Phillies At Reds Live Blog

Phillies At Reds Live Blog

Video of Jimmy's lead off homer and Burrell and Jenkins back-to-back blasts after the jump.

Sorry for the late start... went out for lunch and got attacked by a bunch of red birds. Okay not really but there was traffic. I flip on the game about 10 minutes late and the Phils are up 3-0.

Rollins led off with a solo shot followed by a Howard double and a Pat the Bat blast. 3-0 Phils.

Hamels starts off by letting the first two batters on base. Maybe they shouldn't have given him a 3 run lead. Then Freel steals third as part of a double steal. Nice.

Cole goes to a full count with Brandon Phillips before the Reds get a fielder's choice to knock in a run. 3-1 Phils.

Dunn pops up behind home plate and Jeff Keppinger knocks in another run with a single. Hamels gets out of the shaky first with a lead intact. 3-2 Phils after one.

Alright, the chicken breast club has been devoured and now my typing and amazing wit shall improve going forward. The final 8+ frames after the jump.

Top 2nd: Pedro leads off the second. While I'm not sold on his bat, I definitely enjoy having a man named Pedro on our squad. As I typed that, Feliz strikes out.

Ruiz pops out to center and Hamels knocks a single up through the middle. Hamels batting average is probably better than Pedro's.

J-Roll gets another single. Victorino comes up with 2 men on and strikes out to end the inning. I'm not feeling Shane's shades. Maybe he needs new eye wear to get out of his funk.

Here's Jimmy's lead off HR:

Bottom 2nd: Did anyone hear the other day when Wheels said "I love that Dick Pole"? Anyone?

SICK play by Carlos Ruiz on a perfect bunt by Ryan Freel. Incredible throw by Chooch to end the inning.

Top 3rd: Chase has a weak at bat, falling behind an grounding out with a "swinging bunt." Whatever that is.

BURRELL GOES DEEP AGAIN. Pat's second home run of the game. 4-2 Phils. As the Sarge put it, "Wow."

Bronson Arroyo may want to consider that rock career as he just gave up back-to-back homers to Burrell and Jenkins. 5-2 Phils. (Pedro ruins the fun by popping out.)

Bottom 3rd: Nothing interesting. No runs scored, which is good.

T op 4th: Nothing interesting here either. Sorry, got side tracked by seeing Freddie Mitchell's name in a weird news story.

Bottom 4th: Cole seems to have found a nice rhythm after that shaky first. Encarnacion goes down swinging.

Bako got a double but Arroyo failed to get a good bunt down. Inning over. Phils still up 5-2 and this one is moving along pretty fast.

Top 5th: Hey, there's Johnny Bench. That guy just exudes baseball.

Shane comes up to lead off the inning and loops in a single to right. Alright Shane! Now steal second.

W ow. Very nice play by second basemen Brandon Phillips to get Chase at first. +1 Phillips. Shane advances to second.

Ryan Howard likes the K.

Bottom 5th: This live blog really fizzled. I got caught up reading about Glen Macnow's cheesesteak list.

Hamels has been cruising since that bad first inning. Also, I think Tom McCarthy has been a real nice addition to the TV crew.

Top 6th: Jenkins grounds out to start of the inning.

Oh man. Pedro Feliz ALMOST hit a HR. So close... he ends up with a double.

Carlos gets hit by a softball to bring up Cole Hamels with two on and one out. Hamels gets a nice sacrifice down to move the runners to second and third to bring up Jimmy. And that will do it for Mr. Rockstar Arroyo.

Young James gets walked on four pitches to load the bases for the struggling Shane Victorino. Shane will bust out of his slump right here.

Damnit. Shane gets some good wood on a ball but it goes right to the thirdbaseman. End of inning. No runs.

Bottom 6th: Oh no. Cincy does that "Everybody clap your hands." Ugh.

Video of Burrell and Jenkins back-to back blasts:

The final out of the sixth was a bit scary. Howard fields a sharply hit grounder about 8 feet back from the bag and instead of taking it himself he makes Cole work for it. Scary. But Cole gets through six with a nice lead.

Top 7th: Chase leads off with a strange at bat in which it looked like he may have rolled over on his ankle. Someone get that man an icepack, pronto.

Howard and Burrell go down without much of a fight to end the inning.

/stretches

Bottom 7th: The Phils have Rudy See-An-Ez up in the pen. Harry and Wheels keep talking about how Cole doesn't have his best stuff today but he's still leading anyway. They are correct.

So Taguchi has replaced everyone's newest favorite Phillie, Pat Burrell. So caught a pop up for the first out and Feliz fields a ground out for the second out.

Hamels gets through the 7th with a 1, 2, 3 effort. If the pitchers spot comes up next inning I think Hamels will be done for the day. Solid outting from our ace.

Top 8th: Jenkins pops out, Feliz singles, and it looks like Hamels is done as Dobbs has a bat in the on deck circle.

Wheels informs us that Charlie has been sick the past few days and is not feeling well. When Charlie doesn't feel well, nobody feels wel.

Ruiz gets Feliz over to second and Dobbs is up with two outs. Dobbs hits it right back to the pitcher. End of inning.

Bottom 8th:

In to pitch the 8th:

Flash gets the first out with a pop to center. Dunn comes up and gets sent walking back to the dugout with a nice K. Wheels calls the pitch a "snap dragon." Hmm. And the inning ends with a pop up to Jenkins. Alright Flash!

Top 9th: Jimmy grounds out. Shane swings at some bad pitches for out number two. And a pitching change/double switch to face Utley. This game makes me want to take a nap.

Utley gets some wood on it but right to second. It's Brad Lidge time!

Bottom 9th: Lidge gives up what looked to be a bomb to left, but Encarnacion must have just got under it for a very long fly out.

Christ. What the hell is going on here.  This game should be over. Taguchi couldn't catch a pop to left that would have ended it. They give him an error. Shit, here's Ken Griffey Jr.

Lidge is clearly not giving Griffey anything to hit. !@#!@$@#$@#%@# bases loaded.

Javier Valentin comes up with the bases loaded.

As Harry points out, "just five minutes ago this game was really comfortable." Yeah, not anymore.

AHHHHH. Wild pitch or passed ball or something and the tying run now stands on second base.

It looked as if he threw ANOTHER wild pitch but the guy at third decided to stay put. Full count.

STRUCK HIM OUT. Phils win. Phils win. Phils win.

Final: Phils 5 Reds 3

Did they really need to make us sweat like that? Anyway, big win leaving Cincy with a split and heading into Shea with some momentum.

High fives!

Leila Rahimi discusses her ups and downs as a sports anchor

Leila Rahimi discusses her ups and downs as a sports anchor

Q: What experience had the biggest impact on your life and career in sports and why?
A: This is going to sound like an odd answer, but surviving various challenges in our business. I’ve gone through everything from having to get a police escort to shoot video when I was a news reporter, only to be suspended from being on air because acquiring the escort made me late for a 5 p.m. deadline on a 10 p.m. show. That supervisor who made the decision was also sued for gender discrimination by a previous employee. In another market I dealt with a mass layoff after we’d have to hear about what happened in court proceedings regarding our station on Twitter. Then there was the simple, but not easy, task of shooting video every day with a 35-pound camera and 18-pound tripod for 7 years in several different markets. 

Q: Who’s had the biggest impact and why?  
A: The person who has the biggest impact on your career in this business… is yourself.

Q: What are some of the funniest moments you’ve experienced as a woman in sports?
A: When I was a “one-man-band,” where you shoot video, edit and report it, and I carried the gear around, I’d get a lot of “that camera is bigger than you are” discussion. I’d just laugh it off. I’ve had a guy accuse me of using my looks to get hired at a radio station because they didn’t get the NASCAR results fast enough (this is when we’d get updates from a wire service faster than the internet would refresh them). That made me laugh. 

Q: What was the most negative moment you’ve experienced? The one that got you fired up or perhaps made you think about quitting.
A: Various moments will make you question your employment in TV. You just have to keep going. 

Q: Have you had any teachable moments? I.e. someone made an ignorant comment, but had no idea you were offended — until you said something?
A: Sadly I don’t have much of a filter, so when someone makes a comment and I get upset about it, they know pretty quickly. I’m the one who should probably look into that more on my end than the other way around.

Q: Any awkward moments?   
A: I’ve had people ask about my dating availability. I say I don’t want to lose my job. That makes it pretty self-explanatory. What frustrates me is when I’d be having a perfectly normal conversation with an athlete (aka, a coworker) and if I was talking to that person “too long,” I’d worry that someone would think something wasn’t right with the situation, that it would look suspicious. When in reality, we were probably talking about Target or something very basic like that, or someone was teaching me something about the sport they play, or there was a play during a game they wanted to describe, etc. Simply because I’m a woman and the athlete is a man, it could “look bad.” 

Q: What are you most proud of?
A: Again, I’d say surviving. This business is hard on relationships, personal lives, self-esteem, you name it.

Q: A lot of girls look up to you and aspire to be on TV covering sports. What is the most important message you want to send to them?
A: The obsession with looks in our business has really increased since I started out. That may sound weird given that it’s TV, but I’ve been told I won’t get a lot of jobs because I’m not blonde. It’s true. I didn’t get some chances because I didn’t have a certain look. But don’t get discouraged. Don’t go changing because someone else wants you to. Do you, and know that the biggest asset is always knowledge. If you want to be taken seriously, read and watch as much sports as possible. That’s how you stay employed.

Looming free agent Manny Machado puts Maikel Franco on the clock

Looming free agent Manny Machado puts Maikel Franco on the clock

CLEARWATER, Fla. – You hear it a lot at this time of year.

This is a big year for (fill in the name).

The 2017 season will be a big one for a lot of Phillies. This team remains an active construction site building for a better day, and the front office is sitting upstairs making a list of who fits into the future and who doesn’t.

So it’s a big year for Freddy Galvis to see if he can improve his on-base skills and hold off J.P. Crawford.

It’s a big year for Cesar Hernandez to see if his strong second half in 2016 was a young player really getting it, a sign of good things to come, or just a three-month hot streak.

It’s a big year for Tommy Joseph as he tries to build on a nice big-league debut and hold off hard-charging Rhys Hoskins.

But when it comes to establishing oneself as a long-term part of this team’s foundation, Maikel Franco might have the biggest challenge of all among Phillies position players.

Yes, Franco belted 25 homers and drove in 88 runs last year, and those were surely impressive totals for a player of his age (23) hitting in a lineup where he was a marked man with little protection on a team that did not put many runners on base — that .301 team on-base percentage ranked 29th in the majors.

Despite huge upside, Franco’s game has some shortcomings. He is a free-swinger with poor on-base skills — he had a .306 on-base percentage last season and saw just 3.56 pitches per at-bat, ranking him 134th in the majors — and if you’ve been paying attention to what has come out of general manager Matt Klentak’s mouth in his 16 months on the job, you know that he values players who “control the strike zone” — both at the plate and on the mound.

Klentak and his lieutenants in the front office also place a premium on defense and Franco, despite good hands and a rocket arm, does not grade out near the top among major league third basemen, mostly because of his range, in advanced metrics. He ranked 12th out of 18 qualifying third basemen in runs saved (minus 6) last season.

Proof of this front office’s affinity for on-base skills and defensive acumen can be seen in center field and in that $30.5 million bulge in Odubel Herrera’s wallet. Herrera got on base more than 35 percent of the time his first two seasons in the majors and he grades out well in the advanced defensive metrics used by this team’s decision makers. All of this, along with his youth — he’s 25 — and projected upside led the front office to give Herrera a five-year contract extension this winter. Call it a statement of the type of player that this front office is looking for.

Franco can improve his flaws, particularly at the plate. He’s already hard at work trying to do so with new hitting coach Matt Stairs.

But why is it so pressing that he does? Why is this year such a big one for Franco?

Because he is entering his third season as a regular and the front office probably needs to know that the improvement is coming. Even as they construct their roster and prepare for the 2017 season here in spring training, this front office has its telescope out and is peering at future free-agent markets. Club president Andy MacPhail basically said that last week. In 2017, Maikel Franco has to convince this front office not to put Manny Machado in its sights. The superstar Baltimore Orioles third baseman will hit the free agent market after the 2018 season at the tender age of 26 and if you think his projected megadeal will be too rich for the Phillies then think again. Owner John Middleton has promised to spend big again when the team is ready to win.

In December at the winter meetings, Klentak was asked about some of the astronomical numbers being attached to the talent-rich free-agent class that is coming after the 2018 season. Could he see the Phils paying a player $200 million, $300 million, $400 million?

“I won’t put a dollar figure on anything,” Klentak said that day. “Markets develop the way that they develop and player values change over time. But I don’t have any doubt that this franchise will make significant investments when the time is right.”

Investing in a player like Machado could make long-term sense for the Phillies because he has the type of rangy body that often holds up past 35 and he could take his bat to first base when he’s older and done at third. Yes, it would take a long-term deal, probably at least seven years, to get Machado.

Franco can throw cold water on this admittedly premature postulating by making improvements at the plate this season.

If he doesn’t show enough improvement or make the front office believe that it will eventually come, he could be a trade candidate and the Phillies could plug at third while they wait to make their run at Machado.

Franco knows his shortcomings and is working on them.

You could see it in batting practice Monday as he consciously tried to drive balls to right-center.

You could see it Friday as he stood in the outfield and talked hitting with new teammate Howie Kendrick. Kendrick mimicked a hitter driving the ball up the middle. Franco then did the same thing and nodded.

“I love to hit and sometimes I get excited,” Franco said. “I am concentrating on being more selective and using the middle of the field, not trying to do too much.”

Stairs has assigned Franco and Galvis to the same batting practice group as Kendrick.

“Howie has that gap-to-gap approach and I want Maikel and Freddy to see that every day,” Stairs said.

Stairs is convinced that if Franco stays with the approach he will “give away” fewer at-bats and become a tougher out in 2017 “and then you will see the on-base numbers come up.”

Franco needs to make these improvements if he’s going to have a long-range future with a team that is building through the concept of controlling the strike zone.

It’s a big year for him.

And the looming shadow of the ‘man’ in Baltimore makes it all that much bigger and intriguing.