Pitchers and Catchers Report, Day One of Phillies Spring Training 2015

This is NOT how you want to start “Spring” Training. It was only a high of 50 with 25mph winds blowing in from the North. It was sunny, but it really didn’t help very much. Sadly, tomorrow will likely be worse as there is a “hard freeze” warning here, meaning it will be under freezing for several hours. So it’s a little iffy if I will be there much tomorrow and if I am there, for how long.

The chilly weather didn’t deter the Phillies Phaithful who braved the elements to see their favorite players. Usually on the first day, the program starts with a talk to the pitchers and it traditionally was given at “Seven Mounds” or the pitching mounds behind the main complex building. Ross and I thought that they may get a late start and would have the meeting inside. We got to the complex at 11 to find that they were out at 10 and were already into the PFPs or Pitcher Fielding Practice.

Jake Diekman
Jake Diekman
Kenny Giles
Kenny Giles
Camels Looks Unamused
Hamels Looks Unamused
Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee

 

Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Papelbon 

The first day is always a blast for me. Baseball Ross and I have been going to Spring Training for so long that we have gotten to know a lot of the regulars and it’s almost like a family reunion. That first day is always full of handshakes, hugs and catching up.

I also got to see a few of my favorite minor leaguers, which to me is my favorite part. I’ve known a bunch of these guys for what has been their entire careers and it’s nice to be remembered for always being there.

After the MLBers were done around noon, Ross and I left to get warm and grab something to eat and on our way home we passed the complex to see some players out. We were treated by getting to watch some of our MiLBer friends pitching live batting practice.

Carlos Alonso
Carlos Alonso
Cord Sandberg
Cord Sandberg
Colin Kleven
Colin Kleven
Seth Rosin
Seth Rosin
Austin Wright
Austin Wright

It looks like our minor leaguers reported to camp healthy and in great shape. Carlos Alonso smacked two almost out of the park, one died half way up the fence BUT it had been hit INTO THOSE ROARING WINDS! One of the guys remarked to him, “Hey Los, how about saving some?”

Colin Kleven looked really sharp and had a really crisp breaking pitch. He left a big smile on pitching coach Steve Schrenk’s face.

That’s it from Day One.

 

 

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly–Phillies Style

I just don’t know what happened to this season. I don’t. While I never expected the amazing-ness of recreating the 2008 season, I certainly expected that we’d do better than we did.

May be I’ve become spoiled. I mean, had this happened in the late 90s it would have been the norm, what was expected, but since the miracle of the 2008 season, all the seasons that we’ve been in the hunt, a threat to contend with, this season came as a smack to the face.

What or whom is to blame? The injuries? Trades? Lack of production/effort? Bad management?

Does it matter?

There is so much blame to go around. Rabid Ruben Amarro, Jr., Uncle Chuckles…the injury bug…I could go on. So much of the 2012 season with the Phillies was so ugly that I don’t think I can ever look at the season without putting a metaphorical bag over its head.

We all know what made the season Ugly (and I do mean to use the capital U, it was THAT ugly) and over the next four months every pundit will claim to know the cause of this years’ debacle. So why should I rehash it?

The Bad? Hmm. There were some things that I would say were bad, but did not merit being called ugly. Not many because I feel like 2012 was such a craptastic season that almost all the negatives were so strongly negative that really there wasn’t much bad for me, it all turned Ugly. Top it with the cherry that was Ryan Howard breaking his big toe. Does a year any more Ugly than that?

Bad, trading players to other teams…and then they  made contributions for their new teams. Shane Vicotrino, Joe Blanton, Hunter Pence, Scott Posednik and Rich Thompson were traded away.

I liked Posednik and Thompson. I’d watched the two of them last year in Lehigh Valley. I got to talk to Pods in Spring Training and he seemed like a nice guy. Thompson had been with the IronPigs from the beginning and to see him traded away was like a kick in the teeth, especially when they traded away Pence and Victorino just a month later. Thompson at least got traded to his hometown team, but he might have been good to keep here, he’s a decent fielder and considering his salary was considerably lower, it would have given us some more space under the cap to try to find someone for third base.

Bad was Freddy Galvis coming out to a hot and roaring start…giving hope that may be the season could at least be decent…only to have him sidelined by not only a back injury but a fifty game suspension for PEDs.

Bad was also how the front office kept inflating the attendance numbers to try to keep the “sold out” streak at CBP going. I mean any fool with eyes could see the large areas of empty seats. You can’t tell me that THAT many people purchased tickets then didn’t go. I’m sorry. Talk about “massaging” data!

The good. Hmm…when it comes to the big boys, frankly there’s not a lot for me. I look at Darin “Babe” Ruf…that makes me happy. I look at Tyler Cloyd…that’s another bright and shining star. What do these guys have in common? They’re young and offer promise…may be that’s what the big Phils need…HOPE…not another older player signed for a year or two to fill in a gap. Hope can go a long way in inspiring a team to do better.

For me…the things I’ll remember about the 2012 season all had to do with the minor league levels. Granted, I had a lot of contact with the players at this level…but that’s what will shine for me. This year, frankly, I want to forget the majority of the Big Phillies year and focus on the guys who give me hope that may be once management decides to give the younger guys a chance to play that may be, we can become great again.

I look at Jesse Biddle, Austin Wright, Adam Morgan, Tyler Knigge Cody Asche, Tyson Gillies, Darin Ruf, Tyler Cloyd, Jake Deikman and think…that we might just have something there…we have a massive amount of talent and potential that THEY are our future..THEY are the ones to help pull this team up.

This is what keeps me going, the hope that may be these guys that I’ve watched this summer and in some cases, several summers, that these guys can get us to the big game…whether Rabid Ruben and Uncle Chuckles give them the chance before any of them are old enough to qualify for social security remains to be seen.

 

As I read over what I had written, I realize I sound bitter. As a fan who live and dies with her teams, this year has been so hard to take. So much potential seemed to have been squandered. Personally, I lay a lot of the blame with management who seems stuck on bringing in and then keeping in older guys who just don’t seem to be getting it done on a regular basis…which would be understandable, IF there weren’t some kids in the farm system that might just have the potential to get the job done, as well as the veterans are but would also give hope to the future. That’s what makes me bitter.

I’ve said it before and I’l say it again, I’d rather lose because we have younger players learning to play at the Major League level than losing because the players we have are at the end of a great career and can’t manage to keep playing everyday at that same Major League Level.

Now…that I have that rant off my chest…I’ll start blogging about the Fall Instructional League…and my lists of “BEST OF” for this year….so keep reading…I’ll be back soon

 

 

Leaving on a jet plane; New IronPigs topic of discussion in Allentown Morning Call

“They’re leaving on a jet plane,” or so the song goes. The players for the Phillies, Reading Phillies and the IronPigs have left Florida and according to the Twitter reports of the players I follow, they’ve touched down in Philly with those assigned to Reading on a bus enroute to their new destination.

I found the comments of native Floridian Jiwan James funny as he remarked about how cold it was.

Also of note today, the Allentown Morning Call, a newspaper that reports on the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, did a nice story on some of the players coming to the team including Jake Diekman and Derrick Mitchell. It is very complimentary. I’ve included a link to the article HERE

What’s next for me now that I’m down to only one team that I can watch? Ok, I can watch more than that…Ross and I subscribe to MLB.com’s MLBTV so we can watch all of the Phillies games and the majority of the IronPigs, even down here in Florida. There may also be limited broadcasts of Reading Phillies games. There’s the Threshers’ games, I also keep an eye on the Dunedin Blue Jays since it’s only a few blocks from where my new house is being built. So this week will have me in Dunedin on Thursday for the Jays and Threshers, then at Brighthouse for a rematch of those teams. If I get really bored, we can always zip across the causeway to see the Tampa Yankees at Legends Stadium at Steinbrenner Field. Additionally, it won’t be too long before extended spring training starts. I think I might survive until next February.

Also of note, today Ross and I purchased an AppleTV, a device made by Apple that connects to the HDMI input on our TV and wirelessly to our router and then the internet. It allows us to stream all the MLB games right to our TV. What’s really cool is that it also allows us to watch any game from this season. So we went through the archives to the game on March 15th against the Braves where we had those seats in the front row right behind home plate. Low and behold…there we were! If you watch the first inning you can see me with my iPhone actually blogging at the game and also taking pictures. So I had to take a screen shot of myself on TV.

Betsy in the red shirt just above the "P" in Phillies taking a picture of pitcher Joe Blanton. Ross is in the grey shirt to my right, his face hidden by the score.

I didn’t have time to watch longer to get a better shot, but I’ll try to watch later and post a better picture.

So there we have it…for now. I also read a book this week written by former Lakewood BlueClaws pitcher Eric Pettis. It was an enlightening insight into his career and how things work in the farm system. I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to reviewing it this week.

Well, will you look at the time? It’s after midnight and may be I should stop watching and reading about baseball and get a little sleep.

The Phils beat the Jays

It was a great day for baseball. We spent the morning at the minor league camp. I saw my buddy who’s been working with the Lehigh Valley group…he looked really good. I have a good feeling about this season for him.

I also saw Jiwan James:

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He’s a nice guy, very accessible to his fans on Twitter.

It was good to see many familiar faces back. After sitting up many a night to watch the Australian baseball championships, it was good to see their MVP Tim Kennelly.

From there it was in to Dunedin for the game versus the Jays.

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Cliff Lee started and pitched the first two innings. He was lucky today, in Dunedin, the wind usually comes in off of the Gulf and will help a ball out over the fence. Today was a rare day when the breeze came from the East. It knocked down several balls that, under normal conditions, would have gone out.

It was a rather quiet game until the Phils opened up and scored 4 in the 4th.

After that, the air went out of the Jays.

Some Phillies highlights:

Catcher Tuffy Gosewisch picked off a Jay trying to steal second.

Gosewisch then stole second himself, showing the Jays how it’s done.

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Jake “Don’t Call Me Jacob” Deikman came in and struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced.

Hector Luna was AMAZING, fielding a hard-hit grounder and tossing the hitter out at first.

Carlos Ruiz played his first game of the season.

Freddy Galvis had a line drive hit to right to drive in a run, he’s looking strong at shortstop.

My fun crowd moment of the day:

There were a group of Canadians sitting next to us. They were a gregarious bunch and quite fun. We good naturely heckled each other throughout the game. At one point, the little old ladies in front of us were teasing one man as he got up to get a snack. One lady said, “if you’re going down, bring us something back!” he yelled back, “what ya want?” The lady replied, “whatever you’re having!”

It’s the kind of banter you see every game as people are climbing out or walking in front of others, what happened next is what made it different. The Canadian guy came back with a bucket of popcorn for the lady!

She told him she’d been kidding and offered to pay for the popcorn, but he wouldn’t hear it. “I know you were kidding, but I wanted to be nice.”

It was the kind of thing that makes baseball different. With the slower pace, you can chat with your neighbors and have a little fun without missing anything. Of course, these Canucks were in for a long day. They drank quite a few Labatts and informed us they were spending the evening at the Lightning game, who are coincidentally playing the Ottawa Senators.

The weather was perfect, the fans were fun, what more could I ask for?

Baseball is good.