July 30, 2004

Floyd called up to Scranton

RHP Gavin Floyd was promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today after going 8 2/3 innings and coming within one out of his second straight complete game last night against Harrisburg.

Floyd was 7-7 in Reading with an ERA of 2.57, second best in the Eastern League.

Ruiz featured
Our main man, Reading catcher Carlos Ruiz, is the subject of a column by long-time Reading Eagle sports writer Tony Zonca. To quote:

All of a sudden the Phillies' catching closet isn't so bare (which was why they drafted three catchers in the June draft's first 10 rounds).

"If you grade out his tools - arm strength, hitting ability, receiving ability - he is a major league prospect, at least as a backup catcher," Phillies manager Greg Legg offered. "The key thing with him is to be able to stay healthy and get the opportunity to be the No. 1 catcher for a long time."

Whatever happened to Marlon Byrd?

The rise and fall of Marlon Byrd is either the fastest fall from grace in Phillies history, or just another case of a mishandled prospect.

To cleanse the sour pallet left by Marlon Byrd’s bitter .223 batting average with the Phils this season, here’s a refresher from former Reading manager and current Phils bench coach Gary Varsho, quoted from a Rich Scarcella column published by the Reading Eagle in 2001.

“Nobody runs the bases harder than Marlon Byrd — and I'm talking about a lot of people — or plays the game harder,” Varsho said. “He’s the closest you’re ever going to find to a perfect package as a person and player.”

With those words, it’s hard to believe there were doubts to whether Byrd was even ready for Double-A.

Despite questions, at 23, he was moved from Low-A Piedmont to Reading to compete with players closer to his own age.

He responded by finishing at the top of the EL in nearly all offensive categories: first in stolen base percentage (.865); second in runs (108); third in stolen bases (32); fourth in batting average (.315); and the biggest surprises — fifth in home runs (28), RBIs (89) and slugging percentage (.555). Byrd was also the best center fielder in the EL, posting a sensa-tional .994 fielding percentage.

At the end of the season, Baseball America crowned him “Most Exciting Player” in the EL, finishing two homers shy of 30-30. The only other EL player in history to accomplish it was Jeromy Burnitz.

Despite the impression fans may have now, the simple fact remains: Of the big-three prospects to move through Reading in the last 10 years — Scott Rolen, Pat Burrell and Marlon Byrd — only one, Byrd, was good enough to be named MVP of the Eastern League.

Following a season which he finished in the running for National League Rookie of the Year, Byrd never found his rhythm in 2004 and was deservedly sent to AAA Scranton before mid-season.

A month later, 39-year-old Steve Finley, not Byrd, was the name fans were mentioning most as the center fielder to lead the Phils to the post-season.

It’s rumored that Ed Wade has entertained offers for Byrd, despite his strong tendency to hold on to home-grown prospects.

But it seems an odd contradiction that Byrd, arguably the best prospect to come through Phils' system in 10 years, has been given such a short leash after just one full season in the majors ... such a short leash for a guy who was called “the perfect package” just three years ago.

What it means
As it stands, Marlon Byrd, part of the “big three” to come through Reading, is the third gigantic collapse of a heralded Phillies prospect in four years. Rolen’s gone, Burrell hasn’t truly rebounded, and Byrd, worst of all, has been forgotten.

July 26, 2004

Chat with Vicente: 4:00 EST

This is the first installment of BPF's chat series, featuring players currently on the disabled list. This week, our readers spoke with Vicente Padilla on a number of issues.

Jacob in Wernersville: Do you blame Doug Glanville for blowing Eric Milton's no-hitter?

Vicente: I don’t think it’s right to blame Dougie. He’s the kind of teammate who’ll always be there to lend you a sweater on a cold night. I remember a game two years ago in Denver when temperatures dipped into the 40s. Doug wasn’t playing much back then, so he had time to go back to the clubhouse and cook up some hot cocoa. Eric wasn’t on the team then, but if he was, I’m sure Dougie would have brought him a cup, too.

Martha in Bechtelsville: I don’t think it’s right that Chase Utley has to sit on the bench. He’s a good player ... and very nice looking.

Vicente: Funny you mention that, Martha. Tomas and the boys don’t like to take Chase along to the clubs after the games because he takes all the best women. He spends lots of time on his hair. I tell him he’d save time if he just got a haircut like Tank – that’s Todd Pratt. He doesn’t need a comb.

Ed in Topton: It’s cool that you participate in these online blogs. Do you have a blog of your own?

Vicente: Tank is helping me assemble a movie blog. I can’t wait to share my thoughts on “Catwoman” with the entire world. I thought Halle Berry really peaked with "Monster's Ball" and just hasn't been taking good roles lately.

Sorry, gang, I’m out of time. Professor Kerrigan wants to fuss over me while I do some long tossing. I feel like I’m humoring him at this point.

See yah!


July 25, 2004

No no-no, but a win-is-a-win-is-a-win

Phillies pitcher Eric Milton takes a no-hitter into the ninth inning in front of a sell-out crowd at Citizen's Bank Park. /Photo: BPF staff

VIRGINVILLE, Pa. - It should put a smile everyone's face remembering how Milton gave it extra gas in the 7th and 8th, with the atmosphere electric and something important on the line.

Through eight, Milton was luring hitters to swing through his pitches or pop up, incredibly, against a lineup of righties who entered the game on a tear.

No "buts" about "Uts"
I'd rather forgive and forget Glanville's 9th inning. So no "buts" from me today.

Chase Utley played inspired ball, including another remarkable HR off a good pitch from a great pitcher.

Not to dismiss the nice play on the grounder up the middle; I also liked how he took charge of that high pop-up tp preserve the no-hit bid.

A.J. Feeley Avenue
Everyone once in a while, an athlete in Philadelphia can ride down easy street, and Utley's in a Corvette these days. He certainly has the fans in his corner and seems to be responding with confident play. Let's see if he can do the same at in the deep outfield of Pro Player and whether Bowa will let him ride this momentum.

The little things Abre-u
Bobby didn't have much to do with this one, but he tied for the league lead in outfield assists in the first inning.

One aspect of his game, that helps in a small way, is how he crowds the plate with his head, arms and elbows. It makes it more difficult for the catcher to throw when a baserunner goes for second.

Big, blue sox
Mark Prior and his monster calves walked out ot Citizens Bank Park with no decision. He gave the Phils some opportunities to hit early on with curves that didn't break. He settled down around the fourth inning and looked solid until Utley's blast.

Backyard Baseball: Wade Miller will play catch

Astros pitcher and Berks County native Wade Miller is expected to play catch this weekend, according to the team's official web site.

Miller has been on the disabled list since June 26 with right shoulder tendonitis. The team diagnosed the injury as a frayed rotator cuff in early July. He is not expected back until mid-to-late August.

source: fanball.com