Saturday, March 31, 2018

Game 2 - 2018 Topps Gypsy Queen #136 Carlos Santana

Phillies 5, Braves 4 (11)
Game 2 - Friday Night, March 30th in Atlanta
Record - 1-1, Tied for 2nd place, 1/2 game behind the Mets and Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  It took 11 innings and 9 pitchers, but thanks to Carlos Santana's 3-RBI game, the Phillies won their first game of the season.

What It Means:  Manager Gabe Kapler set a major league record by using 15 pitchers in the Phillies first two games to start the season.  (Tweet from Matt Gelb.)  They'll go for the series win tonight.

What Happened:  Nick Pivetta labored through four innings, allowing three runs on five hits, and the bullpen carousel kicked off in the fifth.  Luis Garcia allowed the Braves to tie it up in the eighth and Drew Hutchison eventually earned the win with a scoreless 10th and 11th innings.  The Braves appeared to score a go-ahead run in the eighth, but a replay review showed that Peter Bourjos was out at the plate on a throw from J.P. Crawford.

Rhys Hoskins (1) and Santana (1) homered while Scott Kingery collected his first big league hit - a single up the middle in the fourth off Mike Foltynewicz.

Featured Card:  This is the first Phillies card of Santana's in my collection, featuring him in a photoshopped Phillies uniform.

Transaction:  Prior to the game, Pat Neshek (shoulder) was placed on the disabled list and Yacksel Rios was recalled.  It's not a good sign that Neshek is already out this early in the season.  The Phillies' two big offseason bullpen signings - Neshek and Tommy Hunter - are now both on the DL.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Game 1 - 2018 Topps Opening Day #81 Aaron Nola

Braves 8, Phillies 5
Game 1 - Thursday Afternoon, March 29th in Atlanta
Record - 0-1, Tied for 4th place, 1 game behind the Braves and Mets

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola was inexplicably removed from this game in the sixth inning, the bullpen couldn't hold a five run lead, and Nick Markakis hit a walk-off home run off Hector Neris in this devastating 8-5 loss.

What It Means:  I struggled with the right word to use in the sentence above, and "devastating" may be over-reacting in game one, but man this loss stunk.

What Happened:  Having thrown 68 pitches, and absolutely cruising, Nola was removed by new manager Gabe Kapler with the Phillies up 5-0.  Five relievers later, and three Braves home runs later, the Phillies were in the loss column.

Cesar Hernandez hit a home run (1) in his second opening day in a row.  Rhys Hoskins had a pair of doubles and Andrew Knapp had a two-run single in the sixth.  The actual opening day line-up was not without controversy as Odubel Herrera and Jorge Alfaro were benched in favor of Aaron Altherr and Knapp.

1995 Leaf #359
As Tweeted by Todd Zolecki, the only other time the Phillies blew a five-run lead on opening day was in 1995.  Norm Charlton was on the mound when Scott Cooper's RBI-single scored Bernard Gilkey and Ozzie Smith, giving the Cardinals a 7-6 win.

Featured Card:  Nola should have pitched deeper into this game and he should have received the win.  Appropriately enough, this is his recently released Topps Opening Day card.

Transactions:  The Phillies broke camp with 30 players on their active roster, and they needed to trim that number by five prior to Thursday's opener.  As expected, Jerad Eickhoff (back), Tommy Hunter (hamstring) and Mark Leiter, Jr. (forearm) were all placed on the disabled list.  Jake Arrieta was optioned to High-A Clearwater where he'll get ready for his first start in Philadelphia on April 8th.  I honestly don't know what happened to Will Middlebrooks.  The third baseman broke his leg in early spring action, and unless I missed it, the Phillies never made an official roster move to reassign him to minor league camp or place him on a minor league disabled list.

And One More Thing:  9 years ago tonight, at 9:38 PM, I published my first post on this blog.  It's been a fun 9 years, and I'm excited to keep going.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Series Preview - Phillies at Braves: March 29th to March 31st #OpeningDay #BeBold

1978 Topps #177
1978 Topps #75
Thursday 4:05, Friday 7:35 and Saturday 7:10
SunTrust Park - Atlanta, GA

2017 Records
Phillies 66-96, 5th place in the N.L. East, 31 games behind the Nationals
Braves 72-90, 3rd place in the N.L. East, 25 games behind the Nationals

2017 Statistics
Phillies Probables:  Aaron Nola (12-11, 3.54), Nick Pivetta (8-10, 6.02), Vince Velasquez (2-7, 5.13)
Braves Probables:  Julio Teheran (11-13, 4.49), Mike Foltynewicz (10-13, 4.79), Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 3.98)

At the Ballpark:  For the Braves home opener, the first 40,000 fans will receive a foam "Chop On" tomahawk.  Fans attending Friday's and Saturday's game will receive a Braves schedule magnet.

Phillies Spring Training Leaders
Average:  Scott Kingery - .411
Runs:  Rhys Hoskins - 14
Home Runs:  Maikel Franco - 6
RBIs:  Maikel Franco - 15
Stolen Bases:  Roman Quinn - 9

Wins:  3 tied with - 2
ERA:  Drew Hutchison - 2.75
Strikeouts:  Aaron Nola - 18
Saves:  6 tied with - 1

Braves Spring Training Leaders
Average:  Ozzie Albies - .303
Runs:  Ozzie Albies and Danny Santana - 9
Home Runs:  Ronald Acuna, Jr. - 4
RBIs:  3 tied with - 11
Stolen Bases:  Danny Santana - 5

Wins:  Julio Teheran - 4
ERA:  Julio Teheran - 1.40
Strikeouts:  Julio Teheran - 17
Saves:  7 tied with - 1

1978 Topps Appreciation:  On June 15, 1978, the Phillies traded Gene Garber to the Braves for former Phillies pitcher Dick Ruthven.  Ruthven would go on to become a key pitcher on the 1980 World Champions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Almost as Exciting as Christmas Morning! @rhyshoskins #BeBold

As the Phillies get ready to kick off their 2018 season, I wanted to share a few personal items from my Phillies collection.  In early December, my family enjoyed a day at the Valley Forge baseball card show with the highlights of our day being our photos with Mike Schmidt and Rhys Hoskins.  I summarized our visit in a post here.

What I didn't share in that post was that we came to the show with five Santa hats.  Our goal was to pose for our annual Christmas card picture with Hoskins, as long as he was willing to play along.  Hoskins could not have been more gracious.  We asked him if he'd be willing to wear a Santa hat and as he took the hat from my wife he quickly answered, "Of course!"  We smiled, thanked him and told him we'd send him a copy of the card.  I think he said something like, "Very cool," and then we were on our way.

Our Christmas card turned out great, if I do say so myself.  Our friends and family members seemed to enjoy it although some non-baseball fans who were recipients of the card were thoroughly confused.  Family members who are also Phillies fans thought the card was awesome.  We mailed two copies of the card to Hoskins in care of the Phillies.  I enclosed a small note thanking him again and asked if he wouldn't mind signing one of the cards and returning it to us in the self-addressed stamped envelope also enclosed.  In late January, the card arrived with Hoskins' personalized autograph.  Very cool indeed.

* * *

I've had a stack of cards sitting on my computer table since late December that I haven't had time to sort until this past weekend.  Before I put the below cards in my 2017 Phillies binder, I wanted to show them off here.  Doug made these cards for me for Christmas and a lot of time, effort and love went into creating them.  The kid's got talent and apparently so do I based on the stats and season highlights on the backs of each card!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Grapefruit Game 33 - 2017 Choice Reading Fightin Phils Theme Night #9 Zach Coppola

Phillies 5, Pirates 5
Spring Training Game 33 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 27th in Clearwater
Record - 13-17-3

One Sentence Summary:  Jake Arrieta looked rusty in a lengthy first inning, but the Phillies battled back as their final spring training game ended in a 5-5 tie.

What It Means:  And that's a wrap.  The Phillies will open the 2018 regular season on Thursday afternoon in Atlanta.

What Happened:  Arrieta allowed four runs on seven hits in his three innings of work.  Aaron Altherr hit his fourth home run of the spring.

Featured Card:  Zack Coppola was one of the many minor leaguers added to the line-up card for this final game and he made the most of it with a two-run single in the fifth.

Camp Head Count:  Still at 30, and final roster moves will be made prior to Thursday afternoon.  Play ball!

Grapefruit Game 32 - 2017 Topps Update #US160 Andrew Knapp & Ben Lively

Phillies 6, Pirates 3
Spring Training Game 32 - Monday Afternoon, March 26th in Bradenton
Record - 13-17-2

One Sentence Summary:  Scott Kingery and Andrew Knapp both homered for the Phillies and Vince Velasquez threw four shutout innings in this 6-3 win over the Pirates.

What It Means:  The Phillies will play their final spring training game on Tuesday afternoon in Clearwater.

What Happened:  A day after signing his big contract extension, Kingery hit his fifth home run of the spring and enjoyed a three-hit day.  J.P. Crawford had a two-run single in the second.

Featured Card:  Back-up catchers don't get a lot of attention, but Knapp had a decent spring behind the plate leading to the Phillies parting ways with Cameron Rupp.  His first Topps flagship card is shared with Ben Lively, who will start the season in the starting pitching rotation until Jake Arrieta is ready.  The final spot was going to come down to Lively or Zach Eflin and Eflin was optioned to the minors before this game.

2017 Topps Archives #154
Camp Head Count:  33 - 3 = 30.  The opening day roster seems all but set at this point.  Outfielder Roman Quinn along with pitchers Zac Curtis and Eflin were optioned to the IronPigs.  In a procedural move, Rupp was released.

The Phillies need to remove five more players at this point, which they'll accomplish by putting Jerad Eickhoff (back), Tommy Hunter (hamstring) and Mark Leiter, Jr. (elbow) on the disabled list to start the season.  Will Middlebrooks, the solo non-roster invitee still around, broke his leg in late February so he'll be reassigned to the minors and presumably spend the first part of the season on a minor league disabled list.

Jake Arrieta will either be optioned to the minors or placed on the disabled list until his scheduled first start on April 8th.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Grapefruit Game 31 - 2017 Bowman Draft #BD-114 Scott Kingery

Orioles 6, Phillies 5
Spring Training Game 31 - Sunday Afternoon, March 25th in Clearwater
Record - 12-17-2

One Sentence Summary:  Roster moves and a blockbuster contract for Scott Kingery overshadowed this final weekend game in Clearwater as the Phillies lost to the Orioles, 6-5.

What It Means:  I always anxiously await the start of spring training, but then after a few weeks, I can't wait for it to be over.  The television broadcast today, along with all of social media, was dominated by talk of who will make the final 25-man roster and Kingery's big contract (see below).

What Happened:  In the game, Nick Pivetta threw three scoreless innings.  Rhys Hoskins hit his 5th home run and Maikel Franco added his 6th home run.  Aaron Altherr had a pair of hits.

Featured Card:  It had to be Kingery.  For the record, I'm extremely excited for this season to start.

2018 Topps #308
Camp Head Count:  35 - 2 = 33.  On Sunday morning, veteran catcher Cameron Rupp was designated for assignment and the Phillies selected the contract of pitcher Drew Hutchison.  Hutchison's role will most likely be long reliever in the Phillies bullpen to start the season.  It was a tough break for Rupp, who like Freddy Galvis and Tommy Joseph before him, found himself without a clear role on this younger team.  Rupp could end up back with the IronPigs to start the season if he doesn't latch on with another team.

During the game, the major announcement came that not only had Kingery made the opening day roster, the Phillies had signed him to six-year, $24 million contract extension with club options for 2024, 2025 and 2026.  It's the longest and richest contract ever for a player yet to play a major league game.  Kingery is expected to serve in a super utility role, getting starts at every infield and outfield position.  Long-term, he'll eventually settle in as the team's regular second or third baseman.  All that remains to be determined at this point is what number Kingery will switch to from his current #80.

Reliever Ricardo Pinto was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for Kingery.  Jesmuel Valentin was optioned to Triple-A, although his solid spring makes him a likely candidate to be recalled at some point this season.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Grapefruit Game 30 - 2015 Topps Heritage #177 Drew Hutchison

Phillies 4, Tigers 1
Spring Training Game 30 - Saturday Afternoon, March 24th in Lakeland
Record - 12-16-2

One Sentence Summary:  Drew Hutchison helped his chances to make the team with four shutout innings as the Phillies defeated the Tigers, 4-1.

What It Means:  We're only 5 days away from meaningful baseball.

What Happened:  Hutchison struck out three and allowed just one hit during his outing.  Roman Quinn and Jesmuel Valentin both had a paid of hits, as did Scott Kingery who started the game at second base.

2018 Chachi Almost #5
Featured Card:  We found out on Sunday morning that Hutchison had made the team either as a fifth starter or a long reliever.  He appeared on a decent amount of Topps cards with the Blue Jays between 2013 and 2016.

Camp Head Count:  36 - 1 = 35.  The Phillies stuck to their pattern of one roster move per day as veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released prior to this game.  Rodriguez had posted a 5.40 ERA over 6 2/3 innings this spring.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Grapefruit Game 29 - 2018 Topps Heritage #132 Maikel Franco

Phillies 8, Pirates 2
Spring Training Game 29 - Friday Afternoon, March 23rd in Bradenton
Record - 11-16-2

One Sentence Summary:  Maikel Franco hit a two-run home run and a grand slam in this 8-2 win over the Pirates.

What It Means:  Franco had entered the day with a .167 batting average so it was nice to see him bust out a little.

What Happened:  Aaron Nola showed he's probably ready for the regular season with four shutout innings and five strikeouts.  Jorge Alfaro kicked off the scoring for the Phillies in the second with a two-run double.

Featured Card:  I'm happy to post the first card of Franco for the year, as the third baseman had been scuffling through a quiet spring before his big day at the plate on Friday.

2018 Chachi Almsot #4
Camp Head Count:  41 - 5 = 36.  Prior to the game pitchers Pedro Beato and Tom Eshelman along with catcher Matt McBride and outfielder Collin Cowgill were all reassigned.  However, the team announced they'd all stick around with the big club until camp broke on Tuesday.

Also, infielder Adam Rosales was granted his release making him the fourth addition to the dubious Chachi Almost insert set.  Rosales hit just .237 this spring.

One final thought . . . This is right around the time each year the Phillies start finalizing the checklist for their first edition photo card team set, available for sale at the ballpark beginning at the home opener.  He won't be on the opening day roster, but it will be interesting to see if Scott Kingery makes the set.  Drew Hutchison and Francisco Rodriguez could find their way into the set as well, even if they don't make the cut for opening day.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Grapefruit Game 28 - 2018 Topps Opening Day #152 Jake Arrieta

Tigers 6, Phillies 2
Spring Training Game 28 - Thursday Afternoon, March 22nd in Clearwater
Record - 10-16-2

One Sentence Summary:  Jake Arrieta made his spring Phillies debut, lasting two innings in a 6-2 loss to the Tigers.

What It Means:  Arrieta admitted following his outing he may not be ready to go for the start of the season.  He struck out the first two batters he faced (convincingly) and then allowed a home run to Miguel Cabrera.

What Happened:  Arrieta's debut was the big story.  Pedro Florimon had an RBI single in the fourth and Adam Rosales hit a solo home run in the seventh.  Both are competing for one of the final roster spots.

2018 Chachi Almost #3
Featured Card:  I'll add any of Arrieta's 2018 baseball cards to my 2018 Phillies binder, even if they feature him with the Cubs as this Topps Opening Day card does.

Camp Head Count:  42 - 1 = 41.  Infielder Ryan Flaherty was released prior to the game, in spite of having a decent spring with the Phillies.  Flaherty had an out clause in his contract if he wasn't added to the 40-man roster by today and the Phillies seem to be leaning towards Florimon, Rosales or Jesmuel Valentin as their super utility bench players.  Flaherty hit .351 (13 for 37) and could end up heading back to the Orioles.  He earns the third spot on the Chachi Almost checklist for his brief time in Phillies pinstripes.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Joseph Departs; Updated Offseason Moves

2018 Chachi Departures #11
Before the regular season kicks off, I wanted to take a look back at the Phillies' offseason moves and commemorate the moving on of one Phillies Room Favorite and three blink-and-you-missed-them Phillies.

Tommy Joseph was designated for assignment in mid-March to make room on the team's 40-man roster for Jake Arrieta.  The slugging first baseman was then picked up on waivers by the Rangers.

Kevin Siegrist, Henderson Alvarez and Clay Buchholz all had very short stints with the Phillies.  Each recently found new homes, and I've already featured Siegrist's Chachi Departure card in a prior post.  He's a look at the complete Chachi checklist for each departed player and then a look at what could be close to the final list of offseason player moves.

Tommy Joseph Complete Chachi Checklist
2016 Chachi #42
2016 Chachi #67 Home Run Leaders (with Ryan Howard and Maikel Franco)
2016 Chachi Archives #4
2016 Chachi Photo Day #12
2017 Chachi Preview #1
2017 Chachi #6
2017 Chachi Phillies Phestival #22
2017 Chachi In Action #2
2017 Chachi Archives #1
2017 Chachi Photo Night #23
2018 Chachi Departures #11

Henderson Alvarez Complete Chachi Checklist
2017 Chachi #63
2018 Chachi Departures #10

Clay Buchholz Complete Chachi Checklist
2017 Chachi New Additions #6
2017 Chachi #17
2017 Chachi Photo Night #23 (with Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp)
2018 Chachi Departures #12

Kevin Siegrist Complete Chachi Checklist
2017 Chachi #59
2018 Chachi Departures #9
2018 Chachi Departures #10
2018 Chachi Departures #12
Moving On - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Henderson Alvarez - rhp (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed with Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican League, 3/16/18.
  • Ty Kelly - 2b-of (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the New York Mets, 1/22/18.
  • Kevin Siegrist - lhp (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2/24/18.
  • Andres Blanco - inf (11/2/17) - Elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the San Francisco Giants, 1/30/18.
  • Clay Buchholz - rhp (11/2/17) - Elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent
    with the Kansas City Royals, 3/20/18.
  • Hyun Soo Kim - of (11/2/17) - Elected free agency, signed with the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization, 12/18/17.
  • Daniel Nava - of (11/2/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2/6/18.
  • Jesen Therrien - rhp (11/6/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster and elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers, 11/29/17.
  • Michael Mariot - rhp (11/6/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the San Diego Padres, 11/29/17.
  • Colton Murray - rhp (11/6/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Tampa Bay Rays, 12/14/17.
  • Brock Stassi - 1b (11/6/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Minnesota Twins, 12/7/17.
  • Cameron Perkins - of (12/11/17) - Claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners.
  • Freddy Galvis - ss (12/15/17) - Traded to the San Diego Padres for Enyel De Los Santos.
  • Tommy Joseph - 1b (3/19/18) - Claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers.
Coming Back - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Pedro Florimon - inf-of (11/13/17) - Signed to a minor league contract.
  • Pedro Beato - rhp (12/22/17) - Signed to a minor league contract.
New Additions - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Engelb Vielma - inf (11/20/17) - Claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.
  • Pat Neshek - rhp (12/15/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Colorado Rockies.
  • Tommy Hunter - rhp (12/15/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Carlos Santana - 1b (12/20/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Cleveland Indians.
  • Jake Arrieta - rhp (3/12/18) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Chicago Cubs.
Already Gone - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Engelb Vielma - inf (12/11/17) - Claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Grapefruit Game 27 - 2018 Topps 1983 Topps Baseball #83-30 Rhys Hoskins

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 7
Spring Training Game 27 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 21st in Dunedin
Record - 10-15-2

One Sentence Summary:  Rhys Hoskins hit two home runs in a 7-7 tie with the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  This game was played while we were getting pummeled with more snow.  Enough already.

What Happened:  Hoskins has found a groove.  Jayson Stark Tweeted during the game that Hoskins has now reached 9 times in his last 16 plate appearances.  The equally hot Scott Kingery hit his 4th home run of the spring and Aaron Altherr added his third home run for good measure.  Nick Pivetta pitched two scoreless innings in one of his final starts before the regular season.

Featured Card:  We're going to be completely inundated with Hoskins cards in the 2018 Topps releases, and this 1983 Topps-inspired card is an insert from Topps Series One.
2018 Chachi Almost #1
2018 Chachi Almost #2
Camp Head Count:  44 - 2 = 42.  Reliever Fernando Abad was released prior to the game and outfielder Danny Ortiz was reassigned to minor league camp.  In 1 2/3 innings this spring, Abad allowed six runs on six hits and three walks.  Two of the six hits were home runs.  Abad becomes the first member of the 2018 Chachi Almost insert set, followed by Eliezer Alvarez.

Alvarez was designated for assignment when the team added Pedro Florimon to the 40-man roster.  On Wednesday, he was traded to the Rangers for cash considerations.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Grapefruit Game 26 - 2017 Phillies Team Issue Update #49 Ben Lively

Phillies 2, Blue Jays 0 (7 Innings)
Spring Training Game 26 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 20th in Clearwater
Record - 10-15-1

One Sentence Summary:  Ben Lively threw five shutout innings before rain ended the game, giving the Phils a 2-0 win over the Blue Jays.

What It Means:  While we were getting ice/freezing rain/snow in Philadelphia, Clearwater was also getting pummeled with rain.  I'd still rather be in Clearwater.

What Happened:  Lively gave up three hits and struck out four in his start.  Pedro Florimon had an RBI-triple in the second and scored on a Collin Cowgill ground out.

Featured Card:  Lively's team issued photo card for 2018 will need to reflect his new #54, as his old #49 went to Jake Arrieta upon his arrival.

Camp Head Count:  47 - 3 = 44.  Catcher Logan Moore, outfielder Andrew Pullin and infielder Mitch Walding were all assigned to minor league camp following the rain-shortened game.

Grapefruit Game 25 - 2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers #667 Aaron Altherr

Red Sox 6, Phillies 5
Spring Training Game 25 - Monday Afternoon, March 19th in Ft. Myers
Record - 9-15-1

One Sentence Summary:  Drew Hutchison impressed with five solid innings and Aaron Altherr drove in four runs in this 6-5 loss to the Red Sox.

What It Means:  The Phillies and Red Sox will next meet in late July, then again in mid-August and finally in the 2018 World Series.

What Happened:  Hutchison has been mentioned as a possible fifth starter, and this appearance certainly didn't hurt his chances.  He allowed a run on three hits while striking out three.  Nick Williams was responsible for the non-Altherr run, doubling home Andrew Knapp in the third.

Featured Card:  Altherr will start the season as the team's fourth outfielder with Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams slated to be the three regulars.  I wouldn't be surprised however if Altherr eventually sees just as much action as Herrera and Williams.

Camp Head Count:  47

Monday, March 19, 2018

Grapefruit Game 24 - 2017 Phillies Team Issue #76 Jesmuel Valentin

Twins 4, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 24 - Sunday Afternoon, March 18th in Ft. Myers
Record - 9-14-1

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola looked solid in one of his final tune-ups before the regular season starts in this 4-3 loss to the Twins.

What It Means:  With Jake Arrieta possibly not being ready for the beginning of the season and Jerad Eickhoff out for a few months due to injury, all eyes will be on Nola to get off to a strong start to 2018.

What Happened:  Nola allowed a pair of runs on four hits in his five innings of work.  Gregorio Petit hit a solo home run off Jake Thompson in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie.  Jesmuel Valentin had tied the game in the 7th with a three-run home run, his third of the spring.  Scott Kingery started at third base and had two hits.

Featured Card:  It would seem as if the Phillies are going to start the season with a four-man bench and an eight-man bullpen.  Aaron Altherr is a lock for one of the spots and the second spot will go to either Andrew Knapp or Cameron Rupp as the back-up catcher.  That leaves two spots remaining for Valentin, Pedro Florimon, Roman Quinn, Ryan Flaherty or Adam Rosales.  Valentin almost made the team last spring, but the final two spots went to Brock Stassi and Daniel Nava.  He was close enough though to merit a card in the team-issued set available for sale at the ballpark throughout most of the season.

Camp Head Count:  47

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Grapefruit Game 23 - 2017 Topps National Baseball Card Day SGA #10 Tug McGraw

Phillies 10, Braves 6
Spring Training Game 23 - Saturday Afternoon, March 17th in Clearwater
Record - 9-13-1

One Sentence Summary:  Carlos Santana and Maikel Franco led the way with home runs in this 10-6 win over the Braves.

What It Means:  The Phillies wore green in their annual St. Patrick's Day game.

What Happened:  Santana (1) and Franco (3) both homered, and a three-run fourth inning saw RBI doubles from Ryan Flaherty, Mitch Walding and Santana.  Zach Eflin got the start and gave up four runs in his four innings of work.

Featured Card:  It always seems appropriate to feature a Tug McGraw card on St. Patrick's Day.

Camp Head Count:  48 - 1 = 47.  Prior to the game, Yacksel Rios was optioned to minor league camp.  The Phillies will need to pick up the pace with their roster reductions in order to get down to 25 before the season opener in Atlanta on March 29th.

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.
2015 - David Buchanan started the game last year.  This year, here's already in minor league camp.
2016 - Vince Velasquez pitched well and Ryan Howard hit his first spring home run.
2017 - Kendrick and Altherr homered while Venditte made his switch-pitching debut.
2018 - Santana hits his first spring home run in a win against the Braves.

Grapefruit Games 21 & 22 - 2018 Topps Heritage #392 Jerad Eickhoff

Blue Jays 6, Phillies 4
Spring Training Game 21 - Friday Afternoon, March 16th in Clearwater

Phillies 6, Tigers 6
Spring Training Game 22 - Friday Afternoon, March 16th in Lakeland
Record - 8-13-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies split their squad for the final time in 2018, losing to the Blue Jays and tying the Tigers.

What It Means:  I'm excited to shift from spring training game summaries to regular season game summaries.  Let's go.

What Happened:  In Clearwater, Vince Velasquez allowed a run on five hits in just 2 2/3 innings.  Cesar Hernandez (1), Cameron Rupp (1) and Pedro Florimon (1) all homered for the Phillies.  In Lakeland, Nick Pivetta allowed two runs in his five innings of work.  J.P. Crawford (1) and Ryan Flaherty (1) homered in this game.

Featured Card:  The big news of the day was the announcement that Jerad Eickhoff would miss the first few months of the season with a strained right lat.  Candidates to replace Eickhoff in the starting rotation to start the season are Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter, Jr. and Tom Eshelman.

Camp Head Count:  48.  The camp head count held steady, but there was some roster shuffling as Florimon was added to the team's 40-man roster and Eliezer Alvarez was designated for assignment.

Grapefruit Game 20 - 2017 Donruss Optic #49 Jake Thompson

Braves 5, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 20 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 14th in Lake Buena Vista
Record - 8-12

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies returned to Disney World, dropping this game to the Braves, 5-3.

What It Means:  There are less than two weeks remaining to the Grapefruit League season.

What Happened:  Ben Lively allowed three runs on four hits in his five-inning start.  Jake Thompson pitched two more shutout innings to lower his spring ERA to 0.96.  Cesar Hernandez and Scott Kingery each had a pair of hits and Jorge Alfaro hit his second home run of the spring.

Featured Card:  It would seem as if Thompson is destined to start the season with the IronPigs, and it will be difficult for him to repeat on the volume of his baseball cards found within 2017 releases.  I have 24 different Topps and Panini cards of his in my 2017 Phillies binder, including this card from Donruss Optic.

Camp Head Count:  48

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Grapefruit Game 19 - 2018 Chachi New Additions #5 Jake Arrieta

Phillies 6, Rays 3
Spring Training Game 19 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 13th in Clearwater
Record - 8-11

One Sentence Summary:  Jesmuel Valentin hit a walk-off, three-run home run to give the Phillies a 6-3 win over the Rays.

What It Means:  The Phillies are unstoppable.

What Happened:  Thomas Eshelman, most likely headed to the IronPigs to start the season, pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings.  Maikel Franco had a pair of hits, including a fourth inning solo home run (2).  Rhys Hoskins added an RBI double in the sixth to tie the game at three.

Featured Card:  On Tuesday morning, the Phillies held a press conference to introduce their latest addition, Jake Arrieta.  He then warmed up with his new teammates on the field prior to the game.  The game was secondary.

Camp Head Count:  49 - 1 - 48.  Seranthony Dominguez was optioned to minor league camp, although I would expect we'll see the hard-throwing righty in the majors in the short-term future.

Number Update:  There were a bunch of number swaps necessitated by Arrieta's official arrival and his assuming his #49 from Ben Lively.  Here's the update:

  • #49 Jake Arrieta - The new Philllies pitcher will wear the same number he wore for five seasons with the Cubs.
  • #54 Ben Lively - Lively gave up his #49 and switched to #54.
  • #58 Fernando Abad - Non-roster invitee Abad switched from #54 to #58.

Which still means assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero will need a new number, as he had originally been assigned #58.  I may need to send a Phillies Room roving reporter to Clearwater to determine Guerrero's new number.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Grapefruit Game 18 - 2017 Stadium Club #167 Tommy Joseph

Phillies 3, Braves 0
Spring Training Game 18 - Monday Night, March 12th in Lake Buena Vista
Record - 7-11

One Sentence Summary:  Zach Eflin was impressive and Mitch Walding hit a three-run eighth inning home run to give the Phillies a 3-0 win in Disney World.

What It Means:  The Phillies pitching staff hasn't surrendered a run since signing Jake Arrieta.

What Happened:  Eflin, who could be the odd man out of the rotation due to the Arrieta signing, allowed just one hit in his five innings of work.

Featured Card:  Let's go with another card of Tommy Joseph since the arrival of Arrieta resulted in the Phillies designating Joseph for assignment.  I really hope he catches on somewhere, and it would seem he'd make a fine American League first baseman/DH.  I'll have a special Chachi Departures card for Joseph once he's joined his new team.

If I ever get around to creating a Phillies Room Favorites set, featuring our all-time favorite Phillies players, Joseph will definitely be included within the set.

Camp Head Count:  49 + 1 - 1 = 49.  Arrieta's signing was made official yesterday with Joseph's removal from the 40-man roster.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Grapefruit Game 17 - 2018 Topps Heritage #288 Jake Arrieta (#BeBold)

Orioles 4, Phillies 0
Spring Training Game 17 - Sunday Night, March 11th in Sarasota
Record - 6-11

One Sentence Summary:  The offense produced only four hits in this 4-0 loss to the Orioles.

What It Means:  This game doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but I tuned in to the radio broadcast nevertheless solely due to the buzz generated by the Jake Arrieta news.  As reported via multiple outlets yesterday afternoon, the Phillies and Arrieta have agreed to a three-year contract pending a physical.  There are reportedly a lot of moving pieces with the contract, and there could be an extension included that would keep him in red pinstripes through the 2022 season.

I have yet to process exactly what this means for the Phillies, but I do know that they just got a whole lot better.  Arrieta was the 2015 N.L. Cy Young Award winner and he's won a World Series ring with the 2016 Cubs.  It also has to put the Phillies in the discussion as a contending team in the N.L. East.

What Happened:  In the game, Nick Pivetta gave up three runs in his 4 2/3 innings of work.  Pedro Florimon had two of the four hits, including a double.

Featured Card:  I dug out this card from my pile of 2018 Topps Heritage cards once the Arrieta news broke, and I'm happy to give it a home in my 2018 Phillies binder.  Arrieta has been wearing #49 with the Cubs, and my assumption is that he'll need to trade something of value to its current owner (Ben Lively) in order to wear that number with the Phillies.  Lively could also be the odd man out in the starting pitching rotation, as the Phillies could start the season with Aaron Nola, Arrieta, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez and Pivetta as their starting five.

Camp Head Count:  49 . . . A roster move will need to be made once Arrieta's signing becomes official.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Grapefruit Game 16 - 2018 Topps Heritage #496 Vince Velasquez

Rays 5, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 16 - Saturday Afternoon, March 10th in Clearwater
Record - 6-10

One Sentence Summary:  Vince Velasquez looks to be ready for the start of the season, throwing four shutout innings in this 5-3 win over the Rays.

What It Means:  Work black hole continues . . . I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm anxious to get back to semi-regular and daily posting.

What Happened:  Velasquez allowed three hits and struck out two in his outing.  Hector Neris blew his first save of the spring, surrendering three Rays runs in the decisive ninth inning.

Featured Card:  Velasquez has one of two Phillies short-prints in the 2018 Topps Heritage set, with Nick Pivetta being the other.

Camp Head Count:  55 - 6 = 49.  The Phillies continued the pattern of sending down a few pitchers prior to the game, and then a few position players after the game.  Before the game, pitcher Ricardo Pinto was optioned and pitchers Enyel De Los Santos, Cole Irvin and Brandon Leibrandt were reassigned to minor league camp.  After the game, infielder Heiker Meneses and catcher Nick Rickles were also reassigned.

Grapefruit Game 15 - 2017 Topps Heritage Minor League #191 Home Run Leaders

Pirates 5, Phillies 4
Spring Training Game 15 - Friday Afternoon, March 9th in Clearwater
Record - 6-9

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies couldn't overcome an early deficit as the Pirates won the game, 5-4.

What It Means:  We're getting closer to meaningful baseball.

What Happened:  Rhys Hoskins had a single and double with two RBIs.  Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera both enjoyed multi-hit games.  Jerad Eickhoff was touched for four runs in his 3 1/3 inning start, allowing five hits while striking out three.  Jake Thompson looked good in his three scoreless innings of work.

Featured Card:  Top prospect Dylan Cozens, optioned to minor league camp following the game (see below), had a rough spring (.174 in 10 games) but he'll get some much-needed playing time with the IronPigs.  The Phillies are hoping Cozens follows the path of fellow top prospect Rhys Hoskins in the coming months, eventually joining Hoskins in the heart of the Phillies line-up.

Camp Head Count:  60 - 5 = 55.  Prior to the game, pitchers Franklyn Kilome, Ranger Suarez and Jose Taveras were optioned to minor league camp.  After the game, infielder Eliezer Alvarez and outfielder Cozens were also optioned to minor league camp.

Grapefruit Game 14 - 2018 Topps Heritage #34 Tommy Joseph

Phillies 7, Yankees 6
Spring Training Game 14 - Thursday Afternoon, March 8th in Tampa
Record - 6-8

One Sentence Summary:  Danny Ortiz and Pedro Florimon produced two clutch hits in the eighth inning to lead the Phils to a 7-6 win over the Yankees.

What It Means:  It's nice to see the Phillies showing some life in these games.  In the grand scheme of things, a spring training win doesn't mean much but maybe some of this positive momentum will carry over into the regular season.

What Happened:  Ben Lively allowed three runs in his four-inning start.  Adam Morgan got the win after pitching two scoreless innings.  Tommy Joseph added two more hits, raising his spring average to .474.  Ryan Flaherty and Mitch Walding both knocked in a pair of runs.

Featured Card:  I've got a bunch of 2018 Topps Heritage cards sitting in front of me ready to be sorted, and here's Joseph's card from the 1969 Topps-inspired set.

Camp Head Count:  60

Grapefruit Game 13 - 2018 Topps Heritage Hot Box Refractor #THC-188 Aaron Nola

Phillies 2, Red Sox 1
Spring Training Game 13 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 7th in Clearwater
Record - 5-8

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola threw four nearly flawless scoreless innings as the Phils hung on to beat the Red Sox, 2-1.

What It Means:  We watched this game on TV thanks to the winter storm that pounded our area on Wednesday afternoon.

What Happened:  There weren't many regular starters in the Sox line-up, but it was still nice to see Nola easily handle the batters.  He struck out five and allowed one hit in his four innings of work.  In the seventh, Nick Williams scored the eventual winning run from second when an infield pop-up dropped in front of the pitcher.

Drew Hutchison threw three innings, striking out four and allowing a run.

Featured Card:  In our recent Topps Heritage box opening fun, our oldest son Doug was the recipient of a Topps Heritage "hot box," resulting in a nice stack of these purple Chrome cards.  Apparently the official name of this set is "Hot Box Refractor," although I prefer "Purple Chrome."

Camp Head Count:  60

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Tracking the Ex-Phillies - Featuring Utley, Revere, Fasano, Schu and More!

One of my annual habits is to review the complete rosters of all 30 Major League teams, paying particular attention to see where former Phillies have ended up.  I'll review the 40-man rosters, the non-roster invitees and the coaches pages on each team's website.  Even though I do this every year, I don't always formalize my findings in a post, but it seemed like a good idea this year to give me an excuse to create a few custom cards.

Presented below, at least by my unofficial tally, are the former Phillies players in camp across the majors this spring.  I'm only tracking those players (or coaches/managers) who spent time with the Phillies.  So while Jesse Biddle is in camp with the Braves, he won't appear on the list below as he never played for the big club.  (And I think some of these players may have already moved on.)

N.L. East
Atlanta Braves:  Sal Fasano - catching coach
Miami Marlins:  Tylor Cloyd - rhp (NRI), Brian Schneider - catching coach
New York Mets:  Ruben Amaro Jr. - first base coach, Ty Kelly - inf (NRI)
Washington Nationals:  Joaquin Benoit - rhp, Reid Brignac - inf (NRI) , Howie Kendrick - of, Ryan Madson - rhp

N.L. Central
Chicago Cubs:  Peter Bourjos - of (NRI)
Cincinnati Reds:  Billy Hatcher - third base coach, David Hernandez - rhp, Ben Revere - of (NRI), Darnell Sweeney - of (NRI), Vance Worley - rhp (NRI)
Milwaukee Brewers:  None
Pittsburgh Pirates:  Daniel Nava - of (NRI), Tom Prince - bench coach, Kevin Siegrist - lhp (NRI)
St. Louis Cardinals:  John Mabry - hitting coach, Mike Maddux - pitching coach

N.L. West
Arizona Diamondbacks:  Antonio Bastardo - lhp (NRI), Torey Lovullo - manager, Humberto Quintero - bullpen catcher
Colorado Rockies:  None
Los Angeles Dodgers:  Chase Utley - inf, Turner Ward - hitting coach
San Diego Padres:  A.J. Ellis - c (NRI), Freddy Galvis - inf, Michael Mariot - rhp (NRI), Matt Stairs - hitting coach
San Francisco Giants:  Andres Blanco - inf (NRI), Chase d'Arnaud - inf (NRI) Hunter Pence - of, Rich Schu - assistant hitting coach

A.L. East
Baltimore Orioles:  Alec Asher - rhp, Roger McDowell - pitching coach, Joely Rodriguez - lhp (NRI), John Russell - bench coach
Boston Red Sox:  Ron Roenicke - bench coach
New York Yankees:  Erik Kratz - c
Tampa Bay Rays:  Dustin McGowan - rhp (NRI), Colton Murray - rhp (NRI)
Toronto Blue Jays:  Ezequiel Carrera - of, J.A. Happ - lhp

A.L. Central
Chicago White Sox:  Jeanmar Gomez - rhp (NRI)
Cleveland Indians:  Terry Francona - manager, Michael Martinez - inf (NRI), Brad Mills - bench coach
Detroit Tigers:  Daniel Stumpf - lhp
Kansas City Royals:  Cody Asche - dh (NRI). Michael Saunders - of, Dale Sveum - bench coach
Minnesota Twins:  Taylor Featherston - inf (NRI), Brock Stassi - inf (NRI)

A.L. West
Houston Astros:  Ken Giles - rhp, A.J. Hinch - manager, Charlie Morton - rhp
Los Angeles Angels:  JC Ramirez - rhp
Oakland Athletics:  Brandon Moss - dh
Seattle Mariners:  Juan Nicasio - rhp, Cameron Perkins - of
Texas Rangers:  Jake Diekman - lhp, Cole Hamels - lhp, Dan Warthen - assistant pitching coach