Phils Look to Rebound from Horrible Month of July

For the first three months of  the season, the Philadelphia Phillies were constantly atop the NL East Division, looking great and getting hits from everywhere in their lineup. That all changed in the month of July, as the Phils went 9-18, seeing new pitcher Jake Peavy struggle in his new uniform, posting a 5.93 E.R.A. They brought in Jason Vargas in a deadline move, but in his first start yesterday he was knocked out after two innings, allowing six his and five runs. The team thought they had ace pitcher David Price locked up in a deal with Tampa Bay, but the Rays pulled out at the last second and suddenly dealt Price to the Phil’s NL East rival Nationals. Now the Phillies have two more games with the Nats, where they could potentially climb into the Wild Card lead and, with two Miami losses, be back within two games of the division lead. But the Phillies’ magical season looks over at this point, it looks as if there is  no way of salvaging what was once the cinderella story of the MMB, a team who nobody thought could win but managed to prevail night after night.

There is a way the team could save themselves. It starts by winning the rest series with Washington, but to continue to win, they’ll need rookie 3B Zack Cox to find his stroke again, and little-known 34-year old SP Chien-Ming Wang to continue to pitch as great as he has all season, first with AAA Lehigh Valley and now in the big leagues with Philadelphia.

So is the season over? GM Noah Oppenheimer says no. “This team will fight till the end. We’ve found ourselves in situations like this before, and we’ve found our way back to the top time and time again. We don’t give a s— if the Nats have Price now or not, he’s just a normal pitcher, no better than what we have with Hamels and Eovaldi. You have to remember, this is a team of castoffs and veterans looking to save their career. Half the team was traded to Philly because their team couldn’t find a use for them in the major leagues. We have lots of depth, so these guys know if they can’t get their job done, they’ll lose it. They always have a chip on their shoulders no matter what, now this is just extra motivation….”

The road to October starts right now, so watch the Phillies take on the Nationals tonight on MMB.tv or CSN Philly.

Phillies Improve Rotation in Trade for Peavy

Wit over a month before the non-waiver trading deadline, the Phillies front office has already began to meet their goals, acquiring Jake Peavy in a five-player deal with the White Sox. Peavy is likely to replace the struggling Kyle Kendrick in the starting rotation, unless the injury to Roy Halladay turns out to be serious.

Sent to Chicago was prospects Cesar Hernandez, Larry Green, Ethan Martin, and Aaron Altherr. “We were sad to part ways with all of these great kids, but we felt like we needed Peavy right now,” said Phils GM Noah Oppenheimer. He continued, “Jake is a very good pitcher who can come in and do his job. The market for him was small, so I think we came away with a good deal.”

Chicago reported told Philadelphia they needed to receive SP Jesse Biddle, but Oppenheimer managed to pry away Peavy without throwing in his #2 pitching prospect. Peavey, who owns a 3.94 E.R.A and will be on the hill today in the third game of a four-game set with St. Louis.

Phillies Begin Search for Another SP

 

So far, the Philadelphia Phillies’ magical season has been led by the offense–but GM Noah Oppenheimer Realizes that he must improve the rotation if he would like to see his team play well into October. Despite a career year by Nate Eovaldi and a stellar campaign by veteran Roy Halladay, the staff lacks depth with Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick struggling. The team could be pursuing White Sox starter Jake Peavy, or could wait a month and look to make a move closer to the deadline. They also reportedly were turned away by the Cards while trying to get Lance Lynn.

Lee and Kendrick both have 5.48 and 6.31 E.R.A.s this year, respectively. “The on place that their not doing too good is their starting rotation,” said an MMB expert, “They can improve there, find a suitor for Cliff Lee, maybe?” Trading Cliff Lee is an unlikely scenario given his large contract. We can only wait and see what moves the Phillies wll make, but if Oppenheimer goes in the right direction, the season could be a good one for the Phightin’ Phils.

Phils Start to Cool off as Nats get Hot

 

The Phillies have consistently remained in contention for the NL East crown this season, although once again they will face a test with having to turn the season around. The Phils have won just 5 of their last 10 games, and more recently have dropped their last three contests. Yesterday against the Rockies, Kyle Kendrick managed to pitch just 4.1 innings while giving up 5 runs. He has a 6.56 Earned Run Average this year after signing a 2 year/$8 million extension with the Phillies.  Said manager Joe Torre, “Kyle just hasn’t been getting the movement on his pitches that you need to compete at this level.” Kendrick attributed the lack of success to not being able to put hitters away.  GM Noah Oppenheimer said that while the club respects Kendrick, they are looking to find a replacement. Weather that will be from AAA or another team is yet to be determined, although they will have to act fast–Kendrick’s next start is in just four days.

On the Flip side, the Nationals have leapfrogged the Phils in the standings, winning 8 of their last 11 games. But is Oppenheimer worried? “There’s a reason we’re called the Fightin’ Phils,” he said, “we’re never going to give up. In a 162-game season, a streak like this is just a blimp on the radar.”  Bench Coach Bobby Valentine says the players aren’t stressed out in  the clubhouse. “The guys are still having fun, but taking the game seriously,” he said, “Joe’s done a great job of implementing a balance between the two.

Brown to Rejoin Phillies

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The Phillies outfield will get some re-enforcement for the upcoming three-game series against Cincinnati, as outfielder Dominic Brown , who hit .304 before being injured early this season, is set to join the club. CF Ezequiel Carrera was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room for Brown on the active roster. Brown hit .400 in his rehab stint to show the Phillies he was ready for action. He is expected to step into the lineup to replace slumping RF Justin Maxwell tomorrow. 3B Ryan Flaherty, acquired from Baltimore last winter, was not called up to the big leagues. Flaherty struggled to start the season before hurting his thumb, and Zach Cox, his replacement, has impressed in the starting role. Flaherty’s success in Triple-A will determine whether he becomes the backup to Cox or if rookie Cody Asche retains that roll.

Manager Joe Torre said that he is glad to have Brown back and thinks he will give the offense the boost they need. GM Noah Oppenheimer declined to comment on the future of Flaherty. He has been criticized for trading Darin Ruf, who has hit 11 homers and for a .272 average with the Orioles in exchange for Flaherty, who to this point has been a bust.

Rookie Cox finally Starting to Shine

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Last season, when  Zach Cox found himself at the age of 24, playing in Double-A Jacksonville, his hopes of a bright major league future from years ago had seemed to fade. Fast forward about a year, and Cox is batting second for the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting for a slash line .292/.347/.496, along with whacking five balls out of the park. Cox, a former first-round pick, was traded to Philly from Miami along with Nate Eovaldi, and Justin Ruggiano, bringing back Ben Revere among others. This trade was heavily criticized by many experts and GMs, but, at least this far into the season, it appears Philly may have got the better of the trade. Although Revere has hit .281, he has  stole three bases and neither of the two minor leaguers also shipped by the Phils looks to have much of a bright future. In addition, Eovaldi has won three games for the Phillies this year and Ruggiano has knocked five balls out of the park and managed a .470 slugging percentage.  Of course it is still early, but this trade has played a big role in Philly’s hot start to the season.

The real story, however, is Cox, the Arkansas grad who had all but given up on his baseball career before the trade. “Philly took a chance on me,” he said, “and I’m so thankful they did. I never expected to make the major league roster out of spring training, and I even told my friends in Lehigh Valley that I would be coming there. But the day Noah [Oppenheimer] called me and said I’d be coming with them to Philly, I couldn’t believe it, I’d never been so excited.”  Cox was slated to be a backup to Ryan Flaherty at third base, but Flaherty went down for a month during the first week of the season, opening the door for the young Cox to step into a starter’s role and make his mark. “I had an opportunity, and I just tried to take it,” says Cox, who got off to a slow, his batting average hovering around the Mendoza for a week or two. But recently Cox has gotten hot, and he has probably taken the job from Flaherty, at least for the time being.  “Zack has done great,” says manager Joe Torre, “and nobody deserves it more than him. He’s very quiet but very nice, and he works harder than most.”

“I’ve had some success,” said Cox, “but now I have to remember h0w quickly you can go from top dog to last place. It happened to me. I was a first round pick, and I fell to somebody who nobody wanted. But I’m going to do all I can to not let that happen again, I’ll work hard and not just sit back on a couple of good weeks of baseball.”

Phillies GM Relaxes, Watches Team Get Hot

Some people may have noticed that Phillies GM Noah Oppenheimer has not been involved much in team activities lately. Today, when speaking at a short press conference, he was asked why he has been seen so little around the ballclub. “There’s nothing to do now,” he said,  “Me and Joe [Torre] just have to sit back and watch them (the players) play. It’s been fun to not care too much about what’s going on, just be a fan and see whether we win or lose. In a few weeks it will start to be crunch time, when me and the rest of the front office has to figure out what pieces to add and move at the trade deadline. For now, I’m just going relax before I have a heart attack from watching our games. Plus, the players probably hate me by know for all that yelling, so I might as well give them a break before August.”

Oppenheimer strategy may have worked, as the Phils have turned a recent five-game losing streak into a four -game winning one. “We’ve been playing some good baseball,” said veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Added bullpen arm Octavio Dotel, “I’ve played for a long time, been on a lot of teams, but this is one of my favorites. The chemistry is so amazing between this group of guys.”