Tuesday, August 10, 2010

This Day in Fightin' Phils History

On this day in Fightin' Phils history, the Phils inducted former player and coach John Vukovich to the Wall of Fame. On March 8th, 2007, Vukovich succumbed to a brain tumor that he had for six years. For the 2007, the Phillies wore a patch that said "Vuk" and dedicated the season in the memory of "Vuk."

"Vuk" was drafted 10th overall in the 1966 draft and played third, second and first base. In seven seasons with the Phillies as a player, "Vuk" had a .163 batting average, one homer and 22 RBI in 153 games. "Vuk" played for the Phillies between 1970-1971 and 1976-1981. He played two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and one season with the Cinncinnati Reds.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This Day in Fightin' Phils History

On this day i n 1996, Phillies pitching great, Jim Bunning, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Bunning pitched for the Phillies from 1964 to 1967 & 1970 to 1971. Bunning pitched for the Detroit Tigers from 1955 to 1963, the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1968 and the first half of 1969 before being trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In six seasons with the Fightin's Phils, Bunning went 89-73 with a 2.93 ERA. Bunning threw 65 complete games while with the Phillies.

In the 1967, Bunning finished second in the Cy Young voting by finishing the year with a record of 17-15 and a 2.29 ERA. Mike McCormick from the San Francisco Giants won the Cy Young Award in 1967 with a 22-10 record and 2.85 ERA.

During the campaign, Bunning threw 16 complete games and threw 302.1 innings pitched. In 1967, Bunning threw 253 strikeouts and only walked 73 batters. Bunning appeared in two all-star games while with the Phillies.

Bunning finished his career with 224 wins and a 3.27 ERA in 14 Major League seasons.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Did the Phillies Make the Right Move?

Yesterday, the Phillies went out and got their front end of the rotation help by acquiring Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ, outfielder Anthony Gose and short stop Jonathan Villar.

The key to the deal was the fact the Astros will pay $11 million of the $23 million left on Oswalt's contract. This was key because it is well known that the Phillies wanted to keep their payroll at $150 million plateau. That was the reason the organization gave when they dealt Cliff Lee to the Mariners after the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Now the debate begins if the Phillies did the right thing by trading away Lee. In some respects, the acquisition of Oswalt was the Phillies admitting to the league and to the Philly faithful that they made the wrong decision in dealing Lee.

Of course, there is no way to tell if the Phillies would have been in the same position they are in now if they had Lee or not. But the contract extension with Lee wasn't going anywhere at the time he was dealt. At the end of the season, the Phillies didn't want someone like Lee to just walk and not get something in return for him. So they thought at the time getting a couple of prospects in return for Lee would be better.

There is still a chance, but slim, that the Phillies will pick up Oswalt's 2012 option. But Oswalt will have to earn that option by his performance on the mound. Oswalt has to show that he can adjust to pitching in "the Bank." The Phils, by 2012, will have $22.5 million cleared out with the departures of Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge. This will create room for the Phillies to re-sign Oswalt and stay under the $150 million plateau the Phils brass want to stay under.

Time will tell if Phils just rented another playoff for a race to the World Series or if this will be an important cog to their machine for the future.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One Year Ago, Today, We Lost a Defensive Mastermind

One Year ago, on this date, the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson, passed away from melanoma at the age of 68. Last offseason was a tough one for the defense of the Eagles as the front office decided to not re-sign the hard and soul of defense, safety Brian Dawkins.

Later in the summer, during OTAs Johnson's health problems were noticable when he was riding in a motorized cart to coach the defense. Sean McDermott took over the defensive coordinator position and led the defense to 12th in total defense. In 2008, Johnson led the defense to third overall in total defense in the league.

Philly Sports Developments for Today

Here are a couple of Philly sports developments on this Wednesday, July 28th.

1. Phillies top prospect, outfielder Domonic Brown, has been called up to the Fightin's as Shane Victorino goes on the DL with an oblique injury.

The much await debut of Brown will be tonight and can be seen in right field wearing No. 9. This move most likely signifies that there will be no trade involving Jayson Werth. The 22-year old Brown batted .327 with 20 home runs and 68 RBI in 93 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

2. 76ers swingman Andre Iguodala made it threw the first round of cuts for Team USA basketball.

Igoudala is part of the final 15 players but the Team USA roster will be trimmed to 12 after a camp in New York City that will be from August 10th to 16th. Chester native Tyreke Evans didn't make the final 15.

3. Flyers winger Ville Leino is recovering well from hip surgery.

Leino, who made a huge contribution in the Stanley Cup Finals run this past year for the Flyers, will be on crutches for two more weeks and is expected to be ready for training camp. Leino had 21 points in the Stanley Cup playoffs, which tied a NHL rookie record.

4. Division I-AA National Champion Wildcats have been selected to finishfirst in the CAA this year.

This comes as no suprise that the Villanova Wildcats are the preseason favorites to win the CAA. Wide receiver and return man Matt Sczcur was selected preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Linebacker Terence Thomas was selected as preason Defensive Player of the Year.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This Day in Fightin' Phils History

In 2007 on this day, general manager Pat Gillick beefed up the starting lineup and, later on, the bench by acquiring infielder Tadahito Iguchi for right-handed pitcher Michael Dubee.

Iguchi played a pivotal role in getting the Phillies to clinching the National League East crown, which was the first since 1993. The Phillies won the NL East on the last day of the regular season as the Mets lost a seven-game lead with seventeen games remaining.

Iguchi had a .303 batting average in 49 regular season games with the Phillies. Iguchi had three home runs and 12 RBI. Iguchi stepped into the lineup immediately as Chase Utley was on the DL with a broken bone in his right hand.

In his four seasons in the majors, Iguchi had a .268 batting average in 493 regular season games. Iguchi had 91 doubles, 44 home runs and 205 RBI. In 2005, Iguchi also finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting as reliever Houston Street took that award home.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Slow Start After the All-Star Break leads to Thompson's firing

After winning a 2-0 extra inning game against St. Louis on Thursday, Phillies hitting coach Milt Thompson was relieved of his duties as hitting coach. Greg Gross, who has been helping with Phillies player development in the minor leagues, will take over as the Phillies hitting coach.

The firing of Thompson was a bit surprising but the move could be understood. The Phillies haven't performed up to their offensive capabilities but there is a reason for that. The Fightin's have suffered injuries to key players. Short stop Jimmy Rollins hasn't been able to get things straight at the plate after suffering a calf injury. Also, third baseman Placido Polanco as spent time on the DL. Most importantly, the bat of second baseman Chase Utley can't be expected to be replaced by Wilson Valdez.

As a team, going into Saturday's game, the Phillies ranked sixth in the National League and 12th in the Majors with 443 runs scored. Rollins is currently struggling at the plate with a .234 batting average. Along with Rollins' struggles, Ibanez, Victorino and Utley have had down years. Plus, the bench for the Phillies has been basically non-existent.

Even though Valdez and Juan Castro have been asked to play everyday for Rollins and Utley, the Phils have shown the ability to not get the clutch hit or win the low scoring games. Greg Dobbs, who normally has the best bat of the bench in previous years, has been sent down for a little bit because of his .202 batting average.

The Phils in the past six years, under Thompson instruction, has finished in the top three in the NL in runs scored. But is it Thompson's fault for the injuries to Utley, Polanco and Rollins? Thompson job is to help the Phils offense produce. That could be through helping a batters swing.

The Phillies can't go ahead and trade every player that isn't performing well so the organization made the easiest and cleanest decision by firing Thompson. The firing most likely was done to send a message to the offense to get things done and provide more run support. The Phils, before Saturday's game, are six games out from the NL East lead and 3.5 games out of the Wild Card.

The Phils have a slim chance to grab a playoff spot and may actually be buyers at the trade deadline on July 31st. The firing of Milt Thompson was made to send a message to the whole Phillies roster that the team needs to step it up to make their fourth year in a row to the playoffs.