July 22, 2014 |
ATLANTA - Here's a fun game: Try to predict who will be in the Phillies' rotation next season. We'll spot you Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, despite the potential that one of them is traded before Opening Day 2015. A.J. Burnett? A return would seem unlikely given his availability on the trade block, his contemplation of retirement last offseason, and the Phillies' rebuilding status. Roberto Hernandez? He'll be a free agent. And while he has a 4.22 ERA, he hasn't looked like anything more than a spot starter.
July 21, 2014 |
ATLANTA - Jimmy Rollins swatted a 95-m.p.h. fastball, and his eyes widened when the torque forced his head upward. "Finally," Rollins said. He stood near home plate to watch a two-run homer land in the first row of right-field seats at Turner Field. Cole Hamels, with his left arm wrapped in a white towel, had his support. For six innings, the 2-1 win over the first-place Braves resembled the most fitting of Hamels starts. He was electric, throwing near-perfect stuff at Atlanta, while his teammates mounted failure after failure at the plate.
July 19, 2014 |
This is all beginning to feel familiar, isn't it? If you're of a certain age and have followed the Phillies long enough, it should. If it isn't, take a seat, my young and once-innocent friends, and listen for a little while. You'll have a better understanding of what you're in for. Promise. Let's say you're 19, 20, maybe even as old as 25. The Phillies you've known went 10 years, from 2003 through 2012, without a losing season. They won five division titles, two National League pennants, a World Series.
July 15, 2014 |
Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon made news last week in Milwaukee when he said he would welcome a trade to a contender. Papelbon hasn't backed off those comments, but there is an addendum. He was asked Sunday how he would feel if he was still with the Phillies after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. "I would be happy," Papelbon said before a 10-3 loss to the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. "I am pretty indifferent on the whole situation. " Papelbon, who has a 1.21 ERA and is 22 for 24 in save opportunities, said there are positives to staying or departing.
July 14, 2014 |
It is 2018, the final year of Cole Hamels' seven-year contract signed during a long summer when the lefthander proclaimed his belief in the Phillies' desire to win, and a remarkable thing has happened. The Phillies - bottom-dwellers for the previous five years - have pushed into a pennant race. Hamels is 34 now; the wavy, black surfer's hair from 2006 is thinner and splotched with gray. He is the longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia, and still a productive pitcher as the No. 3 starter in the rotation.
July 11, 2014 |
MILWAUKEE - The trade deadline is 20 days away and Jonathan Papelbon is eager to move on from the Phillies to a team in contention. Asked on Wednesday night if he was ready to move on if a contender came calling, Papelbon gave an affirmative, "Yeah," and added an almost incredulous laugh, too, for effect. Papelbon also said it was "mind-boggling" to him that anyone would want to stay on a last-place team, that it was a "no-brainer" to move on if given the chance. How exactly did his boss react to that?
July 4, 2014 |
MIAMI - The Phillies batted for 12 minutes Wednesday in the first inning. The first two hitters, Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins, singled. Rollins stole second. There were two men in scoring position with none out, a chance for Cole Hamels to pitch with a rare, quick lead. "Make two outs and get two runs," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Maybe it's a different tone. " The Phillies never scored, and went on to lose, 5-0, to the Marlins. Hamels watched the familiar horror from the Marlins Park dugout.
July 3, 2014 |
MIAMI - Unlike football, basketball and hockey, the baseball season coincides with summer, when the television entertainment options are limited. The major networks go on hiatus with their usual programming. Summertime is chock full of reruns or bad reality shows. Last night at Marlins Park, you could argue the Phillies were a combination of both. Not-so-must-see-TV. Cole Hamels started a game and the Phillies lost. For the first time in nearly 2 months, Hamels wasn't great.
July 2, 2014 |
THE ASSUMPTION that the Phillies needed to win this season or be disassembled is flawed. It makes more sense that the Phillies need to win this season or next season. Mainly, the assumption is flawed because the franchise lacks ready replacements. Even if the Phillies could get rid of the weighty contracts and heavy personalities of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, they could not replace any of them with anything close to a comparable peer.
June 28, 2014 |
It was the first of three straight fireworks nights at Citizens Bank Park. That's one more than the Phillies have staged in recent seasons, but you have to do something to get the fans back in the seats when the ball club has lost the firepower it once displayed on a daily basis. Fireworks never fail to attract crowds and applause even in the worst of times. (See 1984 through 1992 and 1994 through 2002). It was up to the Phillies, a team that has mostly tortured its fans at home this season, to provide something extra Thursday night.