Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 Topps Phillies #PHI-10 Delmon Young

Blue Jays 10, Phillies 4
Spring Training Game 34 - Saturday Afternoon, March 30th in Philadelphia
Record - 16-17-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies dropped their final game of the exhibition season, losing 10-4 to the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park.

What It Means:  Let's get this thing started.  The Phillies will travel to Atlanta where they'll open the regular season in a Monday night contest against the Braves.

What Went Wrong:  Kyle Kendrick allowed five runs on six hits in three innings of work.  The Blue Jays added five more runs against three different Phillies relievers.

Featured Card:  The Phils set their Opening Day 25-Man roster prior to the game with no real surprises.  Phillippe Aumont officially made the team as the team's seventh reliever, beating out Michael Stutes.  Humberto Quintero beat out Steve Lerud for the back-up catcher's role, and Quintero's time with the club could be short once Carlos Ruiz serves his 25-game suspension.  Finally, Pete Orr and Zach Miner were reassigned to minor league camp.

As suspected, Delmon Young will start the season on the disabled list.  Young had offseason ankle surgery and he has yet to play the field.  He has a card in the team-issued postcard set, as well as this Photoshopped card in the Topps Phillies retail set.  Only time will tell if Young will have more or less appearances in a Phillies uniform than Danny Tartabull.

Camp Head Count:  31 minus 6 = 25.  The last six official cuts were Ruiz, Young, Stutes, Lerud, Orr and Miner.

Happy Easter to you and your family!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 Phillies Team Issue #33 Cliff Lee

Blue Jays 1, Phillies 0
Spring Training Game 33 - Friday Night, March 29th in Philadelphia
Record - 16-16-1

One Sentence Summary:  The offense stayed behind in Florida as the Blue Jays squeaked by the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, 1-0.

What It Means:  One more game to go, and then they all start to count.

What Went Wrong:  Phillippe Aumont allowed a first pitch home to J.P. Arencibia to start the fifth inning, and it was the only scoring by either team.  Cliff Lee pitched four scoreless innings and struck out five.

Featured Card:  I attended this game with my six-year-old son Doug (see Field Report below) and Doug walked to one of the Newstands with me to pick up a Media Guide, the Topps Phillies 17-card team set, and the first edition of the team-issued postcard-sized set.  Similar to the last few years, the photos in this initial series are all from Spring Training.

There are 41 cards in the set, and several Phillies (and non-Phillies) receive their first and possibly only Phillies cards.  Marking their Phillies cardboard debuts are Mike Adams, Yuniesky Betancourt (now with the Brewers), Ender Inciarte, John Lannan, Humberto Quintero and Delmon Young.  I'll have more on the 17-card Topps Phillies set in a future post.

Field Report:  Friend o' the blog Peter V. graciously gave us two tickets to last night's On-Deck Series game and we were happy to enjoy the game from his awesome seats in Section 138.  It turned out to be a fairly boring game, but Doug was happy to meet new Phillies coach Wally Joyner and former Phillie Tommy Greene prior to the game.  Joyner gave us coupons for a free hot dog and soda, while Greene signed a special Phillies Alumni card for Doug.  I also took a picture of new Phillie Ben Revere's giant 2011 Topps-style card in Ashburn Alley as part of the night's starting line-up.  (Michael Young had a Phillies card too, while Quintero was represented by the generic Citizens Bank Park card.)

It was cold, but Doug stayed warm by devouring a entire box of popcorn and waiting with his glove after every pitch for a foul ball.

Friday, March 29, 2013

2012 Topps Triple Threads #88 Roy Halladay

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 2
Spring Training Game 32 - Thursday Afternoon, March 28th in Clearwater
Record - 16-15-1

One Sentence Summary:  All eyes were on Roy Halladay as he appeared in his final spring game and the Phillies downed the Blue Jays, 7-2.

What It Means:  The Phillies have two more exhibition games in Philadelphia, but this game marked the end of the Florida portion of Spring Training.  In retrospect, that went kind of fast, didn't it?

What Went Right:  I watched Halladay's performance on TV and read all about it afterwards.  The TV guys were very optimistic about his outing, while everyone else seemed to tag his stuff as "iffy."  In 4 1/3 innings, Halladay allowed two runs on eight hits while striking out six.  He finished his spring with a 6.06 ERA, which doesn't include the results of the minor league game in which he was pounded, and which also doesn't mean a thing come Monday.

Chase Utley and Laynce Nix both homered for the Phillies.

Featured Card:  As I'm wont to do from time to time, I recently spent some quality time over at, adding a nice stack of 2012 Phillies cards to my collection as well as some older Phillies oddball cards.  Honestly, I'm not sure why I feel the need to add the Topps Tribute base cards to my collection every year.  The design is completely uninspired, and I'm smart enough to realize that these base cards are nothing but filler for the premium relic and autograph cards to be found in the Triple Threads set.  Maybe next year I'll wise up and not feel the need to add these cards to my collection.

Then again, probably not . . .

Thursday, March 28, 2013

2013 Topps Heritage #448 Cole Hamels

Phillies 4, Tigers 1
Spring Training Game 31 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 27th in Lakeland
Record - 15-15-1

One Sentence Summary:  Cole Hamels wrapped up his spring with an effective performance against the Tigers as the Phillies won, 4-1.

What It Means:  Bring on Opening Day!  And I hope Hamels keeps his beard.

What Went Right:  In his three innings of work, Hamels allowed just a hit while striking out three.  Michael Young drove in a pair of runs, while both Ben Revere and Ender Inciarte contributed two hits a piece.  Inciarte is a Rule 5 draft pick and the team will need to make a decision on his roster status prior to Opening Day on Monday.

Featured Card:  Hamels is all smiles in his short-printed Topps Heritage card.  Let's hope he's still smiling come Monday night.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2012 Phillies Team Issue 2 #13 Freddy Galvis

Phillies 10, Rays 1
Spring Training Game 30 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 26th in Clearwater
Record - 14-15-1

One Sentence Summary:  Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen drove in a combined six runs as the Phillies defeated the Rays, 10-1.

What It Means:  Enough already.  Let's start this season!

What Went Right:  For the first time in his professional career, Galvis started in left field and by all accounts he looked fairly comfortable out there.  The super utility player hit a two-run home run in the fifth.

Domonic Brown enjoyed a three-hit day, and he's now hitting .373 this spring.  Led by Raul Valdes, the Phillies bullpen combined to allow just one Rays run on three hits.

Featured Cards:  At the start of the 2012 season, Galvis was forced into a starting role at second baseChase Utley's lingering knee issues.  In 58 games through early June, Galvis was hitting .226 and playing excellent defense when a back injury landed him on the disabled list.  A few weeks later, it was announced that Galvis had tested positive for a banned substance and he was suspended for 50 games.  When he suits up for the Phils in April, it will be his first Major League action since last June 6th.
2013 Chachi Almost #3
due to

Even though he was the team's opening day second baseman last year, Galvis received no cardboard appreciation from Topps.  Other than a few cards in the non-licensed Panini sets, Galvis' only 2012 baseball cards can be found in the team issued postcard-sized sets.

Camp Head Count:  32 minus 1 = 31.  Pitcher and non-roster invitee Aaron Cook was released yesterday morning.  Cook had a decent spring (3.38 ERA in six appearances) but the Phillies appear to have more confidence in their young pitchers at Triple-A than they did in Cook in terms of starting pitching depth.  Elsewhere, infiedler Yuniesky Betancourt, released a few days ago by the Phillies, signed a Major League deal with the Brewers.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 Topps Heritage #226 Steven Lerud & Luis Antonio Jimenez

Blue Jays 13, Phillies 4
Spring Training Game 29 - Monday Afternoon, March 25th in Dunedin
Record - 13-15-1

One Sentence Summary:  In one of his final spring tune-ups, starting pitcher John Lannan was shelled by the Blue Jays in a 13-4 loss.

What It Means:  Maybe Lannan was just working on some things?  Let's hope.

What Went Wrong:  In four innings, Lannan allowed 12 runs on 14 hits, including two home runs.  It wasn't pretty.

Featured Card:  A post on Beerleaguer last night broke down the remaining two roster battles as Phillippe Aumont vs. Michael Stutes for the final bullpen spot and Humberto Quintero vs. Steven Lerud for the back-up catcher's job.  Nothing against Quintero, but I'd like to see Lerud win the battle to give the 28-year-old another shot at the Majors.  Lerud spent nine seasons in the minors before earning a cup of coffee with the Phillies towards the latter part of 2012.  Known mainly for his defense, Lerud is hitting .235 this spring while Quintero is hitting .261.  Lerud earned his first Phillies card in this year's Topps Heritage release, although he's sharing space with Mariners prospect Luis Antonio Jimenez.

Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 Chachi Almost #2 Yuniesky Betancourt

Red Sox 7, Phillies 6
Spring Training Game 28 - Sunday Afternoon, March 24th in Clearwater
Record - 13-14-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Red Sox held off a late Phillies rally for the 7-6 victory.

What It Means:  It means I'll have to wait until the four regular season victories against the Sox in May to taunt the good folks in Section 36.

What Went Wrong:  The big blow dealt to starter Cliff Lee was a wind-aided three-run home run by Jackie Bradley in the second inning.  Overall, Lee allowed four earned runs while striking out seven in his 5 1/3 innings of work.  The Phillies closed the gap with back-to-back eighth inning home runs from Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

Featured Card:  Infielder Yuniesky Betancourt was almost a Phillie, but "close" has the same application when it comes to Chachi cards as it does with horseshoes and hand grenades.  I made the card featured here in anticipation of Betancourt making the team out of Spring Training.  He played steady (and at times dazzling) defense and hit .447, but ultimately his career futility at the plate overruled his 17-game spring stats.  Betancourt's minor league contract contained an out clause which required the Phillies to release him if he wasn't on their 25-man roster by yesterday.  He wasn't, and his release was granted.

Camp Head Count:  33 minus 1 = 32.  Betancourt's release all but guarantees that Freddy Galvis has made the team as its back-up middle infielder.

2013 Topps Heritage #72 Chase Utley

Phillies 13, Orioles 4
Spring Training Game 27 - Saturday Afternoon, March 23rd in Sarasota
Record - 13-13-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies belted five home runs - two were contributed by Chase Utley - as the team defeated the Orioles, 13-4.

What It Means:  It means that I'm hopeful that some of this production carries over into April.

What Went Right:  Joining Utley in the home run parade were Domonic Brown, with his spring leading 7th home run, Ryan Howard and Yuniesky Betancourt.  Aaron Cook started the game and pitched 4 2/3 effective innings.

Elsewhere . . . What Went Wrong:  In a minor league game, Roy Halladay continued his woeful spring.  Eleven of the 18 Blue Jay minor leaguers he faced on Saturday morning reached base and the adjective used the most to describe his performance was "labored."  Halladay says he's ready for the regular season, and like it or not, we'll find out soon enough.

Featured Card:  By my tally, I featured an Utley card in four game summary posts following a Phillies win throughout the entire 2012 season.  I'm hoping for big things in 2013 from Utley, in what could be his final season with the Phillies.  Hopefully he's featured in a lot more than four game summary posts this year.  This is his 1964 Topps-inspired Heritage card released almost a month ago.

2013 Topps #83 Darin Ruf

Phillies 7, Braves 6
Spring Training Game 26 - Friday Afternoon, March 22nd in Clearwater
Record - 12-13-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies defeated the Braves behind a walk-off home run from Darin Ruf.

What It Means:  For Ruf, it meant a day of extremes.  Not 20 minutes after celebrating his walk-off homer, he was notified he would start the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

What Went Right:  Prospect Adam Morgan was called on to start this game, and he pitched well.  Morgan allowed a run on four hits in his 4 2/3 innings while striking out five.  Erik Kratz went 3 for 4 with a home run and 3 RBIs.

Featured Card:  It makes sense for Ruf to get more experience in the minors, and the Phillies plan to use him as the starting left fielder for the IronPigs.  Ruf struggled at the plate this spring and his defense was a daily adventure.  I have no doubt we'll see him in Philly again soon.  This is Ruf's official rookie card and his first official Topps card.

Camp Head Count:  35 minus 2 = 33.  Along with Ruf, outfielder Jermaine Mitchell was reassigned to minor league camp.  Pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, reassigned to minor league camp on Tuesday, was released.

Both Delmon Young (disabled list) and Carlos Ruiz (restricted list) will miss the start of the season.  So that leaves 31 players in camp vying for 25 roster spots.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

2006 Topps Phillies

2006 Topps #398, #359, #205 and #396
Our first son, Doug, was born in 2006.  Those of you who are parents know that the birth of a child pretty much trumps any and all other events that took place during the nine months proceeding the blessed event, and the arrival of Doug was no different for us.  I've spent the last six and a half years enjoying every minute with Doug and his little brother, Ben.

The Set
2006 Topps #359 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  There are 659 cards in the regular set if you don't count the Alex Gordon or Alay Soler cards (discussed briefly below) and another 330 cards in the Update and Highlights series.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  There were a couple of key turning points with the 2006 Topps set.  First, Topps digitally altered some players uniforms to show them with their new teams.  Phillies fans received cards of Tom Gordon and Aaron Rowand in Phillies uniforms months before catchers and pitchers even reported to Spring Training.  (Even though Gordon's card still says he's with the Yankees.)  I was OK with this, but I would have been fine had they waited to show these players in their new uniforms in the second series or the update set.  The second turning point was the first-time inclusion of gimmick cards in the set.  This was the year of the Alex Gordon "rookie card" and the surprise addition of a short-printed card for Mets prospect Alay Soler into packs of Topps Series Two.  Other bloggers have railed against Topps and their abuse of the set collector, and I won't go into that here.  But this was the first year I thought to myself, "I'll probably never be a modern Topps set collector again," and it was a sad realization.  Negativity aside, the actual cards are nice.  They're bright and colorful, with a 1972 Topps vibe due to the arched team name at the tops of the cards.  
Notable competition:  This is the first year that MLB and the Player's Association instituted their new annual limits on the number of baseball card sets that could be released.  For this reason, there were still a lot of sets released by Topps (20 by my unofficial count) and Upper Deck (also 20), but not as many as in prior years.  Upper Deck acquired the Fleer brand name and 6 of their 20 releases carried the Fleer or Ultra banner.

2006 Topps #33, #412, #182 and #20
2006 Phillies
Record and finish:  The Phillies fell just short of the postseason yet again, going 85-77 and finishing three games behind in the Wild Card race.  They finished 12 games behind the Mets in the N.L. East.
Key players:  Four home grown players - Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rolllins and Cole Hamels - had tremendous seasons and gave fans a reason to hope for the future.  Howard (.313, 58 home runs, 149 RBIs), Utley (.309, 32 home runs, 102 RBIs) and Rollins (.277, 25 home runs, 83 RBIs) each set franchise records for home runs at their respective positions.  Howard's 58 home runs blew away Mike Schmidt's franchise record of 48 home runs in a season and helped him secure the N.L. MVP honors.  Pat Burrell (.277, 29 home runs, 95 RBIs) had another solid season and Phillies fans were properly introduced to Shane Victorino (.287, 46 RBIs) after Rowand broke most of his face while running at full steam into the center field wall at Citizens Bank Park.  Hamels made his debut in May and went 9-8.  New closer Gordon made the All-Star team and saved 34 games.
2006 Topps #358
Key events:  With Howard ready for prime time, Jim Thome was dealt to the White Sox in November 2005 for Rowand.  The new center fielder forever endeared himself to Phillies fans with his amazing running catch on May 11, 2006, which left him battered and bruised.  I commemorated the catch with a Chachi card that can be found here.  Rollins' hitting streak that began in 2005 ended early in the 2006 season at 38.  Utley strung together a 35-game hitting streak of his own.  Looking to shake things up as the Phillies were seemingly out of the race by the non-waiver trade deadline, General Manager Pat Gillick traded away the following veteran players - Sal Fasano, David Bell, Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Rheal Cormier and Ryan Franklin.  Improbably back in the race a month later, Gillick then dealt for veterans Jamie Moyer and Jeff Conine in August.

2006 Phillies in 2006 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 34 Phillies cards in the base and traded sets, with 7 of those cards featuring Howard.  That's what back-to-back Rookie of the Year and MVP campaigns will do for you.
Who's in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 8 cards
#33 Mike Lieberthal (c), #398 Ryan Howard (1b), #359 Chase Utley (2b), #205 Jimmy Rollins (ss), #412 David Bell (3b), #396 Pat Burrell (lf), #182 Aaron Rowand (cf), #20 Bobby Abreu (rf)

Bell and Abreu still had the most starts at their respective positions, in spite of their mid-season departures.
2006 Topps #432, #408, 2006 Topps Update #UH145 and 2006 Topps #141
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#432 Brett Myers, #408 Jon Lieber, #UH145 Cole Hamels, #141 Randy Wolf
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 2004 - 7 cards
#41 Rheal Cormier, #163 Tom Gordon, #306 Danny Sandoval, #364 Ryan Madson, #UH20 Jeff Conine, #UH25 David Dellucci, #UH139 Scott Mathieson

I was definitely bummed when I realized that Topps left Moyer out of the Update series.  Especially since they dedicated 30 cards to an unneeded Team Leaders subset.
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with Phillies in 2004 - 3 cards
#83 Endy Chavez, #97 Kenny Lofton, #139 Jason Michaels
  • Rawlings Gold Glove Award cards - 1 card, #259 Bobby Abreu
  • Award cards - 1 card, #265 Ryan Howard (Rookie of the Year)
  • National League Leaders cards - 2 cards, #UH210 Ryan Howard (Home Run Leaders), #UH212 Ryan Howard (RBI Leaders)
  • 2006 MLB All-Star cards - 3 cards, #UH233 Chase Utley, #UH266 Tom Gordon, #UH273 Ryan Howard
  • 2006 MLB Home Run Derby cards - 1 card, #UH283 Ryan Howard
  • Team Leaders cards - 1 card, #UH292 Ryan Howard and Tom Gordon
  • Multi-player combination cards - 1 card, #650 Pat Burrell and Mike Lieberthal (Philly Phanatics)
  • Team card - 1 card, #602
  • Manager card - 1 card, #286 Charlie Manuel
Before going much further, I need to mention that Topps and the Phillies paired together to release an awesome 26-card Fan Appreciation Day set to fans attending the September 24th game.  This set is fantastic in that it gave collectors Topps Phillies cards of Victorino, Abraham Nunez, Chris Coste and several of the team's relief pitchers.  14,000 Phillies has a great write-up of the set in his Phillies Database.

Also, there are other Phillies cards available as special inserts that utilize the 2006 Topps design.  Coste has a card within a set available only within Topps factory sets, appropriately named the Topps Factory Set Rookie Bonus set.  (Fabio Castro, who spent time with the Phillies in 2006, appears with the Rangers in this set as well.)  Hamels, Chris Roberson, Mathieson and Matt Smith all received 2006 Topps Chrome-style cards in the Topps Chrome Rookie Logos insert set.

Finally, for the first time, Topps released a retail-only 14-card set, which I have yet to track down.

2006 Topps #163, #364, 2006 Topps Phillies Fan Appreciation Day #25 and
2006 Topps Factory Set Rookie Bonus #19
Who's out:  If you just consider the Topps flagship and update sets, the following deserving players were shut out - Victorino, Nunez, Lidle and relievers Geoff Geary, Aaron Fultz and Arthur Rhodes.  However, if you includes the Fan Appreciation Day set, the only notable omissions are Lidle, Franklin, Moyer and fan favorite Fasano.
Phillies on other teams:  Moyer (#358 with the Mariners) and Dellucci (#402 with the Rangers) are in the second series with their former teams.  Topps took the photo used for Dellucci's card and switched him into a Phillies uniform for their Topps Chrome set.
2006 Topps #402 and 2006 Topps Chrome #208
What's he doing here:  I have no complaints on any of the player selections.  Topps must have used mid-December 2005 as the deadline to digitally change players into their new uniforms.  Gordon signed with the Phillies on December 6th, and Lofton signed with the Yankees on December 20th.
Cards that never were candidates:  Similar to the above exercise, if I include the Fan Appreciation Day cards as "official" cards, I'd say that only these guys are true candidates for cards that never were - Moyer, Franklin, Lidle, Fasano and rookie Carlos Ruiz, who played in 27 games for the '06 squad.  Sadly, Lidle perished in a plane crash in October 2006 and Topps gave him an In Memoriam card in the update series.
Favorite Phillies card:  I've always liked Madson's card, which shows him following through on a pitch.

Other Stuff
Recycled:  As mentioned a few times, the design was used in the stadium give-away Fan Appreciation Day set, with the silver foil being replaced with yellow ink.
Did You Know?:  Only one of the players (Smith) received in Gillick's mid-season purge ever made it to the Majors with the Phillies.  Here's the list of the prospects acquired - Hector Made, Wilfredo Laureano, C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monasterios, Matt Smith, Justin Germano and Zac Stott.  Most importantly, the deals cleared the way for the young nucleus to take over and lead the team to its best five-year run in franchise history.

Friday, March 22, 2013

2006 Upper Deck Special F/X #750 Shane Victorino

Red Sox 6, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 25 - Thursday Night, March 21st in Ft. Myers
Record - 11-13-1

One Sentence Summary:  Our old friend Shane Victorino put the game out of reach with a bases clearing triple in the seventh, as the Sox defeated the Phillies, 6-1.

What It Means:  This game means nothing.  What really matters are the four regular season games the Phillies are destined to win against the Red Sox in May.

What Went Wrong:  This was a 1-1 game until the bottom of the seventh inning.  Reliever Michael Stutes didn't help his chances of making the club by allowing five runs on a hit and three walks in two-thirds of an inning.  The lone hit he allowed was Victorino's triple.

On the bright side, Cole Hamels pitched six solid innings, allowing a run on four hits while striking out five.

Featured Card:  I still have my 2006 Phillies binder open on my computer desk.  I have four Victorino cards in the 2006 Phillies binder, which are his first cards with the team.  Along with his team issued card and his Topps Fan Appreciation Day card (to be featured in the upcoming 2006 Topps Phillies post), Victorino has a card within the massive 2006 Upper Deck set.  The card featured here is from the 2006 Upper Deck Special F/X set, a chrome-ish parallel set not released until January 2007.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

1984 Tastykake Phillies Update Jeff Stone

Thanks to the good folks over at the up and coming new blog, Phillies Stadium Giveaways, I'm one step closer to crossing a white whale off my want lists.  The 1984 Tastykake Phillies Update set contains seven postcard-sized cards of late season roster additions, and I've never seen a set for sale anywhere.

With the addition of this Jeff Stone card, graciously supplied from Phillies SGA, I'm down to needing just six cards from the set.

Please check out the fantastic Phillies Stadium Giveaways blog when you have a chance.  It has already helped me identify the date of the first Phillies game I ever attended.  The giveaway at my first game was a Phillies poster painted by Dick Perez and featuring the entire 1979 Phillies team.  Based on the listing here, it looks as if that game was on July 15, 1979.  If you look closely at my profile picture, I'm holding a copy of the poster and I definitely need to write more about that first game at some point.

Social Media Blitz:  I'd also like to mention that I'm now on Twitter.  Please follow along, and you'll be automatically tweeted whenever the blog is updated.  And while you're at it, have you liked The Phillies Room on Facebook yet?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2006 Bowman Heritage Prospects #BHP71 Kyle Kendrick

Phillies 4, Yankees 1
Spring Training Game 24 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 19th in Clearwater
Record - 11-12-1

One Sentence Summary:  Kyle Kendrick and Domonic Brown led the Phillies over the Yankees in a 4-1 victory.

What It Means:  It appears as if Kendrick is settling into his role as fourth starter and Brown is primed to start the season as the team's regular left fielder.

What Went Right:  Kendrick allowed just an unearned run in his six innings of work.  Brown hit his sixth home run and he's now the spring leader in home runs (6), slugging percentage (.714), hits (25) and runs (21).  Of course, they don't put Spring Training stats on the backs of bubble gum cards.  Ryan Howard contributed his fifth home run of the spring.

2006 Bowman Heritage #61
Featured Cards:  I'm preparing my post on the 2006 Topps Phillies cards, which means my 2006 Phillies binder is out in front of me.  Unlike the Topps Heritage sets, the Bowman Heritage sets jumped around chronologically as follows -

2001 Bowman Heritage - 1948 Bowman
2002 Bowman Heritage - 1954 Bowman
2003 Bowman Heritage - "1956" Bowman
2004 Bowman Heritage - 1955 Bowman
2005 Bowman Heritage - 1951 Bowman
2006 Bowman Heritage - 1949 Bowman
2007 Bowman Heritage - 1952 Bowman

The cards featured here are from the 1949 Bowman-inspired 2006 Bowman Heritage set.  Topps never produced Bowman Heritage sets using the 1950 or 1953 designs and the designs used for the 2003 Bowman Heritage set were taken from prototypes of the never issued 1956 Bowman release.  I wonder how much longer until Topps brings back the Bowman Heritage brand using Bowman designs from 1989 and early '90s?  The company has already resurrected a few '90s Bowman and Bowman's Best designs for various insert sets.

And wouldn't it be cool to try to complete one of these Bowman Heritage sets today?  Perhaps boxes of 2004 or 2005 Bowman Heritage are less expensive today than they were eight or nine years ago . . .

Camp Head Count:  36 minus 1 = 35.  Pitcher Rodrigo Lopez was reassigned to minor league camp following his rough outing on Monday.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2010 Topps Red Hot Rookies #RHR-7 Domonic Brown

Braves 17, Phillies 10
Spring Training Game 23 - Monday Afternoon, March 18th in Lake Buena Vista
Record - 10-12-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Braves outhit the Phillies as Rodrigo Lopez and Aaron Cook, both trying to make the club, looked shaky in their outings.

What It Means:  Best case scenario is that one of these guys makes the team as a long-man/middle reliever.  Worst case scenario is that one of these guys makes the team as its fifth starter, meaning that something is wrong with Roy Halladay.

What Went Wrong:  Lopez allowed seven earned runs on eight hits in his two innings of work.  Cook allowed two earned runs in his three innings.  The defense committed three more errors and Darin Ruf helped swat a ball over the fence for a two-run home run.

The hot hitting Domonic Brown continued his impressive spring with three more hits to raise his average to .400.  He hit his fifth home run of the spring.  Yuniesky Betancourt, who is either going to make the team as a utility infielder or find himself traded to a someone in need of a glove, had a four-hit game.

Featured Card:  For the first time since I added this card to my collection, Brown is officially red hot and I sincerely hope he can carry this red hotness over to the regular season.  Topps included a series of redemption cards in packs of its 2010 series two release, and Brown's card was one of the ten rookie redemptions available.

Monday, March 18, 2013

1972 Topps #324 Mike Ryan

Phillies 5, Orioles 3
Spring Training Game 22 - Sunday Afternoon, March 17th in Clearwater
Record - 10-11-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies prevailed behind Freddy Galvis' two-run home run, but the big story of the day was Roy Halladay's early departure.

What It Means:  Halladay left after only one inning with what the team quickly disclosed was a stomach virus.  Worries about Hallady's health and effectiveness continue to linger.

What Went Right:  Galvis hit his home run in the fifth.  Domonic Brown and Michael Young each had two hits.

Featured Card:  The Phillies wore green jerseys and hats for St. Patrick's Day while the Orioles switched the white fronts of their hats to green.  I wanted to have some Irish connection with the featured card in this post, so I decided to go with a card of long-time Phillies player and coach Irish Mike Ryan.  Ryan played primarily with the Red Sox and Phillies during his 11-year playing career, and he was the Phils' bullpen coach from 1980 to 1995.

Ryan appeared on Phillies cards in each Topps set from 1968 through 1974, with a cameo on the Phillies Leaders card with Lance Parrish in the 1988 Topps set.  (See this post at the very bottom.)  This is his super groovy card from the 1972 Topps set.

Galvis in Green
Camp Head Count:  40 minus 4 = 36.  I'm still counting Carlos Ruiz in my tally, so if you take him and DL-bound Delmon Young out of the equation, the true camp head count now stands at 34.

The Phillies optioned out young relievers Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus and reassigned pitcher Cesar Jimenez and infielder Josh Fields.

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 Halladay models a green jersey.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2005 Topps Phillies

2005 Topps #550, #194, #689 and #481
I recently covered my detour from baseball card collecting in 2005.  Revisiting my 2005 Topps set and the few cards within my 2005 Phillies binder, I honestly felt as if I had never seen some of the cards before.  This is definitely my collecting black hole year.

The Set
2005 Topps #44 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  There are a total of 733 cards in both series of the set, with card #7 getting omitted again to honor Mickey Mantle.  The traded set was rechristened as the Update and Highlights set, and it contained 330 cards.  The combined 1,063 cards breaks the record set in 2001 when Topps issued a combined 1,055 cards in its base and traded sets.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  Holy smokes, the set's designers just went for it didn't they?  To summarize - Gold foil big names on the top, sideways player name and team name on the sides and team script logo with gold foil year and Topps logo on the bottom.  To tie it all together, there are two team color coded interlocking lines surrounding the player photo.  It's like they had ideas for two or three different card designs and just decided to combine all of them at once.  In preparation for this post, I flipped through the set a few times and I still can't figure out if I absolutely love or hate this design.  I think I'm just confused by it.
Notable competition:  This was the final year that Fleer issued baseball cards under its own banner as the company was acquired by Upper Deck in time for some 2006 releases.  As a result, there were only a handful of Fleer sets issued in 2005, but still a ton of Playoff, Topps and Upper Deck sets.

2005 Topps #170, #76, #44 and #420
2005 Phillies
Record and finish:  New manager Charlie Manuel did a little better than his predecessor, guiding the Phillies to a 88-74 finish, two games behind the Braves in the N.L. East and a game behind the Astros for the N.L. Wild Card.  They were in the hunt for a postseason berth until the final weekend of the season.
2005 Topps #117
Key players:  Once again, Pat Burrell (.281, 32 home runs, 117 RBIs) and Bobby Abreu (.286, 24 home runs, 102 RBIs) had fantastic seasons.  Abreu took the spotlight at the All-Star Game, winning the Home Run Derby with a then record 41 home runs.  Jim Thome was placed on the disabled list on July 1st with right elbow tendinitis, ending his season.  His replacement, rookie Ryan Howard, hit .288 with 22 home runs and 63 RBIs on his way to being named the N.L. Rookie of the Year.  Second baseman Chase Utley enjoyed his first full season as a starter, hitting .291 with 28 home runs and 105 RBIs.  New acquisition Jon Lieber led the pitching staff with 17 wins and Billy Wagner bounced back from injury to record 38 saves.
Key events:  For the first time in 73 years, the Phillies had three players with at least 100 RBIs - Burrell, Utley and Abreu.  Jimmy Rollins ended the season with a 36-game hitting streak.  It would reach 38 games at the start of the 2006 season.

2005 Phillies in 2005 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 27 Phillies cards in the base Topps set and another 13 Phillies cards in the Update & Highlights set.
Who's in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 7 cards
#170 Mike Lieberthal (c), #481 Chase Utley (2b), #76 Jimmy Rollins (ss), #44 David Bell (3b), #550 Pat Burrell (lf), #420 Kenny Lofton (cf), #194 Bobby Abreu (rf)

First baseman Howard is in the set, but he's on a multi-player Prospects card with Cole Hamels.  Hamels spent the '05 season with High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading.

2005 Topps Update #UH63, 2005 Topps #69, #588 and #630
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 5 cards
#UH63 Jon Lieber, #69 Brett Myers, #588 Cory Lidle, #630 Vicente Padilla, #11 Randy Wolf
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 2005 - 13 cards
#2 Placido Polanco, #25 Jim Thome, #117 Billy Wagner, #257 Tim Worrell, #430 Ryan Madson, #482 Todd Pratt, #492 Tomas Perez, #514 Jason Michaels, #525 Marlon Byrd, #582 Gavin Floyd, #UH4 Michael Tucker, #UH78 Endy Chavez, #UH80 Ugueth Urbina
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with Phillies in 2005 - 4 cards
#64 Doug Glanville, #312 Chris Roberson, #UH287 Kelvin Pichardo, #UH288 Scott Mitchinson
  • Phillies appearing on Prospects cards - 2 cards, #689 Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels, #UH100 Greg Golson
  • Phillies appearing on Draft Pick cards - 2 cards, #686 Michael Bourn and #UH330 Mike Costanzo
  • Phillies appearing on Season Highlights cards - 1 card, #UH113 Bobby Abreu
  • Phillies appearing on 2005 League Leaders cards - 1 card, #UH143 Pat Burrell
  • Phillies appearing on 2005 MLB All-Star cards - 1 card, #UH185 Bobby Abreu
  • Phillies appearing on 2005 Home Run Derby cards - 1 card, #UH195 Bobby Abreu
  • Team card - 1 card, #659
  • Manager cards - 2 cards, #288 Larry Bowa and #UH87 Charlie Manuel
2005 Topps Update
Abreu received three cards commemorating his appearance at the 2005 All-Star Game, which is probably two cards too many.  Despite having been fired with two games remaining in the 2004 season, Bowa received a manager card in series one.  Back then, series one was still being released in November, so this is understandable.  However, the card back credits Bowa with a 86-76 managerial record in 2004 when in fact interim manager Gary Varsho guided the team for their final two games.

Who's out:  This was another good effort from Topps in terms of player selection.  Of course, they had 1,063 cards with which to work!  As is usually the case, it's the relievers who got left out.  Aaron Fultz (2.24 ERA in 62 games) had a fantastic year but he had to share his Topps Total card with Rheal Cormier, who was also left out of the flagship set completely.  Robinson Tejada (4-3 in 13 starts) and Geoff Geary (3.72 ERA in 40 games) also deserved cards.  Shane Victorino made his Phillies debut on September 3rd, so it would have been cool if he had somehow made it into the Update set.
Phillies on other teams:  Only Matt Kata (#71 with the Diamondbacks) didn't get a Phillies card in the Update set.  All of these guys did - Michael Tucker (#14 with the Giants), Jon Lieber (#149 with the Yankees), Endy Chavez (#511 with the Nationals) and Ugueth Urbina (#567 with the Tigers).
What's he doing here:  I'm getting fairly predictable in this category, as once again the honors for my "what's he doing here" go to prospects Pichardo and Mitchinson.  Pichardo was shipped to the Giants in August in the Michael Tucker trade and never reached the Majors. Australian Mitchinson never pitched above A-ball in his six years in the minors.
Cards that never were candidates:  I'd give Howard his own card, and I'd add cards for Fultz, Cormier, Tejada, Geary and Victorino.
Favorite Phillies card:  There are a lot of great action shots in this group of Phillies cards featuring the brand new Citizens Bank Park in the background, but it's hard to find a better card in the lot than the Howard/Hamels combo card.

2005 Topps Update #UH87, 2005 Topps #514, #430 and 2005 Topps Update #UH80
Other Stuff
Recycled:  I don't have enough baseball cards from 2005 to be able to tell if Topps used this design on sets other than its annual Chrome and Opening Day sets.  The Opening Day set replaced the gold foil with blue foil.
Did You Know?:  The Chachi set made its debut in 2005!  Did you know there's a page on this here very blog that serves as a portal to galleries of each of the Chachi sets?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

2009 Upper Deck #800 Chad Durbin

Phillies 7, Yankees 0
Spring Training Game 21 - Saturday Afternoon, March 16th in Tampa
Record - 9-11-1

One Sentence Summary:  Domonic Brown and the Phillies relievers led the team to a shutout victory over the Yankees.

What It Means:  Manager Charlie Manuel wanted to stretch out his bullpen today, and the nine shutout innings prove that the idea was a success.

What Went Right:  Five Phillies relievers combined for the shutout, but the most impressive performances came from Raul Valdes and Chad Durbin who each threw three scoreless innings.  Brown and Steven Lerud both homered for the Phillies and Brown made two great catches in the outfield.

Featured Card:  I'm hoping I have many more opportunities to present Brown's cards throughout the regular season, but a Phillies middle inning/long reliever probably won't realistically have that many chances to "star" in a game.  I have nine Durbin cards in my Phillies collection, and four of them come from team issued sets.  This is one of his few Upper Deck cards.

2002 Topps Heritage #56 Nelson Figueroa

Rays 3, Phillies 1 (10 Innings)
Spring Training Game 20 - Friday Afternoon, March 15th in Port Charlotte
Record - 8-11-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Rays won in extras, but the five scoreless innings from fifth starter John Lannan were the highlight of the day.

What It Means:  Lannan has been a pleasant surprise this spring and he now has a 3.21 ERA through four spring starts.

What Went Wrong:  The offense managed only four hits off Rays pitching.  Stephen Vogt hit a two-run walk-off home run in the 10th off Phillies reliever Jay Johnson to win it for the Rays.

Featured Cards:  I decided to give the World Baseball Classic a chance this year, and I'll admit I've enjoyed watching some of the televised games.  Last night, former Phillie Nelson Figueroa led Team Puerto Rico to victory over Team USA, eliminating the Americans from the tournament.  He didn't allow his first hit until the fourth inning and he allowed just two hits overall in his six shutout innings.

J.C. Romero closed out the game for Puerto Rico, retiring Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins for the final two outs.

2008 Upper Deck World
Series Champions #PP-20
I have a half dozen Figueroa cards in my collection from his first stint with the Phillies in 2001.  Alas, to my knowledge, the only Phillies card Figueroa received during his second stint with the Phillies in 2010 was this Chachi card.  Most of the Romero cards in my collection are from the team-issued postcard sets.

Camp Head Count:  Every year around this time, I start to lose track of the team's roster moves.  The first few rounds of cuts are easy enough to follow as there's usually a big deal made surrounding the "first cuts of the spring."  The last cuts right before the start of the regular season are well reported too.

It's these in-between cuts that I seem to miss.  What I know for sure is that the Phils optioned out Cesar Hernandez and they reassigned pitcher Justin Friend.  So that puts us at 42 minus 2 = 40.   But then they went and added four players between yesterday and today - pitchers Jay Johnson, Colby Shreve and Jordan Whatcott along with catcher John Suomi.  I won't add these four guys to the tally as they're most likely in Major League camp to provide late spring depth.

And if you're keeping score at home, a few reliable Phillies sources are reporting that the official camp head count is now at 39.  I think this is because they're not including Carlos Ruiz in the tally since Ruiz will open the season on the restricted list due to his PED suspension.  But I could be wrong.

Friday, March 15, 2013

2007 Topps 52 Signatures #52S-MJZ Mike Zagurski

Phillies 2, Pirates 1
Spring Training Game 19 - Thursday Afternoon, March 14th in Clearwater
Record - 8-10-1

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Cook and Rodrigo Lopez were the unlikely pitching stars in this 2-1 win over the Pirates.

What It Means:  Cook and Lopez are both vying for the same long-man/sixth starter roster spot and their performances today will make a final decision even more difficult.

What Went Right:  Cook started and pitched three scoreless innings and Lopez followed with two scoreless innings of his own.  Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte saved a run with a great throw to the plate in the second.

The Phillies scoring came on a Ryan Howard sac fly and a solo home run in the eighth from Team Canada's Pete Orr.

Featured Card:  Orr's home run came off former Phillie Mike Zagurski, who is trying to earn a roster spot with the Pirates.  If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times - when an opportunity presents itself to post a Zagurski card, you take it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

1952 Topps #108 Jim Konstanty

I started this blog almost four years ago to serve as an outlet for my love of the Phillies and their baseball cards.  Back then, my daily postings also gave me another way to connect with my Dad as he was the first and most faithful follower of The Phillies Room.  I had (and have) no intention of ever turning this blog into an outlet for me to gripe or whine about the trials and tribulations of my professional life.  Everyone has bad days/months/weeks at work and no one wants to read about mine.  You've clicked on the link to my blog because we all love baseball, baseball cards and the Phillies, in probably that order, and sharing with those with whom these bonds are shared is good for the soul.

That being said, a few months back I made reference to my quest for a new job.  I haven't been a free agent for almost 15 years, but for various reasons the time had come for me to peddle my wares elsewhere.  I'm happy to report I have found a new employer and I'm about to bear witness to the greenness of their grass.  It's been a challenging few months with my soon to be former employer, but I'll leave with nothing but good memories and I'll push the bad stuff aside.  As Michael Young recently pointed out about his 13 years with the Texas Rangers, "I take nothing but great memories away from my time there . . . As far as everything else that took place, to be honest, that's all noise to me."

I wanted to add a significant Phillies baseball card to my collection to mark my departure from my former employer.  I wanted the letter K to be somehow associated with the card, and I thought this awesome 1952 Topps card of Phillies reliever Jim Konstanty was a perfect fit.  I never thought Konstanty looked like much of a ballplayer; he always looked like more of an accountant to me.  And on this baseball card, he looks like a smiling accountant, looking forward to future challenges.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

1985 Topps Glossy All-Stars #1 Paul Owens MG

Yankees 6, Phillies 2
Spring Training Game 18 - Wednesday Night, March 13th in Tampa
Record - 7-10-1

One Sentence Summary:  Cliff Lee became the latest starting pitcher to suffer a shaky outing as the Yankees defeated the Phillies, 6-2, under the lights in Tampa.

What It Means:  Another day, another struggle.

What Went Wrong:  Lee allowed five runs (two earned) on six hits in 2 2/3 innings.  The Phillies defense committed four more errors.

Featured Card:  No matter what the outcome of tonight's game was, I decided at some point this afternoon I was going to feature a card of former Phillies farm system director/general manager/manager Paul Owens.  Nicknamed "The Pope" due to his resemblance to Pope Paul VI, I couldn't help but think of Owens throughout the past few days during the papal conclave in Vatican City.

2013 Topps Turkey Red #13 Roy Halladay

Tigers 10, Phillies 6
Spring Training Game 17 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 12th in Clearwater
Record - 7-9-1

One Sentence Summary:  Roy Halladay got rocked by the Tigers as the Phillies lost 10-6.

What It Means:  Oh boy.  This can't be good.

What Went Wrong:  Halladay's line wasn't pretty - 2 2/3 innings pitched, six hits including two home runs, seven earned runs, four walks, a wild pitch and a hit batter.  His velocity topped out in the mid-80s, which is a concern as well.  After the game, Halladay said nothing was wrong with him physically.  He was just tired.  Let's hope.

On the bright side, Ben Revere had a three-hit day and Chase Utley hit his first home run of the spring.

Featured Card:  I'm still waiting for my Topps Heritage Phillies master team set to arrive in the mail, so I'll take this opportunity to feature Halladay's Topps Turkey Red card.  I'm going to be optimistic and assume that's a sunrise and not a sunset behind Halladay.

Camp Head Count:  47 minus 5 = 42.  Pitchers Tyler Cloyd, B.J. Rosenberg and Mauricio Robles, along with catcher Sebastian Valle and outfielder Tyson Gillies were optioned to the minor leagues yesterday.