Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Uniform Number Update - 2019 Edition (Version 2)

2019 Topps Now Offseason #OS67
The Phillies' own website has been tardy in updating for new uniform numbers this offseason, so I've had to rely on Twitter to provide answers to my burning uniform number related questions.  The official team roster page still shows J.T. Realmuto's number as "--" while non-roster invitees Sean Rodriguez and Drew Butera are no where to be seen.

Here's the second post (of possibly three?) summarizing the team's uniform number developments.  The first post can be found here.

New Players (Under 60/40-Man Roster Division)
  • #10 J.T. Realmuto - Strangely enough, even with his familiar #11 available, Realmuto will wear #10 with the Phillies.  Only the Phillies know for certain, but could they be leaning towards retiring #11 (Jimmy Rollins), #6 (Ryan Howard) and #26 (Chase Utley) this summer?  Special ceremonies are planned for all three players.
Number Swaps
  • #21 Vince Velasquez - Velasquez switched to this number after wearing #28 the past three seasons with the Phillies.  Non-roster invitee Andrew Romine is currently wearing #28.
  • #38 Paco Figueroa - Figueroa had been assigned #3, but recent non-roster invitee Sean Rodriguez has claimed that number so Figuera is now #38 which was made available when Jorge Alfaro was traded to the Marlins.
  • #39 Chris Dickerson - With the arrival of Realmuto, Dickerson swaps out #10 for #39.
Numbers Available - Unofficially Retired Division
#6 Ryan Howard
#11 Jimmy Rollins
#26 Chase Utley

Numbers (Still) Available - Harper/Keuchel Division
#34, #60

With Manny Machado reportedly signing with the Padres, #13 goes back into the mix.

Numbers Available - Up for Grabs Division
#13.  After the five numbers currently unassigned listed above, and the now free and clear #13, the next available uniform number is #80.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Rodriguez is Non-Roster Invitee #21

2018 Topps Update #US108
While the Phillies continue to circle around free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, they're also still tinkering with a potential supporting cast, adding infielder Sean Rodriguez to their list of non-roster spring training invitees.  It's going to be crowded in Clearwater, as Rodriguez brings the list of current players heading to camp to 60.

Rodriguez is an 11-year big league veteran, and he appeared in 66 games last season for the Pirates.  He's played with the Angels (2008-2009), Rays (2010-2014), Pirates (2015-2016, 2017-2018) and Braves (2017).  He appeared in a career-high 140 games for the Pirates in 2016, spending time at every position except catcher and pitcher.

Player (position) - 2018 Organization - Last Major Baseball Card Appearance*
1.  Jeremy Bleich (lhp) - Athletics - 2010 Topps Pro Debut #35 (Yankees)
2.  Rob Brantly (c) - Braves/Indians - 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen #33 (Marlins)
3.  Phil Gosselin (inf) - Reds/Braves - 2017 Topps Heritage #135 (Diamondbacks)
4.  Josh Martin (rhp) - Indians - 2012 Bowman Draft Picks #BDPP160 (Indians)
5.  Matt McBride (c-1b) - Phillies - 2007 Bowman Sterling Prospects #MM (Indians)
6.  Gregorio Petit (inf) - Twins - 2015 Topps Heritage #667 (Yankees)
7.  Shane Robinson (of) - Yankees - 2014 Topps #483 (Cardinals)
8.  Gift Ngoepe (inf) - Blue Jays - 2018 Topps Heritage #579 (Blue Jays)
9.  Edward Paredes (lhp) - Dodgers - N/A
10.  Andrew Romine (inf) - Mariners - 2018 Topps Heritage #641 (Mariners)
11.  Malquin Canelo (inf) - Phillies - N/A
12.  Tyler Gilbert (lhp) - Phillies - N/A
13.  Deivi Grullon (c) - Phillies - 2013 Bowman Chrome #BCP128 (Phillies)
14.  Adam Haseley (of) - Phillies - 2018 Topps Heritage Minor League #131 (Phillies)
15.  Cole Irvin (lhp) - Phillies - 2016 Bowman Draft Chrome #BDC-4 (Phillies)
16.  Austin Listi (inf-of) - Phillies - N/A
17.  Mickey Moniak (of) - Phillies - 2018 Topps Heritage Minor League #261 (Phillies)
18.  JoJo Romero (lhp) - Phillies - 2018 Topps Heritage Minor League #92 (Phillies)
19.  Lane Adams (of) - Cubs/Braves - 2018 Topps Now Road to Opening Day #OD-241 (Braves)
20.  Drew Butera (c) - Royals/Rockies - 2018 Topps Royals #KR7 (Royals)
21.  Sean Rodriguez (inf) - Pirates - 2018 Topps Update #US108 (Pirates)

Friday, February 8, 2019

Uniform Number Update - 2019 Edition

2015 Topps #400
2016 Topps Heritage #384
2017 Topps Update #US149
2018 Topps Big League #94
2018 Topps Heritage #388
New uniform numbers recently popped up on the team's roster page on its website, and that means we're officially getting closer to the start of spring training.  As I've done the past few years, here's a run-down of the new numbers.  As of this writing, the newly acquired J.T. Realmuto hasn't officially been assigned a number, but I would think he'll end up with his familiar #11, which is conveniently available.

New Players (Under 60/40-Man Roster Division)
  • #2 Jean Segura - The new shortstop takes the number worn by J.P. Crawford last year, one of the players sent to the Mariners for Segura.
  • #12 Juan Nicasio - Jose Bautista wore this number last season, and the #58 worn by Nicasio during his two-game stint with the Phillies in 2017 is now occupied by Seranthony Dominguez.
  • #22 Andrew McCutchen - Cutch assumes his familiar #22, coaxed away from manager Gabe Kapler.
  • #30 David Robertson - This number was vacant last season, having been worn by Matt McBride in spring training.
  • #47 James Pazos - The Phillies will not be retiring this number for Aaron Loup, so it's available for Pazos.
  • #52 Jose Alvarez - The same can be said for #52 and its wearer last season, Zac Curtis.
It should also be noted that several non-roster invitees have been assigned low numbers, including #9 Phil Gosselin, #18 Lane Adams, #31 Shane Robinson, #33 Matt McBride, #40 Gregorio Petit and #44 Rob Brantly.

New Coaches
  • #3 Paco Figueroa - Former first base coach Jose David Flores was #3 in 2018.
  • #10 Bobby Dickerson - Trevor Plouffe briefly wore this number last season.
  • #57 David Lundquist - Luis Garcia had worn this number since making his debut in 2013.
Number Swaps
  • #19 Gabe Kapler - When McCutchen claimed #22, Kapler switched to #19 which is a number he wore with the Rangers, Red Sox and Rays during his playing days.
Highest Number
JoJo Romero was assigned #79 which is the highest new number.  Pat Neshek (#93) and Tommy Hunter (#96) are coming back with their curiously chosen numbers as well.

Duplicate Numbers
#28 - The Phillies website lists this number for both Vince Velasquez, who has worn it the last three seasons and non-roster invitee Andrew Romine.  My guess here is that Romine is actually #21 and this is just an error on the website.

Numbers Available - Unofficially Retired Division
#6 Ryan Howard
#11 Jimmy Rollins
#26 Chase Utley

Numbers Available - Machado/Harper/Keuchel Division
#13, #34, #60

Numbers Available - Up for Grabs Division
#21 - How is this number not taken for the second year in a row?  Non-roster invitee Collin Cowgill wore this number last spring and Clay Buchholz had the number for a very brief time in 2017.
#39 - Worn by pitching coach Rick Kranitz last year.
#41 - Worn by Carlos Santana last season.  I'm guessing this number goes to the recently signed Drew Butera, who hasn't yet shown up on the Phillies website.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Phils Acquire Realmuto in Trade with Marlins

2019 Chachi New Additions #7
2019 Chachi Departures #9
On Thursday afternoon, the Phillies acquired All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins for catcher Jorge Alfaro, along with pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart.  The Phillies also sent $250,000 in international bonus slot money to the Marlins.  Realmuto's arrival indicates the Phillies are ready to graduate from the rebuilding phase to the contending phase.  Could a major free agent signing be next for the club?

Realmuto is signed through the 2020 season.  In the past five seasons with the Marlins, he's averaged 18 home runs and 73 RBIs per season - numbers that will hopefully increase in the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.  Even if the Phillies don't land one of either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, the offseason acquisitions of Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson and other key bullpen pieces instantly make the Phillies a better team (at least on paper) heading into 2019.

Realmuto has been a regular in all Topps sets since 2015, and his most recent card can be found in the recently released 2019 Topps Series 1.

Jorge Alfaro leaves the Phillies after one full season with the club, although he saw time with the Phillies in 2016 and 2017.  In 143 games with the Phillies, Alfaro hit .270 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs.  Alfaro's departure means that Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Williams are the last two remaining out of the six players the Phillies acquired from the Rangers in July 2015 for Cole Hamels.  My Alfaro baseball card collection (2015-2018) stands at 58 different cards.

2018 Topps Heritage
Minor League #211
2018 Choice Lakewood
BlueClaws #27
Hopefully Sanchez, regarding as the team's top pitching prospect, won't come back to haunt the Phillies.  He made it up to High-A Clearwater last season, and we're likely a few years away from seeing him in a Marlins uniform.  Stewart was impressive with the Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws last season, starting 20 games and going 8-1 with a 2.06 ERA.  I've accumulated 14 Sanchez cards over the past two seasons, and the only two cards I have for Stewart are from recent minor league team sets.

Alfaro  Complete Chachi Checklist
2016 Chachi #58
2017 Chachi #52
2018 Chachi #10
2018 Chachi Phillies Phestival #12
2019 Chachi Departures #9

Moving On - 2018-2019 Offseason
  • Trevor Plouffe - inf (10/4/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Jose Bautista - of (10/29/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera - inf (10/29/18) - Elected free agency, signed with the Texas Rangers on 1/24/19.
  • Aaron Loup - lhp (10/29/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Wilson Ramos - c (10/29/18) - Elected free agency, signed with the New York Mets on 12/18/18.
  • Pedro Beato - rhp (11/2/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Jesmuel Valentin - inf (11/2/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Pedro Florimon - inf/of (11/3/18) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the Atlanta Braves.
  • Luis Avilan - lhp (11/30/18) - Non-tendered, becoming a free agent, signed as a minor league free agent with the New York Mets on 1/10/19.
  • Justin Bour - 1b (11/30/18) - Non-tendered, becoming a free agent, signed with the Los Angeles Angels on 12/15/18.
  • Carlos Santana - 1b and J.P. Crawford - ss (12/3/18) - Traded to the Seattle Mariners for James Pazos, Juan Nicasio and Jean Segura.
  • Luis Garcia - rhp (12/6/18) - Traded to the Los Angeles Angels for Jose Alvarez.
  • Jorge Alfaro - c (2/7/19) - Traded with Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart (with cash) to the Miami Marlins for J.T. Realmuto.
New Arrivals - 2018-2019 Offseason
  • James Pazos - lhp, Juan Nicasio - rhp and Jean Segura - ss (12/3/18) - Acquired from the Seattle Mariners for J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana.
  • Jose Alvarez - lhp (12/6/18) - Acquired from the Los Angeles Angels for Luis Garcia.
  • Andrew McCutchen - of (12/12/18) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the New York Yankees.
  • David Robertson - rhp (1/3/19) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the New York Yankees.
  • J.T. Realmuto - c (2/7/19) - Acquired from the Miami Marlins for Jorge Alfaro, Sixto Sanchez, Will Stewart and cash.

List of Non-Roster Invitees Reaches 20 Players

2018 Topps Royals #KR7
On Tuesday afternoon, the Phillies signed veteran catcher Drew Butera to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.  Butera brings the list of non-roster invitees to 20, and reports are that he'll receive serious consideration for the back-up catcher role.

Butera is a nine-year big league veteran, having seen time with the Twins (2010-2013), Dodgers (2013-2014), Angels (2015), Royals (2015-2018) and Rockies (2018).  He has a career batting average of .201 spanning 497 games.

His first mainstream baseball cards can be found in the 2005 Bowman Draft set, and last year he was featured in the Topps Royals retail team set.

Rumor has it the Phillies are kicking the tires on a few more potential free agents, a couple of which have a few more baseball card appearances than Butera.

Player (position) - 2018 Organization - Last Major Baseball Card Appearance*
1.  Jeremy Bleich (lhp) - Athletics - 2010 Topps Pro Debut #35 (Yankees)
2.  Rob Brantly (c) - Braves/Indians - 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen #33 (Marlins)
3.  Phil Gosselin (inf) - Reds/Braves - 2017 Topps Heritage #135 (Diamondbacks)
4.  Josh Martin (rhp) - Indians - 2012 Bowman Draft Picks #BDPP160 (Indians)
5.  Matt McBride (c-1b) - Phillies - 2007 Bowman Sterling Prospects #MM (Indians)
6.  Gregorio Petit (inf) - Twins - 2015 Topps Heritage #667 (Yankees)
7.  Shane Robinson (of) - Yankees - 2014 Topps #483 (Cardinals)
8.  Gift Ngoepe (inf) - Blue Jays - 2018 Topps Heritage #579 (Blue Jays)
9.  Edward Paredes (lhp) - Dodgers - N/A
10.  Andrew Romine (inf) - Mariners - 2018 Topps Heritage #641 (Mariners)
11.  Malquin Canelo (inf) - Phillies - N/A
12.  Tyler Gilbert (lhp) - Phillies - N/A
13.  Deivi Grullon (c) - Phillies - 2013 Bowman Chrome #BCP128 (Phillies)
14.  Adam Haseley (of) - Phillies - 2018 Topps Heritage Minor League #131 (Phillies)
15.  Cole Irvin (lhp) - Phillies - 2016 Bowman Draft Chrome #BDC-4 (Phillies)
16.  Austin Listi (inf-of) - Phillies - N/A
17.  Mickey Moniak (of) - Phillies - 2018 Topps Heritage Minor League #261 (Phillies)
18.  JoJo Romero (lhp) - Phillies - 2018 Topps Heritage Minor League #92 (Phillies)
19.  Lane Adams (of) - Cubs/Braves - 2018 Topps Now Road to Opening Day #OD-241 (Braves)
20.  Drew Butera (c) - Royals/Rockies - 2018 Topps Royals #KR7 (Royals)

Monday, February 4, 2019

The First Phillie of 2019 #ToppsBaseball #FirstPhillie


My wife Jenna finally found packs of 2019 Topps at the third Target she visited on Thursday afternoon.  I open way less packs of baseball cards these days, given that it's easiest for me to head to eBay to buy the Phillies team sets or inserts I want.  Still, I don't think I'll ever abandon the tradition of finding and opening those first packs of Topps' flagship set every year.

The first Phillie was found within the first pack I opened, a few cards from the top.  Ranger Suarez gets the honors this year, although I was slightly surprised to see him appear given he only pitched in 4 games last season for the Phillies.

My immediate impression of 2019 Topps is that I like the design a lot more than I have in recent years.  The one-sided and team colored borders are reminiscent of the 1982 Topps design, and the modern gradient found on the right side of the cards isn't too intrusive.  I would have preferred the player's first name to be on top of the last name, but that quirky feature is slowly growing on me.  The backs are clean and easy to read with the standard Topps write-up and some statistics.  It's odd that Suarez's card contains his minor league totals from 2018, and not his Major League totals.

Ballpark cards are included within Topps flagship this year, and I liked that the Phillies card features their new primary logo for 2019 (quietly announced a few months back) and their logo from 1992 to 2018 on the scoreboard in the top left corner.  Quality control issues continue to persist at Topps however, as the team's starting catcher on the back of this card is listed as "Jesus" Alfaro.


Past First Phillies

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Learning, Listening and Hitting with Milt Thompson


On Saturday, my son along with other young baseball players, spent three hours talking hitting, fielding and some of the mental aspects of baseball with former Phillies player Milt Thompson.  Doug came away from the experience with some key tips that are bound to help him once his spring season gets started.  Thompson took time with each player in attendance, working one on one with them on their swings and their overall approach at the plate.  I was among a handful of fathers who stood against the batting cages for the duration of the training, listening to Thompson's advice and swapping stories of our memories from his playing days.

Thompson wrapped up the session a few minutes early for a lengthy Q&A session with the kids.  He fielded questions about playing with Mike Schmidt and Ozzie Smith, about his memories with the 1993 Phillies team, and about coaching Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard.  He talked about his current role as the roving hitting instructor for the Cincinnati Reds' minor league system.  He then stayed afterwards fulfilling every (occasionally multiple) autograph request and posing for individual pictures with each of the kids.

Doug had him sign a baseball and Thompson also handed out his Phillies Alumni photo card to each kid.  Doug dutifully asked if he could have an extra card signed and Thompson obliged without hesitation, which is how the card shown here came to be in my collection.

Overall, it was a great afternoon for the kids (and some of the parents!) and Doug won't soon forget this experience.