Saturday, March 24, 2018

Grapefruit Game 29 - 2018 Topps Heritage #132 Maikel Franco

Phillies 8, Pirates 2
Spring Training Game 29 - Friday Afternoon, March 23rd in Bradenton
Record - 11-16-2

One Sentence Summary:  Maikel Franco hit a two-run home run and a grand slam in this 8-2 win over the Pirates.

What It Means:  Franco had entered the day with a .167 batting average so it was nice to see him bust out a little.

What Happened:  Aaron Nola showed he's probably ready for the regular season with four shutout innings and five strikeouts.  Jorge Alfaro kicked off the scoring for the Phillies in the second with a two-run double.

Featured Card:  I'm happy to post the first card of Franco for the year, as the third baseman had been scuffling through a quiet spring before his big day at the plate on Friday.

2018 Chachi Almsot #4
Camp Head Count:  41 - 5 = 36.  Prior to the game pitchers Pedro Beato and Tom Eshelman along with catcher Matt McBride and outfielder Collin Cowgill were all reassigned.  However, the team announced they'd all stick around with the big club until camp broke on Tuesday.

Also, infielder Adam Rosales was granted his release making him the fourth addition to the dubious Chachi Almost insert set.  Rosales hit just .237 this spring.

One final thought . . . This is right around the time each year the Phillies start finalizing the checklist for their first edition photo card team set, available for sale at the ballpark beginning at the home opener.  He won't be on the opening day roster, but it will be interesting to see if Scott Kingery makes the set.  Drew Hutchison and Francisco Rodriguez could find their way into the set as well, even if they don't make the cut for opening day.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Grapefruit Game 28 - 2018 Topps Opening Day #152 Jake Arrieta

Tigers 6, Phillies 2
Spring Training Game 28 - Thursday Afternoon, March 22nd in Clearwater
Record - 10-16-2

One Sentence Summary:  Jake Arrieta made his spring Phillies debut, lasting two innings in a 6-2 loss to the Tigers.

What It Means:  Arrieta admitted following his outing he may not be ready to go for the start of the season.  He struck out the first two batters he faced (convincingly) and then allowed a home run to Miguel Cabrera.

What Happened:  Arrieta's debut was the big story.  Pedro Florimon had an RBI single in the fourth and Adam Rosales hit a solo home run in the seventh.  Both are competing for one of the final roster spots.

2018 Chachi Almost #3
Featured Card:  I'll add any of Arrieta's 2018 baseball cards to my 2018 Phillies binder, even if they feature him with the Cubs as this Topps Opening Day card does.

Camp Head Count:  42 - 1 = 41.  Infielder Ryan Flaherty was released prior to the game, in spite of having a decent spring with the Phillies.  Flaherty had an out clause in his contract if he wasn't added to the 40-man roster by today and the Phillies seem to be leaning towards Florimon, Rosales or Jesmuel Valentin as their super utility bench players.  Flaherty hit .351 (13 for 37) and could end up heading back to the Orioles.  He earns the third spot on the Chachi Almost checklist for his brief time in Phillies pinstripes.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Joseph Departs; Updated Offseason Moves

2018 Chachi Departures #11
Before the regular season kicks off, I wanted to take a look back at the Phillies' offseason moves and commemorate the moving on of one Phillies Room Favorite and three blink-and-you-missed-them Phillies.

Tommy Joseph was designated for assignment in mid-March to make room on the team's 40-man roster for Jake Arrieta.  The slugging first baseman was then picked up on waivers by the Rangers.

Kevin Siegrist, Henderson Alvarez and Clay Buchholz all had very short stints with the Phillies.  Each recently found new homes, and I've already featured Siegrist's Chachi Departure card in a prior post.  He's a look at the complete Chachi checklist for each departed player and then a look at what could be close to the final list of offseason player moves.

Tommy Joseph Complete Chachi Checklist
2016 Chachi #42
2016 Chachi #67 Home Run Leaders (with Ryan Howard and Maikel Franco)
2016 Chachi Archives #4
2016 Chachi Photo Day #12
2017 Chachi Preview #1
2017 Chachi #6
2017 Chachi Phillies Phestival #22
2017 Chachi In Action #2
2017 Chachi Archives #1
2017 Chachi Photo Night #23
2018 Chachi Departures #11

Henderson Alvarez Complete Chachi Checklist
2017 Chachi #63
2018 Chachi Departures #10

Clay Buchholz Complete Chachi Checklist
2017 Chachi New Additions #6
2017 Chachi #17
2017 Chachi Photo Night #23 (with Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp)
2018 Chachi Departures #12

Kevin Siegrist Complete Chachi Checklist
2017 Chachi #59
2018 Chachi Departures #9
2018 Chachi Departures #10
2018 Chachi Departures #12
Moving On - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Henderson Alvarez - rhp (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed with Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican League, 3/16/18.
  • Ty Kelly - 2b-of (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the New York Mets, 1/22/18.
  • Kevin Siegrist - lhp (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2/24/18.
  • Andres Blanco - inf (11/2/17) - Elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the San Francisco Giants, 1/30/18.
  • Clay Buchholz - rhp (11/2/17) - Elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent
    with the Kansas City Royals, 3/20/18.
  • Hyun Soo Kim - of (11/2/17) - Elected free agency, signed with the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization, 12/18/17.
  • Daniel Nava - of (11/2/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2/6/18.
  • Jesen Therrien - rhp (11/6/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster and elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers, 11/29/17.
  • Michael Mariot - rhp (11/6/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the San Diego Padres, 11/29/17.
  • Colton Murray - rhp (11/6/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Tampa Bay Rays, 12/14/17.
  • Brock Stassi - 1b (11/6/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Minnesota Twins, 12/7/17.
  • Cameron Perkins - of (12/11/17) - Claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners.
  • Freddy Galvis - ss (12/15/17) - Traded to the San Diego Padres for Enyel De Los Santos.
  • Tommy Joseph - 1b (3/19/18) - Claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers.
Coming Back - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Pedro Florimon - inf-of (11/13/17) - Signed to a minor league contract.
  • Pedro Beato - rhp (12/22/17) - Signed to a minor league contract.
New Additions - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Engelb Vielma - inf (11/20/17) - Claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.
  • Pat Neshek - rhp (12/15/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Colorado Rockies.
  • Tommy Hunter - rhp (12/15/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Carlos Santana - 1b (12/20/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Cleveland Indians.
  • Jake Arrieta - rhp (3/12/18) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Chicago Cubs.
Already Gone - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Engelb Vielma - inf (12/11/17) - Claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Grapefruit Game 27 - 2018 Topps 1983 Topps Baseball #83-30 Rhys Hoskins

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 7
Spring Training Game 27 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 21st in Dunedin
Record - 10-15-2

One Sentence Summary:  Rhys Hoskins hit two home runs in a 7-7 tie with the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  This game was played while we were getting pummeled with more snow.  Enough already.

What Happened:  Hoskins has found a groove.  Jayson Stark Tweeted during the game that Hoskins has now reached 9 times in his last 16 plate appearances.  The equally hot Scott Kingery hit his 4th home run of the spring and Aaron Altherr added his third home run for good measure.  Nick Pivetta pitched two scoreless innings in one of his final starts before the regular season.

Featured Card:  We're going to be completely inundated with Hoskins cards in the 2018 Topps releases, and this 1983 Topps-inspired card is an insert from Topps Series One.
2018 Chachi Almost #1
2018 Chachi Almost #2
Camp Head Count:  44 - 2 = 42.  Reliever Fernando Abad was released prior to the game and outfielder Danny Ortiz was reassigned to minor league camp.  In 1 2/3 innings this spring, Abad allowed six runs on six hits and three walks.  Two of the six hits were home runs.  Abad becomes the first member of the 2018 Chachi Almost insert set, followed by Eliezer Alvarez.

Alvarez was designated for assignment when the team added Pedro Florimon to the 40-man roster.  On Wednesday, he was traded to the Rangers for cash considerations.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Grapefruit Game 26 - 2017 Phillies Team Issue Update #49 Ben Lively

Phillies 2, Blue Jays 0 (7 Innings)
Spring Training Game 26 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 20th in Clearwater
Record - 10-15-1

One Sentence Summary:  Ben Lively threw five shutout innings before rain ended the game, giving the Phils a 2-0 win over the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  While we were getting ice/freezing rain/snow in Philadelphia, Clearwater was also getting pummeled with rain.  I'd still rather be in Clearwater.

What Happened:  Lively gave up three hits and struck out four in his start.  Pedro Florimon had an RBI-triple in the second and scored on a Collin Cowgill ground out.

Featured Card:  Lively's team issued photo card for 2018 will need to reflect his new #54, as his old #49 went to Jake Arrieta upon his arrival.

Camp Head Count:  47 - 3 = 44.  Catcher Logan Moore, outfielder Andrew Pullin and infielder Mitch Walding were all assigned to minor league camp following the rain-shortened game.

Grapefruit Game 25 - 2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers #667 Aaron Altherr

Red Sox 6, Phillies 5
Spring Training Game 25 - Monday Afternoon, March 19th in Ft. Myers
Record - 9-15-1

One Sentence Summary:  Drew Hutchison impressed with five solid innings and Aaron Altherr drove in four runs in this 6-5 loss to the Red Sox.

What It Means:  The Phillies and Red Sox will next meet in late July, then again in mid-August and finally in the 2018 World Series.

What Happened:  Hutchison has been mentioned as a possible fifth starter, and this appearance certainly didn't hurt his chances.  He allowed a run on three hits while striking out three.  Nick Williams was responsible for the non-Altherr run, doubling home Andrew Knapp in the third.

Featured Card:  Altherr will start the season as the team's fourth outfielder with Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams slated to be the three regulars.  I wouldn't be surprised however if Altherr eventually sees just as much action as Herrera and Williams.

Camp Head Count:  47

Monday, March 19, 2018

Grapefruit Game 24 - 2017 Phillies Team Issue #76 Jesmuel Valentin

Twins 4, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 24 - Sunday Afternoon, March 18th in Ft. Myers
Record - 9-14-1

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola looked solid in one of his final tune-ups before the regular season starts in this 4-3 loss to the Twins.

What It Means:  With Jake Arrieta possibly not being ready for the beginning of the season and Jerad Eickhoff out for a few months due to injury, all eyes will be on Nola to get off to a strong start to 2018.

What Happened:  Nola allowed a pair of runs on four hits in his five innings of work.  Gregorio Petit hit a solo home run off Jake Thompson in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie.  Jesmuel Valentin had tied the game in the 7th with a three-run home run, his third of the spring.  Scott Kingery started at third base and had two hits.

Featured Card:  It would seem as if the Phillies are going to start the season with a four-man bench and an eight-man bullpen.  Aaron Altherr is a lock for one of the spots and the second spot will go to either Andrew Knapp or Cameron Rupp as the back-up catcher.  That leaves two spots remaining for Valentin, Pedro Florimon, Roman Quinn, Ryan Flaherty or Adam Rosales.  Valentin almost made the team last spring, but the final two spots went to Brock Stassi and Daniel Nava.  He was close enough though to merit a card in the team-issued set available for sale at the ballpark throughout most of the season.

Camp Head Count:  47

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Grapefruit Game 23 - 2017 Topps National Baseball Card Day SGA #10 Tug McGraw

Phillies 10, Braves 6
Spring Training Game 23 - Saturday Afternoon, March 17th in Clearwater
Record - 9-13-1

One Sentence Summary:  Carlos Santana and Maikel Franco led the way with home runs in this 10-6 win over the Braves.

What It Means:  The Phillies wore green in their annual St. Patrick's Day game.

What Happened:  Santana (1) and Franco (3) both homered, and a three-run fourth inning saw RBI doubles from Ryan Flaherty, Mitch Walding and Santana.  Zach Eflin got the start and gave up four runs in his four innings of work.

Featured Card:  It always seems appropriate to feature a Tug McGraw card on St. Patrick's Day.

Camp Head Count:  48 - 1 = 47.  Prior to the game, Yacksel Rios was optioned to minor league camp.  The Phillies will need to pick up the pace with their roster reductions in order to get down to 25 before the season opener in Atlanta on March 29th.

Memory Lane
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.
2015 - David Buchanan started the game last year.  This year, here's already in minor league camp.
2016 - Vince Velasquez pitched well and Ryan Howard hit his first spring home run.
2017 - Kendrick and Altherr homered while Venditte made his switch-pitching debut.
2018 - Santana hits his first spring home run in a win against the Braves.

Grapefruit Games 21 & 22 - 2018 Topps Heritage #392 Jerad Eickhoff

Blue Jays 6, Phillies 4
Spring Training Game 21 - Friday Afternoon, March 16th in Clearwater

Phillies 6, Tigers 6
Spring Training Game 22 - Friday Afternoon, March 16th in Lakeland
Record - 8-13-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies split their squad for the final time in 2018, losing to the Blue Jays and tying the Tigers.

What It Means:  I'm excited to shift from spring training game summaries to regular season game summaries.  Let's go.

What Happened:  In Clearwater, Vince Velasquez allowed a run on five hits in just 2 2/3 innings.  Cesar Hernandez (1), Cameron Rupp (1) and Pedro Florimon (1) all homered for the Phillies.  In Lakeland, Nick Pivetta allowed two runs in his five innings of work.  J.P. Crawford (1) and Ryan Flaherty (1) homered in this game.

Featured Card:  The big news of the day was the announcement that Jerad Eickhoff would miss the first few months of the season with a strained right lat.  Candidates to replace Eickhoff in the starting rotation to start the season are Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter, Jr. and Tom Eshelman.

Camp Head Count:  48.  The camp head count held steady, but there was some roster shuffling as Florimon was added to the team's 40-man roster and Eliezer Alvarez was designated for assignment.

Grapefruit Game 20 - 2017 Donruss Optic #49 Jake Thompson

Braves 5, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 20 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 14th in Lake Buena Vista
Record - 8-12

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies returned to Disney World, dropping this game to the Braves, 5-3.

What It Means:  There are less than two weeks remaining to the Grapefruit League season.

What Happened:  Ben Lively allowed three runs on four hits in his five-inning start.  Jake Thompson pitched two more shutout innings to lower his spring ERA to 0.96.  Cesar Hernandez and Scott Kingery each had a pair of hits and Jorge Alfaro hit his second home run of the spring.

Featured Card:  It would seem as if Thompson is destined to start the season with the IronPigs, and it will be difficult for him to repeat on the volume of his baseball cards found within 2017 releases.  I have 24 different Topps and Panini cards of his in my 2017 Phillies binder, including this card from Donruss Optic.

Camp Head Count:  48

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Grapefruit Game 19 - 2018 Chachi New Additions #5 Jake Arrieta

Phillies 6, Rays 3
Spring Training Game 19 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 13th in Clearwater
Record - 8-11

One Sentence Summary:  Jesmuel Valentin hit a walk-off, three-run home run to give the Phillies a 6-3 win over the Rays.

What It Means:  The Phillies are unstoppable.

What Happened:  Thomas Eshelman, most likely headed to the IronPigs to start the season, pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings.  Maikel Franco had a pair of hits, including a fourth inning solo home run (2).  Rhys Hoskins added an RBI double in the sixth to tie the game at three.

Featured Card:  On Tuesday morning, the Phillies held a press conference to introduce their latest addition, Jake Arrieta.  He then warmed up with his new teammates on the field prior to the game.  The game was secondary.

Camp Head Count:  49 - 1 - 48.  Seranthony Dominguez was optioned to minor league camp, although I would expect we'll see the hard-throwing righty in the majors in the short-term future.

Number Update:  There were a bunch of number swaps necessitated by Arrieta's official arrival and his assuming his #49 from Ben Lively.  Here's the update:

  • #49 Jake Arrieta - The new Philllies pitcher will wear the same number he wore for five seasons with the Cubs.
  • #54 Ben Lively - Lively gave up his #49 and switched to #54.
  • #58 Fernando Abad - Non-roster invitee Abad switched from #54 to #58.

Which still means assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero will need a new number, as he had originally been assigned #58.  I may need to send a Phillies Room roving reporter to Clearwater to determine Guerrero's new number.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Grapefruit Game 18 - 2017 Stadium Club #167 Tommy Joseph

Phillies 3, Braves 0
Spring Training Game 18 - Monday Night, March 12th in Lake Buena Vista
Record - 7-11

One Sentence Summary:  Zach Eflin was impressive and Mitch Walding hit a three-run eighth inning home run to give the Phillies a 3-0 win in Disney World.

What It Means:  The Phillies pitching staff hasn't surrendered a run since signing Jake Arrieta.

What Happened:  Eflin, who could be the odd man out of the rotation due to the Arrieta signing, allowed just one hit in his five innings of work.

Featured Card:  Let's go with another card of Tommy Joseph since the arrival of Arrieta resulted in the Phillies designating Joseph for assignment.  I really hope he catches on somewhere, and it would seem he'd make a fine American League first baseman/DH.  I'll have a special Chachi Departures card for Joseph once he's joined his new team.

If I ever get around to creating a Phillies Room Favorites set, featuring our all-time favorite Phillies players, Joseph will definitely be included within the set.

Camp Head Count:  49 + 1 - 1 = 49.  Arrieta's signing was made official yesterday with Joseph's removal from the 40-man roster.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Grapefruit Game 17 - 2018 Topps Heritage #288 Jake Arrieta (#BeBold)

Orioles 4, Phillies 0
Spring Training Game 17 - Sunday Night, March 11th in Sarasota
Record - 6-11

One Sentence Summary:  The offense produced only four hits in this 4-0 loss to the Orioles.

What It Means:  This game doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but I tuned in to the radio broadcast nevertheless solely due to the buzz generated by the Jake Arrieta news.  As reported via multiple outlets yesterday afternoon, the Phillies and Arrieta have agreed to a three-year contract pending a physical.  There are reportedly a lot of moving pieces with the contract, and there could be an extension included that would keep him in red pinstripes through the 2022 season.

I have yet to process exactly what this means for the Phillies, but I do know that they just got a whole lot better.  Arrieta was the 2015 N.L. Cy Young Award winner and he's won a World Series ring with the 2016 Cubs.  It also has to put the Phillies in the discussion as a contending team in the N.L. East.

What Happened:  In the game, Nick Pivetta gave up three runs in his 4 2/3 innings of work.  Pedro Florimon had two of the four hits, including a double.

Featured Card:  I dug out this card from my pile of 2018 Topps Heritage cards once the Arrieta news broke, and I'm happy to give it a home in my 2018 Phillies binder.  Arrieta has been wearing #49 with the Cubs, and my assumption is that he'll need to trade something of value to its current owner (Ben Lively) in order to wear that number with the Phillies.  Lively could also be the odd man out in the starting pitching rotation, as the Phillies could start the season with Aaron Nola, Arrieta, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez and Pivetta as their starting five.

Camp Head Count:  49 . . . A roster move will need to be made once Arrieta's signing becomes official.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Grapefruit Game 16 - 2018 Topps Heritage #496 Vince Velasquez

Rays 5, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 16 - Saturday Afternoon, March 10th in Clearwater
Record - 6-10

One Sentence Summary:  Vince Velasquez looks to be ready for the start of the season, throwing four shutout innings in this 5-3 win over the Rays.

What It Means:  Work black hole continues . . . I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm anxious to get back to semi-regular and daily posting.

What Happened:  Velasquez allowed three hits and struck out two in his outing.  Hector Neris blew his first save of the spring, surrendering three Rays runs in the decisive ninth inning.

Featured Card:  Velasquez has one of two Phillies short-prints in the 2018 Topps Heritage set, with Nick Pivetta being the other.

Camp Head Count:  55 - 6 = 49.  The Phillies continued the pattern of sending down a few pitchers prior to the game, and then a few position players after the game.  Before the game, pitcher Ricardo Pinto was optioned and pitchers Enyel De Los Santos, Cole Irvin and Brandon Leibrandt were reassigned to minor league camp.  After the game, infielder Heiker Meneses and catcher Nick Rickles were also reassigned.

Grapefruit Game 15 - 2017 Topps Heritage Minor League #191 Home Run Leaders

Pirates 5, Phillies 4
Spring Training Game 15 - Friday Afternoon, March 9th in Clearwater
Record - 6-9

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies couldn't overcome an early deficit as the Pirates won the game, 5-4.

What It Means:  We're getting closer to meaningful baseball.

What Happened:  Rhys Hoskins had a single and double with two RBIs.  Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera both enjoyed multi-hit games.  Jerad Eickhoff was touched for four runs in his 3 1/3 inning start, allowing five hits while striking out three.  Jake Thompson looked good in his three scoreless innings of work.

Featured Card:  Top prospect Dylan Cozens, optioned to minor league camp following the game (see below), had a rough spring (.174 in 10 games) but he'll get some much-needed playing time with the IronPigs.  The Phillies are hoping Cozens follows the path of fellow top prospect Rhys Hoskins in the coming months, eventually joining Hoskins in the heart of the Phillies line-up.

Camp Head Count:  60 - 5 = 55.  Prior to the game, pitchers Franklyn Kilome, Ranger Suarez and Jose Taveras were optioned to minor league camp.  After the game, infielder Eliezer Alvarez and outfielder Cozens were also optioned to minor league camp.

Grapefruit Game 14 - 2018 Topps Heritage #34 Tommy Joseph

Phillies 7, Yankees 6
Spring Training Game 14 - Thursday Afternoon, March 8th in Tampa
Record - 6-8

One Sentence Summary:  Danny Ortiz and Pedro Florimon produced two clutch hits in the eighth inning to lead the Phils to a 7-6 win over the Yankees.

What It Means:  It's nice to see the Phillies showing some life in these games.  In the grand scheme of things, a spring training win doesn't mean much but maybe some of this positive momentum will carry over into the regular season.

What Happened:  Ben Lively allowed three runs in his four-inning start.  Adam Morgan got the win after pitching two scoreless innings.  Tommy Joseph added two more hits, raising his spring average to .474.  Ryan Flaherty and Mitch Walding both knocked in a pair of runs.

Featured Card:  I've got a bunch of 2018 Topps Heritage cards sitting in front of me ready to be sorted, and here's Joseph's card from the 1969 Topps-inspired set.

Camp Head Count:  60

Grapefruit Game 13 - 2018 Topps Heritage Hot Box Refractor #THC-188 Aaron Nola

Phillies 2, Red Sox 1
Spring Training Game 13 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 7th in Clearwater
Record - 5-8

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola threw four nearly flawless scoreless innings as the Phils hung on to beat the Red Sox, 2-1.

What It Means:  We watched this game on TV thanks to the winter storm that pounded our area on Wednesday afternoon.

What Happened:  There weren't many regular starters in the Sox line-up, but it was still nice to see Nola easily handle the batters.  He struck out five and allowed one hit in his four innings of work.  In the seventh, Nick Williams scored the eventual winning run from second when an infield pop-up dropped in front of the pitcher.

Drew Hutchison threw three innings, striking out four and allowing a run.

Featured Card:  In our recent Topps Heritage box opening fun, our oldest son Doug was the recipient of a Topps Heritage "hot box," resulting in a nice stack of these purple Chrome cards.  Apparently the official name of this set is "Hot Box Refractor," although I prefer "Purple Chrome."

Camp Head Count:  60

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Tracking the Ex-Phillies - Featuring Utley, Revere, Fasano, Schu and More!

One of my annual habits is to review the complete rosters of all 30 Major League teams, paying particular attention to see where former Phillies have ended up.  I'll review the 40-man rosters, the non-roster invitees and the coaches pages on each team's website.  Even though I do this every year, I don't always formalize my findings in a post, but it seemed like a good idea this year to give me an excuse to create a few custom cards.

Presented below, at least by my unofficial tally, are the former Phillies players in camp across the majors this spring.  I'm only tracking those players (or coaches/managers) who spent time with the Phillies.  So while Jesse Biddle is in camp with the Braves, he won't appear on the list below as he never played for the big club.  (And I think some of these players may have already moved on.)

N.L. East
Atlanta Braves:  Sal Fasano - catching coach
Miami Marlins:  Tylor Cloyd - rhp (NRI), Brian Schneider - catching coach
New York Mets:  Ruben Amaro Jr. - first base coach, Ty Kelly - inf (NRI)
Washington Nationals:  Joaquin Benoit - rhp, Reid Brignac - inf (NRI) , Howie Kendrick - of, Ryan Madson - rhp

N.L. Central
Chicago Cubs:  Peter Bourjos - of (NRI)
Cincinnati Reds:  Billy Hatcher - third base coach, David Hernandez - rhp, Ben Revere - of (NRI), Darnell Sweeney - of (NRI), Vance Worley - rhp (NRI)
Milwaukee Brewers:  None
Pittsburgh Pirates:  Daniel Nava - of (NRI), Tom Prince - bench coach, Kevin Siegrist - lhp (NRI)
St. Louis Cardinals:  John Mabry - hitting coach, Mike Maddux - pitching coach

N.L. West
Arizona Diamondbacks:  Antonio Bastardo - lhp (NRI), Torey Lovullo - manager, Humberto Quintero - bullpen catcher
Colorado Rockies:  None
Los Angeles Dodgers:  Chase Utley - inf, Turner Ward - hitting coach
San Diego Padres:  A.J. Ellis - c (NRI), Freddy Galvis - inf, Michael Mariot - rhp (NRI), Matt Stairs - hitting coach
San Francisco Giants:  Andres Blanco - inf (NRI), Chase d'Arnaud - inf (NRI) Hunter Pence - of, Rich Schu - assistant hitting coach

A.L. East
Baltimore Orioles:  Alec Asher - rhp, Roger McDowell - pitching coach, Joely Rodriguez - lhp (NRI), John Russell - bench coach
Boston Red Sox:  Ron Roenicke - bench coach
New York Yankees:  Erik Kratz - c
Tampa Bay Rays:  Dustin McGowan - rhp (NRI), Colton Murray - rhp (NRI)
Toronto Blue Jays:  Ezequiel Carrera - of, J.A. Happ - lhp

A.L. Central
Chicago White Sox:  Jeanmar Gomez - rhp (NRI)
Cleveland Indians:  Terry Francona - manager, Michael Martinez - inf (NRI), Brad Mills - bench coach
Detroit Tigers:  Daniel Stumpf - lhp
Kansas City Royals:  Cody Asche - dh (NRI). Michael Saunders - of, Dale Sveum - bench coach
Minnesota Twins:  Taylor Featherston - inf (NRI), Brock Stassi - inf (NRI)

A.L. West
Houston Astros:  Ken Giles - rhp, A.J. Hinch - manager, Charlie Morton - rhp
Los Angeles Angels:  JC Ramirez - rhp
Oakland Athletics:  Brandon Moss - dh
Seattle Mariners:  Juan Nicasio - rhp, Cameron Perkins - of
Texas Rangers:  Jake Diekman - lhp, Cole Hamels - lhp, Dan Warthen - assistant pitching coach

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Grapefruit Game 12 - 2017 Phillies Team Issue #64 Andrew Knapp

Phillies 4, Twins 3
Spring Training Game 12 - Monday Afternoon, March 5th in Clearwater
Record - 4-8

One Sentence Summary:  The offense showed some life in this 4-3 win over the Twins.

What It Means:  The Phils have a two game win streak going for the first time in 2018.

What Happened:  Rhys Hoskins hit his second home run of the spring while Cesar Hernandez, Carlos Santana, Maikel Franco and Eliezer Alvarez all doubled.  Vince Velasquez worked out of trouble in his two scoreless innings of work and Mark Leiter, Jr. threw three scoreless innings in his bid to join the starting rotation.

Featured Card:  Andrew Knapp is competing with Cameron Rupp for the back-up catcher's job, and he impressed in this game by throwing out two baserunners on steal attempts and nearly picking off a third.  Knapp's baseball card appearances have been sparse to date and this is his card from last year's team-issued photo card set.  Knapp went from #64 in spring training last year to #34 when he joined the Phillies officially.  He's switched to #15 this season as the team has unofficially retired the #34 worn by Roy Halladay.

Camp Head Count:  63 - 3 = 60.  The first cuts of the spring came following this game as pitcher Drew Anderson was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and catcher Edgar Cabral and pitcher J.D. Hammer were reassigned to minor league camp.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Grapefruit Game 11 - 2008 Upper Deck Goudey #141 Jimmy Rollins

Phillies 4, Blue Jays 2
Spring Training Game 11 - Sunday Afternoon, March 4th in Clearwater
Record - 3-8

One Sentence Summary:  Jerad Eickhoff pitched well and Scott Kingery had two more hits in this win against the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  We watched Phillies baseball on TV for the second day in a row.  It was glorious.

What Happened:  Eickhoff didn't allow a run in his 2 2/3 innings, striking out two.  Carlos Santana collected his first hits of the spring, going 2 for 3.

Featured Card:  Prior to the game, the Phillies honored a small gathering of coaches and players from their 2008 championship team.  The coolest sight was seeing Jimmy Rollins in a Phillies jersey for the first time since being traded to the Dodgers following the 2014 season.  Rollins said he'd be open to retiring as a Phillie after signing a one-day contract, but that he'd want to actually take the field while doing so.  We'll see what happens!  (Photo below from the team's Twitter feed.)

L to R: Jimmy Rollins, Brett Myers, Pedro Feliz, Scott Eyre, Andy Tracy, coach Jimy Williams, coach Rich Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel
Camp Head Count:  63

Monday, March 5, 2018

Grapefruit Games 9 & 10 - 1969 Topps #365 Jim Fregosi (50th Anniversary Buyback)

Orioles 4, Phillies 2
Spring Training Game 9 - Saturday Afternoon, March 3rd in Clearwater

Pirates 4, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 10 - Saturday Afternoon, March 3rd in Bradenton

Record - 2-8

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies split their squad and dropped two games on Saturday.

What It Means:  We've got a little more than three more weeks of spring training games to go before the games start to count.

What Happened:  In Bradenton, Ben Lively threw three scoreless innings but reliever Brandon Leibrandt was touched for three runs in his 2/3 innings of work.  In Clearwater, the offense couldn't get going against the Orioles, managing only three hits.

Featured Card:  While battling some sort of hybrid cold/flu nonsense on Saturday, I had settled in to watch the Phillies-Orioles game on TV when our postal carrier delivered our shipment of 2018 Topps Heritage boxes.  The four of us settled in for an afternoon of pack opening, and it was the most fun I've had opening baseball cards in quite a while.  The sorting process is still underway, but that's all part of the fun of opening packs of cards.

Each of our boxes had a single card pack as a box topper and the wrapper indicated that an original 1969 Topps buyback card was included within.  I was thrilled when the first buyback pack we opened was former Phillies manager Jim Fregosi.  I was amused when the second buyback pack we opened was another Fregosi.  I was annoyed when the third, fourth, fifth and sixth buyback packs we opened were also Fregosi.  I'm chalking this one up to dumb luck and poor collation from Topps.  While I would have liked to have added a few different buybacks to my collection, the six Fregosis won't diminish the fun we had opening the boxes.

Camp Head Count:  63

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Grapefruit Game 8 - 2018 Topps #11 Aaron Nola

Phillies 9, Rays 2
Spring Training Game 8 - Friday Afternoon, March 2nd in Port Charlotte
Record - 2-6

One Sentence Summary:  Strong offense and solid pitching led to this 9-2 win over the Rays.

What It Means:  A decisive win, the first of the spring!

What Happened:  Scott Kingery (3) and Jesmuel Valentin (1) both contributed two-run home runs while Ryan Flaherty had a double and two RBIs.  Aaron Nola allowed two runs in his three innings of work.  Tommy Hunter (1 inning), Drew Hutchison (3 innings) and Drew Andersen (2 innings) kept the Rays off the board through the latter innings.

Featured Card:  Here's the newest Nola card in my collection from the 2018 Topps flagship release.

Camp Head Count:  63

Grapefruit Game 7 - 2017 Stadium Club #199 Roman Quinn

Yankees 6, Phillies 4
Spring Training Game 7 - Thursday Afternoon, March 1st in Clearwater
Record - 1-6

One Sentence Summary:  Late rallies weren't enough to overcome the Yankees in this 6-4 loss.

What It Means:  It's still early . . . but the Phillies have only one win after a week of games.

What Happened:  Aaron Altherr hit a solo home run in the fourth and Matt McBride enjoyed a three-RBI game that included a two-run double in the eighth.

Featured Card:  Two of the more interesting storylines this spring are manager Gabe Kapler's desire to have a more versatile bench and his use of mid-inning defensive replacements.  A now healthy Roman Quinn, primarily a center fielder, saw some time at shortstop in this game while Rhys Hoskins and Danny Ortiz switched between left field and right field five times.  It seems as if we'll see "RF-LF-RF-LF-RF-LF" next to Hoskins' name in the box scores a lot this season.

Camp Head Count:  63

Grapefruit Game 6 - 1969 Topps #599 John Boozer

Blue Jays 7, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 6 - Wednesday Afternoon, February 28th in Dunedin
Record - 1-5

One Sentence Summary:  Other than another home run from Scott Kingery, there weren't many Phillies highlights in this 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  I'm deep within a work black hole and I won't emerge until late March.  Catching an inning or two of these games on the radio everyday provides a temporary respite.

What Happened:  In his first start of the spring, Vince Velasquez allowed two runs on three hits over 1 2/3 innings.  Mark Leiter, Jr. looked sharp in two scoreless innings of work.  Kingery's solo home run in the third inning was the only offensive output from the Phillies.

Featured Card:  My wife Jenna and I decided we needed some Topps Heritage in our lives, so we counted our pennies and placed an order for a few boxes.  I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of the shipment so that we can open some packs!  Topps Heritage started with the 1952 Topps design back in 2001 and they're now all the way up to the 1969 Topps design in 2018.

Camp Head Count:  Still holding at 63.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Grapefruit Game 5 - 2017 Topps Now MLB Players Weekend #PW-103 Tommy Joseph

Tigers 11, Phillies 6
Spring Training Game 5 - Tuesday Afternoon, February 27th in Clearwater
Record - 1-4

One Sentence Summary:  Jerad Eickhoff and three Phillies relievers each gave up two earned runs a piece and a six-run fourth inning wasn't enough in this 11-6 loss to the Tigers.

What It Means:  It's still early.

What Happened:  Rhys Hoskins and Roman Quinn connected for their first home runs of the spring.  Tommy Joseph and Collin Cowgill each added a pair of hits.

Featured Card:  Joseph, competing for a bench job with Carlos Santana slated to be the team's starting first baseman, saw his first outfield action of his career.  Playing left field, he actually switched over to right for a batter before switching back to left.  His two hits raised his spring average to .667 (4 for 6).  This is his most recent card of his in my collection, from the Topps Now Players Weekend team set.

Camp Head Count:  63

Grapefruit Game 4 - 2017 Topps Heritage Minor League 1968 Topps Discs #68TDC-18 Scott Kingery

Yankees 4, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 4 - Monday Night, February 26th in Tampa
Record - 1-3

One Sentence Summary:  A dramatic, game-tying home run from Scott Kingery in the ninth wasn't enough to hold off the Yankees.

What It Means:  I know these games don't count, but I would think it's irking new manager Gabe Kapler that the Phils have won only one ballgame so far this spring.

What Happened:  Kingery went 3 for 3, including his solo home run in the ninth inning to tie up the game.  Miguel Andujar hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the ninth off Ranger Suarez to give the Yankees the walk-off spring win.

Featured Card:  It's going to be fun to watch Kingery develop.  Expected to start the season in Triple-A with the IronPigs, Kingery is viewed as the team's second baseman of the future.  This is 1968 inspired disc card from last year's Topps Heritage Minor League set.  The full name and number of the card is almost as long as this entire post.

Camp Head Count:  63

Grapefruit Game 3 - 2017 Topps Gallery #65 Aaron Nola

Yankees 8, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 3 - Sunday Afternoon, February 25th in Clearwater
Record - 1-2

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola made his first spring start and the Phillies offense managed just four hits in this 8-3 loss to the Yankees.

What It Means:  Nola's pitching line wasn't pretty - 2 innings, 4 runs, 3 hits - but he would have been out of first inning trouble had Maikel Franco caught an infield pop up.  Following the game, manager Gabe Kapler named Nola the opening day starting pitcher.

What Happened:  Franco hit his first home run of the spring and Dylan Cozens had a double.  Seranthony Dominguez pitched another scoreless inning, striking out two.

Featured Card:  Topps resurrected the Topps Gallery brand in November and a full set was released after a 14-year absence.  (The last full Topps Gallery set came out in 2003.)  Only Nola, Franco and Jake Thompson made it from the Phillies into the set.

Camp Head Count:  63

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Grapefruit Game 2 - 2017 Topps Fire #143 Jorge Alfaro

Phillies 9, Orioles 6
Spring Training Game 2 - Saturday Afternoon, February 24th in Clearwater
Record - 1-1

One Sentence Summary:  Jorge Alfaro's second inning grand slam led the Phillies to a 9-6 win over the Orioles in the spring training home opener in Clearwater.

What It Means:  The offense looked good with 12 hits against Orioles pitching.

What Happened:  Alfaro got a green light with a 3-0 count and he didn't miss.  Zach Eflin allowed a run on two hits in his first spring start while Jake Thompson struck out the side in his inning of work.  Infielder Will Middlebrooks had to be carted off the field with a bad left ankle injury when he collided with Andrew Pullin trying to catch a fly ball.

Featured Card:  I've mentioned this here before, but Topps really overdid it last year with cards of Alfaro, Thompson and Roman Quinn in just about every one of its releases.  I imagine Rhys Hoskins will received the same treatment within the 2018 Topps releases.  Topps Fire was a new set last year and it came out in late September.  I'm sure some people liked this set, but I wouldn't mind if Topps Fire is a one and done release.

Camp Head Count:  63

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Grapefruit Game 1 - 2017 Topps Now #680 Nick Williams

Blue Jays 2, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 1 - Friday Afternoon, February 23rd in Dunedin
Record - 0-1

One Sentence Summary:  Eight Blue Jays pitchers held the Phillies to six hits in this 2-1 Grapefruit League opener.

What It Means:  Working on Friday afternoon, it was a great feeling to click on Gameday Audio and listen to Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen call this game.

What Happened:  Nick Pivetta started and allowed both Blue Jays runs in his two innings of work.  Mark Leiter, Jr. pitched two shutout innings.  Nick Williams went 2 for 2 with a double, and Danny Ortiz connected for the first home run of the spring for the Phillies.

Featured Card:  This Topps Now card of Williams (with Odubel Herrera) didn't arrive in my collection until after the 2017 season had ended.  It features a photo from right after he had scored on an eighth-inning inside the park home run.  I like the symmetry of this card featuring a highlight from the last game of 2017 and using it to celebrate Williams' two-hit game in the first game of 2018.

Camp Head Count:  63

The Phillies, along with the other Major League baseball teams, wore the hatsof the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Eagles baseball team.  The hats will be auctioned off to benefit the school and the victims' families.

And I'm just going to leave this here:  Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America