Tagged: Joe Blanton

Hey Joe

Yes, I’m talking to you, Joe Blanton.

I was kind of hoping that in your second start of the season, against the Nationals, you might bounce back a bit from that less than stellar game against the Mets last week.

Silly me.

Instead, you gave up 5 earned runs in 6 innings, and after two starts, your ERA is an unattractive 10.45. Yes, I know it’s still early in the season, so there’s plenty of time to turn it around. I suggest you start rectifying this situation during your next start, on Sunday afternoon.

I’ll be watching.

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In what is becoming a curious trend, the Phillies dropped the first game of their series against Washington, and then came back to win the next two.

This time, it was Joe Blanton who was not sharp in game one (see above). Additionally, he gave up a home run to ex-Phillie Jayson Werth, resulting in my breakfast the next morning being disturbed by the sight of Werth on the front page of the newspaper. Echh.

Roy Halladay took the mound for game two, and had the Nationals shut out through eight innings (yay!). He flirted with disaster in the ninth, giving up two runs, but managed to escape intact for the complete game victory, as the Phils prevailed 3-2.

Also in this game, Washington starter John Lannan faced Ryan Howard with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth, and proceeded to hit Howard on the wrist, driving in a run. Lannan, if you recall, was the pitcher who hit Chase Utley a few years ago, giving him a broken hand.

Yo, John Lannan, stop hitting my Phillies!

For his career, Lannan has faced the Phillies 12 times, going 0-9 with a 5.80 ERA. The Nationals have lost 11 of those 12 games. So bring him on some more! Just let me wrap the players in bubble wrap first. πŸ™‚

Not to be outdone, Cliff Lee finished off a complete game of his own the next night, as the Phils won 4-0.

I think I could get used to this whole “Four Aces” thing. πŸ™‚

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I often find myself wondering about some of the photos MLB chooses to use in the slideshows for each game. For example, why use this one?

my wallet is this big.jpgThe caption states that “The Nationals’ Jayson Werth gestures to teammates on the field during the ninth inning.”

Gesturing about what? Trying to cue the musical accompaniment for a dramatic ninth inning rally? The size of the proverbial “one that got away”? Or maybe the size of his wallet now that the Nationals have grossly overpaid for his services?

I’m sure you readers can come up with something good! Leave a comment if you have an inspired caption to share.

Two Out of Three (x 2) Ain’t Bad

No, taking two out of three from both the Mets and the Braves ain’t bad at all; in fact, I’d say it’s very good.

(and darn it, now there’s another song stuck in my head! Last week, it was AC/DC, now it’s Meat Loaf)

In both series, the Phillies dropped the first game when one of the four aces wasn’t very ace-like. Cole Hamels stunk it up against the Mets last Tuesday (Note to Cole: Giving up two hits to the opposing pitcher in the same inning is never a good idea) as the Phillies lost 7-1. Cliff Lee obviously did not have his best stuff in a 6-3 loss to the Braves.

Cole was able to redeem himself yesterday, going seven strong innings against the Braves as the Phillies won, 3-0.

In the second game against the Mets, Joe Blanton very nearly managed to lose the game after blowing a seven-run lead (Note to Joe: Please don’t do that again. Ever.). Joe was saved from a loss by four scoreless innings from the bullpen, and some timely hitting from the offense for a 10-7 win.

Both series also featured the stress-relieving blowout, courtesy of the Roys. Well, stress-relieving for me, not fans of the opposition. Roy Halladay pitched the Phils to a 11-0 rout of the Mets, and Roy Oswalt got his first-ever regular season win over Atlanta in a 10-2 butt-whuppin’.

Let’s hope the Phils can maintain that momentum, as they head to Washington following today’s off-day.

Funny Photo of the Week

Brad Emaus looks like he’s trying to do a little dance last Thursday (Note to Brad: don’t try out for Riverdance anytime soon).

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(photo credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Don’t know if he made a little love and got down that night.

Aack! More 70’s music is getting stuck in my head! Must…make it…stop!

Spring (Training) Has Sprung

The Phils kicked off Spring Training 2011 today with a news conference to show off their much-ballyhooed-before-they’ve-even-thrown-a-pitch-together rotation. I’m not sure what the whole point was, really, as no new ground was covered. The questions were predictable, as were the responses.

All five starters were present.

Yes, five. Of course, the way the media have been hyping the “Four Aces”, one could be forgiven for forgetting that there is, in fact, a fifth starter. You know, the Other Guy, Joe Blanton.

At one point, one of the media members led off a question to Cole Hamels by stating that he was the “only one with a ring”. Uh, hellooo? Joe Blanton was on the ’08 staff too. Said reporter quickly corrected himself. I guess he’s been listening to all that hype a bit too much.

The pitchers themselves seem to be trying to downplay the whole “Four Aces” thing. When asked which of the nicknames for the rotation they liked best, Cliff Lee asked what they were. Someone out of range of the microphone rattled off a few. Kudos to Cliff for pointing out that all he heard in those nicknames were references to four guys, but there were five guys up on the podium.

Even after the conference had ended, Comcast’s Michael Barkann referred to the “Mount Rushmore” of rotations in his wrap-up.

Mount_Rushmore.jpgYo, Michael! Mount Rushmore only has four heads!

Mount_Rushmore copy.jpgHmm, not a bad image. But look! There’s a bit of space there to squeeze in a fifth head.

Mount_Rushmore_5.jpgOK, so it’s a wee bit smaller than the others. Let’s just hope that the starting five can live up to the “monumental” expectations already being thrown their way.

Phun At The Phestival

On Monday, the husband, kids, and myself attended the 21st annual Phillies Phestival at Citizens Bank Park. The Phestival benefits the Philadelphia chapter of the ALS Association, and raised over $800,000 this year. Click here and here for coverage on the Phillies website.

Although it was drizzling slightly when we arrived at the ballpark, it did not last long, and it turned into a pleasant evening. Since we had about an hour until the players would begin signing autographs at their booths, we decided to take a walk around the concourse and get something to eat, rather than stand in line while nothing was going on. Then again, we weren’t lucky enough to get tickets to the “big name” booths, i.e. Howard, Utley, Rollins, etc., so there was no burning need to get in line early.

First stop was Brad Lidge’s booth, as all three of us had this ticket. My husband feels no need to get autographs, and really, why would we both need one? So he is the designated bag holder while the kids and myself are in the lines.

So what brilliant thing did I blurt out as I was handing Brad a baseball to sign? “Hi, how’s the elbow?” Like he hadn’t heard that hundreds of times already! Duh! By the way, he said it was feeling great. As I thanked him and moved on, I overheard the guy behind me in line come up to the table – “Hi Brad, how’s the elbow?” I wonder if he got really tired of that question by the end of the evening.

My daughter had a ticket for the Kyle Kendrick/Ben Francisco booth, so my husband went with her while my son followed me around as I was taking pictures of the players at some of the other booths. He didn’t enjoy this part of the evening.

My next stop was the Cuban station, otherwise known as the Danys Baez/Jose Contreras autograph booth. Neither of them was particularly talkative – I can understand Contreras wouldn’t be, as he doesn’t speak much (any?) English and Baez usually acts as his “interpreter”. Maybe Baez wasn’t quite sure what to make of all of it.

My son had a ticket for the Placido Polanco station, but decided not to use it since he already had a Polanco autograph from the first Phestival I took him to about six years ago, during Polanco’s first stint as a Phillie. Since I also had a ball signed back then, I had Placido sign a photo of him that I had taken in Spring Training:

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While I was doing this, my husband took the kids to buy some grab bags, and also go in the clubhouse store. My son wanted to buy a Polanco t-shirt, but being a male, can’t be bothered to look at the tag to see what size it is. So he held one up in front of him, asking dad if he thought he’d “grow into it”. Lord only knows if my husband was actually paying attention, because when we got home, he tried it on and it fit like a dress. I took a look at the tag and said of course it was too big, it was an adult extra-large. So yeah, he’ll grow into it, maybe by the time he graduates high school! So I guess it’s mine for now. πŸ™‚

So here are some photos from the evening, of the players whose booths I could get to. Some were in locations where only people with tickets to those booths could get through, or were not easily accessible, such as Raul Ibanez, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Howard. Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay were in photo booths, which required purchase of a separate ticket.

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Brad Lidge’s elbow was feeling great, hopefully he didn’t get writer’s cramp!

Chase Utley is much better looking without his hair all gooped back.

Kyle Kendrick has a really big forehead, which I never noticed with his cap on.

 

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Ben Francisco was making his first Phestival appearance.

Why does Milt Thompson look so serious? Milt didn’t smile much in last year’s photo, and he still isn’t in this year’s version.

Since I had my camera turned vertically, J.C. Romero decided to turn his head, too. πŸ™‚

 

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Joe Blanton strikes a no-nonsense look.

Jimmy Rollins always looks like he’s having fun. Jimmy was one of several players on the DL who still chose to participate in the Phestival – kudos to them!

David Herndon signs a card for a fan.

 

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I hope Ryan Madson’s toe was carefully tucked under the table, so no one stepped on it.

I warned Danys Baez I was going to take a picture, but he still doesn’t quite look ready for it.

Jose Contreras signs a baseball for me.

 

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Team president and CEO David Montgomery was on hand to help out. He later walked past my husband while I was at the grab bag table with the kids, and thanked him (and us) for coming out.

Placido Polanco smiles for my camera.

Davey Lopes reaches for a ball from a fan. Davey also looks very serious all the time – he and Milt need to smile more often! πŸ™‚

 

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Jamie Moyer appears to be letting his hair get a little shaggier than usual.

Shane Victorino has a big grin – hmm, what is he up to?

J.A. Happ was another player on the DL who chose to appear at the Phestival.

 

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Is there a rule that coaches don’t smile? Rich Dubee follows the lead of Milt and Davey.

Carlos Ruiz signs a jersey.

I felt kind of bad for Wilson Valdez. Paired with Ruiz at a booth, many people walked right past him without stopping. He’s even holding two pens, ready and waiting to sign something. His photo was in the program, people! He did light up with a smile when I called his name for a photo op.

 

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Is it wise to hand your children over to Larry Andersen and Gary Matthews? And when did L.A. shave his beard?? He just looks so…so…different.

My daughter and I pose with the 2008 World Series trophy and the 2009 National League champion trophy.

Why are my son and husband grinning like that? Certainly not because they’re thinking about all the money we just spent on tickets, grab bags, food, and the gift shop (though it is going towards a good cause). No, apparently my daughter was sticking her fingers up in “rabbit ears” behind my head, unbeknownst to me.

Speaking of the gift shop, one of my purchases was the new Phillies coffee-table book, Phillies: An Extraordinary Tradition.


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I’ve only just begun to casually flip through it, but it looks to be a real visual feast, with plenty of photos covering the entire spectrum of Phillies history.

You may have noticed that I haven’t had much to say about the Phillies actual play recently. Well, that’s because I haven’t been too happy with it. The offense again failed to show up last night, as they were shut out 8-0 by the (ugh!) Mets.

Though I may frequently spew negative comments to my family while watching the games, I don’t really like to commit such thoughts to the permanency of the internet. I may be forced to break this self-imposed rule if they don’t start scoring some runs and winning some more games pretty soon! Only three games separate the first- and last-place teams in the NL East right now. Please, Phillies, I don’t deal with stress very well – enlarge that lead or I will eat way too much junk food, and it will be all your fault!

My Spring Training Adventure – Part 3

Before I get into my coverage of our final two games, you may recall me mentioning in my last entry that I thought Ed Smith Stadium looks like a motel. Well, I dug through my old photo albums, and found a photo from our visit in March 2000. At the time, it was the spring home of the Reds. Since then, the Reds have relocated to Arizona for Spring Training, and Ed Smith is now home to the Orioles. Here it is:

ed smith stadium0001.jpg

Unless it’s been refurbished in the past 10 years, this is what the exterior of the part behind home plate looks like. All those railings and doors look just like a motel to me.

 

March 16 – Day 6

After yet another mouth-watering breakfast at the Inn at the Bay, we made our way to Bright House Field for today’s Phillies-Tigers game. If I haven’t already mentioned it, the Inn at the Bay serves the most awesome breakfasts. We’ve stayed there five times, and we’ve almost never had the same breakfast twice. They are so filling, most days we don’t even need lunch!

Once again, we arrived when the gates opened. New Tiger Johnny Damon signed some autographs (for Phillies fans!) during batting practice. I’m still not too happy with Johnny over that stolen-base-thing last October:

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Cole Hamels was on the mound for the Phillies, going five innings with 2 hits, 1 run, and 4 stikeouts. He was looking pretty good this day:

hamels ST.JPG

Detroit’s Justin Verlander didn’t have such a great day, giving up home runs to Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard. Overall, he went 3 1/3 innings, with 4 runs on 3 hits:

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Speaking of Howard’s homer (his first of the spring), it came on the swing immediately following this shot:

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During a pitching change, Johnny Damon, Adam Everett, and Brandon Inge discuss the fly ball that got lost in the sun and just dropped into the Bermuda Triangle of turf between all three of them for a hit. They all appear to have sunglasses – guys, weren’t you using them?

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Phil Coke came on in relief of Verlander, and proceeded to give up Domonic Brown’s second homer of the day, a two-run shot. Phil’s pants look like they have enough extra fabric at the bottom for a whole ‘nuther pair:

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Domonic Brown had a great day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two homers and an RBI single. As thanks, he got reassigned to the minor league camp after the game:

d brown.JPG

New Phillie Danys Baez came on to pitch a scoreless inning in relief:

danys baez.JPG

Greg Dobbs, playing third in place of the injured Placido Polanco, makes contact. Dobbs went 1-for-3 and scored a run:

dobbs contact.JPG

Jimmy Rollins stops to sign some autographs on his way to the clubhouse. This may have been a mistake, as he was stuck there for the next 10 minutes while fans continued to flock down the aisle. Jimmy is actually one of the most fan-friendly Phillies, so he didn’t seem to mind:

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Something I hadn’t seen before was a post-game batting practice. After the final out, the cage was wheeled back on the field, and Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz, and Shane Victorino took additional BP. Shane seemed to be working on his bunting. Afterwards, Raul Ibanez and his son walk to the clubhouse with Charlie Manuel:

ibanez manuel.JPG

On the way out, we stopped for a photo of me in front of the entrance to the ballpark. Since I’m always the one taking the pictures, we need visual proof I was actually on this vacation:

i was there.JPG

 

March 17 – Day 7

St. Patrick’s Day dawned rather gray and dreary. On our way to the ballpark, it even rained a little bit. This had me concerned, because our “seats” for today were on the berm, the grassy area beyond the outfield fence. I wasn’t looking forward to sitting on soggy sod.

Not to fear though. By gametime, the skies had cleared and it turned into a sunny, pleasant afternoon for our final day in Florida.

During Phillies BP, Charlie Manuel had a chance to check out the mini-sized Charlie Manuel bat that will be given out to kids on July 6:

manuel bat.JPGRandy Winn and Brian Schneider are loitering behind the batting cage. Something has made Winn grin, though Schneider looks like he just ate a bug:

winn schneider.JPGThis trio of trouble is yukking it up at the expense of their fellow fielder, who just muffed a grounder during pre-game warmups:

trouble trio.JPGMark Texiera and Alex Rodriguez wait their turns in the batting cage. Just what is that huge wad hiding in A-Rod’s cheek? Gum? Sunflower seeds? Some chew? His ego?

tex arod.jpgPhillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler was on hand to sign copies of his book, “View From The Booth.” Yes, I bought one. There are some who don’t really like Wheels as a broadcaster, but I’ll be interested to read his take on things:

wheels.JPGJust before the game started, I met up with Confession of a She-Fan‘s Jane Heller and got interviewed by her on the She-Fan Cam. Click here to read Jane’s coverage of the game, and see the video clip.

In between BP and game time, the Phillies changed from their usual red and white uniforms to their bright green St. Patty’s day jerseys. Joe Blanton took to the mound for the Phillies. Blanton had a Blanton-like outing, going 5 innings, scattering 7 hits and giving up 2 runs:

green blanton.JPG

The last time my husband and I came to Spring Training, in 2007, we saw the Phillies host the Yankees on St. Patrick’s Day, and Andy Pettitte started for the Yankees. Three years later, we are seeing the Phillies host the Yankees on St. Patrick’s Day, and Andy Pettitte is starting for the Yankees. Deja vu!

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Randy Winn scores for the Yankees, as the throw to Carlos Ruiz is late:

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Ryan Howard tosses the ball to first to get the out:

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The Flyin’ Hawaiian can’t fly quite far enough, as this ball got past Shane Victorino for an extra-base hit:

flyin hawaiian.JPG

The Phillie O’Phanatic get a bit, um, friendly with the third-base umpire. The mind shudders to imagine the offspring that would result from such an unholy union:

irish phanatic.JPGThe luck of the Irish was with Jayson Werth as he lauched a three-run homer, which sealed the outcome of the game in favor of the Phillies:

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Final score: Phillies 6, Yankees 2

Later that evening, we met up for dinner with Jane and her husband Michael, as it turned out that they were staying just three blocks away from us in St. Petersburg. We all enjoyed a delicious meal, and great conversation. The time flew by, and since we all had flights home the next day, finally had to bid each other good night.

Our flight home was much better than the first – no turbulence, and my husband and I actually got to sit next to each other this time.

(all photos by me, except the one of me, which was taken by my husband)

Needlessly Twisted Knickers

If you recall my last post, I had gotten…shall we say…my undergarments into a state of disarray over the salary figures that had been exchanged by the Phillies and Joe Blanton.

And all for naught, as it turns out.

The Phillies and Blanton had reached an agreement on a three-year, $24 million contract extension on Monday, but because Blanton had not yet passed a physical, the arbitration figures had to be filed on Tuesday. So it seems it was more a formality than anything else.

I wish that little part of the story could have been included in the initial reports, so Phillies fans, myself included, could have avoided getting our collective panties in a bunch. Said panties will now need to be carefully extricated, with surgical precision, as demonstrated here:

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[Nah, that’s not actually me. It’s Hillary Duff, thanks to eonline.com, but I don’t think she was upset about Joe Blanton.]

Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz have also signed three-year deals. Hmm, a trio of three-year deals. According to Schoolhouse Rock, three “is a magic number.” That’s got to mean something for the coming season. I hope.

In addition to those three, the Phillies and Chad Durbin had previously come to agreement on a one-year deal. That means all four arbitration-eligible Phillies have now signed contracts.

“You say goodbye, and I say hello”

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer had a handy summary of the comings and goings on the Phillies roster since the end of last season. Here’s a recap, not including minor leaguers:

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye…

Pedro Feliz: has signed with Houston – I’ll miss his great glove;
Cliff Lee: yes, I’m still upset about his trade to Seattle;
Eric Bruntlett: signed with Washington – sorry, Eric, I won’t miss your abysmal .171 BA;
Clay Condrey: signed with Minnesota;
Brett Myers: also signed with Houston;
Matt Stairs: signed with San Diego – Matt, your .194 wasn’t much to be proud of, either;
Scott Eyre: decided to retire.

Howdy, partner!

Brian Schneider: a capable backup to Carlos Ruiz;
Placido Polanco: welcome back!
Juan Castro: will help solidify the bench;
Ross Gload: an excellent pinch hitter;
Roy Halladay: Woo hoo! What more can I say than that?
Danys Baez: some bullpen help with closing experience;
Jose Contreras: expected to be a long reliever, with the occasional spot start.

Sitting in limbo…

Chan Ho Park, Pedro Martinez and Paul Bako all remain unsigned free agents.

Speaking of Brett Myers (which I wasn’t really, but I did mention him in the list of departures), does anyone remember when he was young, thin, and had hair? In case you don’t recall, here’s a scan of a photo I recently came across in my albums, from an appearance back in January 2003.

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Yep, a lot can change in seven years.

Is Joe Blanton Really The $10 Million Man?

OK, actually $10.25 million. This is the amount that Blanton is apparently seeking for 2010. The Phillies have offered $7.5 million. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the case will go to arbitration next month.

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that Blanton and/or his agent are highly delusional in believing that he is worth over $10 million for the coming season?

blanton.jpgLet’s take a look at 2009, shall we? Blanton went 12-8, with a 4.05 ERA. He averaged 6.3 innings pitched in his 31 starts. In his career so far, Joe is 63-54, 4.21 ERA.

Not great, not horrible. What my husband would call “serviceable”. Maybe not so bad as “mediocre”, but somewhere between “OK” and “good”. Since when is this kind of performance worth that kind of money?

***UPDATE***
This just in, the Phillies have signed Blanton to a three-year, $24 million contract extension. No specifics on the yearly breakdown, so it averages out to $8 million per year. Still not sure if I think this is what Blanton is worth, but at least it’s closer to what the Phillies were offering, instead of what Blanton was asking.

Cliff Lee, on the other hand, would have been making $9 million this season, had the Phillies not traded him. Yeah, I’m still perturbed about that. Cliff’s career numbers are 90-52, with a 3.97 ERA, and a Cy Young award to his name. And let’s not forget his postseason performance!

lee.jpgSo suffice it to say that I think Lee is the superior pitcher, yet we traded him and kept Blanton.

And now I know why.

Over the holidays, my brother-in-law revealed that my nephew has some pretty crappy karma when it comes to getting jerseys of popular Phillies and Eagles players. Quite often, said player ends up leaving the team, via trade or free agency. This happens more frequently than mere chance would seem to suggest.

So what did they get him this year? A Cliff Lee jersey!! And we all know what happened next.

*sigh* If only they’d gotten him a Blanton jersey instead.

(photos by me)