Tag Archives: Scott Eyre

Phillies improved but still missing a strong lefty arm in bullpen

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Paredes signed as a free agent and has pitched well this spring

The best Phillies teams of the last half-century, a period of time in which bullpen usage has become more and more critical in Major League Baseball, have featured strong left-handers helping the team get through the late innings and close out tight ball games.

Most famous of all was the late screwballer and Phillies Wall of Famer Tug McGraw. The popular Tugger blew a fastball past Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals to close out the 1980 World Series.
That 1980 team also got 40 appearances from Kevin Saucier and dealt for veteran southpaw Sparky Lyle, who was a tremendous help during the push to the NL East crown in September.

Three years later, the ‘Wheeze Kids’ reached the World Series with a trio of lefties in McGraw, Al Holland and May trade acquisition Willie Hernandez.
In 1993, a surprising Phillies club captured another National League pennant with lefty Mitch Williams as their closer. That club also featured left-hander David West coming out of the bullpen to appear in a staff-high 76 games.
The Phillies emerged in the early 21st century from years of losing, beginning a run of more than a decade as a postseason contender. Lefty Rheal Cormier was a key member of the bullpen during the entirety of the first-half of that decade. Veteran Dan Plesac joined him to close out the Veteran’s Stadium years in 2002-03.

Wall of Famer Tug McGraw pitched for the Phillies from 1975-84 and closed out the 1980 World Series.
For the 2004 season and the opening of Citizens Bank Park the Phillies acquired lefty closer Billy Wagner. For the next two seasons, fans became electrified at each 100 mph fastball that blazed from the diminutive fireballer’s left arm.
As the Phillies team of that mid-2000’s era tried to step up from near-miss contender to actual playoff team, a June 2007 trade brought in left-hander J.C. Romero via trade. He would spend much of the next five years helping the Phillies become a champion, earning a pair of wins in the 2008 World Series.
Scott Eyre was acquired in a 2008 August waiver trade and became a key situational left-hander out of Charlie Manuel‘s bullpen for two straight Phillies pennant-winning teams.
When the 2011 Phillies set a franchise record with a 102-win regular season the bullpen contributions of young left-hander Antonio Bastardo were crucial.
During this recently completed off-season the Phillies management and ownership checked off a number of boxes in helping push the club back to contending status. But those checks came mostly in the positional lineup as the team added outfielders Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, shortstop Jean Segura and catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Those were fantastic additions to be sure. But many felt that the team could really use both a veteran starting left-handed pitcher and a strong bullpen left-hander to really fill out a true championship contender.

The proven bullpen lefty was out there in free agency if they wanted him. But on January 11, Zack Britton surprised many by choosing to return to the New York Yankees. He’ll have a chance to win championships with the Bronx Bombers and is being paid $13 million per season. Many felt that he would leave for a chance to close, which he will not get in New York, at least not in the short-term.
Now more than halfway through the 2019 Grapefruit League season the Phillies have a group of southpaws battling for a chance to come out of Gabe Kapler‘s bullpen when the regular season begins.
There are currently five lefty relievers still with the club. Adam Morgan is the lone holdover from last season. Trade acquisitions James Pazos and Jose Alvarez and non-roster invitees Edward Paredes and Jeremy Bleich also remain. Here is a look at a few of their key numbers entering Saint Patrick’s Day:
Morgan and Paredes were clearly the most effective of the group heading into the Sunday game in Clearwater against the Yankees. The 29-year-old Morgan has been with the organization since his selection in the third round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. He remains under club control through arbitration over the next two years.
Paredes signed as a free agent with the Phillies back on January 11. The 32-year-old has pitched in 15 games across the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched in 10 minor league seasons with the Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Cleveland Indians. Paredes has also pitched for 10 years during the off-season in his native Dominican Republic.

Edward Paredes is a 10-year minor league veteran who appeared in 15 games with the Dodgers in 2017-18. (Th3TruthPhotos/WikiCommons)
Paredes has an 11:2 K/BB over 6.1 innings, allowing four hits and no earned runs. Morgan brought an 8:1 K/BB ratio over 5.2 innings during which he allowed just one earned run and four hits into Sunday. That production had to give the club hope.
Unfortunately, Morgan looked bad on Sunday. He surrendered four runs, three of those earned, on three hits and a walk while also committing an error over 1.1 innings. Morgan hurt himself, throwing away a dribbler back to the mound with one out in the top of the 7th inning. Troy Tulowitzki followed with a long two-run homer onto the roof of the Tiki Bar in left at Spectrum Field on a hanging curve ball.
You can pretty much count on the Phillies bullpen having a half-dozen right-handers on Opening Day: Seranthony DominguezDavid RobertsonHector NerisPat NeshekJuan NicasioEdubray Ramos. Depending on whether the club wants to carry a seven or eight-man pen to open the season, that leaves room for one or two more relievers.
Things can certainly change based on injuries and late performances, as Morgan’s implosion today demonstrated perfectly. As things stand right now you have to like the chances of Paredes, a long-shot when camp opened in February, lining up for introductions at Citizens Bank Park on March 28.

Phillies Wall of Famer Jim Thome inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

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Thome delivers his acceptance speech in Cooperstown, New York

 

On Sunday afternoon, retired Philadelphia Phillies star first baseman Jim Thome finds himself officially enshrined among baseball’s immortals.

Also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame are five more superstars: Vladimir GuerreroTrevor HoffmanChipper JonesJack Morris, and Alan Trammell.
Even though Thome played just four of his 22 big league seasons with the Phillies, his impact on the organization was considered so great that he has previously been enshrined on the club’s Wall of Fame.
Last summer, Thome joined Mike Lieberthal (2012) as the only players enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame who appeared in a majority of their seasons with the club during the 2000’s but who had not played with the 2008 World Series team.
Thome signed with the Phillies as a free agent following the 2002 campaign. By that time, he had become one of the most feared sluggers in the game. As a member of the Cleveland Indians, Thome had been a three-time American League all-star, a Silver Slugger winner, and a perennial MVP candidate.
The Phillies team that Thome was joining for the 2003 season was not dissimilar to the current 2018 team. After years of losing, the Phillies had spent a few seasons rebuilding and retooling their roster.
Thome was signed to become the new Phillies first baseman and help the team step up to contending status. He was also brought in to provide a drawing card as Veteran’s Stadium closed in 2003 and Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004.
In his first season, the team’s final year after 33 seasons at The Vet, Thome led the National League with 47 home runs. He finished fourth in the NL MVP vote that year for a Phillies team that led the NL Wildcard race before collapsing to lose seven of their last eight games.
The following year, Thome made the National League all-star team for what would be the lone time in his career. He banged another 42 home runs that season, finishing among the top 20 in NL MVP voting. Among the many highlights were the 400th home run of his career, which he banged in front of the home fans in South Philly.
He would be honored following that 2004 season with the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award given to a player who best exemplifies strong character both on and off the field.
That Phillies team turned it on down the stretch this time, finishing the season with a 21-8 record after September 1. But again, it wasn’t enough to land a playoff berth.
His third season with the Phillies would prove to be abbreviated. It would also lead directly to a change that would have reverberations for the Phillies ultimate fortunes, and for the rest of his own career.
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Young slugger Howard would finally replace
the injured Thome for good in July 2005

In that 2005 campaign, Thome suffered a pair of injuries. He was driven to the disabled list first by a lower back strain, and then again by a bout with elbow tendinitis. Meanwhile, a 25-year-old first baseman named Ryan Howard was blasting moon shots in the minor leagues and pushing for playing time.
Thome would play his final game of the 2005 season on June 30. It would be his final game with the Phillies as well. At least for the next seven years.
As Thome finished up the end of his three-year, $36 million-dollar contract with three months on the disabled list, Howard stepped into the starting lineup.
The young slugger immediately became a star, bashing 22 home runs, 21 of those after Thome’s season was finished. Howard captured the NL Rookie of the Year honors, beginning a magnificent career in Philly during which he became “The Big Piece” and helped lead the 2008 team to their World Series championship.
Thome signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox. He would bounce back strong, blasting 42 home runs in 2006 with the Chisox and becoming an AL all-star. He would play in parts of four seasons with Chicago before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at age 38 in 2009.
With Los Angeles in 2009, Thome would once again see his career intersect with the Phillies, this time as a postseason opponent. He actually received a pair of plate appearances as the Dodgers and Phillies battled in the 2009 National League Championship Series.
Thome drew a walk off J.A. Happ in the bottom of the sixth inning of a Phillies 8-6 victory in the NLCS Game One. He would be immediately replaced by a pinch-runner who also had previous Phillies ties, pitcher Randy Wolf.
In Game Two, a 2-1 comeback victory for Los Angeles, Thome rapped a pinch-hit single off Scott Eyre. He was again removed for a pinch-runner. But that hit came in the midst of a two-run Dodgers rally that gave them the victory and tied the series.
Thome would then play for five different organizations over his final four seasons, including returns to both the Indians and Phillies.
He would slam five final homers in a Phillies uniform over 71 plate appearances during the first few months of the disappointing 2012 campaign. That season would prove to be the swan song for a long era of winning baseball at Citizens Bank Park.
As the team floundered, the 41-year-old Thome was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles on June 30, 2012 for a pair of nondescript minor league prospects. He would retire after finishing up that season in Baltimore.
Over part of four seasons in red pinstripes, Thome recorded a .260/.384/.541 slash line. He blasted 101 home runs, banged 42 doubles, knocked in 281 runs, and scored 243 times.

 

 

Today’s a special day for a very special guy.

Congratulations to Jim Thome on his induction into the @baseballhall today!

For his full 22-year career, Thome blasted 612 home runs. That places him eighth on the all-time Major League Baseball home run leader board. He finished up with 1,699 RBI and 1,583 runs scored. Thome also walked 1,747 times in his career.

 

Though his time in Philadelphia was relatively brief, it was also undoubtedly memorable and influential. He helped the organization in the early-mid 2000’s emerge from a decade of losing and ushered in an exciting new era of winning baseball at a beautiful new ballpark. Today, Thome takes his rightful place among the most memorable players in the history of the game.