Monday, March 31, 2014

Phillies at Rangers: March 31st to April 2nd

Monday 2:05, Tuesday and Wednesday 8:05
Globe Life Park in Arlington - Arlington, TX

2013 Season
Phillies 73-89, 4th Place in the N.L. East, 23 games behind the Braves
Rangers 91-72, 2nd Place in the A.L. West, 5 1/2 games behind the Athletics

2013 Statistics
Phillies Probables:  Cliff Lee (14-8, 2.87), A.J. Burnett (10-11, 3.30), Kyle Kendrick (10-13, 4.70)
Rangers Probables:  Tanner Scheppers (6-2, 1.88), Martin Perez (10-6, 3.62), Robbie Ross, Jr. (4-2, 3.03)

At the Ballpark:  All fans 21 and older will receive a Budweiser Opening Day magnetic schedule this afternoon.  Wednesday night features Nolan Ryan beef dollar hot dogs.  I'm not sure why Nolan Ryan's name is attached to this particular promotion, I'm only reporting the happenings.

Phillies Spring Training Leaders
Average:  Marlon Byrd - .298
Runs:  Ryan Howard and Ben Revere - 9
Home Runs:  Cody Asche, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins - 3
RBIs:  Cody Asche, Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz - 8
Stolen Bases:  Ben Revere - 6

Wins:  Jeff Manship - 2
ERA:  Jeff Manship - 1.80
Strikeouts:  Cliff Lee - 26
Saves:  Shawn Camp, Cesar Jimenez and Hector Neris - 1

1988 Topps #756, #26, #280 and #369
1988 Topps Appreciation:  Get ready for a whole season of glorious 1988 Topps cards in these series preview posts, as I look at cards featuring the Phillies and their opponents that have some sort of Phillies connection.

Mike Maddux is entering his sixth season as the Rangers pitching coach, and if the team is smart they won't let him leave anytime soon.  Maddux has has constant success in Texas as he's mentored a whole host of young arms including the trio that will face the Phillies in this series.

Mitch Williams and Pete Incaviglia were teammates with the Rangers prior to reuniting on the glorious 1993 Phillies team.  Pitcher Greg Harris signed as a free agent with the Phillies in 1988, after spending  the prior three seasons as part of the Rangers pitching staff.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ready or Not, the 25-Man Roster is Set

2014 Chachi Transactions #21
Pirates 3, Phillies 0
Spring Training Game 30 - Friday Night, March 28th in Philadelphia
Record - 9-18-3

One Sentence Summary:  The exhibition season mercifully drew to a close as the Phillies were shut-out by the Pirates, 3-0, in front of a sparse crowd in Philadelphia.

What Happened:  Chase Utley has three hits for the Phillies, accounting for all the team's offense.  Kyle Kendrick pitched five shutout innings in his final tune-up of the spring.

Featured Card/Camp Head Count:  Stay with me here . . . 35 - 11 + 1 = 25.  We'll get there in a little bit.

Some sort of vicious and evil stomach bug along with a current work schedule that could only be described as pure bananas have both conspired to keep me away from any Phillies happenings since Thursday night.  When I could raise my head again and check to see if the roster had been finalized yet for opening day, I was baffled to say the least.  After I've sorted it all out, I updated the sidebar on the left to list the 25 players who will head to Arlington for this year's opener against the Rangers.

Jayson Nix, not to be confused with his brother and former Phillie Laynce Nix, was this year's Ezequiel Carrera, acquired out of nowhere for cash considerations or a player to be named later to fill the last bench spot.  He's the +1 in the equation above.

2012 Grandstand Reading Phillies #10
As for the rest of the departures, 6 players will start the season on the disabled list - Darin Ruf, Freddy Galvis, Mike Adams, Cole Hamels, Miguel Gonzalez and Ethan Martin.  Struggling reliever Phillippe Aumont was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to work on his control.  Finally, non-roster invitees Reid Brignac, Shawn Camp, Koyie Hill and David Buchanan were all reassigned to the minors.

So there you have it, the 25-man roster is ready and so are the first 25 cards of this year's Chachi set, which should debut soon.  Surprise roster addition Mario Hollands will be making his virtual Phillies card debut, as will Jeff Manship.

Finally, we had tickets to the Friday night On-Deck series game with the Pirates, but the aforementioned vicious and evil stomach bug kept me from going.  I'll have to check my favorite blog sources to see if (a) the team went with giant sized cards using something other than the 2011 Topps design for the line-up posted in Ashburn Alley and (b) if the team issued postcard set is available yet.

Play ball!

Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 Chachi Almost #2 Bobby Abreu

Blue Jays 3, Phillies 0
Spring Training Game 29 - Thursday Afternoon, March 27th in Clearwater
Record - 9-17-3

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies wrapped up their Florida portion of the exhibition season with a less than impressive 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays.

What Happened:  A.J. Burnett allowed a run on three hits in his five innings of work to lower his spring ERA to 6.05.  A Jimmy Rollins single was the offense's lone contribution for the day.  Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth inning wearing a Carlos Ruiz jersey.  He's a nutjob.

Featured Card/Camp Head Count:  37 - 2 = 35.  For the second time, the Phillies bid adieu to Bobby Abreu as the veteran outfielder was released yesterday.  In his second abbreviated stint with the club, Abreu looked good with the bat, but looked awful with the glove.  The thought is that he'll latch on with an American League club where he can assist with DH duties.  As much as I would have liked to see a reunion with Abreu, for pure nostalgia's sake, I agree with the logic of not carrying someone who was going to be a liability on the field.  For his troubles, Abreu earns a Chachi Almost card which is the virtual insert set reserved for those players who almost make it into the official Chachi set . . . but not quite.

Pitcher Jonathan Pettibone was also optioned to Triple-A yesterday, leaving the Phillies with 35 bodies on the roster.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

2013 Phillies Team Issue 2 #40 Michael Stutes

Tigers 1, Phillies 0
Spring Training Game 28 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 26th in Clearwater
Record - 9-16-3

One Sentence Summary:  Cliff Lee and Justin Verlander faced off in their final spring starts, with Verlander and the Tigers coming out ahead in a 1-0 win.

What Happened:  Lee allowed the lone Tigers run in his five innings of work while striking out seven.  The Phillies managed just two singles off Verlander and three relievers.

Featured Card:  I was going to post Lee's Heritage card again, just to see if anyone would notice.  Instead, I decided to post what will most likely be Michael Stutes' last official Phillies card - see below.

Camp Head Count:  Still holding at 37, but the final pieces are starting to fall into place.  Veteran outfielder and former All-Star Bobby Abreu was informed yesterday he wouldn't make the team's opening day roster.  While his official opt-out date is Sunday, chances are he might be gone before then, rather than accept an assignment with the Triple-A IronPigs.

Reliever Stutes was also officially released, after being designated for assignment earlier in the week.  In parts of three seasons, Stutes appeared in 79 games for the Phillies, going 9-3 with a 4.01 ERA.  His best season by far was his rookie year of 2011, when he appeared in 57 games and put together a 3.63 ERA while striking out 58 in 62 innings.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage #280 Ryan Howard

Phillies 6, Yankees 0
Spring Training Game 27 - Tuesday Night, March 25th in Tampa
Record - 9-15-3

One Sentence Summary:  Jeff Manship pitched four scoreless innings while Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd hit back-to-back home runs and the Phillies defeated the Yankees, 6-0.

What Happened:  This was a nice little ballgame from the Phils.  The offense produced, while Manship and five relievers combined to shutout the Yankees.  Reliever Mike Adams, who hadn't appeared in game action since last June due to injuries, made his spring debut and pitched well.

Featured Card:  If you're already sick of Topps Heritage, this just isn't the place for you.  I'm getting closer to trotting out the entire team set in these game summary posts.  This is Howard's card from the set and as long as he's able to hit leftys in the regular season, we should see a lot more smiles coming from him.

2013 Topps Update #US58
Camp Head Count:  39 - 3 + 1 = 37.  We've now reached that portion of spring training in which guys are reassigned to the minors, but still stick around for game action, or guys are brought in from minor league camp just to provide roster depth before the team officially heads north.  In a flurry of catcher moves, the Phillies optioned Cameron Rupp to the minors, reassigned (again) Sebastian Valle and brought in catcher Koyie Hill to big league camp.

Veteran shortstop Ronny Cedeno was released after hitting .182 in 13 games.  The Phillies and Bobby Abreu agreed to push back the final decision regarding his opt-out until Sunday.

And finally, Phillies Room favorite Kevin Frandsen officially became a free agent, ending his three year tenure with the organization.  Here's wishing him well wherever he ends up . . . unless he's playing against the Phillies.

Thanks for everything, Kevin.  You should have had more Phillies cards.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2013 Grandstand Reading Fightin Phils #3 David Buchanan (@davidb413)

Phillies 6, Blue Jays 3 (8 Innings)
Spring Training Game 26 - Monday Afternoon, March 24th in Dunedin
Record - 8-15-3

One Sentence Summary:  The offense showed signs of life in a 6-3, rain-shortened victory over the Blue Jays.

What Happened:  Each spring, there comes a time when I'm a little tired of writing these spring training game summaries and I'm ready for the regular season to start.  I've arrived at that point now.  Cameron Rupp and Tony Gwynn, Jr. each drove in a pair of runs for the Phillies.

Featured Card:  I haven't posted any cards other than Topps Heritage since last week, so I'll break the streak with a card of the pitcher who could be the team's fifth starter on April 13th.  David Buchanan pitched two scoreless innings against the Blue Jays yesterday, continuing to impress manager Ryne Sandberg with his performance so far this spring.  In five games this spring (four starts), Buchanan has struck out 11 and walked just two in 12 innings pitched while compiling an ERA of 2.25.

This is one of Buchanan's two cards released last year with the Reading Fightin Phils' team sets.

Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage #337 Jimmy Rollins

Phillies 5, Twins 1
Spring Training Game 25 - Sunday Afternoon, March 23rd in Clearwater
Record - 7-15-3

One Sentence Summary:  Kyle Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins starred in a 5-1 win over the Twins.

What Happened:  Kendrick tossed six strong innings, allowing just a run on five hits while striking out six.  Rollins had two hits, including his third home run of the spring.

Featured Card:  All staged Phillies photos used in the Heritage set were taken at the start of spring training in 2013.  I think this Rollins card is one of my favorite staged-shot Heritage Phillies cards, as you can see part of the scoreboard in the outfield of Bright House Networks Field in the background.  The other staged shots just show a splotch of blue sky with nothing in the background.

Observant fans will recognize that the top two advertising billboards shown behind Rollins are for Hooters and Budweiser.  Of course, my delicate eyes aren't offended by such things, but I wonder if this is the first time both Hooters and Bud have been featured together on one baseball card?

Camp Head Count:  40 - 1 = 39.  In a surprising move, the team outrighted Phillies Room favorite Kevin Frandsen to Triple-A Lehigh Valley yesterday afternoon.  Frandsen had been fairly reliable off the bench the past two seasons and all indications were that he was a positive presence in the clubhouse.  He led the Majors with 14 pinch-hits in 2013.

The move seems to indicate that the Phillies needed to free up space on the 40-man roster for one or more non-roster invitees who could make the team, including Bobby Abreu and Ronny Cedeno.  Frandsen can now decide to stick around or test free agency.  We here at the Phillies Room hope he decides on the former.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage #75 Cody Asche

Pirates 5, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 24 - Saturday Afternoon, March 22nd in Bradenton
Record - 6-15-3

One Sentence Summary:  The Pirates mounted a 5-3 come from behind victory after roughing up reliever Brad Lincoln in the eighth inning.

What Happened:  Lincoln gave up three runs in the eighth to allow the Pirates to take the lead and eventually win the game.  A.J. Burnett had a shaky outing, allowing seven hits and walking six in his 5 1/3 innings of work.  Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard homered in the first to start the scoring, and Cody Asche added a bomb in the fifth.

Featured Card:  At some point, I'm either going to get tired of or run out of Topps Heritage cards to feature in these game summary posts.  Asche is all but guaranteed to be the team's opening day third baseman, as his sole competition, Maikel Franco, was reassigned to minor league camp yesterday.

Camp Head Count:  44 - 4 = 40.  This past Tuesday, the Phillies returned Rule V pick Kevin Munson to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  In five games this spring, Munson had allowed seven hits and eight walks in seven innings pitched.  He was a long-shot to make the team.

Yesterday, the Phillies reassigned pitcher Sean O'Sullivan, third baseman Franco and outfielder Clete Thomas to minor league camp, to get the official head count down to 40.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage #20 Cliff Lee

Phillies 2, Red Sox 2
Spring Training Game 23 - Friday Afternoon, March 21st in Clearwater
Record - 6-14-3

One Sentence Summary:  Opening Day starter Cliff Lee cruised through another spring start as the Phillies and Red Sox game ended in a 2-2 tie.

What Happened:  Lee's ready.  He threw six innings of three-hit, two-run baseball against the Red Sox, lowering his spring ERA to 2.75.  Tony Gwynn, Jr., who now has a real possibility of making the team, hit his first home run of the spring.

Prior to the game, it was confirmed that both Darin Ruf (strained oblique) and Freddy Galvis (hospitalized with MRSA) will definitely miss the start of the season.

Featured Card:  I've gotten the sense that some bloggers are already suffering from Heritage fatigue, but I'm definitely not one of them.  I love this set, and I'm really enjoying opening packs of these cards.  My oldest son Doug and I opened a few more packs last night, and this Lee card was one of the new cards added to our collection.  I also Tweeted out a relatively scarce card that I pulled from one of the packs, and this particular card may just find itself in Section 36 at some point.

Friday, March 21, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage #255 Darin Ruf

Phillies 6, Astros 3
Spring Training Game 21 - Thursday Afternoon, March 20th in Kissimmee

Blue Jays 3, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 22 - Thursday Afternoon, March 20th in Clearwater
Record - 6-14-2

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies split their split squad games against the Astros and Blue Jays.

What Happened:  Bobby Abreu had a big day against his original team, going 3 for 4 at the plate and throwing out a runner at home in the fourth.  His effort supported starting pitcher Jeff Manship, who pitched five strong innings, allowing just a run on six hits.  Ben Revere had two more hits to raise his spring average to .349.

In Clearwater, while wearing their weather delayed green jerseys, Chase Utley knocked in the lone Phillies run with an RBI-double in the first.  Starting pitcher David Buchanan, battling Manship for the final rotation spot, allowed two home runs in his four innings of work.

Featured Card:  Yep, more Heritage.  The biggest story yesterday, besides the Jimmy Rollins won't be traded non-story, was the injury suffered by Darin Ruf in batting practice.  Ruf, who was hoping to earn one of the final opening day roster spots, apparently strained his oblique and could miss the start of the season.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage #373 Ben Revere

Blue Jays 11, Phillies 6
Spring Training Game 20 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 19th in Dunedin
Record - 5-13-2

One Sentence Summary:  Roberto Hernandez was roughed up for the first time this spring, as the Phillies fell to the Blue Jays, 11-6.

What Happened:  Hernandez allowed seven runs on 11 hits in his 3 2/3 innings of work.  Ryan Howard went 2 for 3 at the plate and Ben Revere had a big three-run double in the second.

Featured Card:  I'm still happily opening packs of Topps Heritage, and I'd like to share a little secret.  For the past week, I have had packs of Topps Heritage waiting for my sons Doug and Ben at the breakfast table in the morning.  They've come downstairs for breakfast and opened a pack of Heritage before digging in to the ridiculous amount of food both growing boys consume every morning.

Here's my secret though . . . I've been pre-opening the packs the night before and slipping in a Phillies card just to make sure there's a Phillie in every pack.  They've been slowly adding to their collections, and Doug is looking forward the day (soon) when we'll put all our new cards in order and work on a checklist together.

I must say, it's been five years since I was excited about putting together a set (2008 Topps Heritage) and it feels good to be a set collector once again.  Even if it's only a momentary detour from my status as a Phillies collector.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage #57 Ryne Sandberg MG

The Phillies were rained out yesterday, so I'll use this opportunity to post on a few completely unrelated items.

The First Phillie, Heritage Edition:  I still don't know if our local Target has any Topps Heritage in stock, but fortunately my impulse purchase from Blowout Cards arrived yesterday.  Doug, Jenna and I dug into a box and Doug* was the recipient of the First Phillie card seen here - new Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.  I'll have a more in-depth look at the Phillies cards in Topps Heritage in a future post, and I'll also be posting a want list soon as this is the first year since 2008 that we'll be trying to complete a full set.

*Truth be told, Jenna found the First Phillie, but she deftly returned the cards with Sandberg included to their wrapper and let Doug have the honors.

Green Uniforms:  The Phillies were set to wear their green uniform tops again this St. Patrick's Day, but  they were thwarted by the rain.  I hope the Phils decide to wear them anyway, even if it's a few days late.  Here's a look back at a few St. Patrick's Days from the past:

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 Roy Halladay models a green jersey.
2013 - Irish Mike Ryan's 1972 Topps card and Freddy Galvis in green.

Camp Head Count:  Still at 44.  The Phillies acquired catcher Koyie Hill yesterday from the Nationals for cash or a player to be named later.  I originally thought Hill would join the ranks of non-roster invitees, but he's headed straight for minor league camp.  Hill's last major baseball card appearance came in the 2011 Topps Update set as a member of the Cubs.

For what it's worth, this time last year the Phillies were already down to just 36 players in camp.  I would expect another round of roster cuts soon.

Monday, March 17, 2014

2014 Topps 1989 Topps Mini Die-Cuts #TM-16 Mike Schmidt

Pirates 5, Phillies 0
Spring Training Game 19 - Sunday Afternoon, March 16th in Clearwater
Record - 5-12-2

One Sentence Summary:  The offense couldn't come up with any clutch hits as the Pirates shut-out the Phillies, 5-0.

What Happened:  Sean O'Sullivan did a decent enough job in his four innings of work (2 runs on 4 hits), but it might not be enough to catapult him past Jeff Manship or Dave Buchanan in the race for the fifth starter's spot.  There were five batters hit in this game, and things apparently got heated after Jonathan Papelbon hit a batter and then got high and tight with Andrew McCutchen in the fifth inning.

Featured Card:  I read with shock yesterday about Mike Schmidt's revelation that he had been undergoing treatment for Stage 3 melanoma after a routine visit to his dermatologist in August turned up a questionable mole on his back.  Since then, Schmidt has gone through two operations along with radiation and chemotherapy sessions.  He appeared in Clearwater yesterday morning to address the media and to assure everyone that he was feeling good.

Schmidt will join the broadcast booth this season for all Sunday home games, which is yet one more reason for me to actually listen to the TV broadcast this year.  I hope nothing for the best for him, and I'm glad it appears that he's got cancer beat.

I already have two new Schmidt cards in my collection from the 2014 Topps release, and this is his 1989 Topps-inspired Mini Die Cut card available in packs of Series One.

2014 Donruss #111 Cliff Lee

Phillies 4, Red Sox 1
Spring Training Game 18 - Saturday Night, March 15th in Fort Myers
Record - 5-11-2

One Sentence Summary:  Cliff Lee turned in another solid performance as the Phillies defeated the Red Sox, 4-1.

What Happened:  Lee pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits while striking out three.  Marlon Byrd (2 for 4 with 2 RBIs) and Ben Revere (2 for 4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI) provided the offense.

Featured Card:  It hasn't been officially announced yet, but Lee will be the Phillies opening day starter this year.  With Cole Hamels on the shelf, and A.J. Burnett slated to start the season as the team's number two starter, it's only logical that Lee should get the ball.

STILL no Heritage in my neck of the woods, so here's Lee's 2014 Donruss card.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

1980 TCMA Reading Phillies #15 Bob Dernier

By the time the Saturday night Phillies-Red Sox spring training game ends, I'll probably be way too tired to compose and kind of lucid game summary post.  I've been fairly busy at work the last few weeks, and sleep is at a premium.  (By the way, it's almost a year with my new employer and I'm happy to report that I made an excellent decision in leaving my old job via free agency and signing with a new team.)

In lieu of any game-related posting, I wanted to show off the latest addition to my Bob Dernier player collection.  For reference, I first mentioned that I was actively seeking out this card back in a November 2011 in a post where I showed off several early 1980s stickers featuring Dernier during his time in the Venezuelan league.  Dernier's 1980 TCMA Reading Phillies card showed up on eBay recently and I immediately stopped what I was doing and placed a relatively high opening bid.

Fortunately, bidding didn't go too high, and I'm happy to say I can now remove this card from my Bob Dernier Want List and move on the next challenge . . . his 1982 Tastykake Phillies card.  As an added bonus, Bobby D. has signed the card in the space provided as a result of the poorly centered photo.

* * *

I also need to update my Ten Most Wanted - Vintage list on the sidebar.  I'll provide full details in a future post, but my Mom has come through with three of the ten cards on the list.  And yes, she rocks.

2014 Donruss Team MVP #9 Ryan Howard

Pirates 6, Phillies 5
Spring Training Game 17 - Friday Afternoon, March 14th in Bradenton
Record - 4-11-2

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies fell late to the Michael Martinez and the Pirates, 6-5.

What Happened:  Former Phillie Martinez had a key single as part of the Pirates four-run eighth inning, raising his spring average to .400 (8 for 20).  Of course Michael Martinez is hitting .400 . . .

Starting pitcher Jeff Manship gave up two runs in his four innings of work and reliever B.J. Rosenberg was on the other side of the Pirates big inning in the eighth.

Featured Card:  Ryan Howard hit his first game-action home run since July 5th of last year when he went deep in the sixth inning.  As a testament to his rough 2013, the last time I featured a Howard baseball card in connection with his performance in a game was back on July 3rd.  My local Target didn't have any Topps Heritage for sale yesterday, so I'll go with another card from the recently released Donruss set.  The Team MVP insert set harkens back to the 1989 Donruss set, and one can only hope that Howard lives up to the MVP title once again in 2014.

Camp Head Count:  51 - 8 + 1 = 44.  In the second round of roster reductions this spring, the biggest move was the release of catcher Lou Marson.  Marson appeared in only three games, going 1 for 3, but he had the distinction of being the first player publicly criticized by new manager Ryne Sandberg following this game.

Catcher Tommy Joseph, pitcher Jeremy Horst and outfielders Tyson Gillies and Zach Collier were optioned to the minors.  Pitchers Cesar Jimenez and Ken Giles along with infielder Andres Blanco were reassigned to minor league camp.  Catcher Sebastian Valle, who was reassigned last weekend, was brought back to Major League camp.

Friday, March 14, 2014

2013 Topps Heritage High Numbers #H585 Roberto Hernandez

Phillies 6, Yankees 2
Spring Training Game 16 - Thursday Afternoon, March 13th in Clearwater
Record - 4-10-2

One Sentence Summary:  Roberto Hernandez threw a perfect game through five innings, and the Phillies would go on to defeat the Yankees, 6-2.

What Happened:  Don't look now, but the Phils have won three of their last five.  Hernandez was extremely impressive in his outing, throwing five perfect frames and recording 10 of his 15 outs via the ground ball.  Ben Revere had two hits to raise his spring average to .323 and Tommy Joseph contributed a two-run double in the eighth.

Featured Card:  If you're up on today's baseball card happenings and if you happen to read and/or follow any of the baseball card-related blogs out there, you probably know that today is the day that 2014 Topps Heritage is supposed to "go live," as the kids say these days.  This is Hernandez's card from last year's High Number/Update Heritage set, featuring the 1964 Topps design.  If, like me, you read several dozen baseball card blogs on a daily basis, get ready to see a whole lot of the 1965 Topps design in your blogrolls once this year's Heritage set officially arrives.

The investigative reporting team over at Team Phungo has already confirmed the arrival of the long-awaited set is imminent.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Welcome to Twitter, @RoyHalladay!

2014 Donruss No No's #7
Phillies 6, Orioles 5
Spring Training Game 15 – Wednesday Afternoon, March 12th in Sarasota
Record – 3-10-2

One Sentence Summary:  The offense came to life led by Domonic Brown's three-run triple, as the Phillies defeated the Orioles, 6-5.

What Happened:  Four Phillies had triples in this game – Brown, Ben Revere, Freddy Galvis and Bobby Abreu.  Abreu also added a double for good measure.  Starting pitcher A.J. Burnett got roughed up a little in his four innings of work, allowing three runs on four hits.  Perhaps the most interesting development in Florida is the fact that Galvis has started two days in a row at short over Jimmy Rollins, who is seemingly perfectly healthy.  Manager Ryne Sandberg has made direct reference to Galvis' "energy and his positive influence," while offering a "no comment" when asked the same about Rollins.

Featured Card:  Other than the game action, the most interesting Phillies-related news yesterday was the positive confirmation that former pitcher Roy Halladay had joined Twitter.  Maybe if I post one of his cards, he'll follow me on Twitter?  Pitcher David Buchanan re-tweeted me yesterday, so maybe Halladay will today?  (Seriously though, I'm a grown man with kids, but having Buchanan re-tweet a link to my post yesterday was pretty cool.)  

This is one of his insert cards from the recently released Donruss set, which pays homage to the original 1986 Donruss set and Doc's no-hitter against the Reds in Game 1 of the 2010 N.L.D.S.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

2012 Topps Pro Debut Minor League All-Stars #AS-DB Dave Buchanan

Braves 9, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 14 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 11th in Lake Buena Vista
Record - 2-10-2

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies solidified their grasp on the worst spring training record in baseball with yet another lopsided loss to the Braves.

What Happened:  Look, I know spring stats and spring win-loss records are meaningless, but does the offense honestly expect to just flip a switch and turn it on when the regular season starts in a few weeks?  This is getting ridiculous and as beat writer Matt Gelb tweeted out, the Phillies have been no-hit through three innings in five of their last seven games.  They managed two singles in this game.

I predict an offensive outburst this afternoon.  They're due.

Featured Card:  Prospect David Buchanan continued to impress, shutting out a line-up of Braves regulars through three innings.  I would think the competition for the team's fifth starter spot is now down to him and Jeff Manship.  This card commemorates Buchanan's role as a starting pitcher in the 2011 South Atlantic League All-Star Game.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

2012 Topps Heritage #192 Justin De Fratus

Braves 8, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 13 - Monday Afternoon, March 10th in Clearwater
Record - 2-9-2

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies fell flat again in spring training action against the Braves, losing 8-1.

What Happened:  It's just not going well for the Phils, and if their play in the first 13 games of the exhibition season is any indication, we're in for a very long season.  Cliff Lee pitched into the fourth inning, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out five.

A Maikel Franco error in the seventh led to five unearned Braves runs scored off Jonathan Papelbon.

Featured Card:  With the team suffering as a whole, I'm trying to look for little reasons to be optimistic as April quickly approaches.  Justin De Fratus has quietly put together a solid spring, allowing a run over four innings while striking out five.  He's a lock to make the team's bullpen and he turned in a nice diving play in yesterday's game which you can view here.

De Fratus will hopefully get a new standard-sized Phillies card in 2014, as he hasn't appeared on a Topps or Panini baseball card since 2012.  This is his solo card from the 2012 Topps Heritage set, not to be confused with his multi-player Rookie Stars card.

Monday, March 10, 2014

2013 Quarry Unlimited Jeff Manship

Phillies 1, Twins 1
Spring Training Game 12 – Sunday Afternoon, March 9th in Fort Myers
Record - 2-8-2

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies and Twins game ended in a tie, as starter Jeff Manship continued to help his chances to make the team's starting pitching rotation.

What Happened:  Manship pitched three innings, allowing a run on two hits.  His performance was followed by six scoreless innings from the bullpen, with B.J. Rosenberg and Brad Lincoln each throwing a pair of scoreless innings.  The offense managed only two hits, and they were being no-hit by the Twins until Tony Gwynn, Jr.'s bloop single in the sixth.

Featured Card:  I thought I should take a look at Manship's baseball card history, given that he's currently in the lead to be the team's fifth starter to start the season.  Manship was drafted by the Twins in 2006, and he appeared in 41 games for the team between 2009 and 2012, going 3-2 with a 6.20 ERA.  He played for the Rockies last season, where he produced an unattractive 0-5 record with a 7.04 ERA.  

Manship's first official cards can be found in the 2006 Just Rookies set and in 2007 he was included in the Bowman Heritage Signs of Greatness autograph set.  Over the next two seasons, Manship appeared again in Bowman products, this time in their 2008 Bowman Chrome Prospects inset set and the 2009 Bowman Draft set.  To date, his last major baseball card appearance came within the 2010 Finest set.  Manship has been completely overlooked in recent years for cardboard consideration, but he does have an excellent virtual card within the 2013 Quarry Unlimited set, featured here.

IF he makes the Phillies opening day roster, there's a really good chance he'll find himself in the team issued postcard set and there's a 100% chance he'll earn his first Chachi card.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2014 Topps #182 Carlos Ruiz

Phillies 11, Astros 3
Spring Training Game 11 - Saturday Afternoon, March 8th in Clearwater
Record - 2-8-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies managed an impressive victory over a less than impressive, split squad Astros team, 11-3.

What Happened:  It's a start, but you have to take this win with a grain of salt given that the Phils were playing half of the possibly worst team in baseball.  Both Cody Asche and Carlos Ruiz hit three-run home runs and John Mayberry, Jr. drove in three runs.  The probable third starter, Roberto Hernandez, allowed a run on two hits in his 3 1/3 innings of work.

Featured Card:  Spring stats mean nothing of course, but it's encouraging to see Chooch swing the bat well.  He's played six of the team's 11 spring games, going 5 for 13 (.385) with two doubles and two home runs.  This is his base card from the Topps flagship set.

Camp Head Count:  58 - 7 = 51.  Before the game, relievers Michael Stutes and Luis Garcia were optioned to the minors.  I was very surprised to see Stutes in the first round of cuts, but he had definitely struggled in his three spring appearances.  Stutes was one of the team's most reliable relievers in 2011, but he's fallen off the radar a little the past two seasons due to lingering shoulder issues.  Following the game, top prospect Jesse Biddle was also reassigned to minor league camp.

Joining Biddle in minor league camp will be outfielders Aaron Altherr, Leandro Castro and Kelly Dugan, along with catcher Sebastian Valle.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

2014 Donruss #38 Cameron Rupp

Orioles 15, Phillies 4
Spring Training Game 10 - Friday Afternoon, March 7th in Sarasota
Record - 1-8-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies turned in perhaps their worst game of the spring, getting completely demolished by the Orioles, 15-4.

What Happened:  It's not going well for the Phils at this point.  Every Phillies pitcher to toe the rubber allowed at least one run in this game.  A.J. Burnett (3 IP, 6 ER) and Miguel Gonzalez (1 IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 2 BB) were the worst offenders.  All reports indicate that Gonzalez looks no where near Major League ready.

On the field, the Phillies made numerous mental mistakes and they're now batting just .189 as a team - lowest among all teams.

Featued Card:  Cameron Rupp and Darin Ruf both homered in the game.  Ruf isn't featued in the new 2014 Donruss set, but Rupp has cards in the base set and in The Rookies insert set.  I've featured his base card here, which combines elements of the 1978 Topps set with the 1987 Donruss set to come up with something that looks vintage-y, yet modern at the same time.  It's a shame that Donruss doesn't have a Major League baseball license, as these cards would look even better if team logos were included.

Still, it's great to have Donruss back in the fold and I'll happily add this Phillies team set to my collection.  Now if someone would just resurrect the Fleer brand . . .

Friday, March 7, 2014

2014 TSR Custom #114 Kyle Kendrick

Yankees 4, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 9 - Thursday Afternoon, March 6th in Clearwater
Record - 1-7-1

One Sentence Summary:  Despite home runs from Freddy Galvis, Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry, Jr., the Phillies still lost to the Yankees, 4-3.

What Happened:  In a game delayed at the outset by torrential rains, the Phillies lost yet again.  They join the Braves and the Red Sox as the only three teams at this point in the exhibition season with only one win.  Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick allowed just a run in his three innings of work.  Relievers Jeremy Horst and Phillippe Aumont continued their spring struggles with mediocre outings.

Featured Card:  Kendrick has suddenly become an important cog in the team's starting pitching rotation as Cole Hamels has been shut down with "arm fatigue".  Kendrick figures to be the third starter in the rotation to start the season behind Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett.

While everyone is anxiously awaiting the release of Topps Heritage, the packs that I'd really love to see in my local Target are the 2014 TSR Baseball wax packs.  The crack design and production crew over at The Shlabotnik Report have created a fantastic looking set of cards this year, with a design that rivals anything recently offered by Topps.  This is a set I would gladly save up my allowance money for, and just scrolling through the first pack of 2014 TSR Baseball was exciting.  As much as I loved the design for last year's set, I actually like this year's design even more.

The lone Phillies card in the initial pack belonged to Kendrick, and I can only hope future packs result in more Phillies cards.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

1991 Medford Phillies Update #11 Jim Fregosi MG

Phillies 2, Braves 2
Spring Training Game 8 – Wednesday Afternoon, March 5th in Clearwater
Record – 1-6-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies didn't lose and they pulled off a 2-2 spring training tie with the Braves, in a game that will be remembered mostly for the moving pre-game tribute to Jim Fregosi.

What Happened:  Former friends, family and colleagues gathered on the field prior to the game to pay their respects to the late, great Fregosi.  In a nice touch, several players lined up at third base wearing the various uniforms worn by Fregosi throughout his playing and managing career.  Former Phillies Darren Daulton and Kent Tekulve took place in the ceremonies.

In game action, non-roster invitee and starting pitcher Sean O'Sullivan threw three shutout innings against the Braves.  Kevin Frandsen had two hits, knocking in the Phillies first run and scoring the go-ahead run in the seventh.  The Braves would tie up the ballgame after pitcher Brad Lincoln's throwing error.

Featured Card:  I featured a Fregosi card a few weeks back when I learned of his passing, and here's another of his team issued cards from the '90s.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2003 Upper Deck Vintage #294 Marlon Byrd

Blue Jays 5, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 7 – Tuesday Night, March 4th in Clearwater
Record – 1-6

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies dropped another game, losing a rare spring training night game to the Blue Jays, 5-3.

What Happened:  Starting pitcher Cliff Lee had a decent outing, allowing just a run on three hits in his three innings of work.  Marlon Byrd hit his first home run of the spring with a two-run shot in the third off Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey.

Featured Card:  We're getting closer to the release of 2014 Topps Heritage, and I was excited to see that Byrd was featured in the faux-Heritage set, 2003 Upper Deck Vintage.  Unfortunately, the Byrd card from the set doesn't contain the familiar pennant motif, but rather a different vintage-ish look.  I had already pulled out my 2003 Phillies binder to search for the card, so I thought I'd feature it anyway.

According to the official 2014 Topps Heritage checklist, Byrd is #48 in the set and it will be his first Phillies card since 2005.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2009 Upper Deck Spectrum #106 Lou Marson

Rays 6, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 6 - Monday Afternoon, March 3rd in Port Charlotte
Record - 1-5

One Sentence Summary:  The Rays broke the game open with a five-run seventh inning against Michael Stutes, on their way to a 6-1 win.

What Happened:  From the Phillies perspective, not much happened.  Wil Nieves had an RBI-single in the fourth and the offense seemingly shut down for the rest of the day.  Roberto Hernandez threw three scoreless innings in his second spring start.  Stutes struggled in his outing, allowing five runs on three hits and two walks.

Featured Card:  Stutes' bad inning could have been abbreviated if not for a botched play at the plate by catcher and non-roster invitee Lou Marson.  With the new home plate collision rules in place, Marson poorly executed a block of home plate and Rays runner Justin Christian easily scored around him.  I was very surprised at how publicly critical manager Ryne Sandberg was of the play, who did not mince words when he said it "was not a good play," and "It was bad technique at home plate."

Former Phillie Marson was a long-shot to make the team out of Clearwater, and it appears as if his chances just got even slimmer.

Monday, March 3, 2014

2013 Topps Heritage High Numbers #H583 Cody Asche

Pirates 4, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 5 - Sunday Afternoon, March 2nd in Clearwater
Record - 1-4

One Sentence Summary:  A.J. Burnett made his debut as the Phillies fell to the Pirates, 4-1.

What Happened:  Burnett looked good in his two innings of work, allowing a run on one hit while recording five ground ball outs.  Tony Gwynn, Jr. added two hits in the losing effort.

The scariest part of the game came in the fifth inning when Pirates pitcher Yao-Hsun Yang drilled third baseman Cody Asche in his right hand with a pitch.  Asche left the game and fortunately there was no break - only a deep bruise.

Featured Card:  By all indications, there's a competition between Asche and fellow prospect Maikel Franco for the starting third baseman's job.  I have to believe that Asche has the inside track though, after his impressive performance last year at both the minor and major league levels.  Asche made his regular Topps Heritage debut in last year's High Numbers release, and he's card #75 in this year's highly anticipated Heritage set.  Jenna and I broke down and purchased a few Topps Heritage boxes from Blowout Cards, and in a few days I'll start anxiously checking for a delivery e-mail from our friendly UPS guy.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2012 Bowman Platinum Prospect Autographs #AP-DBU David Buchanan

Yankees 4, Phillies 0
Spring Training Game 4 - Saturday Afternoon, March 1st in Tampa
Record - 1-3

One Sentence Summary:  Cuban-born, Man of Mystery Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez made his less than impressive first appearance as the Yankees blanked the Phillies, 4-0.

What It Means:  It's only his first appearance, but the Phillies brass has to be a little nervous about their four-year, $12 million deal with the righty pitcher.  Originally projected to be a key cog in the starting rotation, Gonzalez could be headed to Lehigh Valley to start the season.

What Happened:  Gonzalez was removed after 1 2/3 innings and his 50-pitch limit.  He allowed two hits and walked four while striking out two, while facing mostly Yankees minor leaguers.  Jeremy Horst also struggled in his inning of work, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks.

Featured Card:  The sole bright spot from the game was the scoreless two innings turned in by starter David Buchanan.  Buchanan struck out both Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts in the first, and he could find himself in the mix this year if injuries tamper with the rotation.  I must be slipping in my old age, because I completely missed the announcement about a week ago that Buchanan had been added to the list of non-roster invitees.

Buchanan split last season between Reading and Lehigh Valley, going 10-13 with a 4.40 ERA in 28 starts.  His most recent Topps baseball cards came in the 2012 Bowman Platinum Prospects and Pro Debut sets.

Camp Head Count:  57 + 1 = 58.  And for the record, here's an updated list of the official 18 non-roster invitees.

Player (position) - 2013 Organization - Last Major Baseball Card Appearance
1.  Shawn Camp (rhp) - Cubs/Diamondbacks - 2012 Topps Update #US238 (Cubs)
2.  Leandro Castro (of) - Phillies - 2010 Topps Pro Debut #84 (Phillies)
3.  Cesar Jimenez (lhp) - Phillies - 2009 Upper Deck #857 (Mariners)
4.  Clete Thomas (of) - Twins - 2010 Topps #441 (Tigers)
5.  Reid Brignac (inf) - Yankees/Rockies - 2013 Topps Update #US206
6.  Andres Blanco (inf) - N/A - 2007 Topps #659 (Royals)
7.  Jeff Manship (rhp) - Rockies - 2010 Finest #141 (Twins)
8.  Tony Gwynn, Jr. (of) - Dodgers - 2012 Topps #284 (Dodgers)
9.  Lou Marson (c) - Indians - 2013 Topps #443 (Indians)
10.  Sean O'Sullivan (rhp) - Padres - 2011 Topps Update #US89 (Royals)
11.  Dave Sappelt (of) - Cubs - 2012 Topps #657 (Cubs)
11.  Jesse Biddle (lhp) - Phillies - 2013 Bowman Draft Top Prospects #TP-6 (Phillies)
12.  Maikel Franco (3b) - Phillies - 2013 Topps Heritage Minors #158 (Phillies)
13.  Ken Giles (rhp) - Phillies - None
14.  Mario Hollands (lhp) - Phillies - None
15.  Sebastian Valle (c) - Phillies - 2012 Topps Heritage Minors #144 (Phillies)
16.  Ronny Cedeno (inf) - Astros/Padres - 2011 Topps Heritage #270 (Pirates)
17.  Chad Gaudin (rhp) - Giants - 2013 Topps Update #US86 (Giants)
17.  Bobby Abreu (of) - None - 2012 Topps Heritage #H669 (Dodgers)
18.  David Buchanan (rhp) - Phillies - 2012 Topps Pro Debut #192 (Phillies)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

2003 Upper Deck Vintage #141 Jimmy Rollins

Phillies 10, Tigers 6
Spring Training Game 3 - Friday Afternoon, February 28th in Clearwater
Record - 1-2

One Sentence Summary:  Jimmy Rollins hit a three-run home run leading the Phillies to a 10-6 win over the Tigers.

What It Means:  The Phillies will not lose every spring training game this year.  And this is probably an incredibly obvious statement, but isn't it great to have baseball back?

What Happened:  Rollins' home run capped an eight-run third inning and he reached base in each of his three plate appearances with two walks.  Marlon Byrd was the only other Phillie with a multi-hit game.  Kyle Kendrick had a rough first outing, allowing three first inning runs.

Featured Card:  We're just a few days away from the highly anticipated release of 2014 Topps Heritage, which will look much more like the actual 1965 Topps set than the half-hearted imitation attempt by 2003 Upper Deck Vintage.  I'll have a whole post on the set once it's released, but in the meantime definitely check out yesterday's preview post from 14,000 Phillies and the series of posts by Phungo celebrating the original.