Friday, July 30, 2010

2004 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects #BDP77 J.A. Happ

Nationals 8, Phillies 1
Game 103 - Friday Night, July 30th in Washington

Well that didn't exactly go as planned. Nyjer Morgan tripled on the first pitch thrown by Roy Oswalt in a Phillies uniform and eventually came around to score. Oswalt, who admitted to being a little "tight" in his postgame press conference, never really found his rhythm in his first game as a Phil. He allowed 5 runs (4 earned) over 6 innings of work, on 7 hits. The rest of the team seemed to be playing in a daze as well, as the outfield - Raul Ibañez, Jayson Werth and Domonic Brown - accounted for all 6 of the team's hits with 2 a piece. One of Werth's hits was a solo home run in the 7th, his 15th of the year.

Houston's Happ: And of course while all this was going on, J.A. Happ, #30 for the Houston Astros, pitched 6 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits while striking out 6. In his honor, I'll feature a baseball card tonight which is photographic proof the man once had hair.

The Newest Houston Astros (and a Toronto Blue Jay)

2010 Topps #89 J.A. Happ
2010 Bowman Prospects #BP104 Anthony Gose
2010 Multi-Ad Lakewood BlueClaws #27 Jonathan Villar

There has been a deal. Well, actually that's kind of old news. Phillies trades have always excited me, starting back around the time Bob Walk was getting traded for Sarge Matthews.

So on Thursday afternoon, when word came through the Twitterverse that the Phils had acquired Roy Oswalt (plus cash) for J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar, I was positively in a quiver. It’s an exciting time to be a Phillies fan, but we unfortunately have to bid a bittersweet farewell to one budding prospect and two guys we never really knew.

Happ was professional to the end and I was struck by just how many Phillies players were quoted as saying how much they'd miss the guy. He thanked the Phillies’ organization in a subdued press conference and he spoke to how difficult it would be to leave the only organization he's ever known. He joins a floundering Astros organization where he'll be surrounded by old friends Brett Myers, Pedro Feliz, Michael Bourn, Jason Michaels and Nelson Figueroa. (He and Myers might not be together for long, as it's recently been rumored that Myers is the next pitcher to be shipped out of Houston.) Happ starts tonight against the Brewers and The Phillies Room wishes him continued success against all teams in the National League, except the Phillies.

I don't know much about Gose other than he was a highly-touted outfield prospect, ranked as the organization's 5th best prospect on the highly regarded Phuture Phillies website. Upon acquiring him, the Astros immediately spun him off to the Blue Jays for another highly-touted prospect – first baseman Brett Wallace. Gose appeared in a few insert sets in this year's Bowman issue, and I'm sure we'll see him featured on baseball cards in a Blue Jays' uniform in a few years' time. For now, he’ll join former teammate Travis d'Arnaud on the Dunedin Blue Jays. I know even less about shortstop Jonathan Villar, other than he's very young, and various news outlets initially reported his name as Villan yesterday.

A Few Other Thoughts: The best analysis of the entire transaction can be found on the previously mentioned Phuture Phillies blog. If Figueroa was still with the Phillies, would he have been forced to give up his #44 to Oswalt? Most likely.

Phillies at Nationals: July 30th through August 1st

Friday & Saturday 7:05, Sunday 1:35

Records: Phillies 56-46, 2nd Place in NL East (2½ games behind the Braves); Nationals 44-58, 5th Place in NL East (14½ games behind the Braves)

2008 Chachi #85 Ruben Amaro, Jr. HL

You can say this about GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. since he took over the team back in November 2008 - he doesn't sit still. In a year's time, he's traded for arguably three of the best pitchers in the Majors - Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and yesterday, Roy Oswalt. He's sported some ugly sweaters along the way, but the guy is getting the job done and he's ensuring the 25 players on the field are the best possible guys out there. Meanwhile, in Houston, everything I've read on-line suggests that Ruben and the Phils basically fleeced Ed Wade with this trade, stealing Oswalt for a decent, but unproven pitcher in J.A. Happ and two lower-level 19-year-old prospects. Only time will tell which team will come out ahead with this deal, but you can't help but like the three-headed monster of Halladay-Oswalt-Hamels at the top of the rotation for the rest of this year and, best of all, for all of 2011.

Phillies Probables: Roy Oswalt, Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels
Nationals Probables: Craig Stammen, Ross Detwiler, TBD

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2010 Choice Lehigh Valley IronPigs #14 Cody Ransom

Phillies 3, Diamondbacks 2 (11 Innings)
Game 102 - Thursday Night, July 29th in Philadelphia

On the day the Phillies acquired Roy Oswalt for the Postseason run (and beyond!), the team swept the last-place Diamondbacks out of town. It took a few extra innings, but Cody Ransom scored the winning run in the 11th thanks to an RBI-single from Wilson Valdez. It was Valdez' third hit of the night and he also dazzled in the field, turning two crucial inning-ending double plays. Unfortunately for Valdez, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs opted to omit him from their team set, so Ransom's IronPig baseball card gets featured instead. (Sorry, Wilson.)

Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco both enjoyed multi-hit games and the hot-hitting Raul Ibañez contributed a solo home run in the 6th. Kyle Kendrick pitched into the 7th, allowing just a run on 4 hits, but Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero combined to blow the team's 1-run lead in the 9th, erasing Kendrick's win. Brad Lidge pitched a perfect 10th - making the decision not to use him in the 9th a little curious.

The Phils could have easy phoned it in during this in-between game, as it came the day after the thrilling Domonic Brown debut and the day before Roy Story 2 is set to begin in Washington tomorrow night. But they pulled out the win, their 8th in a row and their 11th straight win at home. I have a good feeling about this.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

2010 Chachi #47 Domonic Brown

Phillies 7, Diamondbacks 1
Game 101 - Wednesday Night, July 28th in Philadelphia

Over and over again, the Phillies' broadcasters used one word to describe the atmosphere tonight at Citizens Bank Park: Electric. Roy Halladay was on the mound, which is an event onto itself. But the majority of the buzz was generated by the Major League debut of the Phillies' top prospect, Domonic Brown. Brown was summoned from AAA Lehigh Valley this afternoon when it became apparent Shane Victorino's strained ribcage was going to land him on the DL.

Brown received a standing ovation when introduced in the 2nd inning. On the third pitch he saw in the Majors, Brown doubled to deep right, scoring Jayson Werth with the first run of the game. He singled in the 6th and came around to score on Carlos Ruiz' 2-run double. He ran the bases like a gazelle and broadcasters (and fans viewing at home) were positively giddy with his debut performance. The offense continues to flourish under the pure genius of new hitting coach Greg Gross, as Raul Ibañez had 2 more hits, while Werth and Ruiz each enjoyed 3-hit nights.

Halladay's complete game victory was almost an afterthought. He threw 114 pitches (78 for strikes), allowing 6 hits while walking none and striking out 9. The Phils have now won 7 in a row and their last 10 home games. This is starting to be fun again.

Almost as important as his arrival to the show is Brown's appearance on his first 0f hopefully many Chachi cards. He's #47 in the 2010 set.

Phillies debut: July 28, 2010
How acquired: Selected by the Phillies in the 20th round of the June 2006 draft
Others wearing #9 in the 2000s: Brad Mills (coach) 2000, David Newhan 2001, Tomas Perez 2001-2005, Michael Bourn 2006-2007, Chris Snelling 2008, Tadahito Iguchi 2008, Miguel Cairo 2009
Pictured: Spring Training action, back when he was wearing #78, on February 25, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter #75 Jayson Werth

Phillies 9, Diamondbacks 5
Game 100 - Tuesday Night, July 27th in Philadelphia

The Phillies continued their offensive dominance in the 2nd Greg Gross Era, defeating the hapless D-Backs, 9-5. Cole Hamels labored through his 5 innings of work, throwing over 30 pitches in the first inning alone. He left the game with his team trailing, 3-2, after allowing 6 hits, 4 walks and hitting 2 batters. On a positive note, he did manage to strike out 8. The Phillies' pitchers didn't pitch all that well, loading the bases in 4 different innings, but I do believe the Diamondbacks are just that bad.

The Phillies roughed up a succession of Diamondbacks' pitchers, starting with former Phillie Rodrigo Lopez. They made it look easy with three 2-run home runs in consecutive innings - Jayson Werth (14) in the 5th, Ryan Howard (23) in the 6th and Cody Ransom (2) in the 7th. It was Werth's first homer in about a month. Also of note - With 2 more hits tonight out of the 3-hole, Raul Ibañez is now hitting .367 (18 for 49) in his last 18 games.

With the Braves losing tonight, the Phils climbed to within 3½ games of the NL East leaders - the closest they've been since the end of June.

Injury Report: Jimmy Rollins sat out the game with a bruised foot and Shane Victorino left the game in the 7th with a left oblique strain. And the image of Ruben Amaro, Jr. calling Allentown to tell Domonic Brown to drive down to Philly for tomorrow night's game just popped into my head.

Diamondbacks at Phillies: July 27th through July 29th

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 7:05

Records: Diamondbacks 37-62, 5th Place in NL West (22 games behind the Padres); Phillies 53-46, 2nd Place in NL East (4½ games behind the Braves)

22 games back? Really? I had no idea the Diamondbacks were that awful this year, even though they fired manager A.J. Hinch earlier this month. Their top pitcher, Dan Haren, was just traded to the Angels and interim manager Kirk Gibson has a bunch of guys on this team I've honestly never heard of. They're certainly a long way away from the purple and gold glory years of Curt Schilling.

1999 Pacific Aurora #144 Curt Schilling

Diamondbacks Probables: Rodrigo Lopez, Edwin Jackson, Joe Saunders
Phillies Probables: Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Kyle Kendrick

Monday, July 26, 2010

2010 Upper Deck #332 Brian Schneider

Phillies 5, Rockies 4
Game 99 - Monday Afternoon, July 26th in Philadelphia

I'm not one to whine or complain about my chosen professional on a blog about the Phillies and their baseball cards, but there are definitely some days when I wish I had chosen the path of professional pumpkin farmer over the path I ended up walking. I had tickets to this afternoon's Phillies game but I ended up intermittently watching the action on ESPN's Gamecast instead of basking in the sun and enjoying a Phillies win and series sweep over the Rockies in person. Joe Blanton's mug shot mocked my decision to skip the game and tend to my professional duties each time I checked in on the game action. "Deadlines? What deadlines?," he seemed to query each time I alt-tabbed over to the game. "Look at me," he continued, "I had an ERA over six coming into this game and I'm not worried in the least. There you sit at your desk, muttering to yourself about the ineptitude of [REDACTED FOR JOB SECURITY PURPOSES] and here I am, pitching 6 innings, working just over 90 minutes, and not having a care in the world."

Phone ringing, e-mails piling up, I alt-tabbed over again to see Jimmy Rollins knowingly staring back at me. "You should have been here today, Jim," he said. "The 2nd inning was nuts! Rockies' outfielders running into one another, Brian Schneider actually being credited with a triple, Rockies' infielders throwing the ball around. I bet your little Gamecast summary doesn’t show that, does it?" It doesn't, Jimmy. It certainly doesn't. My last check of the action this afternoon showed the Phils had squeaked by with a 1-run victory after Brad Lidge gave up a 2-run home run to Seth Smith and then loaded the bases before retiring the final batter. I wonder if Lidge ever wishes he had become a pumpkin farmer?

(And to top it all off, I don't even have any other decent 2010 baseball cards of Schneider. He's got a Chachi card, the Phils' team issued card, and this cruddy Upper Deck card featuring him with the Mets. Cheerful posts to return tomorrow.)

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Black #173 Jimmy Rollins

Phillies 4, Rockies 3
Game 98 - Sunday Afternoon, July 25th in Philadelphia

On a sweltering day in Philly, the Phils outlasted the Rockies and the thunderstorms to win their 6th straight home game. The win, coupled with a Braves' loss, pulled the team to within 5 of the division leaders.

J.A. Happ started his first Major League game since April 15th, lasting 5 innings and leaving the game with his team trailing, 3-2. The Phils were on the board as a result of Ben Francisco's 2-run home run in the 2nd, but the Rockies had countered with 3 runs of their own. The Phils squandered scoring opportunities in the 4th and 5th before heavy thunderstorms halted play for 99 minutes.

In the 7th, pinch-hitter Wilson Valdez led off with a double and came around to score the tying run when Jimmy Rollins singled to left. Rollins then single-handedly manufactured the go-ahead run with his base running skills. Having advanced to second on left-fielder Carlos Gonzalez' error, Rollins then stole 3rd base. He alertly scooted home with the team's 4th run of the day following a Rafael Betancourt wild pitch. The Rockies' pitcher appeared to have forgotten Rollins was on third and he neglected to cover home plate.

Brad Lidge did his thing, loading the bases in the 9th just to make it interesting, before striking out Ian Stewart to end the game and earn his 9th save.

Trade Winds: Scouts from the Astros, Rays, Giants and Pirates were at the Phillies game this afternoon, allegedly to gather intel on Happ and Jayson Werth.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter Relics #AGR-RH Ryan Howard

Phillies 10, Rockies 2
Game 97 - Saturday Night, July 24th in Philadelphia

The day and night were mostly a joyous blur, as we celebrated my sister's wedding yesterday. At some point, someone at the reception informed me the Phils had just scored 7 runs in the 3rd, knocking out Rockies' ace Ubaldo Jimenez in the process. It seemed too good to be true, but fortunately the report turned out to be accurate.

When the dust had settled, my dancing feet hurt, and the Phils' bats had come to life for the second straight game. Ryan Howard started the party in Philly with a 3-run triple in the 3rd, right around the time the members of the wedding party were gearing up to be introduced in the reception hall. By the time the bride and groom were enjoying their first dance, Jimmy Rollins had added a 2-run triple and it was 7-0 Phils. The suddenly hot Raul Ibañez contributed a 2-run home run, his 8th, in the 6th inning.

Kyle Kendrick returned to the rotation, pitching 7 strong innings and allowing just 1 run on 6 hits for his 6th win of the season. In his Major League debut, Vance Worley pitched a scoreless 9th for the Phillies. Worley will eventually be card #45 in this year's Chachi set.

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter #163 Raul Ibañez

Phillies 6, Rockies 0
Game 96 - Friday Night, July 23rd in Philadelphia

While we rehearsed for my sister's wedding, the Phillies offense decided to make an appearance. I may have checked the score a few times on my BlackBerry, and I may have been surprised and slightly shocked to see the team put up a 5-spot in the 5th inning. New hitting coach Greg Gross must be a genius!

Raul Ibañez started the scoring when he doubled home Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco, who had both reached on singles. Ibañez advanced to third on a Ryan Howard single and eventually came in to score on a Jayson Werth sac fly. Ross Gload then connected for his 4th home run of the year, giving Roy Halladay all the run support he'd need. They added a run in the 8th when Ibañez once again drove in Rollins with a single. Rollins had doubled to reach.

Halladay held the Rockies to just 5 singles in his 8 scoreless innings of work while striking out 9. If it were a season in which the offense was performing up its to expectations, Halladay would be the featured baseball card for this post. However, given how little chance I've had to post baseball cards from the team's hitters, Ibañez gets the nod here.

Miguel Cairo (#9) and Paul Bako (#23) make appearances in this year's Allen & Ginter set on Ibañez' card. I'm sure this trio didn't appear in too many games together in 2009, so it shouldn't be too hard to figure out which game this picture comes from. Anyone want to take a shot at it?

Scrapbook Sunday: August 3, 1990

1990 Score Rookie/Traded #31T Dale Murphy

20 years ago, the Phillies added a Murphy to their stable, acquiring former perennial All-Star Dale Murphy from the Atlanta Braves. It was an exciting week for this young(er) Phillies fan, as the team was on a fast pace to nowhere during the '90 season, but this move at least created a buzz for a few weeks. With no internet or 24-hour sports channels, I had to wait for the Phillies pre-game show on the radio to learn of the trade. Additionally, with no graphic design software readily available on my Commodore 64, I had to make due with changing the logo on Murphy's Braves' hat the old-fashioned way - scissors and paste. And I guess back then the Phillies logo was featured slightly off-center on the team's hats.

As mentioned previously, my sister became Mrs. Murphy this weekend and baseball took a back seat to the weekend's festivities. Our family came together to celebrate and a splendid time was had by all. Unfortunately, my new cousin Dale couldn't make it to the reception.

Friday, July 23, 2010

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter #29 Cole Hamels

Phillies 2, Cardinals 0 (11 Innings)
Game 95 - Thursday Afternoon, July 22nd in St. Louis

It took 11 shutout innings and 12 Phillies hits, but the Phils managed to salvage a game in St. Louis, winning the final game of a 4-game series. Cole Hamels continued his mid-season brilliance, but he earned another no decision for his efforts. Hamels threw 8 innings, allowing just a Matt Holliday single to lead off the 5th, while striking out 7. He's started 5 games so far in July, pitching to a 1-1 record with a 1.72 ERA. The bullpen (Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin and Brad Lidge) continued to baffle the Cardinals' batters after Hamels departed, no-hitting the Redbirds over the final 3 frames. I actually saw on the MLB Network's screen crawl that it was the first time a team had been held to just 1 hit in at least 11 innings since 1962.

The Phillies' offense sputtered along through the first 10 innings, leaving men in scoring position in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 8th innings. (They also left the bases loaded in the 11th.) In the 11th, they finally broke through when Placido Polanco homered to start the inning and Jayson Werth doubled home Raul Ibañez, who had reached on a walk. The 2 runs scored in the 11th inning would be the final 2 runs scored during the Milt Thompson era, as the team relieved their hitting coach of his duties following the game.

Rockies at Phillies: July 23rd through July 26th

Friday 7:05, Saturday 4:10, Sunday 1:35, Monday 1:05

Records: Rockies 51-44, 3rd Place in NL West (4½ games behind the Padres); Phillies 49-46, 2nd Place in NL East (7 games behind the Braves)

Murphy's Law: This is a big weekend for our family as my sister is getting married and she'll be taking the last name of her husband - Murphy. I've done a little research (very little) and I could not turn up any genealogical connection between my sister's new husband's family and the family of long-time Brave and short-time Phillie, Dale Murphy. (Murphy was even a Rockie for a very short time - 26 games in 1993.) However, that will not stop me from declaring that I think we are now somehow related, if and when it ever comes up in conversation.

1991 Studio #220 Dale Murphy

Goodbye Milt: The Phillies fired their hitting coach, Milt Thompson, last night in the hopes of providing a "new voice" for the Phillies' hitters. Thompson was gracious in his exit, realizing this was more of a last-ditch effort to jump start an anemic offense than it was a reflection on his hard work. Former Phillie Greg Gross, who had been serving as the AAA IronPigs' hitting coach, and who held the same position with the Phillies under manager Larry Bowa, assumes the duties of swinging and miss-, I mean hitting coach.

Rockies Probables: Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Francis, Jason Hammel

Thursday, July 22, 2010

1988 Chef Boyardee #14 Mike Schmidt

Cardinals 5, Phillies 1
Game 94 - Wednesday Night, July 21th in St. Louis

Well I certainly picked a good week, baseball-wise, to be out of town. The Phillies didn't do anything to make me wish I had been able to watch these games.

What a complete and total steaming mess. I'm talking about the Phillies' state of play of course, and not a bowl of your favorite Chef Boyardee product. (Or am I?) After a 40-minute rain delay, the Phillies continued their march towards mediocrity with a 5-1 loss in St. Louis. Still 7 back, and 3 games above .500, they've lost 5 of 6 since the All-Star break. If not for Geovany Soto's dropped ball at home plate on Saturday, they'd be staring at a 6-game losing streak.

They had their chances in tonight's game, but Charlie Manuel made a questionable decision in the 7th that could have cost them. With the bases loaded and two outs, Manuel allowed pitcher Joe Blanton to bat for himself. Blanton struck out swinging on 3 pitches and the rally was over. Immediately afterwards, he surrendered a home run to Matt Holliday on the first pitch he threw in the bottom of the 7th, making it 2-1 Cardinals. The Phils had another chance to score in the 8th, but Jayson Werth (Mr. Anti-Clutch this year) grounded out with runners at 1st to 3rd to end the threat.

With Werth rumored to be heading out of town to Tampa Bay, could this have been his final at-bat as a Phillie? (Edit: It wasn't.)

Ending on a Positive Note: Ryan Howard's solo home run in the 5th tied the game up at 1-all and moved him into sole possession of 4th place on the Phils' all-time home run list. It was his 244th, moving him past Hall of Famer Chuck Klein and putting him within reach of Pat Burrell's 3rd place total of 251.

1988 Topps Woolworth #10 Steve Bedrosian

Cardinals 7, Phillies 1
Game 93 - Tuesday Night, July 20th in St. Louis

I've been out of town for work . . . Yet I somehow still feel the need to post these miserable game summaries. What is wrong with me?

With trade rumors swirling (Ben Sheets?) and the starting rotation shook up (welcome back to Allentown, Kyle Kendrick), the Phillies continued their mediocre ways, losing for the 4th time in 5 games. The team managed just 3 hits through the first 6 innings, before back-to-back doubles from Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino in the 7th resulted in their first, and only, run.

Starter Jamie Moyer left the game with an elbow strain after the 1st inning, yielding to the just recalled Drew Carpenter. Carpenter allowed 3 runs over 3 innings as he was saddled with his first Major League loss. Before signing off for the night, radio announcer Larry Andersen summed up the teams' (and their fans') complete befuddlement with the simple question, "Where do we go from here?" (Perhaps a quick trip to Woolworth?)

With the loss, the Phils fall to a season-worse 7 games behind the division leading Braves, and even the NL Wild Card seems like a distant daydream at this point.

1988 Topps Rite-Aid Team MVP's #8 Mike Schmidt

Cardinals 8, Phillies 4
Game 92 - Monday Night, July 19th in St. Louis

I'm catching up after being out of town this week for work.

The headline on the Phillies home page said it all: "Kendrick unravels in 5th as Phillies fall." I listened to most of the Phillies game on Monday night during a 2+ hour drive up the New Jersey Turnpike. The drive started pleasantly enough, as the Phillies uncharacteristically scored 3 runs in the top of the 1st to take an early lead. The key hit in the inning was a clutch 2-out, 2-run single from Shane Victorino. So far, so good.

Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick allowed a pair of Cardinals' runs in the first two innings, but he seemed to calm down in the 3rd and 4th innings. As the Phillies' radio broadcast began to fade into the distance, I noticed storm clouds forming further up the Turnpike. By the time I found the Cardinals' radio feed on XM, the Cardinals had scored another run and it was 4-3 Phillies. And then the skies opened, the rain fell and Kendrick imploded all at once. Kind of symbolic, isn't it? Kendrick allowed 3 home runs in the inning to Albert Pujols, Allen Craig (his first in the Majors) and Skip Schumaker, and the Cardinals led 7-4.

I drove the rest of the way in the rain, checked into my hotel room, and watched the last few innings of ESPN's broadcast. The offense managed 13 hits, but most of the them were left stranded on the basepaths. In the end, the 4 runs managed by the Phils weren't enough to overcome Kendrick's 5th inning unraveling.

Time to Shave the Beard?: Per Todd Zolecki's Twitter feed - Jayson Werth is hitting .165 (13 for 79) with runners in scoring position. That's 118th out of 119 players in the NL. And he got himself picked off tonight in the 3rd, just to rub salt in the wound.

On a completely random note, I'm going to continue posting oddball drug store/food issued baseball cards from 1988 until the Phils win another game.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2010 Chachi #30 Nelson Figueroa

Recently designated for assignment for the second time this year, Nelson Figueroa is card #30 in this year's Chachi set. Nelson joined the team on the third day of the 2010 season, having been claimed off waivers from the Mets. He served as the team's long man and he made a spot start back in May against the Diamondbacks. When Brad Lidge was activated from the DL at the end of May, Figueroa's roster spot was needed and he was designated for assignment for the first time. He made it back to the Majors in late June when Chad Durbin was disabled, but he found himself without a roster spot again upon Durbin's return last week.

Phillies debut: May 15, 2001
Major League debut: June 3, 2000
How acquired: Claimed off waivers from the New York Mets, April 7, 2010
Others wearing #44 in the 2000s: Carlos Reyes 2000, Vicente Padilla 2001-2005, Julio Santana 2006, Yoel Hernandez 2007, Les Walrond 2008
Pictured: In action against the Nationals, his first game back with the Phillies, April 8, 2010.

Edit: Figueroa was claimed by the Houston Astros off waivers today and he's now an ex-Phillie for the second time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2010 Chachi #28 Davey Lopes

First base coach Davey Lopes gets his own Chachi card this year, #28 in the set, because there wasn't enough room to fit the floating heads of all the team's coaches on Charlie Manuel's manager card. (This card is coming soon, as soon as I have a chance to finish up the back of the card.) Hitting coach Milt Thompson is the other coach getting his own solo card in this year's set.

Lopes is also the team's baserunning coach, a job that must be a little boring this year given the complete dearth of Phillies' baserunners in most of the team's games.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Phillies at Cardinals: July 19th through 22nd

Monday 7:05, Tuesday & Wednesday 8:15, Thursday 2:15

Records: Phillies 48-43, 3rd Place in the NL East (5½ games behind the Braves); Cardinals 51-41, 1st Place in the NL Central (½ game ahead of the Reds)

1971 Topps #55 Steve Carlton

It certainly doesn't get any easier for the Phillies with this 4-game series against the new team atop the NL Central. When the Phils hosted the Cardinals back in May, I included a '67 Topps Steve Carlton baseball card in the series preview post. The Phils went on to win 3 out of the 4 games in that series. I'm going to try the same thing this time around, this time with a '71 Topps card of Lefty.

On a related note, 2010 was supposed to be the year I turned my attention back to my long-neglected '71 Topps project. Entering the year, I needed approximately two-thirds of the set - 271 cards - to wrap up the complete set. To date, I've added exactly zero (0) cards to the set, and I have yet to attend a baseball card show this year. I know I could pick up a nice lot of cards either through eBay or Checkoutmycards, but it's just so much more satisfying collecting a set by attending baseball card shows. Maybe in the fall there will be a nice baseball card show nearby.

Cardinals Probables: Blake Hawksworth, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright

1988 Topps Revco League Leaders #10 Kent Tekulve

Cubs 11, Phillies 6
Game 91 - Sunday Night, July 18th in Chicago

There's a palpable difference between following the 2010 Phillies and following the 2008 or 2009 Phillies. In '08 and '09, it was fun to watch the Phillies and each game started with a feeling the Phils were going to win. And if the team got behind early, you just had a feeling they would somehow rally to win the game. In '10, that feeling is gone. There's a sense going into each game that we'll be lucky if the team manages to score 2 or 3 or (gasp!) 4 runs. And if they get behind - forget about it, the game is probably over. Some may call that pessimism, but I call it being a Phillies fan in 2010.

In front of a national audience on ESPN last night, the Phillies bared their weaknesses for all to see: not covering bases, throwing to the wrong base, dropping foul pop ups, bouncing throws, swinging at first pitches after the previous batter had walked and looking downright dejected throughout the course of the game. At least no one was thrown out on the basepaths tonight. Roy Halladay was off. He didn't have his stuff, and he got frustrated early with the home plate umpire. Four Cubs runs scored in the 2nd, and I, along with most of the Phillies line-up it seems, checked out.

When it was all over, Halladay had his 8th loss of the year and relievers J.C. Romero and David Herndon had managed to put the game completely out of reach. Late home runs from Greg Dobbs, Ryan Howard and Ben Francisco made the final score of 11-6 a little easier to stomach, but this game was never really even close.

These are not good times for the Phillies or their fans. I'm featuring a Kent Tekulve baseball card just to brighten this place up a little today. Hopefully Teke can stop by the nearest Revco this afternoon and pick up a prescription for what's ailing the Phils.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter Autographs #AGA-PP Placido Polanco

Phillies 4, Cubs 1
Game 90 - Saturday Afternoon, July 17th in Chicago

We listened to yesterday afternoon's Phillies game while driving home from an out of town wedding. (It was a long drive.) For the first hour-plus of the drive, we listened to the Cubs' radio broadcast team of Pat Hughes and Ron Santo call the game on XM. I love these guys. I almost didn't mind the Phillies weren't winning through the first half of the game, just because it was so pleasant to listen to the play-by-play of Hughes and the commentary of Santo. The rapport between the two is so genuine, and these guys love the Cubbies so much, I almost didn't want to switch over to the Phillies broadcast once we got into range of 1210 AM.

For the second straight game, Cole Hamels pitched like a staff ace. He scattered 8 Cubs' hits over 7 innings of work, and allowed just 1 run in his last inning of work. He worked out of a 1st and 3rd situation in the 4th and the radio broadcasters (both Cubs' and Phillies') commented on how well he was locating his pitches. The offense couldn't push across any runs against Randy Wells and the Cubs' bullpen through the first 8 innings, depsite the fact they had baserunners in every inning.

This game should have resulted in a Cubs' 1-0 W, but Cubs' closer Carlos Marmol had different plans. Pinch hitters Brian Schneider and Ross Gload drew consecutive walks with 1 out. After Shane Victorino struck out for the 2nd out of the inning, Placido Polanco came through with a clutch single to left. Schneider should have been out at the plate on the throw from left fielder Tyler Colvin, but catcher Geovany Soto just couldn't handle the ball and Schneider slid home with the tying run. Ball four delivered to the next batter, Jimmy Rollins, bounced past Soto for a wild pitch and Gload came home with the go-ahead run. Two more walks and four batters later, the Phils exited the top of the 9th with a surprising 4-1 lead, nicely gift-wrapped by Marmol. It was ugly, but we'll take it.

Scrapbook Sunday: July 16, 1985

1986 Donruss All-Stars #26 Ozzie Virgil

In his first All-Star Game appearance, catcher Ozzie Virgil was one of the stars of the game for the National League. In the top of the 5th inning, Virgil singled off Bert Blyleven to score Darryl Strawberry and Tim Wallach, giving the NL a 4-1 lead. The NL would go on to win, 6-1. Virgil would make the NL squad again in 1987, this time as a member of the Braves.

In 1985, the NL was at the tail-end of their dominance in the All-Star Game. Beginning in 1986, the American League would win (or tie) 20 of the next 25 games.

Outfielder Glenn Wilson was also named to the NL team, replacing an injured Pedro Guerrero on the roster. However, he never made it into the game, seriously bumming out my younger self.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

2010 Chachi #26 Phillies Team

The Chachi set's annual Phillies team card is always the hardest card for me to put together. But a good team set has to have a team card, right? The tough part is finding a usable picture each year. The Yearbooks don't feature team pictures any more, and my best bet is waiting for the team's annual Photo Day as a team picture is usually the giveaway for all fans attending. I got desperate back in 2006 and went with the old floating heads-style team card, an idea I stole from the Cubs.

(Quick side note - The year's Photo Day is next Saturday, July 24th, and once again the Phillies are giving away a team photo. If anyone reading this attends that game and picks up an extra, I will gladly trade you some baseball cards of your choosing for your extra team photo. If you don't collect baseball cards, I will gladly mention you fondly on this blog in exchange for said team photo.)

In any event, this year's team photo is actually last year's team photo. I scanned the picture from the Phillies' 2009 Division Series program. That's the reason for the line down the middle, and the reason why Cliff Lee and Pedro Feliz, among other ex-Phillies, make appearances even though they're long gone. If I track down a 2010 team photo, I'll certainly update this card and the 2009 NLDS team photo version will become a rare Chachi set variation, highly sought by baseball card collectors worldwide.

1974 Topps #383 Phillies Team

1974 vs. 2010: I thought it was interesting to see how many of the team's single season records had fallen since 1974. Chuck Klein and Lefty O'Doul still hold many of the single season offensive records, while Grover Cleveland Alexander's single season pitching records will most likely never be surpassed. Curiously, Richie Allen and Johnny Callison are listed as having played 163 games in 1964 on the back of the 1974 baseball card, but Baseball Reference only credits both players with 162 games that season. What happened to the 163rd game? (Click to enlarge all images.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

2003 eTopps #14 Marlon Byrd

Cubs 4, Phillies 3
Game 89 - Friday Afternoon, July 16th in Chicago

Professional obligations (aka work crap) kept me from following much of today's matinee in the Windy City, which is probably for the best. From what I could gather from MLB Gameday, Joe Blanton pitched a decent game for 7 innings, yielding to the bullpen in the 8th with the score tied, 3-3. Ryan Madson entered the game and recorded two outs before surrendering a home run to Aramis Ramirez. Hopefully, there were no metal folding chairs in Madson's way as he exited the field. Carlos Marmol came on in the top of the 9th, striking out the side and the ballgame was over.

Shane Victorino (15) and Ryan Howard (20) hit a couple of homers, but the rest of the line-up managed only 2 other hits against Cubs' starter Ted Lilly. The Phils are now back to 6 back in the NL East, and that tally could increase to 6½ with a Braves win tonight.

What does this all mean? It means the Phillies need to start winning. It also means another Marlon Byrd baseball card from 2003. And this one's shiny.

(Edit: I just read the game summary, and Joe Blanton walked the pitcher with the bases loaded in the 5th inning. I'd like to take back my assessment of his performance as "decent.")

2003 Ultra #45 Marlon Byrd

Cubs 12, Phillies 6
Game 88 - Thursday Night, July 15th in Chicago

So pretty much all the excitement surrounding the start of the 2nd half was gone by the end of the 3rd inning of last night's match-up. By then, the Cubs were ahead, 6-2, and Jamie Moyer had been knocked out of the ballgame after his second straight rough outing. Moyer allowed 6 runs on 5 hits, including a couple of home runs to Derek Lee and Alfonso Soriano. He also hit a few batters, just for good measure.

It started off looking good for the Phils when Ryan Howard crushed a ball in the 1st for a 2-run home run, his 18th of the season. But those would be the only runs scored by the team until they pushed across four in the 9th, capped by Howard's 19th home run. Overall it was a dreadful way to kick of the 2nd half.

Other Game Stuff: Jose Contreras was absolutely lit up in the 7th, allowing 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning and putting the game out of reach. Wilson Valdez (.256) now has a higher batting average than Jimmy Rollins (.248), Shane Victorino (.252) and Raul Ibañez (.246). Current Cub All-Star Marlon Byrd didn't do much in this game, but since half my 2003 Phillies baseball card binder is comprised of his cards, I thought I'd feature another one of his gems. It's the least I could do for a guy hit by pitches twice last night.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Phillies at Cubs: July 15th through July 18th

Thursday 8:05, Friday 2:20, Saturday 1:05, Sunday 8:05

Records: Phillies 47-40, 3rd Place in the NL East (4½ games behind the Braves); Cubs 39-50, 4th Place in the NL Central (9½ games behind the Reds)

Play Ball!: The All-Star Game is great and all, but I always go through just a little bit of withdrawal without my daily Phillies fix during the break. The Phils open the second half with 8 straight against the Cubs and Cardinals, and their next day off isn't until August 2nd. This is a key stretch for a team that has traditionally played their best in the 2nd half. In case you were wondering, the Braves open the 2nd half with 7 against the Brewers and Padres in Atlanta.

2003 Diamond Kings Diamond Cut Collection #DC-5 Marlon Byrd

It's nice to see Marlon Byrd finally live up to the potential the Phillies thought he had back in the early 2000s. Byrd toiled with the Nationals and Rangers before latching on this offseason with the Cubs. He's 5th in the NL in batting average (.317), 3rd in hits (105) and tops in doubles (27). Jenna and I were at the Phillies game back on May 14, 2005, when the side scoreboard flashed that Byrd had just been traded by the Phils to the Nationals for Endy Chavez. A small murmer went through the crowd, but no one got too excited. Who knew that Byrd would be patrolling the outfield in the All-Star Game 5 years later?

Cubs Probables: Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Randy Wells, Tom Gorzelanny

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2009 Topps Heritage #222 Charlie Manuel MG

NL All-Stars 3, AL All-Stars 1
All-Star Game - Tuesday Night, July 13th in Anaheim

Charlie Manuel's National League All-Star squad won for the first time since 1996, ensuring home field advantage in the World Series for the senior circuit. It was a pitcher's dual for most of the night, as both teams were held at bay by the Majors' most dominant pitchers. The big blow was Brian McCann's 3-run double in the 7th, scoring Matt Holliday and former Phillies Scott Rolen and Marlon Byrd. Byrd also made one of the defensive plays of the games, throwing out David Ortiz at 2nd for the key 2nd out in the bottom of the 9th.

The Phillies' All-Stars had a quiet night. I thought Chase Utley, voted to start at 2nd for the NL All-Stars, would have made an appearance in Anaheim, but he was no where to be found during the pre-game introductions. Ryan Howard, the starting DH for the NL, went 0 for 2. He struck out swinging in the 1st against the Rays' David Price.

New Ranger Cliff Lee entered to pitch in the 4th, and Tim McCarver, for some reason while interviewing AL manager Joe Girardi, felt the need to discuss the fact that Lee had rented Jamie Moyer's house in Seattle. Lee got Howard to ground to second to end the 4th, and the slugger's night was over. (He was on-deck in the 6th when Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to end the inning.)

Roy Halladay faced three batters and threw 17 pitches in the 6th. He allowed a single to Derek Jeter, struck out Paul Konerko swinging and allowed a single to Josh Hamilton before being lifted for Matt Capps.

2010 All-Star Game JimFest: Jenna outdid herself this year, bringing home BJ Roasters' wings (South Jersey's best, in my humble opinion) for our All-Star Game feast. For the 10th year in a row, I kept score during the All-Star Game. I don't get a chance to keep score at Phillies games much any more (given the current toddler challenges), so it was nice to break out the old score book for a night.

2010 Chachi Set: I'll be adding All-Star cards for Manuel, Utley, Howard and Halladay to this year's Chachi set. The 1974 Topps All-Star cards feature both AL and NL counterparts at each position on the same card. I'm going to combine the four Phillies on two cards, since I'm not about to put stinkin' Joe Girardi in my baseball card set.

Go National League!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All-Star Game: July 13th

Tuesday 8:00

Records: National League 40-38-2; American League 38-40-2

Current Phillies at the All-Star Game: Chase Utley was elected by the fans to start at 2nd base for the NL All-Stars, but his bum thumb will keep him out of the game. Manager Charlie Manuel tabbed "his guy" Ryan Howard to bat 4th and DH for the NL squad. And staff ace Roy Halladay, playing for his first NL team, may face a few AL batters in relief.

Former Phillies at the All-Star Game: Scott Rolen - Reds (1996-2002); Michael Bourn - Astros (2006-2007); Marlon Byrd - Cubs (2002-2005); Arthur Rhodes - Reds (2006); Cliff Lee - Rangers (2009)

1989 Score Hottest 100 Stars #76 Mike Schmidt

It's a Small World After All: This is the third time the Angels have hosted the All-Star Game. In 1967, the NL squad overcame the AL squad in the 15th inning to win, 2-1, when Tony Perez homered off Catfish Hunter. Richie Allen started at 3rd for the NL All-Stars, going 1 for 4 and scoring the NL's first run in the 2nd with a solo home run off Dean Chance. Reliever Chris Short pitched two scoreless frames in the 9th and 10th innings.

In 1989, Mike Schmidt was elected to start at 3rd for the NL All-Stars, despite the fact he had retired a few months earlier. Von Hayes was added as a reserve to the squad, and he replaced starter Eric Davis in center field in the 7th inning. Hayes had one at-bat, singling off Dan Plesac in the 8th. The NL would fall to the AL, 5-3, thanks in part to Bo Jackson's 2 RBIs.

NL Probable: Ubaldo Jimenez
AL Probable: David Price

Monday, July 12, 2010

2006 Topps Update & Highlights #UH283 Ryan Howard

Am I somehow less of a baseball fan because I find the Home Run Derby to be extremely boring? Is it wrong that I muted the telecast after the first hour because I had had enough of Chris Berman, Joe Morgan and Bobby Valentine?

Granted, I've gotten into the thing whenever there have been Phillies competing. But the closest we got to Phillie participation this year was when Ryan Howard, the derby's 2006 winner, stopped by to schmooze with Boomer and the gang.

National League manager Charlie Manuel announced his line-up this afternoon, and Howard will bat 4th and DH for the NL squad tomorrow night. And this time it counts.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2010 Topps #70 Cole Hamels

Phillies 1, Reds 0
Game 87 - Sunday Afternoon, July 11th in Philadelphia

The Phils ended the symbolic first half of the 2010 season on a high note, completing a 4-game sweep of the Reds behind the fine pitching of Cole Hamels. It was the team's first 4-game sweep of the Reds since May 1975, and the first time the Phillies had won back-to-back 1-0 games since 1913. Hamels pitched 7.2 innings, allowing 6 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3. He loaded the bases in the 4th, but kept his cool and worked out the jam without allowing a run.

Carlos Ruiz doubled to start the 3rd - his third straight double in as many at-bats. He came around to score the game's lone run on a Jimmy Rollins single.

The win moved the Phillies to within 4½ games of the Braves and to within a ½ game of the 2nd place Mets. Most of the team will scatter for the next few days, but manager Charlie Manuel, his coaching staff, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay will head to Anaheim for the annual Mid-Summer Classic. I love the All-Star Game, and I'll admit I'm a little giddy.

Scrapbook Sunday: August 7, 1991

1991 Leaf #412 Dale Murphy

Last night, the Phillies won their 3rd straight extra-inning game, the first time they've ever performed that feat at home. The last time the team won 3 straight extra innings games was back in August 1991.

The first win came in Montreal on August 4th when Dale Murphy (pinch hitting for Darren Daulton) drove home Lenny Dykstra in the top of the 10th with a double. It was the 6th win in a row in a streak that would eventually reach 13 games. Extra-inning win number two came two nights later at home when Murphy again came through, this time with a grand slam in the 11th to beat the Cubs, 6-2.

The third extra-inning victory came on the next night, August 7th, when Wes Chamberlain drove home Randy Ready with the winning run again in the 11th.