November 2008

Ryan Howard finishes 2nd in National League MVP ballotting.

Howard finishes second in MVP voting

Slugger gets 12 first-place votes, but Cards’ Pujols wins award

Despite missing the playoffs that season, the Phillies had a better record than the Cardinals, and Howard’s 58 homers and 149 RBIs were too significant to ignore.

In 2008, Pujols won that argument for the same reason and captured the NL MVP Award, though Howard’s monstrous September and Major League-leading home run and RBI totals made the race much closer. Pujols may have had his best season, which is saying a lot for one of the game’s elite sluggers.

Howard received 12 first-place votes — six fewer than Pujols — and was named first, second or third on 31 of the 32 ballots submitted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Teammate and closer Brad Lidge, who went 41-of-41 in save opportunities during the regular season, received the other two first-place votes, and finished eighth with 104 points. Chase Utley received 30 total points for a 15th-place finish. He was named on nine ballots, none higher than fourth.

Howard’s second-place finish brings the honor back to St. Louis, where Pujols won in ’05 before giving way to Howard in ’06 and shortstop Jimmy Rollins in ’07.

“I can only control what I do on the field, and if it’s good enough [for MVP], so be it,” Howard said in September, when he batted .352 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs.

As dominating as Howard’s September was, Pujols practically did that every month while compiling arguably his finest season. The St. Louis slugger batted .357, two points shy of his career high, and set new personal bests with a .462 on-base percentage, a 1.115 OPS and 104 walks. He slugged .653, nearly 30 points better than his career average, and cranked 37 homers and 44 doubles. Pujols drove in 116 runs, scored 100 and struck out just 54 times. He never hit lower than .302 in any month, never had an OBP lower than .413 and never slugged below .558.

Howard endured some painful cold spells, notably April (.168), August (.213) and June (.234) before heating up for the final month. Without Howard’s hot stretch, the Phillies might not have qualified for the postseason.

“He got hot when we needed him, and we were able to get on his back for the ride,” Shane Victorino said, before the NL Division Series. “That was huge.”

And like Pujols in ’06, Howard can look at his World Series ring as the ultimate accomplishment. 

2008 NL MVP Award Voting
Player, Club 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Points
Albert Pujols, STL 18 10 2 1     1       369
Ryan Howard, PHI 12 8 6   1 1 2     1 308
Ryan Braun, MIL   2 3 5 5 2 2 3 2 1 139
Manny Ramirez, LAD   2 4 7 2 3 2   1 2 138
Lance Berkman, HOU   2 4 4 1 3 3 4 1 1 126
CC Sabathia, MIL   4 5 1 2 2 3   1 2 121
David Wright, NYM   2 1 4 3 3 2 5 2 1 115
Brad Lidge, PHI 2   2   4 3 2 3 1 2 104
Carlos Delgado, NYM     5 1 2 5   2 3   96
Aramis Ramirez, CHC       2 4 1 1 4 3 1 66
Hanley Ramirez, FLA       2 2 2 1 2 2 5 55
Chipper Jones, ATL   1       2 4 1 2 2 44
Geovany Soto, CHC       3 1   3   1   41
Johan Santana, NYM   1   1   1 1   2 1 30
Chase Utley, PHI       1 1 1 1   3 2 30
Ryan Ludwick, STL             1 2 3 1 17
Brandon Webb, ARI         2       1   14
Adrian Gonzalez, SD             1 1 1 4 13
Matt Holliday, COL           1 1 1   1 13
Prince Fielder, MIL           1   1 1 1 11
Derrek Lee, CHC         1   1       10
Carlos Beltran, NYM         1     1   1 10
Tim Lincecum, SF           1     1 2 9
Jose Reyes, NYM               1     3
Jose Valverde, HOU               1     3
Stephen Drew, ARI                 1   2
Nate McLouth, PIT                   1 1

(H/T Phillies.com, MVP Ballot Voting: MLB.com)

Once again, congrats on the win Pujols. You had the better overall record this year. Howard, you have some work to do during the post-season. A lot of work.

Phillies add Scott Proefrock as new assistant GM.

Phillies name Proefrock assistant GM

Amaro’s former position filled by Orioles front-office employee

Proefrock spent the past three years as director of baseball administration in Baltimore. He had spent the previous 11 years with Tampa Bay, eventually serving as assistant GM to Chuck LaMar through the 2005 season. He also worked with LaMar with the Braves from 1991-95 and Pittsburgh in 1989-90.

He’ll be working with LaMar again in Philadelphia, as both share an assistant GM title. Proefrock will handle big league contracts and the composition of the roster, a role held by Amaro while assisting former GMs Ed Wade and Pat Gillick.

Amaro named Benny Looper and LaMar assistant general managers last week, with both focusing on scouting and player development.

Proefrock was chosen over former Mets GM Jim Duquette, former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky and Muzzy Jackson, formerly an assistant GM with the Royals. (H/T Phillies.com)

Once again, welcome to the Phils, Scott, and how that you’ll have as big an impact here as you had, if a bit late, with the American League Champion Rays.

From last week: Phillies add Sam Perlozzo to coaching staff, post to be determined later.

Perlozzo joins Phillies’ coaching staff

Ex-O’s skipper has not yet been assigned specific role

Perlozzo hasn’t been assigned a specific coaching position from among third-base coach or bench coach, where Steve Smith (dismissed) and Jimy Williams (declined to return), respectively, worked for the past two seasons.

Regardless, the former infielder will handle infield instruction. Perlozzo spent last season as Seattle’s third-base coach after 12 years with Baltimore as a third-base coach (1996-2000), bench coach (2001-05) and manager (2005-07). Before landing with the Orioles, Perlozzo coached third for the Mariners (1993-95), the Reds (1990-92) and the Mets (1987-89).

“I’ve known Sammy for a long time and couldn’t be happier to add someone with his experience to our coaching staff,” manager Charlie Manuel said in a statement.

Perlozzo was a five-time fielding champion in nine Minor League seasons, as well as for the Yakult Swallows in Japan in 1980, the same season Manuel hit 48 home runs for the Kintetsu Buffaloes.

Perlozzo’s role depends on who fills the other coaching vacancy. That could be someone else with managerial experience. Former big league skippers Jim Tracy, Grady Little and Terry Collins have emerged as candidates, according to a person familiar with the Phillies’ thinking. (H/T Phillies.com)

Once again, welcome to the team, Sam. Hopefully you’ll soon know which position you’ll be filling in.

Charlie Manuel promotes team catching instructor Mick Billmeyer to team’s Bullpen coach.

Phils tab Billmeyer as bullpen coach

Instructor has been on the Major League staff since 2004

Billmeyer, 44, had been serving as the team’s catching instructor and has been on the big league staff since 2004. Before that, he spent four years (2000-03) as the club’s Minor League catching coordinator and six years (1994-99) as the Angels’ bullpen/workout coordinator.

Billmeyer replaces Ramon Henderson, who has been reassigned to a Minor League coaching position. Henderson, 45, spent 11 seasons (1998-2008) as the team’s bullpen coach before leaving for personal reasons during the 2008 season.

Manuel is looking to hire another coach who will either work as bench coach or third-base coach, with Sam Perlozzo manning the other spot. Jim Tracy, Grady Little and Terry Collins, all of whom have big league managing experience, have emerged as candidates. (H/T Phillies.com)

Well, we’re still waiting her to see who will become the new bench coah or third base coach along the recently added Sam Perlozzo. Anyway, congrats on the promotion, Mick.

Utley wins his third Silver Slugger as the best offensive second baseman in the National League.

Utley wins third straight Silver Slugger

Second baseman led position in average, homers, RBIs

Utley has continued to gain respect. The Silver Slugger may pale in comparison to the ring he earned for helping the Phillies win their first World Series championship since 1980, and the second in the franchise’s 125-year history. However, the award, announced Thursday, represents offensive excellence at a position traditionally known for defense, and affirms that Utley is as good as it gets among his peers.

As a member of the World Series champions, Utley pounded a career-high 33 homers and drove in 104 RBIs, one fewer than his career best. Despite nagging injuries that dogged him for most of the second half, Utley played in 159 games. Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia won the award in the American League.

The other National League winners were catcher Brian McCann (Braves), first baseman Albert Pujols (Cardinals), third baseman David Wright (Mets), shortstop Hanley Ramirez (Marlins), outfielders Ryan Ludwick (Cardinals), Ryan Braun (Brewers) and Matt Holliday (traded from the Rockies to the A’s on Tuesday) and pitcher Carlos Zambrano (Cubs).

Although quiet in the NL Division Series and World Series, Utley hit .353 in the NL Championship Series against the Dodgers.

The 29-year-old led NL second basemen in hits (177), runs (113), RBIs (104), on-base percentage (.380), slugging percentage (.583) and extra-base hits (78). His 33 homers were the highest total for a second baseman in the Majors, and the lefty swinger totaled 100 RBIs for the fourth straight season.

2008 Silver Sluggers

AMERICAN LEAGUE AL
 C Joe Mauer, MIN
1B Justin Morneau, MIN
2B Dustin Pedroia, BOS
3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY
SS Derek Jeter, NYY
OF Josh Hamilton, TEX
OF Carlos Quentin, CWS
OF Grady Sizemore, CLE
DH Aubrey Huff, BAL
NATIONAL LEAGUE NL
C Brian McCann, ATL
1B Albert Pujols, STL
2B Chase Utley, PHI
3B David Wright, NYM
SS Hanley Ramirez, FLA
OF Ryan Braun, MIL
OF Matt Holliday, COL
OF Ryan Ludwick, STL
P Carlos Zambrano, CHC

Utley has being doing this for a while. The three-time All-Star has more homers (112), RBIs (404), hits (702) and runs scored (433) than any other second baseman over the past four seasons.

“He’s a special player,” manager Charlie Manuel said, during the season. “I never worry about him [when he's not hitting], because I know he’s always going to come out of it.”

Louisville Slugger’s Silver Slugger Award winners were determined by a vote of Major League Baseball coaches and managers who vote for the players they felt were the best offensive producers at each position in each league. Selections are based on a combination of offensive statistics, including batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, as well as the coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value.

Managers and coaches couldn’t vote for players on their own team.

The specially designed Silver Slugger will be presented to each player by a representative of the Hillerich & Bradsby Co., makers of Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball, in a ceremony early in the 2009 season. The trophy is three feet tall and bears the engraved name of the winner and his Silver Slugger teammates in his respective league.

The Silver Slugger Award was instituted by H&B in 1980 as a natural extension of the Silver Bat Award, which is, as its name indicates, a silver-plated bat presented by Louisville Slugger to the batting champions in the AL and NL. This year’s Silver Bat Award winners were Atlanta’s Chipper Jones, who hit .364 to win the NL batting title, and Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, who hit .328 to claim the AL honor.

“I can’t say enough about Ut,” Manuel said, after Utley batted .352 in April. “When I start talking about Chase, you could probably come back a year later, and I could still be talking. He’s that good, and you can never say enough about him.”

A notable omission to the list of Silver Slugger winners was first baseman Ryan Howard, who led the Major Leagues with 48 home runs and 148 RBIs. That award went to Pujols, and could be a harbinger for Monday’s NL Most Valuable Player announcement. (H/T Phillies.com)

And Utley shows once again that he is just as good with the bat as he is with the glove. Once again, nice going, Chase.

Charlie Manuel finishes second in NL Manager of the Year Award Ballotting.

Charlie Manuel finishes a distance second to Cubs’ Manager Lou Piniella (103 votes), who has now won his third Manager of the Year Award, the first time as a National League manager. Manuel, whose Phillies team has won its second straight National League Eastern Division pennant during the regular season, before going on to win the 2008 World Series, would receive from the Baseball Writers eight first place ballots, six second place ballots and nine third place ballots for a total of 67 points, putting him in second place in the voting.

2008 NL Manager of the Year Award Voting
Manager, Club 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Lou Piniella, CHC 15 8 4 103
Charlie Manuel, PHI 8 6 9 67
Fredi Gonzalez, FLA 5 6 5 48
Joe Torre, LAD 3 8 6 45
Tony La Russa, STL 1 1 3 11
Jerry Manuel, NYM   3 1 10
Cecil Cooper, HOU     3 3
Dale Sveum, MIL     1 1

 (Ballot: H/T MLB.com)

Brad Lidge finishes fourth in NL Cy Young Award Balloting.

Brad Lidge finishes fourth in the NL Cy Young Award Balloting, getting recognition for being perfect in save situations for the Phillies during the 2008 regular season. During the regular season, Lidge would go forty-one for forty-one in save opportunities, before adding seven more saves during the post-season, including saving the fourth and final victory in the Phillies’ 2008 World Series triumph. In the ballotting, Lidge would receive one second place ballot and seven third place ballots, giving him a total of ten votes, placing him behind Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum of the Giants (137), Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks (73) and Johan Santana of the Mets (55).

2008 NL Cy Young Award Voting
Pitcher, Club  1st 2nd 3rd Points
Tim Lincecum, SF  23    7   1  137
Brandon Webb, ARI       4  15   8   73
Johan Santana, NYM    4    8 11      55
Brad Lidge, PHI              1       7   10
CC Sabathia, MIL    1    1   1     9
Ryan Dempster, CHC       4      4

(Ballot: H/T Phillies.com)

Jimy Williams will not be returning as the Phillies’ bench coach; Rich Dubee, Milt Thompson and Davey Lopes will return.

Williams not returning to Phillies

Decision of bench coach unexpected; Manuel leaving door open

Pitching coach Rich Dubee, hitting coach Milt Thompson and first-base coach Davey Lopes will return in their current roles. The team was already looking to fill the position of third-base coach, after Manuel dismissed Steve Smith last week.

Mick Billmeyer, who has been serving as the team’s catching instructor since 2003, will likely return to the big league staff, though that hasn’t been finalized, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

Dubee, 51, returns for his fifth season as pitching coach. Under Dubee in 2008, Phillies pitchers compiled a 3.88 ERA, the fourth best in the National League. The rotation had 88 quality starts, the second most in the NL, behind Arizona (95).

Lopes again tutored the baserunners to a Major League-best 84.5 percent stolen-base success rate (136 steals in 161 chances). The team’s steals total was the third best in the NL. As outfield instructor, Lopes led the outfielders to 36 assists, tops in the NL and tied for the Major League lead.

Thompson, 49, returns for his sixth season as a Phillies coach and fifth as the hitting coach. In 2008 he oversaw an offense that led the NL in home runs (214), finished second in RBIs (762) and tied for second in runs scored (799). In Thompson’s four seasons as hitting coach, the Phillies have scored more runs (3,363) than any other NL team.

Williams, 65, started his playing career in 1965 as a shortstop and compiled 13 Major League at-bats in 1966-67, with the Cardinals. He has spent more than 30 years as a coach and manager.

Williams managed the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Astros before joining the Phillies in October 2006, following Manuel’s second season as manager. With Philadelphia, he worked with the pitchers, and they finished first among all Major League staffs in runs, second in walks and fourth in hits.

His departure was unexpected.

“I talked to him right at the end of the year,” Manuel said. “I told him how good a job he did and that I was looking forward to having him back. He wasn’t upset. It was one of those things that he wanted to see what he wants to do. It’s not like he left on a bad note. I guess there are things he wants to think about.”

Manuel plans to speak with Williams again in the next few days, and he left the door open in the event Williams changes his mind.

“To me, it doesn’t seem that way,” Manuel said. “But I’ll call him in a couple of days and see where he’s at. … I don’t know if he’s looking to retire. I think Jimy will stay in the game.” (H/T Phillies.com)

Well, looks like the team is really going to be different when spring training start next year. Hopefully that’ll include the guys knowing how to hit the ball when the situation calls for something other than a home run.

Scott Eyre to stay with the Phillies as he signs a one year contract.

Phils re-sign lefty reliever Eyre

A late-season add, hurler helped in World Series title run

“It’s written in my hat: ‘Have fun,'” Eyre said, upon joining the Phillies in August. “I like to laugh and have a good time.”

Eyre had so much fun with the World Series champions that he re-signed with them Monday, inking a one-year, $2 million deal, which also includes performance bonuses.

Acquired from the Cubs on Aug. 7 for Minor League pitcher Brian Schlitter, the 36-year-old southpaw went 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. Combined, he went 5-0 with a 4.21 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings in 2008, holding left-handed batters to a .220 average and one home run in 50 at-bats.

Eyre provided manager Charlie Manuel with a key complement to fellow lefty J.C. Romero, allowing Eyre to face lefty batters earlier in the game.

Eyre immediately fit in a bullpen of unique personalities that consists of Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Romero, Clay Condrey and Chad Durbin.

For his career, Eyre is 26-29 with a 4.36 ERA for the White Sox, Blue Jays, Giants, Cubs and Phillies.  (H/T Phillies.com)

One post-season contract signing down, two more to go (Jamie Moyer and Pat Burrell). You’re doing okay so far, Rueben. Keep up the good work.

And the Phillies receive yet another Award as Ryan Howard once again receives the Josh Gibson Award for the most home runs hit in a season.

Howard wins Josh Gibson Award

NL-best 48 homers earn Phillies slugger Legacy honor

The honor is part of the ninth annual Legacy Awards, presented by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Howard powered 48 homers and drove in 146 runs, helping the Phillies to their first World Series championship since 1980.

He caught fire in September, when the team needed him most, hitting .352 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs.

The Legacy recipients will receive their awards on Jan. 10 during a ceremony at the Gem Theater in Kansas City. Proceeds from the Legacy Awards will benefit the museum, which keeps alive the legacy of men and women who played, coached or owned teams when baseball was a segregated sport.

Howard also earned the Gibson Award in 2006, and shared the Oscar Charleston Legacy Award — which honors the best player each year in the NL and AL — with the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter.

After winning NL Rookie of the Year in 2005, Howard earned the Larry Doby Award, presented to the top rookie in each league. (H/T Phillies.com)

Once again, congrats on winning the award, Ryan. I wonder what else you’ll be receiving before spring training starts next February?

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