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

 

 

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From “Zero” To Hero in Less than a Week

There’s a lot of things make me wonder about the Phillies. One of them is how some guys just never seem to get a fair shake. Rich Thompson is one of those guys. He’s been in the organization for several years, but has never gotten a chance to play in the major leagues. He played in the major leagues previously with another team but he’s been anguishing in Lehigh Valley since coming to the Phillies.

Thompson is like many other guys in the Phillies farm system, he’s a good player a solid player, and if he played in any other teams organization you have a good shot at making the show. But Thompson doesn’t play in any other organization he played with the Phillies and for some reason the reason I can’t discern he’s never even given a chance to play with the big Philly’s at citizens Bank Park.

Thompson held the record as being the longest I am paid in team history, they even made a big deal last year in the playoffs in saying he was the last “original” IronPig left on the team. But he never got his shot with the Phillies and last week the Phillies dealt him to the Tampa Bay rays.

The Rays didn’t send him “down” they took him right up to the show he went from being stuck in the international league at AAA with the Phillies aans now is playing every day with the Rays. Not only that, tonight his play was crucial to them winning the game.

It was in the 11th inning and the game is tied Constantine to the plate and took one for the team he got hit by pitch. After being hit he took his base then BJ Upton was up, Upton. Smack the ball sending it out into the outfield Thompson who is on first started running as if his life depended on it and it seemed that within seconds he scored to win the game!

He obviously has to speed and ability to play at the major-league level the while of the Phillies let him languish in AAA. I guess only Ruben Amarro knows.

It also makes me wonder how many other guys Mike Thompson have a speed and ability to play at the major-league level and are languishing in the lower levels of the Phillies farm system? Only time will tell. Maybe someday some of these guys will get a chance or maybe they’ll be dealt to other teams and get the big chance.

What I’m afraid of its we have players that are currently playing for the Phillies that are not playing up to their ability or are injured and not able to play as good as they can. What I think is happening is that there’s good players, quality players who could fill in but instead they are left languishing in the farm system. The same guys get traded and go on to have productive careers with other teams.

But what do I know? I’m not a “professional”. But I do know is I hate seeing guys that are talented like Thompson getting stuck in a holding pattern just because of someone else’s opinion of them and because they just weren’t given a chance.

I’m really happy for Rich Thompson. He owns a home in the Tampa area so he’s playing for his home team and what could be better for him? I wish him all the best and look forward to seeing him play at the Trop.

Iron Pigs Rich Thompson TRADED!

The Phillies traded Iron Pig Rich Thompson to Tampa for Outfielder Kyle Hudson.

This is now being reported by multiple sources.

I say welcome to Kyle and a thank you to Rich. I believe Rich was the last original Iron Pig. I wish Rich all
The best in his figure endeavors.

UPDATE: Rich Thompson will be playing with the TAMPA BAY RAYS! He’s going back to the big league! Thompson also has a home in the area so I am sure that he and his family are thrilled! Congratulations Rich!

My Jerry McGuire Moment

I apologize for not blogging this week. It’s not that I haven’t been to any games or watched them on tv/internet, it’s that I just haven’t felt well, inspired to write.

I find myself feeling like Jerry McGuire in the beginning of the movie where he’s sort of rushing all around doing what he needs to do because that’s what he does, not what he wants to do. Then that one night he is hit by that bolt of inspiration that causes him to write his mission statement. Seeing that I’m starting this post at 1:30 a.m. I’d likely get fired by my boss too if I were writing this for a company that actually paid me to write. Heck, depending on where I end up, may be I’ll fire myself. (Ha!)

I think the thing that sent me into my funk was the whole Cole Hamels/Bryce Harper “incident”. It just got the wheels in my head running and I couldn’t get them to stop.

I look at the Phillies roster and how EIGHT of the 40 men on the roster are on the DL. EIGHT. These kind of things happen, granted usually not eight at a time. The Phillies are hurting for players that can produce at the major league level. Then Cole goes and makes, frankly, a bonehead move like hitting Harper ON PURPOSE with a 93mph fast ball.

How do you justify that? They are hurting for players and Hamels goes and gets himself suspended. So that made NINE guys that couldn’t play. If you ask me, he got off easy. He essentially only had to push back one day in the rotation. I honestly think if a player gets a five game suspension it should be five games where he could actually play. With a pitcher it equates to just delaying their start one day. Not much of a punishment for intentionally hurling a ball 93 mph into a guy’s butt.

Hamels contract is up for renewal at the end of the season. Howard Eskin was reporting that Hamels is asking for a seven year contract. Now, if he wants a contract that’s comparable to the 5 year deal that Cliff Lee got, Lee got 11 million the first year, 21.5 this year and for the next three years he gets 25 million dollars. Some sources are estimating that Hamels will ask for approximately what Lee is getting. If Hamels gets the 25 million a year that Lee is getting the next three years, for his contract: that’s ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE MILLION DOLLARS. Think about it.  I’m not saying he can’t produce but after his questionable behavior this week, would you feel comfortable investing that kind of money in a guy who might just make a decision on a whim that could harm the team without thinking about the consequences? Will he still continue to play to his fullest ability?

Look at all the money the Angels put out for Albert Pujols. INSANE money. He just got his first home run this weekend. What’s his incentive to keep playing as hard as he can? His money is guaranteed. He played hard last year because he wanted the big contract, this year? Can you say the same?  If he never hits another homer, he still gets paid the same. There’s no bonuses for playing hard and it’s just human nature to do only what you have to to get by. That’s where the problem lies, there’s just no incentive. I’m not by any means suggesting he’s tanking on purpose, but I’d wager he just doesn’t seem to be playing all out every game like he did last year.

Then look at the money that’s tied up in long term contracts. Chase Utley is down to only one more year, but will he ever be able to play again? If he does, at what level? I can actually say, I have had patella problems including surgery to thin the tendons to lengthen them. I did the therapy. My knee is good, but it will never be 100% and I can tell you from experience that it’s the stopping and turning that make it hurt. Not running/walking. I can walk for days and it doesn’t bother me, but if I stop quick and turn, that’s a different story. Isn’t that what a second baseman does? Grab a ball turn and throw? If it’s arthritis, there isn’t a lot that can be done to keep the pain from returning.

Howard’s out. Hopefully by the end of the year he’ll be back. He’s in the first year of a five year deal. 20 million this year and next and the last three years 25 million dollars.

Amaro’s got so much money tied up in some of these major contracts it doesn’t leave a lot for them to get players to add depth to the roster so that when injuries occur there’s someone to step in. They get players like Wiggington, a player who’s former team wanted to get rid of him so badly, they were willing to pay half his salary while he played for someone else. Laynce Nix’s contract wasn’t renewed with Washington. He was “cheap” at 1.15 million this year, but no one else wanted him. If so much money wasn’t tied up they might have been able to get some one, err, a little more playable?

Then when disaster strikes, and how can you not call eight of your players on the DL not a disaster, you could turn to your farm system for replacements. I personally think that the Phillies have one of the best farm systems in the league. There is a great deal of talent in the pool. So many guys who could step in and help. There might be a learning curve while they adjust to playing at the top level, but I’d rather lose a few games to inexperience than because the guy playing is past his prime.

I really like Jim Thome. He’s a super nice guy. I wish him no ill will, but I think there’s a problem when he can’t practice taking ground balls without needing to sit on a step stool. I saw him in spring training. They had him next to Bright House on the short field sitting on a step stool fielding ground balls. You can’t tell me that there was no one who was more physically able to fill first base. At the time we still had Matt Rizzotti. He had played with the  Phils last spring training. This year? They didn’t bring him up and soon dealt him to the Twins. Darrin Ruf is leading the Eastern League in batting average, Cody Overbeck is in Lehigh Valley and don’t count out Big Jim Murphy who’s 2nd in the Florida State League in RBIs. I’m not saying that these guys are truly ready to play as good as Howard the first day but they’d be making a third of what Thome is and may be they’d grow into the position and frankly, I’d be willing to bet that they could slide into second without throwing their backs out. Give the young guys a chance.

Shane Victorino’s contract is also up at the end of the year. Who’s going to replace him?

I’m fairly certain that they’ll either pay way too much for too long for him or they’ll bring in another guy over 33 to take his place.

What about all the good outfielders in the farm system? You’ve got guys like Derrick Mitchell and Tyson Gillies (Gillies is currently ON the 40 man roster though he’s playing in AA Reading) or even Rich Thompson who should at least earn a shot at winning the spot.

Look at all the players that the Phillies didn’t want who went on to have  success somewhere else: Michael Borne, Gio Gonzolez, Jason Donald, Adrian Cardenes, Michael Taylor, Lou Marsen…they’re somewhere else and making an impact and that’s just the guys that are in the majors.

They spend all that time to develop the talent then ignore it. It’s so frustrating.

As a fan, the majors are getting more and more out of reach as well. To make the money to pay these huge salaries, they have to charge more for tickets, souvenirs cost more, food, everything. It’s getting to where the average Joe can’t afford to take the whole family out. What about getting your kid an autograph? Unless you go to a charity event or pay for it, it’s likely not going to happen (unless you’re at spring training).

Then I look at the farm system. That’s where I as a fan, look for my investment.

The whole minor league system is set up to not only be fan friendly, but affordable. MiLB was running a promotion, “A family of four can go to a minor league game for 46 dollars” or something like that. It included a hot dog and drink for everyone too. Heck, on dollar Tuesdays in Clearwater, you can get a berm seat for a buck, a hot dog for a buck and a small soda for a buck. Heck add an ice cream sandwich in for desert and a bag of popcorn and that’s still just five bucks. You can take a family for dinner and a game for just twenty bucks. If you’d go to Citizen’s Bank Park, that’s what? Half of an upper deck seat?

The players may not make much money but they don’t mind saying hi or even waving on occasion if they see you at the games often enough and heck you can afford to go often when the prices are so low.

Saturday night we went to Dunedin to see the Threshers play the Blue Jays and we sat right behind the Threshers dug out. Cost six bucks a ticket. (Friday night it was only 3 bucks a ticket!!!) I don’t think most people have the money or connections to get seat like that in Philly. Here you can sit close enough that you can feel like you’re actually supporting your team and may be heckle the umps too.

That’s something the average person can’t do in Philly. With the salaries going up, I’m going to imagine the ticket prices will too.

I guess I’ve just been thinking too much, I just feel so jaded. It’s not that the Phillies don’t have talent, it’s just that so much of it isn’t “what it used to be” and to keep getting older guys without at least giving their young talent a chance is just so frustrating to me. They keep losing so many games for not having any offense and I look at the farm system and there’s so many young guys that just might be able to contribute if just given half a chance. They’d want to be there so much that they’d put in the effort, push so much harder that may be they could put together a few wins without worrying about throwing a back out, or pulling a calf muscle.

I don’t know. At least for now, I’ll spend $30 a month, sit at home with my dogs on my comfy couch and watch the Phillies that way. I can eat my own food and drink my own drinks. I can do that for a whole month and also watch MiLBtv too. All of those games as well for the same $30 bucks. If I’m going to go to a game, I’ll go to the minors. At least I know that these are guys with something to prove, a reason to play hard and may be sign a ball or two.

This is just my ramblings, the ramblings of a tired (it’s now 3 am when I’m finishing this) and frustrated fan. My mission statement if you will, to find good baseball wherever I can…or at least can afford.