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Phillies on a Mission From God?

1 – Rollins (SS)

2 – Polanco (3B)

3 – Utley (2B)

4 – Howard (1B)

5 – Ibanez (LF)

6 – Victorino (CF)

7 – Brown (RF)

8 – Ruiz (C)

9 – Hamels (P)

 

Enough Said.

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Top 10 Major League Ballparks

Everybody has a different opinion on what makes a great ballpark.  It ranges from food and amenities to the quality of the team or the ballpark’s surrounding neighborhood.  The best way to get a sense of the best parks in the country is to take a bunch of opinions and average it out.

So, using eight top-10 lists of the best ballparks (many using different criteria), I’ve compiled the 10 that stood out among the rest.

T – 10 – St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers (tie)

9 – Philadelphia Phillies

8 – Colorado Rockies

7 – New York Yankees

6 – Seattle Mariners

T – 4 – Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants

3 – Pittsburgh Pirates

2 – Boston Red Sox

1 – Chicago Cubs

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Be Patriotic on Memorial Day in Washington DC

If you aren’t heading Down the Shore this weekend for Memorial Day, you might want to consider taking a day trip to Washington to see the Phillies take on the Nats in the first game of their three-game series.

Do you really need incentive to go to a Phillies game?  Of course not, but here is some anyway.

Monday’s 1:05 p.m. game will feature Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay pitching, it’s always easy to get tickets in Washington, and you can get HALF PRICE tickets.

If you order tickets through the Nationals’ web site (for Monday’s game only), type in the promotion code PATRIOTIC (use caps) and you’ll be able to get tickets in multiple locations at Nationals Park for half price.

Hot dogs, beer and Phillies baseball in the nation’s capitol = perfect Memorial Day.

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Easy Road Ahead for Phillies

The Phillies survived.

Over the last 20 games, the Phillies played one of their toughest stretches of the  season.  It included: six games against Atlanta, six games against Florida, a pair against St. Louis and Colorado, three games against the defending AL champion Texas Rangers and a four-game series with Cincinnati.

Now, after going 10-10 in that stretch, the team is healthier (Utley and Contraras are back) and heading into a stretch of 16 games against far inferior competition.

The Phillies will play three against the Mets, Nationals, Pirates and Dodgers before playing four against the Cubs.  The combined winning percentage of the these teams is .449.

This is the first opportunity the Phillies will have to separate themselves from the rest of the NL East with Utley back in the lineup and a stretch of easy games ahead.

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Wilson Valdez, Danys Baez Lead Phillies to 19 inning win

Box Score from MLB.com

Wow.

I’m not sure what else can be said.

Two and one third innings from David Herndon who was told it was his last day on the Major League Roster

Five shutout innings and 73 pitches from the much-maligned Danys Baez.

And then there was Wilson Valdez.  As a second baseman, he was 3-6 with a walk, and he was a part of the great pick-off play to get Brandon Phillips at second.

With the win, the Phillies maintained their one game lead over the Florida Marlins in the NL East.

Then, as a pitcher, he got the reigning National League MVP, Joey Votto, and Mr. Clutch this series, Jay Bruce out in the top of the 19th inning to secure a win for the Phillies.

Charlie Manuel had never used a position player as a pitcher in his managerial career, and he hopes to never do it again.  But, Valdez was good.  His fast ball was in the upper 80s, and he even threw a breaking ball that hit Scott Rolen (another way to win over the remaining, raucous crowd at Citizens Bank Park).

The game ended at 1:19 a.m., and today’s matinee is scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m.  Clearly, Manuel will need a lot of innings from starter Cliff Lee.  He will also have a fresh arm in the bullpen as Jose Contreras is expected to be activated from the disabled list this morning and replace Herndon.

Wilson Valdez, who has enjoyed a lot of support from the Phillies fans over the last two seasons because of his steady play filling in for Chase Utley, is even enjoying some national attention this morning.  He was on the front page of MLB.com, and he is even trending on Twitter.

Wilson Valdez will play today even though Chase Utley will be back in the lineup for his third game in four days.  Utley will be taking far more days off this year than he has throughout his career to ensure that he’s healthy in October.  Valdez will be at third base giving Placido Polanco a day off.

Dane Sardinha will start behind the plate, and Michael Martinez will play shortstop for Jimmy Rollins, who will be out of the lineup after playing all 19 innings last night.

The lineup for the second game in less than 12 hours is:

1 – Martinez (SS)

2- Brown (RF)

3- Utley (2B) — His first start hitting in his normal third spot in the lineup

4- Howard (1B)

5- Ibanez (LF) — Thought he might get the day off due to his age, but he’s been hitting well in May.

6- Mayberry (CF)

7- Valdez (3B) — Not pitching today

8- Sardinha (C)

9- Lee (P) — Need a lot of innings from him today.

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Phillies Minor League Prospects

With nine days left before the MLB trading deadline, the Phillies are in a unique situation.  They are buyers and sellers.

Many reports have the Phillies actively shopping Jayson Werth to teams like Tampa Bay to replenish the farm system with prospects.  Or, the Phillies could use those prospects to use in a trade to acquire Houston’s Roy Oswalt or Arizona’s Dan Haren.

Either way, there are always a lot of prospects’ names being floated about this time of year, and it can be hard to keep up with how minor league players are doing because we don’t see them as much as we see the big league club.  Here’s a look at how the Phillies’ big-name prospects are doing this year.

The Untouchable

Domonic Brown

I had the chance to interview Brown last year at the trade deadline when his name was being thrown out as a possibility to lure Roy Halladay to Philadelphia.

Domonic Brown

Domonic Brown in Spring Training

“I can’t do anything,” Brown said last July.  “I’m not going to stress myself out about anything.  I’m just going to go out there and play my game.”

Now, Brown is untouchable, andhe might be nine days away from being a teammate of Halladay’s if the Phillies trade Werth.

Since his promotion to AAA, Brown is hitting .347 with 4 homers and 17 RBI.  He had 15 homers in 65 games with AA Reading earlier this year.

Future Phillies

These players aren’t likely to be traded, but they are doing well in the minors.  They have a real shot at contributing to the Phillies in the future.

Scott Mathieson has been up with the big club a few times, but he has been plagued with injuries (he’s had two Tommy John surgeries).  This resilient flame thrower is 3-3 with a 2.30 ERA and 18 saves for AAA Lehigh Valley this year.  He also has 56 strikeouts in 43 innings.

Jonathan Singleton is an 18-year-old left-handed first baseman in low-A Lakewood.  He is hitting .317 with 11 homers and 55 RBI.  He has drawn comparisons to a young Ryan Howard, and he has a very high ceiling.

The Rest

These other players aren’t necessarily trade bait, but it gives you an idea of how some big-name prospects are disappointing the Phillies throughout all levels of their farm system.

John Mayberry Jr. is hitting .263 with 10 homers and 51 RBI for the Iron Pigs.

Phillippe Aumont, a big piece in the Cliff Lee to Seattle trade, started the year in AA Reading.  After struggling, he was demoted to A ball.  In Clearwater, Aumont is 1-1 with a 4.45 ERA.

Another piece of the Lee trade, J.C. Ramirez, is struggling in AA Reading.  He is 2-2 with a 4.80 ERA.

Joe Savery continues to struggle

Tyson Gilles, an outfielder also acquired from Seattle, is hitting .238 with 2 homers and 6 RBI in 26 games.

Former first-round pick Joe Savery is 1-8 with a 5.01 ERA in Lehigh Valley.

Anthony Gose, a 19-year-old outfielder with Clearwater, is a running machine (just not a successful running machine).  Gose has 33 stolen bases, but he has been caught stealing 26 times.  In 97 games, he is hitting .265.

Former first-round pick Anthony Hewitt has struggled since the day he arrived in the Gulf Coast League.  Now, in his third year in the Phillies’ system, Hewitt is only playing low-A ball for Lakewood.  He is hitting a paltry .208.

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