Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 Topps Archives #45 Carlos Ruiz

Phillies 10, Mets 6
Game 52 – Wednesday Night, May 30th in Flushing
Record – 27-25, 5th Place, 3 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins powered the Phillies past the Mets, 10-6.

What It Means:  If you had told me in spring training that the Phillies would be in last place at the end of May, I would have been distraught.  However, if you then added that they would be only three games out of first place while Ryan Howard and Chase Utley had yet to play a game, and while Cliff Lee had yet to win a game despite pitching very well, I'd be relieved and even somewhat hopeful.

Of course, if you had then told me about Roy Halladay's injury, I’d go back to feeling distraught.  This season is messing with me emotionally.

What Went Right:  It was a pitcher's duel through six innings until Ruiz unknotted a 2-2 tie with a two-run, pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning.  Chooch's heroics were made possible by Brian Schneider's two-out double to keep the inning alive.  The Phillies poured on six runs in the ninth, capped by Rollins' three-run home run.  Ty Wigginton homered in the second to start the scoring for the Phils.

Lee, still winless on the season, pitched another solid ballgame.  He scattered seven hits over six innings while allowing three runs and striking out seven.

Featured Card:  At the rate Ruiz is producing, I'm going to run out of his 2012 baseball cards to display.  This is his latest cardboard offering, from the recently released Topps Archives set.  The card is very good reproduction (smaller size notwithstanding) of a 1954 Topps-style card.  If they awarded a team MVP trophy for April and May, Ruiz would be the unanimous choice.

2012 Chachi #22 Michael Stutes

Michael Christopher Stutes
Relief Pitcher

Bats: Right  Throws: Right  Height: 6'1"  Weight: 185
Born: September 4, 1986, Lake Oswego, OR
Home: Lake Oswego, OR
Drafted: Selected by Phillies in 11th round of June 2008 draft
Teams: Phillies 2011-
Acquired: Via draft
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2012 Chachi Transactions #13 Roy Oswalt

Mets 6, Phillies 3
Game 51 - Tuesday Night, May 29th in Flushing
Record - 26-25, 5th Place, 4 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Joe Blanton got hammered again and the Phillies offense couldn't compensate, as the Mets won, 6-3.

What It Means:  Blanton continues to struggle, just when the Phillies needed him most.  Here's the hard, cold facts from a Todd Zolecki tweet: "Joe Blanton had a 2.81 ERA in his first seven starts.  He has a 12.51 ERA in his last three."

What Went Wrong:  Blanton gave up two home runs, including a solo shot to Mets starting pitcher Jeremy Hefner.  It was Hefner's first big league hit.

Featured Card:  The Phillies news came quickly on Tuesday afternoon.  First, we learned that Roy Halladay would miss 6 to 8 weeks with a strained muscle in his right shoulder.  The good news is that it's not structural, so Doc won't need to go under the knife.  The bad news is that the Phillies will be without Halladay's services until the beginning of August at the earliest.  The word is he's going to be shut down completely for next three weeks.  (Ironically enough, the dire news was delivered exactly two years to the day after this happened.)

Second, Roy Oswalt is officially out of the running to replace Halladay in the rotation as the semi-retired righty signed with the Texas Rangers.  Oswalt returns to the Lone Star state after his brief sojourn in Philly.  On a positive note, at least now Topps will stop including Oswalt Phillies cards in its 2012 releases.  Oswalt had his team option declined way back on October 24th, but that hasn't stopped Topps from including him as a Phillie in their Series One, Opening Day, Heritage, Gypsy Queen and Bowman sets.

Presented here is Oswalt's first unofficial Rangers card and the latest addition to the Chachi Transactions insert set.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

2012 Phillies Team Issue #24 Ty Wigginton

Phillies 8, Mets 4
Game 50 - Monday Afternoon, May 28th in Flushing
Record - 26-24, Tied for 4th Place, 4 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Cole Hamels pitched and Ty Wigginton hit the Phillies to victory on Memorial Day afternoon, defeating the Mets 8-4.

What It Means:  It means the Phillies continue to play well, despite the potentially devastating loss of Roy Halladay.  (Halladay is scheduled to have his sore right shoulder examined today.)

What Went Right:  Wigginton paced the offense with a career-high six RBIs, which included a two-run double in the third and a three-run home run in the ninth.  John Mayberry, Jr. added a two-run home run in the sixth.

Hamels became the first pitcher in the Majors to reach eight wins this year.  He allowed four runs on seven hits (including two home runs) while striking out six.  He was aided in a few spots by more stellar defense from rookie Freddy Galvis.

Featured Card:  This is Wigginton's lone 2012 Phillies baseball card to date.  He's featured in Series One of the Topps release, but as a member of the Rockies - his 2011 team.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Phillies at Mets: May 28th to May 30th

Happy Memorial Day!
Citi Field - Flushing, NY
Monday 1:10, Tuesday and Wednesday 7:10

Phillies 25-24, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 5 games behind the Nationals
Mets 27-21, 2nd Place in the N.L. East, 2 1/2 games behind the Nationals

Phillies Probables:  Cole Hamels (7-1, 2.17), Joe Blanton (4-4, 4.55), Cliff Lee (0-2, 2.82)
Mets Probables:  Jonathon Niese (3-2, 4.29), Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 6.17), Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.92)

At the Ballpark:  The first 25,000 fans today will receive a Mets Fathead.  The Mets website has little detail on this giveaway other than a picture showing what appears to be six different Fathead wall hangings.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Carlos Ruiz - .366
Runs:  Hunter Pence - 33
Home Runs:  Hunter Pence - 11 
RBIs:  Hunter Pence - 30
Stolen Bases:  Shane Victorino - 13

Wins:  Cole Hamels - 7
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 2.17
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 66
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 14

1979 Topps #118 and #305
1979 Topps Flashback:  In March 1978, the Phillies acquired Bud Harrelson from the Mets for Fred Andrews and cash.  Harrelson had spent the first 13 years of his career with the Mets and reunited with his former teammate and friend Tug McGraw, he hit .214 in 71 games with the '78 Phils.

Harrelson retired following the season, but an injury to Larry Bowa, early in the 1979 season, convinced Harrelson to un-retire and come back to the Phillies.  (He became a teammate of former brawl-mate Pete Rose on the 1979 Phillies - see here and here.)  He hit .282 in 53 games, but he was released at the end of spring training in 1980.  He played in 87 games for the 1980 Texas Rangers before calling it a career.

Willie Montanez spent the 1978 and 1979 seasons with the Mets, having playing with the Giants and the Braves following six seasons with the Phillies.  Dick Allen Hall of Fame recently ran a great post on the man I heard my Pop-Pop once refer to as a hot dog.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

1980 SSPC Baseball Immortals #14 Grover Alexander

Cardinals 8, Phillies 3
Game 49 - Sunday Afternoon, May 27th in St. Louis
Record - 25-24, 5th Place, 5 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Roy Halladay left after two innings with a sore right shoulder, making the outcome of the game somewhat meaningless.

What It Means:  Doom and gloom.

What Went Wrong:  Halladay allowed a first inning grand slam to Yadier Molina.  He retired the Cardinals in order in the second, but was then lifted for pinch-hitter Pete Orr in the top of the third.  The early reports were that he left as a precautionary measure after experiencing soreness in his right shoulder.

Juan Pierre had three hits and two RBIs for the Phils.

Featured Card:  Had the Phillies won today, it would have marked their first four-game sweep in St. Louis since August 1913.  Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander went 22-8 for the '13 Phillies.  Although the lack of box scores from that year on either Baseball Reference or Retrosheet makes it difficult to tell if he actually won any of those four games against the Cardinals, I'm assuming he probably did.  I'm in that kind of mood.

2012 Topps Phillies #PHI3 Kyle Kendrick

Phillies 4, Cardinals 0
Game 48 - Saturday Night, May 26th in St. Louis
Record - 25-23, 5th Place, 4 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Kyle Kendrick tossed his first career complete game shutout, as the Phillies defeated the Cardinals, 4-0.

What It Means:  The Phils now have a modest three-game winning streak going and they'll go for the four-game series sweep this afternoon.

What Went Right:  Kendrick needed 94 pitches to limit the Cardinals to seven hits and notch his first career shutout.  He struck out four and added two sac bunts in the efficient effort.  Who knew Kendrick had this in him?

The Phils scored first when Shane Victorino's fourth inning RBI-double drove home Hunter Pence.  They added three more runs in the sixth with the big hit being John Mayberry, Jr.'s two-run double.

Featured Card:  Kendrick hasn't earned much cardboard love over the years, and he's appeared just twice on baseball cards so far in 2012.  Along with the card featured here, Kendrick appears within the team's postcard-sized set for sale at the ballpark.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

2012 Topps Archives #59 Hunter Pence

Phillies 5, Cardinals 3 (10 Innings)
Game 47 - Friday Night, May 25th in St. Louis
Record - 24-23, 5th Place, 4 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phils won in extras behind Hunter Pence's two-run home run as Cliff Lee remains winless on the season.

What It Means:  The Phillies are proving to be a streaky team.  They've now won three in a row and they'll go for the series win tonight.

What Went Right:  Pence's blast broke the slugger out of his recent funk.  He's been just awful recently with runners in scoring position, so hopefully his big hit is the start of something good.

Lee had another fine outing, striking out seven in his seven innings of work.  He could have earned the win if not for a few balls Shane Victorino probably should have caught in the fourth inning.  There was a little tension in the dugout after the inning as cameras caught the two in a heated exchange.

There was also a fantastic defensive play in the eighth that prevented the Cardinals from taking the lead.  Victorino tracked down a double and relayed it to Freddy Galvis who made a perfect throw home to Carlos Ruiz to nail Yadier Molina in a collision at the plate.

Raul Valdes picked up his second win in as many nights after working out of a ninth inning jam.

Featured Card:  My wife rocks.  She picked up a couple of packs of Topps Archives from Target this afternoon and three of the sixteen cards I received were Phillies.  I've read a lot of collectors' complaints about the card stock used for the set, but it doesn't really bother me.  These are fun cards, and if I were to collect one set this year, this would probably be it.  However, the pesky short prints that Topps insists on including within its base sets will most likely once again scare me off.

Friday, May 25, 2012

2012 Phillies Team Issue #13 Freddy Galvis

Phillies 10, Cardinals 9
Game 46 - Thursday Night, May 24th in St. Louis
Record - 23-23, 5th Place, 4 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phils survived a slugfest with the Cardinals, winning 10-9 behind a season high 18 hits.

What It Means:  Life!  From the offense!

What Went Right:  Despite Joe Blanton's best efforts to waste a 6-0 lead heading into the third, the Phillies offense refused to give up during this game.  Freddy Galvis led the way going 3 for 5 with 3 RBIs, including a clutch two-out single in the sixth that broke a 7-7 tie.  Shane Victorino also drove in three runs, while Placido Polanco, Carlos Ruiz and Ty Wigginton all enjoyed three-hit nights.

Featured Card:  Message to Topps - Start putting Galvis in your sets.  Note to self - Procure one of Galvis' cards from either 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects or 2009 Bowman Sterling.  To date, this is Galvis' lone 2012 baseball card, found within the team-issued postcard-sized set.

2012 Topps Gypsy Queen Mini #30 Cole Hamels

Regular and Retro Uni variation
Phillies 4, Nationals 1
Game 45 - Wednesday Night, May 23rd in Philadelphia
Record - 22-23, 5th Place, 4 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Cole Hamels no-hit the Nationals through five innings, helping to salvage the final game of the series, 4-1.

What It Means:  It means the losing streak is over and the Phillies avoided the sweep from the Nationals.  It also means that Hamels has cemented himself as the most reliable starting pitcher (by far) at this point in the season.  Hamels, in his contract year, is positioning himself for a crazy payday following the season.

What Went Right:  Hamels pitched eight shutout innings, striking out eight, on the way to his seventh win of the season.

Mike Fontenot, filling in at second due to Freddy Galvis' shift to short as a result of Jimmy Rollins' paternity leave (got that?), drove in the team's first run in the second with an RBI-single.  He'd later score in the seventh on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze on a bunt laid down by Juan Pierre.  Shane Victorino added an RBI-double and a solo home run in the eighth.  Carlos Ruiz, batting clean-up for the first time, had another 3-hit night, raising his average to .357.

Featured Cards:  Slow down Topps!  I've barely digested the Gypsy Queen release and I'm trying to play catch up with the recently released Bowman and Topps Archives sets.  The Topps Archives set particularly intrigues me as its pays tribute to various Topps baseball card designs from yesteryear.

So while most of the blogosphere is showing off their new Archives cards, featured here are two Hamels mini cards from the Gypsy Queen release.  Thanks to this handy checklist over at 14,000 Phillies, I was able to successfully piece together all the mini card variations I'd need to obtain a complete Phillies team set.

2001 Topps Traded Who Would Have Thought #WWHT16 Dale Murphy

Nationals 5, Phillies 2
Game 44 – Tuesday Night, May 22nd in Philadelphia
Record – 21-23, 5th Place 5 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Roy Halladay was treated poorly by the Nationals' bats as the Phillies' bats decided once again to take the night off and the team dropped their fourth in a row, 5-2.

What It Means:  It means I'm starting to suspect this just isn't going to be the Phillies year.  Jim from Downingtown summed up my feelings perfectly in the comment he left in one of my prior posts saying, "As long as the team (and coaching staff) foster the 'let's just tread water until we get our guys back' mindset (instead of stepping up to fill the void themselves (and EARN their paychecks, by the way), this team will continue to be mediocre."  Agreed.

What Went Wrong:  When your offensive stars are Hector Luna and Erik Kratz, and I mean absolutely no offense to those guys, it's time to worry.  The Phillies were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position, leaving nine men on base.  The two bright spots were Luna's RBI-double in the 2nd and Kratz's first career home run in the eighth.

Halladay had another pedestrian performance, allowing five runs on nine hits through six innings.  Carlos Ruiz was ejected in the third for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire.  It was that kind of night.

Featured Card:  I just returned from a brief work trip to Atlanta.  In lieu of posting a baseball card that is somehow remotely related to this dreadful game, I figured I go with a card of my favorite ex-Brave/ex-Phillie, Dale Murphy.  And at this point, "Who Would Have Thought" could be the caption summing up the team's 2012 season so far.

The next two games the Phillies played while I was out of town were much more enjoyable.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Phillies at Cardinals: May 24th to May 27th

Busch Stadium - St. Louis, MO
Thursday and Friday 8:15, Saturday 7:15 and Sunday 2:15

Phillies 22-23, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 4 1/2 games behind the Nationals
Cardinals 25-19, 1st Place in the N.L. Central, 1/2 game ahead of the Reds

Phillies Probables:  Joe Blanton (4-4, 3.74), Cliff Lee (0-2, 2.66), Kyle Kendrick (0-4, 5.23), Roy Halladay (4-4, 3.58)
Cardinals Probables:  Jake Westbrook (4-3, 2.41), Kyle Lohse (5-1, 2.91), Jaime Garcia (3-2, 3.55), Adam Wainwright (3-5, 4.78)

At the Ballpark:  Do the Cardinals give away this much swag on a regular basis?  Fans will receive a drawstring bag tonight and a Championship beer stein tomorrow night.  There's a Cardinals hat being given away at Saturday's game and a World Champions poster give-away on Sunday afternoon.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Carlos Ruiz - .357
Runs:  Hunter Pence - 28
Home Runs:  Hunter Pence - 10 
RBIs:  Carlos Ruiz - 29
Stolen Bases:  Shane Victorino - 13

Wins:  Cole Hamels - 7
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 2.17
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 66
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 12

1979 Topps #25 and #59
1979 Topps Flashback:  The two best pitchers in the Phillies rotation in 1983 were Steve Carlton and John Denny.  The '83 Phillies defeated the Dodgers in the N.L.C.S., but lost to the Orioles in the Fall Classic.  Carlton went 15-16 with a 3.11 ERA and 275 strikeouts, while Denny went 19-6 with a 2.37 ERA and was awarded for his efforts with the National League Cy Young award.

Denny came up through the Cardinals system and he made his Major League debut on September 12, 1974, two and a half years after the Cards had shipped Carlton to Philadelphia for Rick Wise.  Denny pitched  relatively well during his years in St. Louis, compiling a 51-46 record and a 3.67 ERA over 147 games.  In 1976, he led the National League with a 2.52 ERA.  Following the 1979 season, Denny was traded to the Indians with Jerry Mumphrey for Bobby Bonds.

He remained in Cleveland until they traded him to the Phillies in mid-September 1982 for Wil Culmer, Jerry Reed and Roy Smith.  After his career year in 1983, Denny cooled down, going 18-21 with the Phils in 1984 and 1985 in 55 starts.  He was traded to the Reds following the '85 season and he'd pitch one year in Cincinnati before calling it a career.

2012 Chachi #21 David Herndon

Kenneth David Herndon
Relief Pitcher

Bats: Right  Throws: Right  Height: 6'5"  Weight: 230
Born: September 4, 1985, Panama City, FL
Home: Southport, FL
Drafted: Selected by Los Angeles Angels in 5th round of June 2006 draft
Teams: Phillies 2010-
Acquired: Selected from the Los Angeles Angels in Rule 5 draft, December 10, 2009
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2012 Chachi #20 Joe Savery

Joseph Cain Savery
Relief Pitcher

Bats: Left  Throws: Left  Height: 6'3"  Weight: 235
Born: November 4, 1985, Houston, TX
Home: Bellaire, TX
Drafted: Selected by Phillies in 1st round of June 2007 draft
Teams: Phillies 2011-
Acquired: Via draft
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible

2012 Chachi #19 Kyle Kendrick

Kyle Rodney Kendrick
Relief Pitcher

Bats: Right  Throws: Right  Height: 6'3"  Weight: 210
Born: August 26, 1984, Houston, TX
Home: Tampa, FL
Drafted: Selected by Phillies in 7th round of June 2003 draft
Teams: Phillies 2007-
Acquired: Via draft
Contract Status: Signed through the 2013 season

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2006 Multi-Ad Reading Phillies #1 Gio Gonzalez

Nationals 2, Phillies 1
Game 43 - Monday Night, May 21st in Philadelphia
Record - 21-22, 5th Place, 5 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  A lack of offense and some questionable base-running led to the latest Phillies loss on a rainy night in Philly.

What It Means:  Just like that, the six-game winning streak is gone and in its place is a three-game losing streak.  The Phils once again have a losing record.

What What Wrong:  The bats were relatively quiet through the first five innings thanks to Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez.  The Phils had legitimate chances to not only score, but possibly take the lead, in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings, but it was not to be.  The sixth was particularly painful as they wasted a second and third with no outs opportunity with nary a run to show for it.  Placido Polanco had two base-running gaffes in the inning contributing to the futility of the inning.  Overall, the offense left 10 men on base and went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

On the bright side, Kyle Kendrick had a great start, allowing two runs on five hits over seven innings.  He also made a nice play at the plate to prevent another Nationals run in the third.  He's quietly tallied a 2.25 ERA over his last four starts.

Featured Card:  I wrote about Gonzalez back in December when there were rumors swirling that the Phils could be trying to obtain their former farmhand.  A few weeks following that post, the A's traded Gonzalez to the Nationals and he's lived up to the hype.  He's now 6-1 with a 1.98 ERA following his performance against the Phillies last night.

This is one of only a few minor league cards of Gonzalez in my collection, as the phenom spent only the 2006 season within the Phillies organization.  The design of this card borrows heavily from the 1994 Donruss set.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nationals at Phillies: May 21st to May 23rd

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

Nationals 24-17, 2nd Place in N.L. East, 1 1/2 games behind the Braves
Phillies 21-21, 5th Place in N.L. East, 5 games behind the Braves

Nationals Probables:  Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 2.22), Jordan Zimmermann (2-4, 2.58), Edwin Jackson (1-1, 3.31)
Phillies Probables:  Kyle Kendrick (0-3, 5.96), Roy Halladay (4-3, 3.22), Cole Hamels (6-1, 2.48)

At the Ballpark:  It's another Dollar Dog night on Tuesday night.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Carlos Ruiz - .355
Runs:  Hunter Pence - 26
Home Runs:  Hunter Pence - 10 
RBIs:  Carlos Ruiz - 29
Stolen Bases:  Shane Victorino - 13

Wins:  Cole Hamels - 6
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 2.48
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 58
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 12

1979 Topps #395 and #90
1979 Topps Flashback:  Dave Cash and Bob Boone were teammates with the Phillies during Cash's three-year stay in Philly from 1974 through 1976.  Cash had won a World Series ring with the Pirates in 1971, and he brought his winning attitude to the Phillies following an October 1973 trade.  The Phils sent Ken Brett to the Pirates for Cash, and the trade paid immediate dividends for the team.  As the team's regular second baseman, Cash made the National League All-Star squad three years in a row.  He left via free agency following the 1976 season and signed with the Expos.

Boone spent ten years in Philly (1972-1981), winning a World Championship, two Gold Gloves and attending three All-Star Games.  He was named the catcher on the Phillies Centennial Team in 1983, and he was elected into their Wall of Fame in 2005.