Sunday, March 29, 2015

1961 Fleer Baseball Greats #2 Grover Cleveland Alexander

Twins 7, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 26 - Saturday Afternoon, March 28th in Fort Myers
Record - 11-14-1

One Sentence Summary:  Jerome Williams struggled though another outing as the Phillies dropped the game to the Twins, 7-1.

What It Means:  As Jim Salisbury points out in this Tweet, the Phillies have lost four in a row and have been outscored 28-3 in those games while hitting .190.

What Happened:  Williams allowed six runs (four earned) on nine hits in his four innings of work.  The offense managed five hits with their sole run coming as a result of Odubel Herrera's RBI single in the third.

Featured Card:  We're entering the dog days of spring and it's getting harder to come up with a relevant card to feature after these meaningless losses.

With that in mind . . . I read a fascinating article on the Phillies spring training from 1915 in this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer.  The article features a steamer voyage to Florida, gaping alligators and tales of Coffee Pot Park.  There's also a nice picture of future Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander sipping his coffee in the bleachers while wearing his snazzy Phillies warm-up sweater.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

2014 Bowman 1989 Bowman is Back Silver Diamond Refractor #89BIB-AN Aaron Nola

Yankees 10, Phillies 0 (6 Innings)
Spring Training Game 25 - Friday Afternoon, March 27th in Clearwater
Record - 11-13-1

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola made his official debut in a Phillies uniform, pitching three shutout innings in a rain-shortened 10-0 loss to the Yankees.

What It Means:  It doesn't say much about the team's outlook that Nola's appearance could be the highlight of the next few months for the Phillies.  The righty was the Phillies #1 draft pick in last June's draft and he's slated to start the season with Double-A Reading.

What Happened:  Nola looked great, striking out four (including Alex Rodriguez) and scattering five hits in his outing.  Jake Diekman looked not so great, allowing seven runs in a third of an inning.

Featured Card:  Thanks to Bowman and the Clearwater Threshers team set, I already have four Nola cards in my Phillies collection.  This is the shiniest of the four, paying tribute to the very plain design of the original comeback 1989 Bowman set but now with fancy "silver diamond refractors."  Even better, Topps was kind enough to make these cards the standard size so that they're easier to store, unlike their original counterparts.

Friday, March 27, 2015

2014 Bowman Draft Chrome Future of the Franchise #FF-JC J.C. Crawford

Blue Jays 4, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 24 - Thursday Afternoon, March 26th in Dunedin
Record - 11-12-1

One Sentence Summary:  Ken Giles faltered in the eighth, allowing four unanswered Blue Jays runs in an eventual 4-1 loss.

What It Means:  The Phillies strong, young bullpen hasn't looked so hot this spring.  Giles, Justin De Fratus and Jake Diekman have all struggled at times while Mario Hollands is out indefinitely and could need elbow surgery.

What Happened:  Cole Hamels pitched five scoreless innings and Carlos Ruiz knocked in the only Phillies run of the afternoon with an RBI double.

Featured Card:  It wasn't a great day to be a Phillies fan, as we learned that top prospect J.P. Crawford would miss the next six to eight weeks with a strained oblique.  Topps went so far as to deem Crawford the future of the franchise on this Bowman Chrome insert card from last year.  Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for Crawford and I hope he stays on track for a 2016 debut with the big club.

1981 Harrison/Erickson Postcard Phillie Phanatic

Astros 7, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 23 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 25th in Clearwater
Record - 11-11-1

One Sentence Summary:  Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was hit hard in his start and the Phils eventually lost to the Astros, 7-1.

What It Means:  Gonzalez now owns a 7.53 ERA and he's not doing anything to help his chances of earning a spot in the team's starting pitching rotation.

What Happened:  Gonzalez allowed four runs on eight hits in his four innings of work.  The only Phillies run came courtesy of a Ryan Howard RBI double.

Featured Card:  On a happier Phillies related note, both my sons received mail from the Phillies yesterday with their 2015 Phanatic MVP Club membership card and coupons for the upcoming season.  They'll be getting a Phanatic bobblehead, Phanatic sunglasses and they're already enjoying their new Phanatic posters.  (See here for a post on this program from The Phillies Collector.)

This has led to a long discussion with my four-year-old son Ben about where the Phanatic lives and how does the Phanatic know that his birthday is coming up?  (One of the perks of club membership is that the Phanatic will send you a birthday card at some point during your birthday month.)  It's nice that the Phillies have this club for the younger fans, and at $13 for an annual membership I consider it money well spent.

As I learned while putting together the Phillies Team Issued Sets series of posts, early postcards featuring the Phanatic exist from as early as 1978 - the Phanatic's rookie season.  Fellow collector Steve F. was nice enough to point me in the direction of the eBay auction selling the card featured here.  To date, this is the oldest Phanatic card in my collection.

Camp Head Count:  44 - 2 = 42.  After the game, non-roster invitees Chase d'Arnaud and Darin Mastroianni were optioned to minor league camp.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2014 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs #BCAP-SG Severino Gonzalez

Phillies 5, Braves 3
Spring Training Game 22 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 24th in Lake Buena Vista
Record - 11-10-1

One Sentence Summary:  Top prospect Severino Gonzalez made a cameo in big league camp, helping the Phillies defeat the Braves, 5-3.

What It Means:  Aaron Harang remained behind in Clearwater to pitch (and get hit hard) in a minor league game, so Gonzalez got the spot start in Disney World.

What Happened:  Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning.  Brian Bogusevic added another hit (to raise his average to .393) and drove in two runs.

Featured Card:  Gonzalez pitched three scoreless innings, allowing four hits while striking out two.  He's ranked as the club's 15th top prospect by MLB.com.  To date, the only cards of his that I have are his 2013 Clearwater team issue, his 2014 Reading team issue and this autographed card from last year's Bowman Chrome set.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2013 Topps Update #US71 Cody Asche

Phillies 3, Twins 0
Spring Training Game 21 - Monday Afternoon, March 23rd in Clearwater
Record - 10-10-1

One Sentence Summary:  Cody Asche and David Buchanan led the Phillies to a 3-0 win over the Twins.

What It Means:  I find this hard to believe, but according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, yesterday's game marked the first time two Hall of Famers have managed against each other in a baseball game.  Ryne Sandberg faced off against Twins manager Paul Molitor.

What Happened:  Asche hit his third home run of the spring and Buchanan threw five scoreless innings allowing just two hits.

Featured Card:  For the second year in a row, Asche will be the Phillies opening day third baseman.  I'd like nothing more than to see him have a break-out season and provide the team with the offense they've lacked at that position for years.  Maybe then he'd actually get a few more baseball cards.

Monday, March 23, 2015

2014 Panini Prizm Rookie Reign #12 Cameron Rupp

Red Sox 7, Phillies 6
Spring Training Game 20 - Sunday Afternoon, March 22nd in Fort Myers
Record - 9-10-1

One Sentence Summary:  A late inning surge wasn't enough for the Phillies as they fell to the Sox, 7-6.

What It Means:  After a semi-promising start to the spring schedule, the Phillies have now lost six of their last eight games.

What Happened:  Jerome Williams allowed five runs (four earned) on ten hits in his three innings of work.  Cameron Rupp and Cord Phelps both had two hits a piece, while Andres Blanco and Jordan Danks each knocked in a pair of runs.

Featured Card:  With his two doubles in this game, back-up catch Rupp raised his average to .412.  He's a lock to make the team as the back-up to Carlos Ruiz unless the Phils pull off a trade for another catcher prior to the start of the regular season.  Rupp had his share of cards in last year's Panini-issued sets, including the Prizm insert card shown here.  He shared a Heritage card last year with Ethan Martin and he's still looking for his first solo Topps Phillies card.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

2014 Topps Chrome Refractor #95 Cole Hamels

Blue Jays 6, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 19 - Saturday Afternoon, March 21st in Clearwater
Record - 9-9-1

One Sentence Summary:  Cole Hamels had another mediocre outing, allowing two first inning home runs in a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  It means nothing but Hamels ERA is now up to an un-Hamels-like 7.59.

What Happened:  Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of this game was that Ben Revere started in left while Odubel Herrera started in center.  Both outfielders threw out runners at home and I honestly can't remember seeing Revere ever throw out anyone at home.

Featured Card:  How about one more card from the recent package I received from Section 36?  I don't actively collect parallel cards, but I'll gladly add parallel Phillies cards to my collection whenever they come along.  This is the shinier refractor version of Hamels' 2014 Topps Chrome card.

Camp Head Count:  45 - 1 = 44.  Prior to the game, catcher Tommy Joseph was optioned to minor league camp.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

1974 Phillies Photocards Mike Schmidt MRC


Pirates 6, Phillies 5
Spring Training Game 18 - Friday Afternoon, March 20th in Bradenton
Record - 9-8-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Pirates roughed up the Phillies bullpen in the late innings to earn a 6-5 victory.

What It Means:  The reliever hit the hardest was Mario Hollands, who now owns a spring ERA of 11.81.  He was one of the team's more reliable relievers last season.

What Happened:  Brian Bogusevic hit his team-leading third home run of the spring.  Cody Asche also added a home run.

Featured Cards:  The card featured here has absolutely nothing to do with the game, but I felt the need to show it off.  (Although I believe Mike Schmidt is still in Clearwater with the team.  I think I saw him in the dugout during Thursday night's game against the Yankees.)

I recently won this 1974 Phillies Photocard from eBay almost as soon as it had been listed.  Needing a mid-day break from work, I headed over to eBay, typed in one of my typical search phrases, "Phillies Team Issue," and this Schmidt card appeared.  I immediately recognized it as one of Schmidt's earliest cards and clicked the Buy It Now button.

2014 Bowman Inception
Prospect Autographs #PA-MF
Schmidt had a few cards issued in 1972 and 1973, but the cool thing about this particular card (and someone correct me here if I'm wrong) is that it's his Mustache Rookie Card or his MRC.  As far as I know, this is the first baseball card featuring Schmidt with his famous 'stache.  He appears mustache-less on his 1974 Topps card and I'm betting that his 1974 Johnny Pro Phillies card (featuring him with a mustache) was issued after this team issued photo card.

Camp Head Count:  49 - 4 = 45.  Before the game, top prospect Maikel Franco was optioned toNefi Ogando and Joely Rodriguez.  Franco went 6 for 30 (.200) in 12 spring games without an extra base hit.  I have quite a few of Franco's cards from 2014 as he's the only real Phillies prospect Topps seems to have on their radar.
minor league camp along with pitchers

After the game, pitcher Elvis Araujo was also optioned to minor league camp.  They won't be on the opening day roster, but I would expect to see all four of these guys in Phillies uniforms at some point this season.

Friday, March 20, 2015

2014 Topps Opening Day Blue #206 Carlos Ruiz

Phillies 7, Yankees 3
Spring Training Game 17 - Thursday Night, March 19th in Tampa
Record - 9-7-1

One Sentence Summary:  Chase Utley had two more hits and scored a pair of runs while Cody Asche and Darin Ruf both hit their first home runs of the spring in a 7-3 win over the Yankees.

What It Means:  This is the only night game the Phillies will play in Florida this spring and I was very happy ESPN was broadcasting the game.  The broadcasters didn't actually talk about the game at all, but my mute button solved that issue quickly.

What Happened:  Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard all contributed to this victory making it seem just like old times.  Aaron Harang gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits in his three innings of work.

Featured Card:  Topps Opening Day was released yesterday, which makes my oldest son Doug extremely happy.  He's started sorting his new cards (courtesy of our local Target) and I would expect I'll have his want list posted shortly.  This shiny blue Opening Day Ruiz card from last year was one of the newer cards included in the recent package received from Section 36.  Doug has allowed me to keep the card in my collection for now.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cards from the 6th Annual @Section_36 Purge

2005 Topps Opening Day #145
2005 Bowman Gold #209
2005 Studio #214
2005 Topps Total #404
2005 Topps #420
As I was preparing this post, it struck me that this blog has another birthday coming up that will mark six years since I started on this internet based journey.  It's no coincidence that this is also the sixth year that Ron from Section 36 has sent me his Phillies cast-offs from ten years ago in his annual purge of decade old baseball cards.  Ron was one of the first virtual friends I made six years ago when I started this blog and I hope we get to meet up during our family's next visit to Fenway*.

There were some newer cards in Ron's package, along with some strange Roy Halladay action figure thing that's now perched on my son Doug's bureau**, but the highlight of the package were cards from 2005 that I had never seen before.  In 2005, I was newly married and we were saving our pennies to buy a new house.  There was little room in the budget for baseball cards which is why my 2005 Phillies binder is still the thinnest binder on my shelf.


Thanks again Ron and here's hoping the Phillies go easy on the Red Sox in the 2015 World S . . . oh forget it.  See you in 2016.  Or maybe 2017.

*Could be as early as next summer . . . we have trips in the works for this summer to Washington D.C. and Baltimore.

**What is this thing?

Memory Lane
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2015 Topps #218 David Buchanan

Rays 5, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 16 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 17th in Clearwater
Record - 8-7-1

One Sentence Summary:  While wearing their green uniforms for St. Patrick's Day, the Phillies fell to the Rays, 5-3.

What It Means:  David Buchanan is suddenly a very important pitcher on the Phillies staff.  With Jerome Williams a late scratch due to a tight hamstring, Buchanan got the fill-in start and did nothing to hurt his chances of eventually winning a rotation spot.

What Happened:  Buchanan pitched four innings, allowing a run on two hits.  The Phillies managedOdubel Herrera.
five hits, two of which came from

Featured Card:  Thanks to his performance from last season, Buchanan earned a card in series one of this year's Topps flagship set.

Memory Lane:  I didn't do anything last year on the blog to commemorate St. Patrick's Day, but here's a look back at a few Irish themed posts from the past.

2010 - Mike Schmidt and the entire 1986 team go green.
2011 - Chase Utley models the green jerseys worn during Spring Training 2006.
2012 - A smiling card of Tugger and Roy Halladay models a green jersey.
2013 - Irish Mike Ryan's 1972 Topps card and Freddy Galvis in green.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2014 Stadium Club #184 Cliff Lee

Orioles 16, Phillies 4
Spring Training Game 15 - Monday Afternoon, March 16th in Clearwater
Record - 8-6-1

One Sentence Summary:  Cole Hamels, Mike Nesseth and Cesar Jimenez got shellacked by the Orioles offense in a 16-4 drubbing.

What It Means:  It was not a good day to be a Phillies fan.  Hamels had an awful outing and Cliff Lee was lost for the indefinite future.

What Happened:  Hamels allowed five runs on six hits in his two innings of work.  Nesseth and Jimenez combined to allow eight more runs in their three innings of work.  Cord Phelps had a few more hits to raise his spring average to .389 and make people start to wonder if he'll beat out Cesar Hernandez for an infield bench spot.

2015 Chachi Almost #1
Featured Cards:  The day's top news went to Lee (see below) but I thought I'd create a Chachi Almost card to commemorate Xavier Paul's very short time with the organization (also see below).

Camp Head Count:  59 - 10 = 49.  The roster moves came in three waves on Monday.  Prior to the start of the game, pitchers Jesse Biddle, Ethan Martin and Adam Morgan along with outfielder Aaron Altherr were all optioned to minor league camp.  Pitcher Sean O'Sullivan and catcher John Hester were reassigned while outfielder Paul was released.  Paul went 1 for 9 with a solo home run for the Phils this spring.

Following the game, in a hastily called press conference, it was announced that Lee would be going on the 60-day disabled list to start the season.  He will avoid surgery (for now) and hope that rest will heal his bum elbow.

Finally, pitchers Nesseth and Seth Rosin were reassigned to minor league camp following Lee's depressing press conference.

Monday, March 16, 2015

2015 Topps Heritage vs. 1966 Topps Phillies

1966 Topps #170
2015 Topps Heritage #170
It looks as if I skipped going through this exercise last year, but I've always enjoyed seeing how Topps matches up cards in its Heritage releases to the cards to be found in their original sets.  I've put together a table below that compares the Phillies related cards to be found in the 2015 Topps Heritage set with their 1966 Topps counterparts and vice versa.  I've listed below links to my posts looking at the 2012 and 2013 Topps Heritage sets.


The number of "hits" decreased again in 2015, with only 7 Phillies cards from the 2015 Topps Heritage set having clear and logical counterparts in the original 1966 Topps set.  I assigned a "Hit" to card #52 in each set as both sets feature two power hitters in a "Power Plus" multi-player card.  Unfortunately, there just wasn't a logical or meaningful choice of Phillies players to use for this card given the team's declining offense in 2014.

1966 Topps #411
2015 Topps Heritage #411
It would be impossible to match up every card in a Heritage set, due to modern expansion and the smaller size of the modern Heritage sets, but I'd love to see Topps return to the days of at least trying to match up more cards.  In the earlier days of the Hertiage sets, Topps would have used a close cropped head shot of Chase Utley to better approximate Cookie Rojas' card in the original set.  They also would have come up with more similar poses to the older set than the crossed arm pose that is ubiquitous in the new Heritage set.

The average collector will never notice stuff like this, but if I worked for Topps you know I would have made sure the "M" in manager was capitalized on Ryne Sandberg's card in order to more closely approximate the original version.  It also bums me out that the Phillies didn't receive a team card in the 2015 Topps Hertiage set.

If and when time permits, I'd like to go back through all the Topps Heritage sets to see which sets have the highest number of matches.

Memory Lane
2012 Topps Heritage vs. 1963 Topps Phillies - 25 Hits
2013 Topps Heritage vs. 1964 Topps Phillies - 11 Hits

Sunday, March 15, 2015

1999 Finest Split Screen - Right Refractor #SS14 Travis Lee & Pat Burrell

Phillies 11, Red Sox 4
Spring Training Game 13 - Sunday Afternoon, March 15th in Clearwater

Yankees 3, Phillies 2
Spring Training Game 14 - Sunday Afternoon, March 15th in Tampa
Record - 8-5-1

One Sentence Summary:  The bats came alive for half the Phillies in a 11-4 win over the Red Sox, while the bats remained cool for the other half in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees.

What It Means:  We're half-way through the Grapefruit League season.

What Happened:  In Clearwater, the Phillies banged out 15 hits and 11 runs, which included solo home runs from Jordan Danks and Ryan Howard along with a three-run home run from Cord Phelps.  Odubel Herrera added three hits to raise his spring average to .345.

Featured Card:  It's sometimes hard coming up with a baseball card to feature in these spring training game summary posts.  Phelps doesn't yet have any mainstream cards and I want to save Howard's 2015 Topps card for (hopefully) a regular season game summary post.  Given the team had its first and last split squad day of the spring, the card featured here seemed appropriate.

These 1999 Finest inserts were released in three different versions - one each with a refractor on either the left or right side and a third with refractors on both sides.  For what it's worth, this is the right refractor version of this card meaning that Pat Burrell is shinier than Travis Lee.

2014 Topps #524 Brian Bogusevic

Phillies 5, Tigers 4
Spring Training Game 12 - Saturday Afternoon, March 14th in Lakeland
Record - 7-4-1

One Sentence Summary:  Brian Bogusevic hit two home runs for the Phillies, as the team won its fourth game in a row.

What It Means:  Bogusevic was a last minute line-up replacement for Jeff Francoeur who was scratched with a sore oblique.

What Happened:  The game was tied heading into the ninth, but Russ Canzler singled and eventually scored the winning run on a passed ball.  Paul Clemens allowed three runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Featured Card:  Bogusevic might be heading to Lehigh Valley to open the season, but if you hit two home runs in a spring training game there's a good chance you'll end up with the featured card in one of my game summary posts.  Bogusevic has appeared on baseball cards since 2011 with the Astros, Cubs and Marlins and his last major cardboard appearance came in last year's Topps set.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2014 Topps Manufactured Commemorative Team Logo Patch #CP-23 Chase Utley

Phillies 2, Rays 1
Spring Training Game 11 - Friday Afternoon, March 13th in Clearwater
Record - 6-4-1

One Sentence Summary:  It was just like the good ole' days as offense from Ryan Howard and Chase Utley paced the Phillies to a 2-1 win over the Rays.

What It Means:  Utley saw his first action of the spring, going 1 for 2 with a single as the team's DH.

What Happened:  Howard's two-run home run in the fourth gave the team all the runs they'd need for the victory.  Phillies pitchers, led by Joely Rodriguez and Jesse Biddle, limited the Rays to four hits and one unearned run.

Featured Card:  I haven't featured an Utley baseball card in a game summary post since way back on August 11th.  He was due.

Earlier in the week, I featured the manufactured patch card of Domonic Brown from the 2014 Topps set, and I've featured Utley's card from the same insert set here.  I liked this card so much that I bought an extra one for my son Doug's collection.

Friday, March 13, 2015

1958 Topps #76 Dick Farrell

Phillies 6, Tigers 5
Spring Training Game 10 - Thursday Afternoon, March 12th in Lakeland
Record - 5-4-1

One Sentence Summary:  Led by Andres Blanco's two-run triple, the Phillies rode a six-run fifth inning to a 6-5 win over the Tigers.

What It Means:  Ten games into the spring schedule and the offense finally showed a little pop.

What Happened:  Along with Blanco's big hit, Odubel Herrera and Jeff Francoeur each had a pair of hits.  David Buchancan impressed with three scoreless innings of relief.

Featured Card:  No offense to Blanco or the other Phillies, but of much more interest to me and other baseball fans on Thursday afternoon was Will Ferrell's stunt of playing for ten different teams over five different spring training games.  Unfortunately, the event (which raised funds for cancer research) took place in Arizona so the Phillies weren't able to participate.

I'm hoping Topps is able to issue a special ten-card set as part of a future release to commemorate Ferrell's day.  In the meantime, the closest I can come to paying tribute to this event is by featuring a card of former Phillies pitcher Dick "Turk" Farrell.  (No relation, and different last names but close enough.)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

2014 Topps Manufactured Commemorative Team Logo Patch #CP-36 Domonic Brown

Phillies 3, Pirates 2
Spring Training Game 9 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 11th in Clearwater
Record - 4-4-1

One Sentence Summary:  Cole Hamels struggled a little in his second spring outing, but Jeff Francoeur's RBI single in the sixth gave the Phillies a 3-2 victory.

What It Means:  Each time Hamels pitches I wonder if it's the last time I'll ever see him in a Phillies uniform.  I honestly think it's going to be like that until he's ultimately traded prior to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.

What Happened:  Hamels allowed a two-run home run and two walks in his three innings of work.  The bullpen combined to throw six scoreless innings following his departure.  Both teams agreed to play the bottom of the ninth even though the Phillies had the lead.  During the unofficial half inning, Domonic Brown hit a home run off Pirates reliever Brad Lincoln.

Featured Card:  Before we're completely inundated with 2015 baseball cards, I'm trying to go back and fill several holes in my 2014 Phillies baseball card collection.  I recently added this Brown manufactured patch card to my collection from the 2014 Topps set.  As I get older and slightly more wiser, I've realized that if I just wait a year to obtain cards like this, I can get them at a fraction of the price from when they were originally released.

I've so far resisted the urge to purchase any harder to find Phillies inserts from the recently released 2015 products, although I've found that the prices (so far) for these inserts aren't as high as in year's past.  That of course could have something to do with the current state of the team.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

2014 Bowman Chrome Top 5 Mini Refractors #BM-PP4 Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

Tigers 6, Phillies 0
Spring Training Game 8 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 10th in Clearwater
Record - 3-4-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies managed five singles against the Tigers, dropping their latest spring game, 6-0.

What It Means:  It means a group of Phillies hitters took extra batting practice after this game in an attempt to wake up their bats.

What Happened:  Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was roughed up in his two innings of work, allowing three runs on five hits.  He left the game in the third after getting hit with a Jose Iglesias line drive.

Featured Card:  With the news yesterday that Cliff Lee's season is in serious jeopardy and daily trade rumors swirling around Cole Hamels, Gonzalez could suddenly find himself in the middle of the Phillies starting pitching rotation.  Gonzalez has largely been a question mark since his signing out of Cuba in August 2013.  He pitched in six games in relief for the Phillies last season, going 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA.

Gonzalez shares a card with Maikel Franco in the recently released Topps Heritage set (more on that in a few days) and he also appeared in several Bowman sets last year.  All of his Bowman releases use the same awkward, strangely cropped, adequately Photoshopped photo.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2011 Bowman Sterling #20 Larry Greene

Phillies 1, Orioles 0
Spring Training Game 7 - Monday Afternoon, March 9th in Sarasota
Record - 3-3-1

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Harang and five other pitchers combined to shut out the Orioles in a 1-0 Phillies victory.

What It Means:  Harang looked shaky in his first Phillies outing, allowing three hits and two walks but getting out of trouble in the second and third innings.

What Happened:  Andres Blanco provided the only run of the game with a solo home run in the fifth.

Featured Card:  It's probably not that surprising, considering he hit just .224 in his three seasons with the Phillies organization, but Larry Greene, Jr., the team's first draft pick in the 2011 draft, has apparently retired.  Greene has been a no-show in Clearwater and all indications point to the 22-year-old leaving behind his baseball career.

Greene was one of a handful of Lakewood BlueClaws players who signed cards for my son Doug two years ago.  Along with his Phillies minor league cards issued between 2012 and 2014, I also have a few of Greene's cards from the various 2011 Bowman releases in my Phillies collection.  The Bowman Sterling card shown here did a decent job of Photoshopping a Phillies uniform onto Greene.  We certainly wish him well in all his future endeavors.

Monday, March 9, 2015

2015 Phillies Want List

2015 Topps Heritage #80
Donruss
Base Set - 21 Howard DK, 225 Howard
Bat Kings - 26 Howard
Elite Dominator - 13 Howard, 24 Franco
The Elite Series - 8 Utley, 25 Franco
Signature Series - 84 Ruf

Topps Series One
Career High Autographs - CH-RH Howard
First Home Run - FHR-23 Utley, FHR-24 Howard
Robbed - R-11 Revere
Spring Fever - SF-49 Utley
Spring Fever Auotgraphs - SF-MAA Adams, SF-MFR Franco

Topps Heritage
1966 Topps U.S. Postage Stamp Relics - 66US-JB Bunning
Real One Autographs - ROA-JH Herrnstein, ROA-RC Craig, ROA-RH Herbert

Topps Stickers
Base Set - 161 Phillies, 194 Hamels, 195 Utley, 196 Howard, 197 Rollins, 198 Franco, 199 Ruiz, 200 Lee, 201 Papelbon, 202 Phanatic

2015 Topps Heritage #343 Cliff Lee

Phillies 5, Rays 4
Spring Training Game 6 - Sunday Afternoon, March 8th in Port Charlotte
Record - 2-3-1

One Sentence Summary:  Kevin Slowey pitched three perfect innings as the Phillies won against the Rays, 5-4.

What It Means:  Slowey is the early favorite to win the fifth starter's job to start the season.  However, there could be another opening in the rotation given the bad news announced earlier yesterday - see below.

What Happened:  Freddy Galvis, Ben Revere, Odubel Herrera and Brian Bogusevic all drove in runs in this ballgame.  Joely Rodriguez followed Slowey's performance with two scoreless innings of relief.

Featured Card:  Thanks to my wife Jenna, who made a few pitstops at Target this weekend, I have now opened more than enough 2015 Topps Heritage to satisfy my craving for new baseball cards . . . for the time being.  We bought a ton of 2014 Topps Heritage and I'm currently just 15 cards away from a complete set.  No offense to Jim from Downingtown, but I'm not that interested in collecting the 2015 through 2018 Topps Heritage sets which will use the designs from the 1966 through 1969 Topps sets.  I think the next Topps Heritage set that I'll actively collect is the 2019 set which will borrow from the 1970 Topps design.

The first Phillie I found in the packs of Topps Heritage I opened was Cliff Lee.  Unfortunately, we received word yesterday that Lee's problematic elbow was acting up again and the former ace was being shut down.  This came after he threw two innings on Thursday in his first game action since July.  This latest setback is troubling to say the least.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

2015 Topps #143 Jonathan Papelbon

Blue Jays 4, Phillies 2
Spring Training Game 5 - Saturday Afternoon, March 7th in Clearwater
Record - 1-3-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies sputtered along in another spring loss, this time falling to the Blue Jays, 4-2.

What It Means:  The Phillies bats are cold and at one point Blue Jays pitchers had retired 18 straight Phillies batters.

What Happened:  Jerome Williams gave up a run over three innings and Jonathan Papelbon made his spring debut pitching a scoreless inning while striking out two.

Featured Card:  Like many other Phillies fans, I'm disappointed that Papelbon is still on the team.  I'd love to see Ken Giles get a shot at the closer's role this season and if the Phils can find any takers on Papelbon's burdensome contract (and personality) he might just get that chance.  This is the current closer's (for now) latest Phillies card from Topps Series One.

Camp Head Count:  60 - 1 = 59.  Top prospect Kelly Dugan suffered a foot injury prior to the start of spring training and hasn't seen any game action so far.  He was the first player to be officially removed from the spring ranks, getting optioned to the minor league camp yesterday.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

2015 Topps Inspired Play #I-5 Cole Hamels & Steve Carlton

Yankees 4, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 4 - Friday Afternoon, March 6th in Clearwater
Record - 1-2-1

One Sentence Summary:  Cole Hamels made his first appearance of 2015 as the Phillies lost to the Yankees, 4-1.

What It Means:  Reports indicated that "dozens" of scouts were on-hand to witness Hamels' first start of the spring.  I would think at this point, the Phillies wouldn't entertain a trade for Hamels until closer to the non-waiver trade deadline in July.  Then again, what do I know?

What Happened:  Hamels pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a hit while striking out two.  The Yankees roughed up prospect Mike Nesseth, batting around in the fourth inning and scoring three runs.  Xavier Paul hit a home run for the Phils in the seventh.

Featured Card:  Topps included a 15-card insert set in its Series One release, pairing two players from a specific franchise and calling the set, "Inspired Play."  The set seems unnecessary and the name of the set is fairly ambiguous.  Hamels is paired with Steve Carlton on the card representing the Phillies franchise and if nothing else, it's nice to have a card featuring two of the greatest left-handed pitchers in franchise history.

Friday, March 6, 2015

2015 Topps #212 Cliff Lee

Astros 6, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 3 - Thursday Afternoon, March 5th in Kissimmee
Record - 1-1-1

One Sentence Summary:  Cliff Lee pitched in his first game since last July 31st as the Phillies fell to the Astros, 6-3.

What It Means:  A healthy Lee hopes to join Cole Hamels at the top of the Phillies starting pitching rotation this season.  He threw an uneventful scoreless two innings, allowing just two hits.

What Happened:  Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Phillippe Aumont struggled in this game, allowing a combined four runs on six hits in three innings of work.  Aumont allowed back-to-back home runs in the fifth.

Featured Card:  We were snowed in today, so there were no trips to Target to see if Topps Heritage was available yet.  While we wait to open our first packs of Heritage, here's Lee's card from the still fresh 2015 Topps set.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Nesseth and Rosin Added to Non-Roster Invitees

2014 Grandstand Reading Fightin Phils #24
2014 Choice Lehigh Valley IronPigs #20
I thought I had posted the list of 2015 spring training non-roster invitees for the final time, but then earlier this afternoon the Phillies announced two more additions to the list.  Right-handed pitchers Mike Nesseth and Seth Rosin were both added, bringing the headcount in camp to an even 60.

Rosin made the news last year when made the opening day rosters of both the Dodgers and the Rangers before making his way back to the Phillies.  It was the first time in history a player made two opening day rosters.

Nesseth split last season between the Double-A Fightin Phils and the Triple-A IronPigs.

Player (position) - 2014 Organization - Last Major Baseball Card Appearance
1.  Andres Blanco (inf) - Phillies - 2007 Topps #659 (Royals)
2.  Brian Bogusevic (of) - Marlins - 2014 Topps #524 (Marlins)
3.  Russ Canzler (inf) - Yankees/Phillies - N/A
4.  Chase d'Arnaud (inf) - Pirates - 2012 Topps Heritage #323 (Pirates)
5.  Jeff Francoeur (of) - Padres - 2014 Topps Update #US-167 (Padres)
6.  John Hester (c) - Angels - 2010 Upper Deck #31 (Diamondbacks)
7.  Darin Mastroianni (of) - Twins/Blue Jays - 2013 Topps #528 (Twins)
8.  Xavier Paul (of) - Orioles/Diamondbacks - 2013 Topps Update #US-194 (Reds)
9.  Paul Clemens (rhp) - Astros - 2013 Panini Prizm #213 (Astros)
10.  Rene Garcia (c) - Astros - 2009 Bowman Prospects #BP81 (Astros)
11.  Koyie Hill (c) - Phillies - 2011 Topps Update #US13 (Cubs)
12.  Chris Nelson (inf) - Reds/Padres - 2014 Topps #101 (Angels)
13.  Cord Phelps (inf) - Orioles - N/A
14.  Chris McGuiness (1b) - Pirates - 2010 Topps Pro Debut #411 (Rangers)
15.  Sean O'Sullivan (rhp) - Phillies - 2011 Topps Update #US89 (Royals)
16.  Kevin Slowey (rhp) - Marlins - 2012 Topps Update #US94 (Indians)
17.  Jeanmar Gomez (rhp) - Pirates - 2013 Topps Update #US92 (Pirates)
18.  Cesar Jimenez (lhp) - Phillies - 2009 Upper Deck #857 (Mariners)
19.  Seth Rosin (rhp) - Dodgers/Rangers/Phillies - 2013 Topps Pro Debut (Phillies)
20.  Mike Nesseth (rhp) - Phillies - N/A

Memory Lane

1961 Post #121 Pancho Herrera

Phillies 3, Yankees 1
Spring Training Game 2 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 4th in Tampa
Record - 1-0-1

One Sentence Summary:  Odubel Herrera and Hector Neris shined in the team's first victory of the spring.

What It Means:  I wish I was in Florida right now.

What Happened:  Herrera went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and three stolen bases.  Neris pitched two scoreless innings while striking out two.  Kevin Slowey made his first start of the spring, pitching two scoreless innings and allowing a single to Alex Rodriguez who was making his first appearance in a game since the 2013 season due to his season-long ban for PED use.

Featured Card:  If Herrera makes the team, he'll become the second player with that surname to have played for the Phillies.  Pancho Herrera played for the Phillies between 1958 and 1961 and this is his deftly perforated card from the 1961 Post set.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

2014 Donruss Bat Kings #2 Ryan Howard

Phillies 5, Yankees 5
Spring Training Game 1 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 3rd in Clearwater
Record - 0-0-1

One Sentence Summary:  Ryan Howard had two hits and an RBI, but Mario Hollands allowed four Yankee runs in the top of the ninth as the game ended in a stalemate.

What It Means:  It means I got to listen to Phillies baseball today while there was sleet/freezing rain in Philadelphia.  Scott Franzke did his best to not rub it in, but I counted at least three times that he noted it was a gorgeous day for baseball in Clearwater.

What Happened:  David Buchanan drew the start for the Phillies, pitching two innings and allowing the game's first run in the first.  Aaron Altherr had an RBI single in the seventh.

Featured Card:  I'm really hoping Howard turns things around this season and I've read nothing but positive accolades concerning his first few weeks of camp.  I recently acquired this Howard bat relic card from last year's logo-less Donruss set.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Additions to My Bob Dernier Collection

2014 Panini Immaculate Collection
Autographs Gold #46
2014 Panini Immaculate Collection 
Autographs Blue #46
2014 Panini Immaculate Collection 
Autographs #46
I'm not one to actively chase down short-printed Phillies parallels or cards with extremely low print runs, but when I saw that my all-time favorite player had a card in last year's Panini Immaculate Collection set I made it a goal of mine to at least track down one of each of his new cards.  I've been a fan of Bob Dernier since he played catch with me in the summer of 1982 on the outfield turf of Veterans Stadium.  I've collected his cards, written him letters (as a younger lad) and kept up with his post-playing career travels as much as possible.

Dernier had four different cards issued as part of the 2014 Panini Immaculate Collection set, all containing an on-card autograph and the same picture showing him with the Cubs.  I've added three of the four cards to my collection, with the elusive platinum parallel 1/1 being the only card I'm currently missing.  Shown above is the gold parallel (numbered to 5), the blue parallel (numbered to 10) and the regular version of the card (numbered to 99).

It wasn't until I was scanning the cards for this post that I realized I had the fourth serial numbered card from each of these parallels.  Weird.  (Upon closer inspection, I have #84 of the card numbered to 99.  The 8 originally looked like a 0 to my weary eyes.)

I've updated my Bob Dernier Want List and I'm now down to needing mostly Cubs team issued cards, hard-to-find oddballs and the 1/1's from a few 2005 Topps offerings and last year's Panini Immaculate Collection set.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Phillies Kick Off Exhibition Season

2014 Quarry Unlimited
Spartans 6, Phillies 2
Exhibition Game - Sunday Afternoon, March 1st in Clearwater

One Sentence Summary:  A team of mostly Phillies minor leaguers lost to the University of Tampa in the first unofficial game of the spring.

What It Means:  Baseball is back!  Doug and I tried to watch the webcast via Phillies.com and the University of Tampa's website, but the feed kept dropping out and the video was too choppy to be enjoyable.  Still, it was nice to see green grass, sunshine and some baseball.  Not that it matters, but this game won't count in the official spring training statistics or standings.

What Happened:  Nefi Ogando took the brunt of the damage from the Spartans, allowing four runs on two hits and two walks in the seventh inning.  Aaron Altherr had a couple of hits and a stolen base in the losing effort.

Featured Card:  Paul Clemens got the start for the Phillies and he pitched two scoreless innings before calling it a day.  Clemens is auditioning for the role of long-man out of the Phillies bullpen, and trying to assume the role occupied by Jeff Manship at the start of last season.  This is his sole baseball card from 2014 from the virtual 2014 Quarry Unlimited set.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

2014 Chachi #68 Stolen Base Leaders - Revere & Rollins


I read the article this morning in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Jimmy Rollins' first few days in Dodgers camp in Arizona, and I've now seen a few pictures of the Phillies former shortstop wearing Dodger blue.  It still doesn't seem right.

Rollins was second on the team in stolen bases (28) last year behind Ben Revere and Revere's total (49) was the highest for a Phillies player since Juan Samuel stole 53 bases in 1985.  However, Revere seems to be one of the few position players in danger of losing his starting job this spring as the Phillies plan to take a long look at Rule 5 draft pick Odubel Herrera in center.

In fact, Herrera is leading off and playing center this afternoon in the first baseball game the team has played since the last day of September.  Herrera's .372 average in the Venezuelan winter league earned him the league's batting title and MVP honors.

Here's the complete list of Phillies players with more than one stolen base last season:

1.  Ben Revere - 49
2.  Jimmy Rollins - 28
3.  Chase Utley - 10
4.  Domonic Brown - 7
5.  Carlos Ruiz - 4
6.  Marlon Byrd - 3
6.  Tony Gwynn, Jr. - 3

I'm very anxious for these exhibition games to start.  Let's get this thing going.

Friday, February 27, 2015

2014 Chachi #67 RBI Leaders - Howard & Byrd


As is often the case, the two players who led the team in home runs last season also led the team in runs batted in.  Ryan Howard fell five RBI short of hitting the century mark, which would have been the first time he's reached that threshold since 2011.  Here's the rest of the team's top nine in RBIs from the 2014 season:

1.  Ryan Howard - 95
2.  Marlon Byrd - 85
3.  Chase Utley - 78
4.  Domonic Brown - 63
5.  Jimmy Rollins - 55
6.  Cody Asche - 46
7.  Carlos Ruiz - 31
8.  Ben Revere - 28
9.  John Mayberry, Jr. - 21

Thursday, February 26, 2015

2014 Chachi #66 Home Run Leaders - Byrd & Howard


Last year's Phillies home run leader, Marlon Byrd, recently started his spring training in Goodyear, Arizona with his new team, the Cincinnati Reds.  He's the Reds biggest offseason acquisition and he hopes to help the team improve upon its fourth place finish in the N.L. Central last year.

Ryan Howard, who was second on the club in home runs last year, hopes to help his current team, still the Phillies, climb out of the cellar in the N.L. East.  Reports out of Clearwater are that Howard looks more "agile" and "quick" so far this spring which hopefully translates into "doesn't swing and miss out the outside junk away" during the regular season.

Here are the team's top nine home run hitters last year, which was the third year in a row the leader had less than 30 home runs.  Jimmy Rollins led the club with 23 home runs in 2012 and Domonic Brown took the honors in 2013 with 27 home runs.

1.  Marlon Byrd - 25
2.  Ryan Howard - 23
3.  Jimmy Rollins - 17
4.  Chase Utley - 11
5.  Cody Asche - 10
5.  Domonic Brown - 10
6.  John Mayberry, Jr. - 6
6.  Carlos Ruiz - 6
7.  Freddy Galvis - 4