game 3 win and turned this series decidedly in their favor.

Garcia was very good again Tuesday. Before Francisco's home run, the Phillies had just four hits, all of them singles, in 6 2/3 scoreless innings. But an inning that began with a Shane Victorino single took a bad turn for the Cardinals when a two-out Yadier Molina passed ball led to a Tony La Russa intentional walk of Carlos Ruiz.

That brought Francisco to hit for Cole Hamels, who had already thrown 117 pitches in six shutout innings. Francisco had just the one hit off Garcia, but he did have a long fly ball against him, a couple of weeks back in Philadelphia.

"I almost hit one out, hit it to the wall," Francisco said. "That night, I wanted that pitch back."

This time, Garcia wanted it back, after it turned into the home run that changed the game.

It did not win the game, simply because the Phillies still had nine outs to get, and their bullpen is a huge postseason question.

With the help of Vance Worley (a regular-season starter), and with Ryan Madson's first five-out save since 2009 (and just his third ever), the Phillies got the job done in this game.

They've gotten past the dangerous Garcia, who had them so nervous, and they're one win away from qualifying for their fourth straight National League Championship Series.

And now the pitching matchups seem to be in their favor.

Roy Oswalt goes against Edwin Jackson in Wednesday's Game 4. And even if the Cardinals win that one, the Phillies feel ultra-confident with Roy Halladay ready (against Chris Carpenter) in a potential Game 5 back in Philadelphia.

This was the game that really worried them, the game that had turned this series into such a worry.

No thanks to the numbers, they won it.

Posted on: October 4, 2011 5:48 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 8:08 pm

Holliday pinch hits, could return to Cards lineup

ST. LOUIS -- When Matt Holliday is healthy, the Cardinals may have the best 3-4-5 combination in baseball.

The Cardinals now have some hope that they'll have it again before this postseason ends.

After a favorable checkup on his troublesome finger on Monday, and an encouraging batting practice session Tuesday afternoon, Holliday pinch hit for the Cardinals in Tuesday night's Game 3, and delivered a single. Two days after the Cardinals considered replacing him on the playoff roster, there's now hope that Holliday could even return to his regular spot in the lineup.

"It feels pretty good," Holliday said before Game 3.

In that regular Cardinals lineup, Holliday hits between Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman, both of whom should finish high in this year's National League MVP voting. Holliday was limited to 124 games because of various injuries, but he still hit .296 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI.

In Holliday's checkup Monday, doctors considered giving Holliday an injection, but decided against it. They also told him that the injury won't get worse if he plays with it, so that the main issues are pain-tolerance and how effective he can be.

Holliday said he still hasn't tested the finger by trying to throw, but he also said he thinks the bigger question was how much it would bother him when he hit.

The answer he gave after batting practice Tuesday is that he is again available to pinch hit. And that he could be available for even more.

Posted on: September 20, 2011 2:33 pm

Red Sox fighting history...again

History was already against the Red Sox. No team that began a season 0-6 has ever made it to the World Series.

But now there's more.

With Monday afternoon's loss to the Orioles, the Red Sox had their second 2-10 stretch of the season. They also began the season 2-10.

And no team with a pair of 2-10 slumps has ever won the World Series. The last team to go 2-10 twice during a season and get to the World Series was the 1983 Phillies.

Part of the reason, no doubt, is that teams with a pair of 2-10 stretches are going to have trouble finishing in first place, and before 1995, a team that didn't finish first didn't even make it to October. The Red Sox almost certainly won't finish first, either.

The Red Sox, of course, weren't the only team to start 0-6 this year. The other team that began 0-6? The Tampa Bay Rays.
Category: MLB
Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:12 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 10:14 pm

With 5 straight titles, it's a given Phils win

There was a time when the Phillies weren't expected to win every year.

There was a time when we thought of what happened in September 2007 as simply a Mets collapse, and not as the start of something big an hour and a half down the road. The Phillies were just the beneficiaries of that collapse, or so the story went.

The Phillies were not baseball royalty, four years ago.

But they won the East that year, and they won it all the next year, and they won the National League again the year after that. And they won the East again in 2010.

Now they've won it again in 2011, for the fifth year in a row.

But you expected that, didn't you? That's a given now, isn't it?

They went 14 years between division titles. They went 24 years with just one division title.

And now it's so expected that it's easy to forget what an accomplishment it is.

Don't forget. What the Phillies are doing is something very special, and what they clinched with Saturday night's 9-2 win over the Cardinals is absolutely worth celebrating.

As I pointed out in a blog last week, more than half the teams in baseball have won at least one division title since the Phillies' reign in the East began. In the 43-year history of division play, the Phillies are just the fifth team with a streak of at least five crowns in a row.

"It's hard," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said last week. "If you're not careful, when you start the season, there's an expectation that you've already won it."

Manuel gets credit for establishing the winning culture in Philadelphia. Players like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz deserve credit for a clubhouse atmosphere that promotes winning, and accepts nothing less.

And general manager Ruben Amaro, who was Pat Gillick's assistant when this run began, deserves credit for giving the roster the necessary tweaks and additions. Amaro's trades for Cliff Lee (twice) and Roy Halladay (once) have built the tremendous starting rotation that guaranteed that the run would extend for at least another year.

Not that there's any sense that this is the end. The Phillies will be the favorites in the East next year, too.

They were expected to win this year. They're expected to win next year.

Nowadays, they're expected to win every year.

It wasn't always that way.

Category: MLB
Tags: Phillies
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or