Thursday, October 31, 2013

Phillies in the Postseaon - Part Three

2009 Upper Deck #966, 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter #286, 1981 Donruss #295 and 1980 Topps #178
Last night, Shane Victorino joined an exclusive Phillies-related club that now only includes three players:

1.  Lonnie Smith - 1980 Phillies, 1982 Cardinals and 1985 Royals
2.  Pat Burrell - 2008 Phillies and 2010 Giants
3.  Shane Victorino - 2008 Phillies and 2013 Red Sox

As far as I can tell, and please correct me if I'm wrong, these are the only three players to win their first World Series ring with the Phillies and then go on to win a second (or third) World Series ring elsewhere.  Victorino has always been a Phillies Room favorite, and I was happy to see him and his Red Sox teammates celebrate last night after their defeat of the St. Louis Cardinals.  I can't imagine what the scene most have looked like from Section 36.

St. Louis Cardinals - N.L. Central Champions - Lost World Series to the Red Sox, 4-2
The Cardinals had no one in uniform who had previously been associated with the Phillies.  Which is probably one of the reasons they lost.

Boston Red Sox - A.L. East Champions - 2013 World Champions
Victorino (2005-2012) was a huge part of Boston's winning season.  His overall numbers weren't impressive (.216 batting average in 14 games) but his 11 hits led to 12 RBIs.  Despite missing two games of the World Series with lower back issues, Victorino will forever be remembered for his three-run, Game 6 triple that got the Red Sox on the board in the clinching game.  He also came up huge against the Tigers in Game 6 of the A.L.C.S. with his second career grand slam.

Sadly, John McDonald (2013) was left off the Sox postseason roster, but he'll still earn a ring.

Finally, I'd be remiss for not at least acknowledging the retirement of long-time announcer and former Phillie, Tim McCarver.  My Pop-Pop probably forever tainted me against McCarver, but I do respect the man for his longevity and his love of the game.

Memory Lane
Phillies in the Postseason - Part One
Phillies in the Postseason - Part Two
Doug's First Blog Post - Go Sox!

Monday, October 28, 2013

2009 Topps Phillies

2009 Topps #500, #200, #557 and #73
In the latter part of 2008 into the early part of 2009, all was right with the world if you were a Phillies fan.  The team had just been crowned World Champions and we were all living in the afterglow of the magical 2008 season.  My fellow Phillies fans wanted to talk about the team and relive the memorable moments from the championship season.  The Philadelphia Comcast station constantly re-ran the key games from the 2008 postseason, and played interviews with all our new heroes.  For me personally, I wanted to find a way to somehow connect with fellow Phillies fans and baseball card collectors.  I wanted to keep the magic going and show off some of the cool custom baseball cards I was creating.  So on the evening of March 30, 2009, I started this blog.

I tracked every game of the 2009 campaign on this blog, including the team's return to the postseason for the third straight season.  I discovered other baseball card and Phillies-related blogs and I've made some genuine friends along the way.  The 2009 season didn't end the way I wanted it to end, but I definitely enjoyed the ride.

The Set
2009 Topps #525 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  Remember the good old days, when Topps base sets had 792 cards, and 792 cards only?  There weren't any gimmicks, no short-printed cards sharing the same number in the set as another card and once you had all 792 cards - you stopped?  Topps rolled out two series of 330 cards in 2009 (for a total of 660 cards), but they added 35 short-printed cards of various Hall of Famers and one gimmick card of C.C. Sabathia with his new team, the Yankees.  The update set added 330 regular cards and 25 short-printed cards.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  This set's design has really grown on me.  My one complaint would be that the silver foil text on the front of the cards is a little too difficult to read, particularly on the postseason highlight or league leaders cards.
Notable competition:  Sadly, this was the final year Upper Deck held a MLB license.  They produced some memorable sets in their final year with a license, including the retro (and popular) O-Pee-Chee set and the super-retro Goudey set.  For the record, I'm still trying to complete a 2009 Upper Deck set.

2009 Topps #397, #525, #107 and 2009 Topps Update #UH203
2009 Phillies
Record and finish:  For the first time in franchise history, the Phillies reached the World Series in consecutive seasons.  Their 93-69 record was a game better than their record in 2008, and they finished 6 games ahead of the Marlins in the N.L. East.  The Phillies defeated the Rockies in four games in the N.L.D.S. and they once again took out the Dodgers in five games in the N.L.C.S.  Unfortunately, the Yankees trumped the Phils in six games in the World Series, and a repeat was not to be.  Neither the Phillies or the Yankees have been back to the World Series since.

Key players:  The Phillies had four big bats in the middle of their line-up that carried the offense throughout the season.  Chase Utley batted third most of the season, and he finished with a .282 average, 31 home runs and 93 RBIs.  Batting clean-up, Ryan Howard once again had a huge season, hitting 45 home runs while driving in 141.  Jayson Werth continued his emergence, hitting .268 with 36 home runs and 99 RBIs, while newcomer Raul Ibanez contributed 34 home runs and 93 RBIs.

On the mound, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ and Jamie Moyer each finished with 12 wins.  Cole Hamels suffered from poor run support (a recurring theme) and finished with a 10-11 record and a 4.32 ERA.  Hamels led the team with 168 strikeouts.  The Phils added two key starting pitchers for the second half of the season.  Cliff Lee (see key events below) went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in his 12 starts.  Future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez joined the rotation in mid-August and went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 9 starts.  Brad Lidge struggled mightily after his perfect 2008, converting 31 of 42 save opportunities and owning an astronomical ERA of 7.21.  Ryan Madson continued to impress with 10 saves.

Key events:  On April 13th, long-time Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas passed away before the Phillies game at Nationals Park.  The team honored Kalas with several moving memorial ceremonies and the players and coaches wore a black circle bearing the initials "HK" on the fronts of their jerseys for the remainder of the 2009 season.  Howard became the fastest player in Major League history to hit 200 home runs on July 16th, breaking Ralph Kiner's record.  Prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Phils pulled off a blockbuster deal, acquiring starting pitcher Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco from the Cleveland Indians for four prospects.

2009 Phillies in 2009 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  Thanks to appearances on various postseaon highlight and league leaders cards, the complete Phillies team set from 2009 Topps consists of  41 cards.
Who's in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 8 cards
#397 Carlos Ruiz (c), #500 Ryan Howard (1b), #200 Chase Utley (2b), #525 Jimmy Rollins (ss), #107 Pedro Feliz (3b), #UH150 Raul Ibanez (lf), #73 Shane Victorino (cf), #557 Jayson Werth

2009 Topps #650, #207, 2009 Topps Update #UH30 and 2009 Topps #428
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 5 cards
#207 Joe Blanton, #650 Cole Hamels, #UH30 J.A. Happ, #428 Jamie Moyer, #UH218 Cliff Lee
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 2009 - 12 cards
#12 Drew Carpenter, #20 Brad Lidge, #103 Kyle Kendrick, #186 Ryan Madson, #291 Chris Coste, #632 Brett Myers, #UH72 John Mayberry, Jr., #UH80 Matt Stairs, #UH93 Pedro Martinez, #UH203 Ben Francisco, #UH248 Chan Ho Park, #UH267 Miguel Cairo
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 2009 - 2 cards
  • Postseason Highlights cards - 4 cards
#139 Matt Stairs (N.L.C.S. Game 4), #191 Shane Victorino (N.L.D.S. Game 2), #278 Brad Lidge (World Champs), #299 Cole Hamels (World Series Recap)
  • 2008 National League Leaders cards - 2 cards
#81 Ryan Howard (Home Run Leaders), #147 Ryan Howard (RBI Leaders)
  • Classic Combos cards - 1 card, #601 Ryan Howard & Jimmy Rollins
  • 2009 MLB Home Run Derby cards - 1 card, #UH26 Ryan Howard
  • 2009 National League All-Star cards - 5 cards
#UH71 Chase Utley, #UH129 Shane Victorino, #UH136 Raul Ibanez, #UH151 Jayson Werth, #UH260 Ryan Howard
2009 Topps Update #UH218, #UH93, 2009 Topps #20 and 2009 Topps Phillies #PHI13
Who's out:  Pinch-hitter extraordinaire Greg Dobbs is the biggest Phillies omission from the 2009 Topps set.  Dobbs appeared in 97 games and hit .247 in 154 at-bats.  Back-ups Paul Bako (44 games) and Eric Bruntlett (72 games) should have also appeared on cards.  Bruntlett could have earned a card solely on the important role he played in the 2008 postseason.  (The light-hitting infielder scored the winning run in World Series Game 3.)  Four key relievers also got omitted:  Chad Durbin (4.39 ERA in 59 games), Clay Condrey (3.00 ERA in 45 games), Tyler Walker (3.06 ERA in 32 games) and Scott Eyre (1.50 ERA in 42 games).

Phillies on other teams:  A number of players appearing as Phillies in the update set had cards in the base set with their former teams - Ibanez (#6 with the Mariners), Cairo (#82 with the Mariners), Lee (#180 with the Indians), Park (#272 with the Dodgers) and Francisco (#624 with the Indians).  Bako appears with the Reds on card #491.  (I altered Bako's Topps Heritage card here to give him his sole Phillies Topps card, in virtual form only.)
What's he doing here:  I have no complaints with Topps giving cards to both Jenkins and Burrell.  This would be Burrell's final Phillies card before departing for Tampa Bay, and Jenkins provided a key hit in the clinching World Series Game 5 in '08.
Cards that never were candidates:  There are six players who were on the 2009 Phillies World Series roster who didn't have base or update Topps cards - Bruntlett, Dobbs, Bako, Durbin, Eyre and rookie reliever Antonio Bastardo.
Favorite Phillies card:  Without a doubt, it's card #278, featuring Lidge in the midst of the celebration following the final out of the 2008 World Series.

2009 Topps Update #UH150, 2009 Topps #278 and 2009 Topps Update #UH248
Other Stuff
Recycled:  Until flipping through my 2009 Phillies binder in preparation for this post, I had completely forgotten that Topps didn't issue an Opening Day set in 2009.  The set debuted in 2005, took the year off in 2009, and came back in 2010.  It's worth noting that the 15-card Topps Phillies retail set contains nine cards with player pictures different from what ended up in the flagship set.  I was happy to see this when I bought the set, and I wish they'd make this a regular occurrence.
Memory Lane:  In the early spring of 2009, I booked a trip to Walt Disney World for our family beginning on Halloween.  I picked that arrival date figuring the World Series would be over and I could even attend the World Series parade if the Phillies were lucky enough to repeat.  However, thanks to the money grab that is the World Baseball Classic, the whole season got pushed back a week and we arrived in Disney just in time to for me to watch Games 3 through 6 while on vacation.  I chronicled the 2009 World Series, and our Disney trip, in a series of November 2009 posts:

Game 1 - Phillies 6, Yankees 1 - Chase & Cliff Bomb Bombers
Game 2 - Yankees 3, Phillies 1 - Phils, Pedro Drop Game 2
Game 3 - Yankees 8, Phillies 5 - Werth's 2 Homers Not Enough
Game 4 - Yankees 7, Phillies 4 - Excruciating Loss: Yanks Up 3-1
Game 5 - Phillies 8, Yankees 6 - Chase Utley, You are the Man!
Game 6 - Yankees 7, Phillies 3 - Repeat Bid Falls Short

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Doug's First Blog Post - Go Sox!

2010 Topps Heritage #154
A few weeks ago, I explained to my son Doug how the playoffs work and what it meant to get all the way to the World Series.  I regaled him with stories of the Phillies appearances in the World Series during my lifetime in 1980, 1983, 1993, 2008 and 2009 and I told him how incredibly happy it made me when they won in all five years ago.

Doug is a huge Shane Victorino fan  (see here for reference) and he wanted to contribute to "that thing on Daddy's computer where he writes about the Phillies and his baseball cards and some people read it," otherwise known as this here blog.

So here is Doug's first guest post.  He's excited for Game 1 tonight and I'm excited that he's excited.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Phillies in the Postseason - Part Two

2001 Fleer Platinum #568
Two more teams had their seasons end recently.  While we wait for Game 1 of the 2013 World Series between the Red Sox and the Cardinals, here's a very brief look at the ex-Phillies playing in the postseason with the Dodgers.

Los Angeles Dodgers - N.L. West Champions - Lost N.L.C.S. to the Cardinals, 4-2
Nick Punto (2001-2003), inexplicably appearing in his 4th postseason, appeared sparingly for the Dodgers.  Used mostly as a late inning defensive replacement at shortstop, Punto did get the start at short spelling an injured Hanley Ramirez in Game 2 of the N.L.C.S.  In total, he hit .333 (2 for 6) with a double and four strike outs.

Michael Young (2013) joined the Dodgers at the end of August after a decent partial season with the Phillies.  This was the fourth straight year Young was appearing in the postseason, having reached the previous three seasons with the Rangers.  Young appeared in 9 of the Dodgers 10 postseason games either as a pinch-hitter or a late inning replacement at first or shortstop.  He batted .100 (1 for 10) with a strikeout so first base coach Davey Lopes (coach, 2007-2010) didn't get to see him very often.

Detroit Tigers - A.L. Central Champions - Lost A.L.C.S. to the Red Sox, 4-2
Not one member of the Tigers roster or coaching staff has ever suited up for the Phillies.  Manager (and now ex-manager) Jim Leyland was the favorite to become the Phillies new manager in 2005 before Charlie Manuel got the job.  I wonder if he'd make a good bullpen coach?

Memory Lane

Monday, October 21, 2013

2011 Topps #524 Michael Martinez

Thanks to a link provided by the MLB Trade Rumors website, it turns out that several of the players outrighted off the Phillies 40-man roster in recent weeks have officially departed by electing to become free agents.

Reports had surfaced late last week that Michael Martinez had already re-signed with the Phillies, but fortunately those reports proved to be false.  In his three seasons with the Phillies, Martinez hit .187 in 162 games and yet somehow he's ended up on more Topps cards than Phillies Room favorite, Kevin Frandsen.  The world is a confusing place.

Moving On
Steven Lerud (10/1/13) - Elected free agency.
Raul Valdes (10/2/13) - Claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros.
Tyler Cloyd (10/2/13) - Claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Indians.
Michael Martinez (10/7/13) - Outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency.
Zach Miner (10/7/13) - Outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency.
Pete Orr (10/7/13) - Outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency.
Roger Bernadina (10/17/13) - Outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency.
J.C. Ramirez (10/17/13) - Outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency.
Casper Wells (10/17/13) - Outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency.
John Lannan (10/17/13) - Outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency.

Outrighted off the 40-man roster to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and not yet officially gone:

Mauricio Robles (10/3/13) followed by Cesar Jimenez (10/17/13)

Unless Miner, Bernadina and Wells appear in the 2014 Topps set as Phillies, these three players are most likely destined to never appear on baseball card as members of the club.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Phillies in the Postseason - Part One

2007 Finest #155, 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter's #266,
2005 Donruss Diamond Kings #382 and 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen #293
Like the rest of us, the Phillies have been sitting at home over this past month watching the eight remaining teams compete in the 2013 postseason.  To keep myself occupied during these late postseason games, I decided to look back at the ex-Phillies appearing in this year's postseason and see how they fared.  I'll start with those teams eliminated first and then work my way up to the eventual World Champions.  The years in parentheses are the years each player, coach or manager spent with the Phillies.

Cincinnati Reds - 2nd N.L. Wild Card - Lost Wild Card game to the Pirates
The only ex-Phillie with the Reds is first base coach Billy Hatcher (1994)

Cleveland Indians - 1st A.L. Wild Card - Lost Wild Card game to the Rays
This was manager Terry Francona's (manager, 1997-2000) first year at the helm for the Tribe and his team exceeded everyone's expectations.  Center fielder Michael Bourn (2006-2007) went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in the Wild Card game.  Bench coach Brad Mills (coach, 1997-2000) also reunited with Francona in Cleveland after a rough stint as the Astros manager.

Atlanta Braves - N.L. East Champions - Lost N.L.D.S. to the Dodgers, 3-1
Freddy Garcia (2007) was the starting pitcher in the decisive Game 4, and he actually pitched a decent ballgame.  Garcia left after six innings with the Braves up, 2-1 against the Dodgers.  The Braves bullpen, overseen by pitching coach Roger McDowell (1989-1991) coughed up the lead and the Dodgers advanced to the N.L.C.S.

Tampa Bay Rays - 2nd A.L. Wild Card - Lost A.L.D.S. to the Red Sox, 3-1
Delmon Young (2013) went 3 for 11 in five postseason games with the Rays.  He started the scoring against the Indians in the Wild Card Game with a solo home run.  Third base coach Tom Foley (1985-1986) also spent some time with the Phils.

Pittsburgh Pirates - 1st N.L. Wild Card - Lost N.L.D.S. to the Cardinals, 3-2
Outfielder Marlon Byrd (2002-2005) went 8 for 22 (.364) in his first ever postseason after 12 seasons in the Majors.  In his first postseason at-bat, Byrd homered off the Reds Johnny Cueto, helping the Pirates advance to the N.L.D.S.  Pirates third base coach Nick Leyva (manager, 1989-1991) returned to the postseason for the first time since serving in that same capacity with the Blue Jays in 1993.

Thanks to reader Mark for recently sending me the Byrd card seen at the top of this post.

Oakland Athletics - A.L. West Champions - Lost A.L.D.S. to the Tigers, 3-2
First baseman/DH Brandon Moss (2011) went 2 for 18 (.111) in his second postseason with the A's, starting in all five games against the Tigers.

I'll follow-up with a post on the ex-Phillies on the four teams that advanced to both League Championship series.

Friday, October 18, 2013

2013 Topps Archives #213 Juan Samuel

Sure, the playoffs are still going on, but the Phillies are making exciting offseason moves!

Truth be told, they're not all that interesting yet, but at least the John Lannan experiment is officially over.  Lannan was limited in 2013 due to a knee injury, and he started just 14 games.  He leaves Philadelphia with a 3-6 record, a 5.33 ERA and a couple of cards in the team's postcard sets.

The Phillies also announced yesterday that both first base Juan Samuel and assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner would return in 2014.  It had been previously announced that Joyner wouldn't be returning, but my guess is that once the Los Angeles Angels named Don Baylor as their new hitting coach, the assistant job with the Phils looked appealing again.

Here's the updated list of the departed players so far this offseason:

Moving On
Raul Valdes (10/2/13) - Claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros.
Tyler Cloyd (10/2/13) - Claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Indians.
John Lannan (10/17/13) - Outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency.

Outrighted off the 40-man roster to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and not yet officially gone:

Michael Martinez, Zach Miner, Pete Orr and Mauricio Robles (10/3/13), followed by Roger Bernadina, Cesar Jimenez, J.C. Ramirez and Casper Wells (10/17/13)

Basically, these guys cleared waivers and I believe they can now choose to become free agents or stick around with the IronPigs.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

2008 Chachi #36 Interim Coaches

To wrap up my series of posts on recent Phillies coaches, I needed a catch-all post to document those men who held official coaching positions outside the normal coaching positions.  According to the Phillies Yearbooks and Media Guides back to 1970, these are those "other" guys:

Infield Coach
Bobby Wine 1972 - Wine would go on to serve as the first base coach beginning in 1973
Tony Taylor 1977-1978 - Taylor would move to the first base coach's box in 1979

Catching Coach
Mick Billmeyer 2004-2008 - Billmeyer became the team's bullpen coach in 2009

Assistant Hitting Coach
Wally Joyner 2013

There was also a Chachi card I wanted to feature, showing the team's four interim coaches from the wonderful 2008 season.  These guys aren't listed on the official coach's roster within the team's Media Guide, but they definitely served time with the team during the 2008 season.

Roly de Armas' name came up within the post I did on the team's bullpen coaches, and you should check out the comments to that post for further reading as to why he was with the club in 2008.  Former Phillie Jerry Martin served as the club's interim first base coach early in the year while regular coach Davey Lopes recovered from prostate cancer surgery.

Finally, both Greg Legg and Doug Mansolino spent time with the club when regular bench coach Jimy Williams left the club to tend to personal matters.  These guys don't appear on any official Phillies lists as being a part of the 2008 club, and if not for this post and their Chachi card, this pertinent knowledge* could have been lost in the sands of time.

*At least to maybe a dozen of us.

Phillies Coaches 1970-2014

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

1974 Topps #119 Danny Ozark MG & Coaches

If given the choice, I'd much rather be sleep-deprived right now, staying up late watching the Phillies in the postseason and creating Chachi cards to commemorate each playoff game.  Instead, I'm doing a series of posts on the Phillies coaches from the past 40-plus years.

I've already looked at the team's bench, bullpen, hitting, pitching and third base coaches, and this post will take a look at the Phillies first base coaches since 1970.  No one has served as the team's first base coach for more than four seasons since Bobby Wine held the position from 1973 to 1978, and there's been quite a bit of turnover with the position.  As I write this, the Phillies are still in the market for a first base coach for the 2014 season.

Billy DeMars 1969-1972 - DeMars was also the de facto hitting coach during this time
Brandy Davis 1972
Bobby Wine 1973-1978
Tony Taylor 1979; 1988-1989
Ruben Amaro 1980-1981
Deron Johnson 1982-1984 - Johnson also served as hitting coach
Del Unser 1985-1987 - Unser also served as hitting coach
John Vukovich 1990-1991
Mel Roberts 1992-1995
Dave Cash 1996
Brad Mills 1997-2000
Tony Scott 2001-2003
Milt Thompson 2004
Marc Bombard 2005-2006
Davey Lopes 2007-2010
Sam Perlozzo 2011-2012
Juan Samuel 2013
Wally Joyner 2013

Phillies Coaches 1970-2014

Monday, October 14, 2013

1951 Bowman #52 Dick Sisler

I don't often re-read my posts, but reading my tribute to my Dad from last year always brings a smile to my face.  Thinking about him and sharing stories about him has proven to be very therapeutic for me over the past two years.  Dad passed away two years ago today, and I wanted to post a simpler tribute to him today.  A simple tribute for a simple man, he would have said . . .

The most important baseball card in my collection is the 1951 Bowman Dick Sisler card that graces this blog's banner.  Almost six years ago on Christmas Day, my Dad handed me an envelope with my name on it.  I opened the envelope to find a short note from my Dad and the card you see here.  What a perfect gift from a great Dad.

As I drafted this post, the thought occurred to me that I should do the same thing for my sons Doug and Ben, only their envelopes would contain a 1979 Burger King Phillies Pete Rose card.

P.S. Dad would have loved that Larry Bowa is back.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

2013 Phillies Team Issue 2 #5 Steve Henderson

Before we delve into reviewing the Phillies hitting coaches of the past four decades, I wanted to briefly comment on the ongoing playoffs.  For the record, I was hoping for a rematch of the very first World Series held 110 years ago in 1903 between the Boston Pilgrims and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Cardinals dispatched the Pirates in five games in their N.L.D.S., so now I'm left rooting for whichever National League team would be easier for the Red Sox, and Shane Victorino, to beat in the World Series.  It's hard for me to root for the Dodgers however, so instead I'm just going to sit back and (unfortunately) relax for the second October in a row.

But on to matters concerning the Phillies, which is why you're here!  Hitting coach Steve Henderson will be back in 2014 and he hopes to continue the work he started in 2013.  If all goes according to plan, the annoying folks at Fox will be breaking in live during crucial N.L.C.S. action next fall to discuss with Henderson how he was able to work his magic and reboot the bats of Ryan Howard, Darin Ruf and Carlos Ruiz.

As far as I can tell, the Phillies didn't have an official hitting coach until Billy DeMars was given that title in 1980.  Prior to that, and according to the Phillies Yearbooks, DeMars served as the team's third base coach and hitting coach.  But he held the full-time hitting coach position for two years in 1980 and 1981.  Deron Johnson and Del Unser also had double duty as the team's first base coaches and hitting coaches between 1982 and 1987.

2013 Phillies Team
Issue 2 #21
Wally Joyner became the team's first official assistant hitting coach last season.  His time with the club lasted only a season, and Joyner will look to take on a full hitting coach position with another team in 2014.  I wonder how long it will be until there are assistant pitching coaches?  Here's the list of full and part-time hitting coaches for the Phillies since 1970:

Billy DeMars 1969-1981 - DeMars also served as first base coach (1969-1972) and third base coach (1972-1979)
Deron Johnson 1982-1984 - Johnson also served as first base coach during his coaching tenure
Del Unser 1985-1988 - Unser also served as first base coach (1985-1987)
Denis Menke 1989-1996
Hal McRae 1997-2000
Richie Hebner 2001
Greg Gross 2002-2004; 2011-2012
Milt Thompson 2005-2011
Steve Henderson 2013-

Phillies Coaches 1970-2014

Saturday, October 12, 2013

2011 Phillies Team Issue 2 #22 Pete Mackanin CO

This past week, Pete Mackanin and Larry Bowa joined an exclusive club that already counted Tony Taylor, Greg Gross and Dave Bristol as its members.  Each of those five men spent time as Phillies coaches, were relieved of their coaching duties, and came back for a second stint as a Phillies coach.

Taylor served as an infield coach after his playing days were over in 1977 and 1978.  He returned as the team's first base coach in 1988 and 1989.  Gross was Bowa's first bench coach in 2001 and then took over as his hitting coach from 2002 to 2004.  He returned to that post in 2011 when Milt Thompson was fired.  And Bristol served as a third base coach from 1982 to 1985, left for two years, and came back for the first part of the 1988 season.

Mackanin's situation is unique in that he was the team's bench coach for four seasons under Charlie Manuel from 2009 to 2012.  When he returns to the Phillies coaching staff in 2014, he'll be over at third base instead of in the dugout.

There's been quite a lot of turnover at the hot corner's coaching box over the last 40+ seasons:

George Myatt 1964-1972
Billy DeMars 1972-1979
Lee Elia 1980-1981
Dave Bristol 1982-1985; 1988
Jim Davenport 1986-1987
Larry Bowa 1988-1996
John Vukovich 1997-2004
Bill Dancy 2005-2006
Steve Smith 2007-2008
Sam Perlozzo 2009-2010
Juan Samuel 2011-2012; 2013
Ryne Sandberg 2013
Pete Mackanin 2014

Phillies Coaches 1970-2014
Bench Coach
Bullpen Coach
Pitching Coach

Thursday, October 10, 2013

2005 Phillies Team Issue #17 Mick Billmeyer CO

As I continue to distract myself from the 2013 postseason, today's post serves to bid farewell to long-time coach Mick Billmeyer and to take a look back at the team's bullpen coaches from the past 40-plus years.  Billmeyer joined Larry Bowa's staff back in 2004 as the "catching instructor" which was a new position within the organization.  He held that position through the 2008 season, and was named the official bullpen coach in 2009.  Billmeyer was stationed in the bullpen until last season, and he moved to the dugout in 2013 to serve as Charlie Manuel's right-hand man.  He wasn't officially the team's bench coach though, as he was once again given the title of catching coach.

Billmeyer was let go last week and the thought is that he'll wind up with another team shortly.  He appeared in all the Phillies team sets since 2004, marking his only Phillies cardboard representation.

The bullpen coach has been a relatively stable position with the Phillies since 1970, and here's the list of the nine men to have answered the bullpen phone over the past 43 seasons:

Doc Edwards 1970-1972
Carrol Beringer 1973-1978
Bob Tiefenauer 1979
Mike Ryan 1980-1995
Joe Rigoli 1996-1997
Ramon Henderson 1998-2008
Roly de Armas 2008
Mick Billmeyer 2009-2012
Rod Nichols 2013

Nichols has not yet been officially retained for the 2014 season.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

2013 Topps Archives #226 Larry Bowa

The Phillies welcomed Larry Bowa back to the organization yesterday, and I couldn't be happier.  I've always been a fan of Bowa's, and I was among the few who didn't think he should have been fired as the team's manager with a few games left in the 2004 season.  Bowa, who was traded to the Cubs with manager Ryne Sandberg back in 1982, joins Sandberg's staff as his bench coach.  Before managing the Phillies from 2001 to 2004, Bowa had served as the team's third base coach from 1988 to 1996.  (As an aside, how cool would it be if Sandberg also added Ivan DeJesus to his staff in some capacity?)

The Phils also announced that Pete Mackanin would be returning as the team's third base coach.  Mackanin was a coach with the Phils from 2009 to 2012 and spent last season as a scout for the Yankees.  Not returning for 2014 are long-time coach Mick Billmeyer and assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner.  I'll have more on Mackanin, Billmeyer and Joyner in future posts.

Similar to what I did for Phillies pitching coaches over the past 40 years, and for no other reason than these types of lists interest me, I wanted to compile a list of Phillies bench coaches.  As far as I can tell, using the team's media guides and yearbooks, the first official bench coach/dugout assistant was Bobby Wine in 1979.  Charlie Manuel opted not to have an official bench coach in 2013, moving Billmeyer to the dugout and giving him the title of catching coach.

Bobby Wine 1979-1983
John Felske 1984
Lee Elia 1985-1987
John Vukovich 1988-1989; 1992-1996
Hal Lanier 1990-1991
Chuck Cottier 1997-2000
Greg Gross 2001
Gary Varsho 2002-2006
Jimy Williams 2007-2008
Pete Mackanin 2009-2012
Larry Bowa 2014

Sunday, October 6, 2013

2008 Topps Phillies

2008 Topps #100, #460, #30 and #615
Five years ago this weekend, the Phillies were celebrating their 2008 N.L.D.S. victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.  The Phils handled the Brewers in four games, with Shane Victorino's grand slam off C.C. Sabathia in Game 2 being the image that still comes to my mind when I think back on that awesome series.  The Phillies reached the N.L.C.S. for the first time since 1993 where they dispatched of the Dodgers in five games.

They met up with the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series and the pure joy I experienced on October 29, 2008, when Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske, easily marks the high-water mark in terms of my Philadelphia Phillies fandom.  And five years later I'm still rooting and still hoping to feel that pure joy again.

The Set
2008 Topps #238 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  There are 660 cards in the base set, which was once again released in two series.  I'm not counting the super short-printed gimmick cards in my tally, including cards of former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani celebrating with the Red Sox following their World Series victory and the fictional Japanese player Kazuo Uzuki.  The update series added another 330 base cards and several more gimmick cards.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  With the cool multi-colored circle letters at the tops of each card spelling out team names, I should love this set.  But the much-maligned and blog-documented Topps "logo bump" interfering with the photos is just too annoying for me to overcome.  If you've never noticed this, please check out the Redefine the Design post from Uncle Doc's Card Closet from earlier this year.  The redefined design is much, much better.  And not to pile on, but some of the photo choices used for the Phillies cards are just bizarre.  Rollins is literally just standing around, Utley is too far away and Lidge was the recipient of an awful Photoshop job.
Notable competition:  Upper Deck folded the Fleer brand in 2007, so 2008 saw the release of card sets from just two major manufacturers - Upper Deck and Topps.  In a way, it was good to not have to chase so many different card sets . . . but I still miss Donruss, Fleer, Pacific, etc.

2008 Topps #281, 2008 Topps Update #UH250, 2008 Topps #238 and #521
2008 Phillies
Record and finish:  The Phillies finished the season with a 92-70 record, three games ahead of the second place Mets.  They defeated the Brewers in the N.L.D.S., 3 games to 1, and then the Dodgers in the N.L.C.S., 4 games to 1.  It took them five games - with game five being played over three days due to severe weather - to defeat the Rays in the World Series.
2008 Topps #443
Key players:  Ryan Howard had another monster year, hitting .251 with 48 home runs and 146 RBIs.  Not far behind him were Chase Utley (.292, 33, 104) and Pat Burrell (.250, 33, 86).  Jimmy Rollins took a step back after his MVP-season, but he was still a key contributor (.277 and 47 stolen bases) to the offense.  Jayson Werth became an everyday player for the first time in his career and hit .273 with 24 home runs.  The Phils also received solid support off the bench from Geoff Jenkins, Chris Coste and Greg Dobbs, who hit .301 with a league leading 22 pinch hits.  Cole Hamels had an impressive regular season on the mound, going 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 227 1/3 innings.  But he truly dazzled during the postseason, going 4-0 in his five starts with a 1.80 ERA.  His efforts won him both the N.L.C.S. and the World Series MVP honors.  Jamie Moyer led the team with 16 wins and Brett Myers returned from the bullpen to win 10 as a starter.  Joe Blanton, acquired in July to bolster the rotation, went 4-0 with a 4.20 ERA in 13 strong starts.  Finally, Lidge enjoyed a career year, converting 41 saves in 41 opportunities in the regular season and another 7 saves in the postseason.
Key events:  I'd call winning the franchise's second World Championship in its then 125-year history pretty key.

2008 Phillies in 2008 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  Here's the break-down - 15 cards in series one, 9 cards in series two, and an impressive 12 cards in the update set.  That's a total of 36 Phillies cards in the 2008 Topps and Topps Update sets.
Who's in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 8 cards
#281 Carlos Ruiz (c), #100 Ryan Howard (1b), #460 Chase Utley (2b), #30 Jimmy Rollins (ss), #UH250 Pedro Feliz (3b), #615 Pat Burrell (lf), #238 Shane Victorino (cf), #521 Jayson Werth (rf)

2008 Topps #35, #173, #262 and 2008 Topps Update #UH228
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 5 cards
#35 Cole Hamels, #173 Jamie Moyer, #262 Brett Myers, #28 Kyle Kendrick, #572 Adam Eaton
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 2008 - 12 cards
#184 Tadahito Iguchi, #443 Greg Dobbs, #496 Brad Lidge, #573 Tom Gordon, #UH63 Eric Bruntlett, #UH81 J.C. Romero, #UH93 Chris Coste, #UH158 Chad Durbin, #UH220 Geoff Jenkins, #UH228 Joe Blanton, #UH236 Chris Snelling, #UH278 So Taguchi
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 2008 - 3 cards

Both Helms and Lahey were on the Phillies active roster to start the season.  Helms was designated for assignment following the season opener to make room on the roster for the recently signed reliever, Rudy Seanez.  Lahey was designated for assignment four games into the season when Lidge was activated from the disabled list.  I wrote about both Helms' and Lahey's short time with the 2008 Phillies in this post.
  • Award cards - 1 card, #233 Jimmy Rollins (N.L. MVP)
  • N.L. Leaders cards - 2 cards, #58 Ryan Howard (RBI Leaders) and #298 Ryan Howard (Home Run Leaders)
  • Classic Combos cards - 1 card, #98 Ryan Howard and Chase Utley
  • Home Run Derby cards - 1 card, #UH184 Chase Utley
  • 2008 N.L. All-Star cards - 2 cards, #UH241 Chase Utley and #UH304 Brad Lidge
  • Manager card - 1 card, #632 Charlie Manuel
2008 Topps #496, 2008 Topps Update #UH81, #UH220 and #UH93
Who's out:  Relievers Ryan Madson (76 games, 3.05 ERA) and Clay Condrey (56 games, 3.26 ERA) were both key components of the Phillies strong bullpen, but both got left out of any Topps sets in 2008.  He wasn't as effective, but Seanez appeared in 42 games for the Phillies and also got shut out.  Matt Stairs was acquired too late in the season to be included within the update set, but his N.L.C.S. Game 4 heroics against the Dodgers will forever endear him to Phillies fans.

2008 Topps #134
Phillies on other teams:  Stairs (#134) appears with the Blue Jays in the base Topps set.  Others receiving cards with their former teams within the base set include Taguchi (#82, Cardinals) and Blanton (#436, Athletics).  Iguchi was let go by the Phillies following the 2007 season, and he appears with the Padres (#UH133) in the update set.  The Phils brought him back for the final month of the season to help provide late-inning defense.  Finally, reliever Scott Eyre has a card within the 55-card Cubs Topps Gift set.
What's he doing here:  Without a doubt, it's got to be Lahey.
Cards that never were candidates:  In order to have Topps cards of everyone on the Phillies 25-man World Series roster, we need cards of the following players - Stairs, Eyre, Condrey, Madson and J.A. Happ.  Happ went 1-0 with a 3.69 ERA during the regular season and pitched three innings of relief against the Dodgers in the N.L.C.S.
Favorite Phillies card:  I'll go with Howard's card.  Just looking at it again for purposes of this post brings back such great memories of the beginning of the team's magical run.  Blanton has a great card too, and the photo actually works well with the logo bump.

Other Stuff
Recycled:  Topps Opening Day was back again this year, and the cards have a garish all-red border.  The release of Topps Chrome saw the use of slightly different photos compared to what was used in the regular base set.  This was a welcome change.  The Topps Phillies retail set contained 14 cards and the cards of Dobbs, Jenkins and Utley featured different or cropped photos when compared to their cards appearing in the base or update sets.
Memory Lane:  To date, the only World Series game we've ever attended was Game 3 of the 2008 World Series.  This was the game delayed over 90 minutes at the outset and started in a steady drizzle.  We braved the elements, cheered for Moyer at the outset and erupted with everyone else when Bruntlett scored the winning run on Chooch's walk-off infield hit.  We didn't mind that we didn't get home until almost 3 in the morning, and our babysitter made out very well that night too.

Friday, October 4, 2013

1987 Phillies - No Missing Links

1987 Fleer Update #U-27, 1987 Donruss Opening Day #155, 1987 O-Pee-Chee #135 and 1988 Donruss #604
Thanks entirely to the 1987 Tastykake Phillies set, I've found another season in which every player who suited up for the Phillies received at least one Phillies baseball card.  I've put together posts covering 1980 to 1987, and then 1990 to 2000, and that's something that can be said for only three seasons in that range - 1985, 1987 and 1993.

3 Cards or More
35 Players

I'm going to include Mike Easler in this first category.  Easler only played 33 games with the Phillies before he was traded back to the New York Yankees in early June.  His 1987 Donruss Opening Day card is the sole standard sized card to feature Easler in a Phillies uniform, and he also appears in the 1987 Tastykake Phillies set.  The card that pushes him into this category, in my opinion, is his 1987 O-Pee-Chee card.  The card shows Easler in a Yankees uniform but bears a Phillies logo and the little "Now with Phillies" legend on the front of the card.

1987 Tastykake
Phillies #45
1987 Tastykake
Phillies #51
1987 Tastykake
Phillies #58
1987 Tastykake
Phillies #39A
2 Cards
Ken Dowell (15 games in 1987) - 1987 Fleer Update #U-27 and 1987 Tastykake Phillies #37
Ken Jackson (8 games in 1987) - 1985 Tastykake Phillies #44 (with Francisco Melendez) and 1987 Tastykake Phillies #51
Tom Newell (2 games in 1987) - 1987 Tastykake Phillies #50 and 1988 Donruss #604

I was always excited to receive new cards of Mike Schmidt or even Von Hayes during the mid to late '80s.  But what really got me excited is when the Ken Dowell's of the world appeared in a major card release like Fleer Update.  Dowell's entire Phillies career spanned 15 games between June 24th and July 19th, and that was good enough for the fine folks at Fleer to decide to give the light-hitting shortstop a card in their update set.  Dowell was released by the Phils following the 1987 season and spent three seasons in the Mets and Braves organizations before hanging up his spikes.

Jackson was rewarded for his strong season at Double-A Reading with a September call-up, and he made his Major League debut on September 12th.  In 8 games, Jackson hit .250 (4 for 16) with two doubles.  He spent eight seasons toiling in the minors for the Phils before wrapping up his professional career in 1989 in the Rangers' organization.

If Dowell's inclusion in the 1987 Fleer Update set is curious, then Newell's inclusion in the 1988 Donruss set is flat out crazy mysterious.  Also a September call-up, Newell appeared in two games in which he accumulated one inning pitched and four earned runs for a career ERA of 36.00.  He left the Phillies organization following the 1988 season, missed the 1989 season, and played the next two seasons within the Yankees' organization.  But at least he's forever immortalized within the 1988 Donruss set.

1987 ProCards Maine Guides #16, #9, #2 and #4
1 Card
Greg Jelks (10 games in 1987) - 1987 Tastykake Phillies #45
Greg Legg (11 games in 1986 and 3 games in 1987) - 1987 Tastykake Phillies #11
Doug Bair (11 games in 1987) - 1987 Tastykake Phillies #58
Joe Cowley (5 games in 1987) - 1987 Tastykake Phillies #39

Jelks, who was called up to the Phillies in late August, appeared in 10 games for the Phillies at third base, first base and left field.  He hit .091 (1 for 11) and spent the entire 1988 season back with Triple-A Maine.  According to his Baseball Reference page, Jelks was still playing professional baseball as late as the 2001 season.

I covered Legg in depth with the 1986 Phillies Missing Links post.  Bair pitched in 11 forgettable games for the Phillies toward the tail-end of his 15-year career.  After his short time in Philadelphia, Bair would actually enjoy one of his better seasons with the 1989 Pirates when he posted a 2.27 ERA over 44 relief appearances.

And what to say about Cowley?  Cowley was acquired from the White Sox in late March 1987 for outfielder Gary Redus.  He was supposed to stabilize the rotation, but instead ended up going 0-4 over 5 appearances with a 15.43 ERA.  He pitched in 13 more games for Triple-A Maine, but after going 3-9 with a 7.86 ERA, his Phillies and his Major League Baseball careers were over.  Neither Topps nor Fleer deemed him worthy enough for inclusion within their update sets.

Past Missing Link Posts