NL East Preview

Freddie Freeman had a monster 2013 season and hopes to lead the Braves to another division title.

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NL East Preview

Bryce Harper and the Nationals took the East by storm last season. Can they repeat 2012 or will they both have a sophomore slump?

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I wouldn’t want to use my best reliever either Charlie!

Bases loaded. 2 outs. You’re up a run.  You have Josh Lindblom or Jonathan Papelbon.  Who do you use? Apparently, Charlie rather use Lindblom in that spot as the Phillies lost tonight 7-4 to the Milwaukee Brewers.  Corey Hart hit a grand slam with two outs in the 8th inning to give the Brewers the lead that ultimately won them the game. The terrible Livan Hernandez picked up a win while Lindblom wasted a 12 strikeout outing from Cliff Lee.  Lee pitched into the 8th inning, giving up three runs on three solo home runs (two by Ryan Braun and one by Aramis Ramirez).

This book is terrible Charlie, stop using it.

Braun and Ramirez got the scoring started in the bottom half of the first inning, going back to back.  Ramirez’ home run was a majestic shot to center field.  In third,  Jimmy Rollins led off the inning with a single and stole second.  Rollins caught Aramis Ramirez and Marco Estrada napping as he stole third without a throw.  Continue reading

State of the 2012 Phillies

            Last season the Phillies won a franchise record 102 games with an average offense and great pitching staff. Expectations were high heading into the season with Cliff Lee joining the fold and those expectations didn’t change as the season went along.  On September 17th,Philadelphia defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 9-2 and clinched their fifth consecutive NL East title.  Following the win, the team went on an eight game losing streak that scared a lot of the fan base, however others mention that they had nothing to play for as a big factor.  The Phillies finished the season on a four game winning streak, sweeping the Atlanta Braves and actually knocked them out of the playoffs on the final day.  This allowed the St. Louis Cardinals to win the NL Wildcard and set up a first round matchup against the Phillies.  The Cardinals finished up 16-5 to conclude the season en-route to passing the Braves.

The Phillies won their 5th consecutive division title

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Chase Utley is out until….?

According to multiple reports, Chase Utley has left Spring Training to see a doctor for his troubling knees. He hasn’t played in any Spring Training games and will likely begin the year on the disabled list. Rookie Freddy Galvis, who was supposed to begin the year in the minors, is probably going to be your starting second baseman on Opening Day against the Pirates. Many scouts feel that Galvis is a major-league ready shortstop defensively, but many questions still remain about his offense.  All during Spring Training even when Utley didn’t play, GM Ruben Amaro expected Utley to be ready for the season and now that’s doubtful.  The Phillies will begin the season with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on the DL, so just how much will the offense struggle? 

My take: This is tough to swallow, but it seems like Chase Utley’s knees will prevent him from being the great player he once was. I wish Charlie would have sat him more often,  but there’s nothing you can do now. Hopefully when Howard and Utley do eventually return, Charlie is much smarter when giving the veterans more rest days. I’m not doom and gloom with this season though.  The fact of the matter is this team was second in the National League in runs scored after the All-Star Break.  The pitching staff will keep this team afloat until Howard gets back and they’ll still win their 6th NL East title in a row.

Philly Spotlight Q&A with Marc Farzetta

Marc Farzetta, Host/Update Anchor at Sportsradio 94WIP in Philadelphia, was kind enough to join the Sports With Balls team for a quick Q&A session.

The Phillies are down in Clearwater preparing for another season, the Flyers and Sixers  are inching closer to the postseason, and the Eagles are getting ready for a big off-season.

Marc provides some insight into the current events in Philly sports.

Sports with Balls question in italics.

Marc’s response in bold.

Do you believe DeSean Jackson will be back with the Eagles next season?
Yes, he will be back. This is a Super Bowl or Bust year (to use an overused phrase!). No
Super Bowl Appearance and Andy Reid will not return for a 15th Season as the Eagles Head
Coach. DeSean and Michael Vick already have the chemistry built. DeSean will be tagged
and kept because Reid won’t want to risk someone coming in and being a bust. I would love
to see the Eagles sign him to a 3-year 27 Million dollar deal, but doubt that would happen.

DeSean Jackson - back for 2012?

Who is the top team in Philadelphia right now? Eagles? Phillies? Flyers? Sixers?
No question about it: Phillies. They have given the fans the parade and not acted the least bit arrogant about it. The Eagles? No parade, but still a healthy helping of arrogance. Flyers and Sixers need some major changes to compete with either.

Phillies won the hearts of Philadelphia with the '08 parade

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Phils look to halt skid, avoid sweep from Astros

Who would’ve thought two days ago that we would be sitting here at work Wednesday morning discussing the Astros attempting to sweep the Phillies. Given, I would much rather lose to the Astros than get swept by Milwaukee or Atlanta. In the long run, this series means nothing but it would be nice to see the Phillies perhaps try. Former Phillies Brett Myers and JA Happ did their jobs, combining to throw 14 innings and giving up just two runs.

The Phillies have now lost three consecutive games for the first time since dropping four from May 31-June 4. Here’s a fun stat I found on…since 2000, the Astros are the only team in the National League with a winning record against the Phillies. They are now 45-33 over that span.

Today’s game is a matinee to finish the series as Doc will try to help the Phils salvage a win from the Astros. First pitch is set for 2:05pm at Minute Maid Park. 

Roy Halladay: 17-5, 2.44 ERA

Halladay pitched brilliantly again in his last start against Milwaukee, pitching eight innings of one-run ball while striking out nine. The Phils are 6-4 in Halladay’s last ten starts, where Doc has lowered his ERA from 2.57 to the current 2.44. Recently, Roy is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA over his last three starts and is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA in his career against the Astros. Doc faced Houston on Opening Day this season, a 5-4 Phils win. He went six innings and gave up one run while striking out six. Doc is 9-3 with a 2.55 ERA on the road this year, where opponents are hitting .251 against him. The Astros are hitting just .212 as a team against Halladay with Carlos Lee having the most at-bats at 29. He is hitting .249 over those plate appearances with three homers and four RBI’s. He has also struck out six times against the Phils number one.

Bud Norris: 6-9, 3.78 ERA

Bud pitched well in his last start but it wasn’t good enough for the Astros. He went seven innings against the Nationals and gave up three runs (two earned) while striking out four. The ‘Stros are 4-6 in his last ten starts and Norris has gotten wins in just one of those four. He was on the losing side of a 7-3 game against the Phillies back in April. The Phils scored five runs against him in four innings. Despite chasing him away early in the start, Norris still managed to strike out seven. Bud is 4-5 with a 3.90 ERA at home this season, where opponents are hitting .254 against him. The Phils are hitting .309 as a team against Norris. Ryan Howard leads the team in plate appearances against the Astros righty with ten. In those at-bats, he has four hits including a homer and five RBI’s. Ben Francisco has two homers against Norris in five at-bats while J-Roll has four hits in nine at-bats with a homer. Bud Norris is 1-2 with a 5.32 ERA lifetime against the Phils over 18 2/3 innings.