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Bill Conlin Gets It Thursday September 18th, 2008

Posted by Sean in Chicago White Sox, Gavin Floyd, Josh Outman, Off-topic, Phillies, Phillies Farm teams.
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It seems that at least one member of the “real-world media” understands my point-of-view. Frankly, it’s comforting knowing that someone else has the same opinion as me on this “issue”. Report via Philly.com.

ON A DAY and night fraught with postseason implications, I couldn’t help thinking about Gavin Floyd.

Brett Myers went for the Brewers’ spurting jugular last night on 3 days’ rest, which is only a big deal because no pitcher under the age of 45 does it anymore. Joe Blanton started the day game of the players union-induced split-admission doubleheader against the gagging Brew Crew. The National League wild-card invitation sits there waiting for somebody to pick it up and order the party balloons. But the Brew Crew is shoveling the handsome lead they once enjoyed into a shallow grave. The Cardinals are done. And Ed Wade’s Astros are doing what the Rockies did a year ago with a late run that has put them right in the Phillies’ wind shadow.

It is exciting stuff if you are turned on by NASCAR collisions and Hurricane Ike footage.

Meanwhile, Gavin Floyd is 15-7 with a 3.77 ERA. While Myers was hopping through three minor league levels during his confidence rehab, Floyd was flirting with no-hitters for a White Sox team he helped pitch into first place. The 25-year-old is manager Ozzie Guillen’s top winner.

And he represents one of the most indictable screwups in Phillies history. Screwup? The Gavin Floyd saga deserves a more pungent word than that. When you factor in all the good money thrown after bad, it is the worst series of transactions in franchise history.

And the umbrella of guilt overspreads the watches of both Ed Wade and Pat Gillick. The one guy here for all of it has been Mike Arbuckle, the minor league system manager and assistant GM who drafted Floyd No. 4 overall in 2001, paid him a club- record $4.2 million bonus, and signed off on the Coup de Disgrace. That would be the 2006 winter meetings deal where Gillick sent Floyd and minor league prospect Gio Gonzalez to Chicago for damaged veteran righthander Freddy Garcia and his $10 million contract.

It is trendy to speculate where the Phillies would be had Myers pitched as well before the All-Star break as he has since returning as a fire-breathing dragon from his three-level limbo.

I wonder what the rotation could have been had it included a Gavin Floyd the Phillies decided to dump because nobody had the people skills to help him through his crisis of confidence. Why he had become more nibbler than a 6-5, 230-pound, $4.2 million force of nature sure to become a dominant power pitcher in a rotation with Cole Hamels and Myers.

The Phillies are never much for playing the blame game. Historically, they have chosen the “Anybody can make a mistake” avenue of accountability. It is a rutted and well-traveled road. Rolled heads do not line their bumpy boulevard of broken dreams. The Phillies move the Ox carts stoically ahead – even when the blunder costs the services of a Floyd and a total of $14.2 million in cash, factoring the $10 million paid to Garcia, who contributed one 2007 victory before beginning a backward count from 10 to 1 for Dr. Andrews.

Front-office types blame pitching coach Joe Kerrigan for changing Floyd from a four-seam-fastball power arm with a huge 12-6 curve to a two-seam sinkerballer with a cut fastball. But in Kerrigan’s defense-a feeble one, I admit-the Professor was trying to give the kid a way to stay in the big leagues. He had lost his killer stuff. Mentally, the kid was a mess.

Floyd has since admitted he fell victim to the blizzard of conflicting advice he was getting and didn’t begin to reclaim his Futures Game stuff until he cleared his head of all good intentions and remembered the delivery and straight-ahead aggressiveness that earned him that record bonus.

One hot night when he was pitching for Class A Clearwater, I watched him go from no-hitter stuff to fretting, petulant brat who turned another goose egg into a crooked number because an umpire pinched him on a couple of pitches. I told Arbuckle that Floyd totally lost his poise and appeared to have demeanor issues. Mike said, au contraire, media man, the reports said the exact opposite.

The reports lied . . .

Joe Blanton was OK yesterday after a shaky beginning. The Phillies gave up badly mishandled lefthander Josh Outman and a nobody outfielder to acquire the leviathan righty.

Outman won his first major league game for Oakland Saturday, allowing one run in five innings against the Rangers’ big offense. Josh had been used in setup relief most of the Reading season. His manager, P.J. Forbes, and pitching coach, Tom Filer, will not be back next season.

Neither will Gavin Floyd nor Josh Outman.

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J.A. Happ Sent Down to Start During All-Star Break Thursday July 10th, 2008

Posted by Sean in JA Happ, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Mike Cervenak, Phillies.
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It was announce on the Phillies game today that the team sent J.A. Happ outright to AAA Lehigh Valley.  They did this because they want him to start while the big team is on the All-Star break.  To replace him, they brought up infielder Mike Cervanek, who will wear number 24.  I doubt he will get many bats.

Scot Rolen Trade Lines Tuesday July 8th, 2008

Posted by Sean in Clearwater Threshers, Detroit Tigers, Phillies, Placido Polanco, Reading Phillies, Scot Rolen, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Trade Lines.
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This is the second edition of a series of posts called “Trade Lines.” For the first edition (and what they are all about, go here).

With the Cardinals coming to town today, I decided to do the trade lines from the last major deal we made with the St. Louis Cardinals, which was shipping out disgruntled third baseman Scot Rolen and nobody pitcher Doug Nickle for infielder Placido Polanco, and pitchers Mike Timlin and Bud Smith. Rolen first came up with the club at the tail end of the 1996 season, and won the Rookie of the Year award for the National League the next year (his first full year). He lasted in Philadelphia until July of 2002, when he was shipped out.

Doug Nickle was somewhat of a journeyman throughout his career. The Phils got him from the Angels in the ’98 offseason for outfielder Greg Jefferies. He did not last long at all for the Cards, because the San Diego Padres claimed him off of waivers in August of 2002. After the Padres, he has pitched for the Angels (again), White Sox and Dodgers AAA teams. He has not appeared in the majors since 2002.

Placido Polanco was the Phillies third baseman immediately after Rolen’s departure, and slid over to second when Doug Bell was “imported” from the Giants in 2003. He lasted until the 2005 deadline (a.k.a. Year 1 of the “Utley Experience”), when he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers for reliever Ugueth Urbina (pronounced oo-GET), and infielder Ramon Martinez. Neither made an impact on the team, nor returned in 2006 (Urbina went to jail, and Martinez left for the Dodgers). So, 3 years after he left, we have nothing left to show for Polanco, though Urbina’s sticky situation is no one’s fault but his own.

Mike Timlin was a solid, 12-year veteran pitcher when the Phillies obtained him (if somewhat unpopular). He had a decent season (giving up a career-best 14 walks), but left as a free agent to the Boston Red Sox after the season, where he rejuvenated his career. We have nothing left to show for him.

Bud Smith (the final player in the deal), never saw the light of the major leagues again after the Cardinals traded him. The reliever was, putting it nicely, one of the majors biggest disappointments this decade. His no-hitter as a rookie in September of 2001 against the Padres is most assuredly his biggest achievement in life. The highest he pitched for the Phillies was AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2002 and 2004. He was largely hurt throughout his short Philly tenure, and pitched sparingly in 2003 for both AA Reading, and High A Clearwater. After 2004, he departed for the Twins, and has since pitched in the Golden Baseball League (independent ball) in 2006 and 2007 for the Long Beach Armada. We got nothing out of him, except for a few minor league strikeouts.

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Where are they now?

Rolen went on to win the 2006 World Series with St. Louis, before being dealt to Toronto after 2007 for fellow third baseman Troy Glaus, where he is currently. Rolen has been hurt several times in his career, and, at age 33, is at nearing the end of his illustrious career.

Nickle retired after 2004 after having being largely anonymous in his brief career.

Polanco, as mentioned, was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 2005. He is still playing for them, and won the 2006 pennant. Earned a place in the all-star game in 2006 as the starting second baseman.

Timlin, now 42, is still pitching for the Red Sox and has been an integral part of the World Series-winning 2004 and 2007 Boston bullpens.

Smith is now out of baseball after pitching in the indy leagues, trying to salvage his once-promising career.

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Trivia Section

Who was the last Cardinal to wear 51 (the former number of fan favorite Willie McGee)?

J.A. Happ to Start Tomorrow Thursday July 3rd, 2008

Posted by Sean in JA Happ, Johan Santana, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, New York Mets, Phillies.
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J.A. Happ pitching at AA Reading, 2006.  Taken by the author.

J.A. Happ pitching at AA Reading, 2006. Taken by the author.

Comcast SportsNet has announced that the AAA southpaw has been recalled and will be given the ball tomorrow night against the evil Mets. This will be J.A.’s (pronounced “Jay”) second start in the majors. He pitched one game last year going 4 innings, allowing 3 earned runs and struck out 5 batters before being sent back down to AAA Ottawa following the game.

Happ, a third round selection in the ’04 draft, has slowly pitched his way up the organizational ladder, starting with then Rookie affiliate Batavia Muckdogs. Perhaps his best season came in 2005, when he pitched for both Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws and AA Reading Phillies (for only one start). He had a record of 5-4 (getting the win in Reading), a combined ERA of 2.30, combined WHIP of 1.13, 78 strikeouts (eight coming from Reading), and only 28 walks in 78.1 innings.

Happ has been a constant success for the Iron Pigs this season, where success is often hard to find. He owns a record of 5 wins and 6 losses, an ERA of 3.54, 1.27 WHIP, 104 strikeouts (one more than Mets’ starter Johan Santana, by the way), and 38 walks, all in 101.2 innings. He has easily been the ace of the staff. He is the team leader in K’s, second in wins (one behind leader Brian Mazone), sixth in ERA (well behind team leader Stephen Randolph) and WHIP (only .1 points away from Mazone), but is also tied for staff-lead in walks surrendered with Travis Blackley.

TRIVIA SECTION
This is a new thing I’ve decided to do. I’m going to ask a trivia question on every post (hopefully–you guys know how I am with fulfilling promises). The winner will be the first person the correct answer in the comment section.

How many (and name them) current Phillies played for the previous three AAA franchises (Lehigh Valley, Ottawa, and S/WB) at some point in their career (not necessarily with the Phillies)?

Brett Myers loses Pig Debut Thursday July 3rd, 2008

Posted by Sean in Brett Myers, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
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As you may know, Phillies righthander (and former ace) Brett Myers was optioned down to AAA Lehigh Valley this week. His first AAA start since 2002 resulted in a loss to the Keystone State rivals Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Here’s the official news report, courtesy ironpigsbaseball.com:

Brett Myers allowed just three runs on five hits in his first start as a member of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs but the home team suffered a 5-3 setback against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees on Wednesday night. While the length of his time in the Lehigh Valley remains unclear, Myers is expected to take the mound again for Lehigh Valley on Monday, July 7 against Louisville Bats. The Phillies’ Opening Day starter took the loss but looked extremely sharp during his 5.0 inning stint against the second-place Yankees.
The right-hander only allowed two hits over the first four innings of the game. After allowing a lead off double to Yankees 1B Eric Duncan (Ed.’s note: No longer a prospect) in the 2nd, Myers struck out the next two batters he faced and got RF Greg Porter (Not a prospect, either) to ground out to strand the runner in scoring position. At one point, the former 14-game winner retired nine Yankees in a row using his breaking ball primarily as his out pitch.
Brandon Watson gave the latest addition to the IronPigs starting rotation a run in the 4th by drilling his first home run of the season against Scranton/WB starter Jeff Karstens (prospect). It was his first blast since July 23, 2007 in Norfolk while a member of the Columbus Clippers. The Lehigh Valley LF had gone 383 at-bats between homers over the last two seasons.
Myers’ lead though however, would not last more than a half inning as he allowed three runs on a trio of hits in the Yankees’ half of the 5th inning. JD Closser (NP) led off with a walk and would then reach third on a passed ball and a throwing error by Jason Jaramillo. Porter then delivered a single through the pulled in infield to tie the game at 1-1. Justin Christian (NP) then laced a double to right that put two runners in scoring position with only one out in the inning.
Chris Basak (NP) would then drop a softly hit ball into shallow left that gave Scranton/WB their first lead of the game and the visitors still had a speedy runner in Christian standing at third. The centerfielder’s quickness came into play when Myers’ uncorked a wild pitch that got away from Jaramillo and allowed Christian to come home and make it a 3-1 Yankees advantage. The former Phillies closer would retire the next two batters on fly balls and would not come out for the 6th after a 100-pitch outing.
Mike Cervenak helped Lehigh Valley pull to within one in the 6th on single to left to score Rich Thompson who had a ground rule double to center and a stolen base in the frame. Cervenak also stole his 5th base of the season in the inning but was stranded in scoring position after Karstens struck out Andy Tracy and Jon Knott to keep it a 3-2 game.
Then poor defense pushed Lehigh Valley even farther behind as Christian stole a pair of bases in the 7th and then scored on Jaramillo’s second throwing error of the ballgame. A similar play happened in the 8th with Jason Lane (NP) who walked and then took second on a base on balls issued to Duncan. On ball four to Duncan, reliever Stephen Randolph threw a wild pitch and the veteran Lane took off and headed to third base. Jaramillo then over threw Cervenak at the hot corner and Lane trotted home to make it a 5-2 Scranton lead.
The Lehigh Valley catcher tried to atone for his mistakes in the field by pounding an RBI double in the 9th that scored Knott from first base. But Yanks’ lefty Billy Traber retired Oscar Robles and Mike Rouse to end the game and hand the IronPigs their fifth straight loss against their in-state rivals.

Inaugural Phillies.tk Podcast Released Monday April 21st, 2008

Posted by Sean in Brad Harman, Chicago Cubs, Chris Snelling, Chris Woodward, Cincinnati Reds, Jason Donald, Jimmy Rollins, Joey Hammond, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Pat Burrell, Phillies, Reading Phillies, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, TJ Bohn, Washington Nationals.
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It’s around Seven minutes long. Topics covered include the transactions for the week (JRoll and Snelling to the DL, and the replacements), and what the Phils can do to replace the MVP and Victorino.

Update: Stupid WordPress won’t let me post it here. You’re going to have to go to philliestk.podbean.com to see/hear it (not too difficult), or search for it in the iTunes library. I submitted it today, so it should be available for download in a few days.

Pat Burrell vs. Mike Schmidt Monday March 3rd, 2008

Posted by Sean in Minor Leagues, Pat Burrell, Phillies, Phillies Farm teams, Ryan Howard.
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Well, it certainly has been a while since I posted, hasn’t it?  Here’s a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while, comparing the current Phillies left fielder to the team’s greatest slugger (as of now).  This post more than makes up for my month-long absence. It’s ~800 words.  Enjoy!Mike Schmidt Pic vs. Pat the Bat (more…)

Changing Uniforms Friday January 25th, 2008

Posted by Sean in Cleveland Indians, Fresno Grizzlies, Huntsville Stars, Kansas City Royals, Lancaster Jet Hawks, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Phillies, Pulaski Mariners, Quad Cities River Bandits, Reading Phillies, Sacremento River Cats, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Trenton Thunder, Williamsport Crosscutters.
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It seems that everyone is changing the design of their uniforms lately.

==UPDATE==This post is too long for the home page. Click to read it.

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New Phillies Wiki Under Way! Wednesday December 19th, 2007

Posted by Sean in Clearwater Threshers, Lakewood Blue Claws, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Phillies, Phillies Wiki, Reading Phillies, Williamsport Crosscutters.
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I am pleased to announce to my loyal reader(s) that a wikipedia-type of website about our beloved (or loathed, depending on how you look at it) baseball team, which will contain information on everything about the team, including minor league stuff. Updates will be on here as soon as I can, and volunteers for the site would be greatly appreciated. Just drop me a line.