Friday, August 22, 2014

2014 Chachi Almost #5 Jo-Jo Reyes

I'm more than a little shocked that the number of names featured below hasn't grown over the past several months.  In early July, it seemed as if the Phillies were primed for a complete fire sale with veterans and upcoming free agents heading to contending teams.  To date, the Phils have made one trade, sending Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers.

The first player to be named later in that deal was actually named recently - infielder Jesmuel Valentin, son of former big leaguer Jose Valentin.  The younger Valentin has appeared in the 2012 Bowman Draft set and the 2014 Topps Pro Debut set, along with a few other prospect-based sets such as Elite and Leaf.

The player featured here, the latest member of the Chachi Almost insert set, was a long-shot to ever join the list below of "Arrived During the Season."  Jo-Jo Reyes last pitched in the Majors in 2011 with the Orioles.  Since then, he's pitched within the Pirates and Angels organizations and he spent 2013 pitching in Korea.  The Phils signed him to a minor league deal in early July and in five starts with the IronPigs, Reyes went 1-3 with a 10.45 ERA.  He was recently released, but at least his time within the Phillies organization will be marked with a Chachi Almost card.

(And here's a little family secret . . . when my wife was pregnant with our second son, we joked with friends and family that we were going to name him Jo-Jo.  We were both excited when Reyes signed his deal with the Phillies and slightly disappointed when it didn't pan out.)

Departed During the Season
Jayson Nix (5/12/14) - Outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency.  (Signed with the Tampa Bay Rays organization.)
Ronny Cedeno (6/29/14) - Traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for catcher Raywilly Gomez.
Steve Susdorf (7/10/14) - Released by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Tony Gwynn, Jr. (7/21/14) - Designated for assignment and released on 7/27/14.  (Resigned to a minor league contract by the Phillies on 8/3/14.)
Roberto Hernandez (8/7/14) - Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two players to be named later or cash.

Arrived During the Season
Grady Sizemore (6/24/14) - Signed as a minor league free agent formerly with the Boston Red Sox.
Jerome Williams (8/10/14) - Selected off waivers from the Texas Rangers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014 Phillies Team Issue 2 #63 Jake Diekman

Phillies 4, Mariners 3
Game 127 - Wednesday Afternoon, August 20th in Philadelphia
Record - 56-71, 5th Place, 17 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The bullpen trio of Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon combined for four scoreless innings as the Phils held off the Mariners, 4-3.

What It Means:  It means the Phillies actually won the series from the contending Mariners.  They'll have an off-day today before opening up a weekend series against the Cardinals.

What Happened:  Cole Hamels didn't have his best stuff, lasting just five innings and giving up three runs on nine hits.  But the bullpen was fantastic, registering nine strikeouts in their four innings of work.  Chase Utley gave the Phillies the lead for good with an RBI single in the fourth.

Featured Card:  Diekman threw two of the four shutout innings from the bullpen, striking out four.  Two of the biggest positives from the 2014 season are the emergence of Diekman and Giles at the back end of the bullpen.  This is Diekman's card from the recently released second series of Phillies team issued cards.

2007 Bowman Heritage #162 Tadahito Iguchi

Mariners 5, Phillies 2
Game 126 - Tuesday Night, August 19th in Philadelphia
Record - 55-71, 5th Place, 17 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies bats rested on this night, as the Mariners won easily, 5-2.

What It Means:  There are 36 Phillies games left this season.

What Happened:  The Phils managed six hits and their two runs didn't come until the ninth inning.  A.J. Burnett struggled again, allowing five runs on six hits and four walks in his 7 2/3 innings of work.

Featured Card:  I'm reaching here, which is bound to happen when your team is 16 games under .500 in late August.  Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma put on a pitching clinic against the Phillies in this game, throwing eight shutout innings while striking out 11.  Watching him pitch made me wonder if the Phillies had ever had a Japanese-born pitcher . . . and according to Baseball Reference, they haven't.

Of the 61 Japanese-born Major Leaguers, only two have seen time with the Phillies:  Tadahito Iguchi in 2007 and 2008, and So Taguchi in 2008.  And now you know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Phillies Team Issue Second Series Arrives

Blanco's and Williams' "cards" in Ashburn Alley
Phillies 4, Mariners 1
Game 125 - Monday Night, August 18th in Philadelphia
Record - 55-70, 5th Place, 16 games behind the Nationals

2014 Choice Lehigh Valley
IronPigs #2
One Sentence Summary:  The unlikely duo of Andres Blanco and Jerome Williams (both cardless in Ashburn Alley) starred in this 4-1 Phillies win over the Mariners.

What It Means:  The Phillies climbed to within 15 games of .500, and 11 games of the second Wild Card.  (He says with a straight face.)

What Happened:  Williams pitched seven innings, allowing a run on three hits on the way to earning his first Phillies win.  Blanco contributed a three-run home run in the fifth, which was the difference in this game.

Featured Cards:  Sadly, Blanco has only one 2014 baseball card to date, found within the IronPigs team set.

2014 Phillies Team Issue 2 #52
Field Report:  Fresh off our trip to Boston, Doug and I took in the first ever Phillies-Mariners game at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night.  My personal record is now a respectable 5-5.  Upon visiting the Phillies Newstand, we were pleased to see that the team actually released a second series of postcard-sized cards this year.  (Even though everyone I had previously asked told me a second series wouldn't be released.)

We were a little disappointed, however, that the set failed to include new outfielder Grady Sizemore.  The second series comes in at 38 cards, subtracting three cards from the 41 found in the first series.  The recently departed Roberto Hernandez is in the set, and Mike Schmidt appears with the rest of the team's broadcasters on the broadcaster card.

Here's a summary of the players dropped and added for the second series:

Dropped (8) - Freddy Galvis, Brad Lincoln, B.J. Rosenberg, Jonathan Pettibone, Phillippe Aumont, Ethan Martin, Bobby Abreu, Maikel Franco
Added (5) - Reid Brignac, Mario Hollands, Jeff Manship, Ken Giles, David Buchanan

Notable omissions from the set include Sizemore, Cesar Jimenez, Cameron Rupp and Blanco.

Memory Lane - Phillies Team Issue 2
2013, Early July - Drops 5, Adds 4
2012 Update, October - Drops 6, Adds 6
2012, Mid-July - Drops 8, Adds 10
2011, Mid-June - Drops 2, Adds 6
2010, Mid-August - Drops 1, Adds 3

2000 Phillies Team Issue #47 Amaury Telemaco

Giants 5, Phillies 2
Game 124 - Sunday Afternoon, August 17th in San Francisco
Record - 54-70, 5th Place, 16 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phils wasted another solid outing from David Buchanan, dropping this game to the Giants, 5-2.

What It Means:  If you're actually reading this game summary post, three days after the fact, thank you for reading!  As we slog through this challenging season, I'm grateful for your comments, your feedback and your continued patronage.

What Happened:  The offense went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.  Buchanan allowed three runs (two earned) in his 6 2/3 innings of work.

Featured Card:  This stat courtesy of @BoopStats . . . With this loss, the Phillies dropped a season low 16 games under .500.  The last time they were that many games under .500 was October 1, 2000, when they wrapped up the 2000 season 32 games under .500.  The losing pitcher on that day for the Phillies was the immortal Amaury Telemaco.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Phillies Room Visits Fenway Park, Sits in @Section_36!

Twilight in Section 36
Giants 6, Phillies 5
Game 123 - Saturday Afternoon, August 16th in San Francisco
Record - 54-69, 5th Place, 15 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  While we were taking in the sights and sounds of Boston, the Phillies let a game slip away, losing to the Giants 6-5.

What It Means:  It was easy to miss these weekend games with the Giants.

What Happened:  Everything seemingly unraveled for the Phils when a sixth inning popup dropped between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.  Michael Morse hit an RBI double following the botched play, starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick stormed off the mound before manager Ryne Sandberg had reached the mound and everything unraveled from there.  But this post will focus more on the Red Sox than the Phillies . . .

2014 Topps Red Sox #BOS-11
Featured Card/Field Report:  We finally made it to Fenway Park!  After years of trying to schedule a visit to our friends Dan and Beth, we were able to make the trip north to meet their new twins and spend some time getting to know the great city of Boston.  I could easily fill this post with a slide show of our day and a half walking around Boston Common and Boston Public Garden, riding the Boston Ducks or eating at one the best Italian restaurants I've ever experienced (Dolce Vita Ristorante), but since this is not a travel blog, I'll stay focused on our trip to Fenway.

We arrived at the ballpark plenty early, and killed some time with Frito Nachos, adult beverages (for the adults) and veggies and ranch dressing (for the kids) at Loretta's Last Call.  We lined up around 5:15 and shuffled into the outfield bleacher section around 5:45.  Having previously read up on the Best Section in Fenway, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed with our seats in Section 36 or the view of the field.  I definitely wasn't on either count.

Both our sons (Doug, 7 and Ben, 4) were properly equipped with Red Sox hats, and Doug proudly wore his new Shane Victorino Red Sox shirt.  He was disappointed that Victorino's injuries precluded him from playing in the game, but he got over that quickly once he took in the wonder of the ballpark.

To cut to the chase, we had a fantastic time and I've included some photos of our night below.  Here are some other observations and memories from our first trip to Fenway.  We definitely hope to be back soon.

- The ballpark is old, but it didn't feel old.  Wrigley field felt old to me when I visited in 2002.  Old Yankee Stadium felt really old to me when we visited in 2005.  Fenway didn't feel old.  It seemed clean, the seats were comfortable and not once did I miss the modern amenities found in some of the newer ballparks.

- We need to book a ballpark tour for our next visit.  I dropped the ball on this one, not realizing this is something that should be booked in advance.

- Phillies Franks are way better than Fenway Franks.  No contest.  I'll branch out and try a few other options during our next visit.

- Sam Adams beer tastes better in Boston.  It tastes pretty good every else, but it tastes better in Boston.

- A 7-year-old boy and a 4-year-old boy will both sit contentedly and eerily quiet for three to four innings if presented with a plastic Red Sox helmet filled with popcorn.

- Doug added to his growing Topps team set collection with the Red Sox team set and he started his Yearbook collection with the 2013 Red Sox Yearbook.  He was particularly happy to see that Grady Sizemore had earned an entry within the Yearbook.

- There are a ton of souvenir stores surrounding and within the ballpark.  They all carry pretty much the same stuff.  I passed on buying a $2 8 x 10 of Jonathan Papelbon on the clearance table of one of the stores.

- David Ortiz's 400th home run as a member of the Red Sox landed in front of us.  We think we can see ourselves cheering in the crowd shot within this video.  We're in front of the two yellow neon signs being held by two girls in back of us who were both attending their first Red Sox games.

- Both our sons were completely floored by the Sweet Caroline sing-along (bottom right) following the top of the eighth inning.  Doug giggled throughout the entire performance as it was truly a sight to behold.

- The Red Sox are now 1-0 in games I've attended.

- Thanks to Section 36 for guiding me to the best section in Fenway.  We'll be back!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mariners at Phillies: August 18th to August 20th

Monday and Tuesday 7:05, Wednesday 1:05
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Mariners 67-56, 3rd Place in the A.L. West, 5 1/2 games behind the Angels and Athletics
Phillies 54-70, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 16 games behind the Nationals

Mariners Probables:  Roenis Elias (9-9, 4.14), Hisashi Iwakuma (11-6, 2.72), James Paxton (3-0, 2.20)
Phillies Probables:  Jerome Williams (0-0, 3.38), A.J. Burnett (6-13, 4.35), Cole Hamels (6-6, 2.44)

At the Ballpark:  Tomorrow night is Ryan Howard Bobble Head night.  (Quick tip - If you don't have tickets to tonight's game, and you still want a Howard Bobble, wait until the next series and I bet they're "free" with a purchase of a $10 Yearbook.  I'm banking on that strategy.)  Following Wednesday afternoon's game, kids will get to run the bases.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Ben Revere - .314
Runs:  Jimmy Rollins - 65
Home Runs:  Marlon Byrd - 23
RBIs:  Ryan Howard - 77
Stolen Bases:  Ben Revere - 35

Wins:  David Buchanan, A.J. Burnett, Cole Hamels and Roberto Hernandez* - 6
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 2.44
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 149
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 28

*Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers

1988 Topps #55, 1988 Topps Traded #129T, 1988 Topps #626 and 1988 Topps Traded #18T
1988 Topps Appreciation:  I don't have a lot to say with regards to the cards featured in today's series preview post.  However, I was seriously bummed when fan favorite Glenn Wilson ("Glennbo") was traded on December 9, 1987 to the Mariners with Dave Brundage and Michael Jackson for Phil Bradley and Tim Fortugno.  Presented above are Wilson and Bradely's before and after cards from the flagship set and the Traded set.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

2013 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP192 Cody Asche (+ @Section_36 Preview)

Phillies 5, Giants 3 (10 Innings)
Game 122 -  Late Friday Night, August 15th in San Francisco
Record - 54-68, 5th Place, 14 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Cody Asche's two-run home run in the eighth tied up the game and Asche came in to score the eventual winning run in the 10th, as the Phils won, 5-3.

What It Means:  I very rarely completely miss an entire Phillies game, but this was one of those games where I never saw a pitch or heard any of the post-game highlights.  We took a family trip to Boston over the weekend and we were sound asleep in our hotel room before the first pitch was even thrown in this game.

What Happened:  Asche provided the key hits for the Phillies, hitting his clutch home run and then coming around to score in the 10th when Chase Utley was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.  Cole Hamels earned another no-decision despite another strong pitching performance - 7 innings, three runs, five strikeouts.

Featured Card:  Asche gets the honors for his heroics.  Photos from the same Topps photo session were used on Asche's 2013 Bowman Chrome Prospects card, featured here, along with his 2013 and 2014 Topps Heritage cards.

Bonus! Pix from 36:  Here's a photo of the scoreboard in Fenway showing the sad state of the 2014 Phillies following Friday night's action.  I want to post many more pictures from our trip to the game, but I need another night to recover from the 5+ hour ride home today.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Phillies at Giants: August 15th to August 17th

Friday 10:15, Saturday and Sunday 4:05
AT&T Park - San Francisco, CA

Phillies 53-68, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 14 games behind the Nationals
Giants 63-57, 2nd Place in the N.L. West, 5 1/2 games behind the Dodgers

Phillies Probables:  Cole Hamels (6-6, 2.37), Kyle Kendrick (5-11, 4.88), David Buchanan (6-6, 4.40)
Giants Probables:  Madison Bumgarner (13-9, 3.22), Tim Hudson (8-9, 2.81), Tim Lincecum (9-8, 4.51)

At the Ballpark:  The giveaway that caught my eye in this series is Sunday's giveaway of Giants Trading Cards.  There aren't any details on the team's website, but the thumbnail picture presented on the schedule leads me to believe that the cards will be (1) oversized and (2) produced by Topps.  Very interesting!

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Ben Revere - .309
Runs:  Jimmy Rollins - 62
Home Runs:  Marlon Byrd - 22
RBIs:  Ryan Howard - 73
Stolen Bases:  Ben Revere - 33

Wins:  David Buchanan, A.J. Burnett, Cole Hamels and Roberto Hernandez* - 6
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 2.37
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 144
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 27

*Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers

1988 Topps #651 and #445
1988 Topps Appreciation:  Michael Jackson and Mike Krukow never pitched in the same bullpen at the same time, but they were both one time members of the Phillies and Giants.

Jackson came up with the Phillies in 1986 and had decent enough numbers in parts of two seasons (4.11 ERA in 64 games) before getting packaged in the deal that sent Glenn Wilson to the Mariners for Phil Bradley.  He came into his own in his four seasons with the Mariners, appearing in 60 or more games four seasons in a row.  In December 1991, Jackson was traded with Dave Burba and Bill Swift to the Giants for Kevin Mitchell and Mike Remlinger.  I remember thinking at the time that this was a pretty huge deal for both teams.

Krukow pitched just one season with the Phillies, going 13-11 with a 3.12 ERA for the 1982 club.  He spent the final seven seasons of his 14-year career with the Giants and he's been broadcasting their games since 1994.  It was recently revealed that the very popular announcer was battling a debilitating muscle disease.  Here's a great article on Krukow and his ongoing battle.