Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rubber Match Today vs. Tigers

The Phils split the first two games of their series against the Tigers, getting pounded on Friday (6/15) by a score of 12 - 8 and winning yesterday's game 6 - 3.

Friday (6/15): Jon Lieber really didn't have a chance in this one and they way he fielded his own position, he didn't give himself much of a chance. He couldn't motivate his fat ass to get to a dribbler off of the bat of pitcher Jeremy Bonderman and later, misread a sign from the bench and threw away a pick-off attempt to first base. Oh yeah; he also gave 7 runs in 5 innings of work. The Phils did hit 5 homeruns in this game, with Jimmy Rollins particularly enjoying a good game with 2 homers and a triple (Howard, Victorino, and Dobbs hit the others). But it wasn't enough to overcome the surging Tigers.

Saturday (6/16): Veteran Jamie Moyer baffled the Tigers with 7 innings of 2-run ball and the Phils got home runs from Shane Victorino and Aaron Rowand to seal the win. Victorino went 3 for 5 in the game, scoring a couple of runs and knocking in one. With this win, and the Mets loss to the Yankees last night, the Phils are only 2 games behind the Mets in NL East.

Today, the Phils will send Adam Eaton (7-4) to the mound against Justin Verlander (7-2), who threw a no-hitter in his last start.

Other Phils Items:

- I was excited as anyone by the prospect of the Phillies acquiring Freddy Garcia in an off-season deal, but I can't believe they didn't do a bit more homework with respect to his arm. It was revealed earlier last week that the Phillies did not do an MRI on Garcia's arm and did not give him a physical exam period when they traded for him. On Friday, it was revealed that Garcia would NOT undergo surgery to repair his ailing right shoulder and will undergo a rehab program. The fact that the Phils knew he had posted those years of throwing 200+ innings and DID NOT look at the health of his arm is simply galling.

I doubt Garcia will be effective for the Phillies this season if he makes it through this rehab program and it's certainly speaks poorly for GM Pat Gillick that he allowed this to happen. The entire rotation gets thrown into chaos because of Garcia's injury and it pretty much means you need to keep pending free agent Jon Lieber for the entire season. Reportedly, Myers is NOT a candidate to return to the rotation. You have to hope at this point that a starter from the minors, like Kyle Kendrick or the heralded J.A. Happ can step up and fill Garcia's role in a positive fashion.

- Apparently, the Phils number one from last year, Kyle Drabek (currently pitching with Lakewood), is dinged up with an elbow injury.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Phils Sweep Pale Hose, Get Ready for Tigers

The Phils completed the sweep of the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, by defeating the South Siders by a score of 8 - 4. They completed the sweep with six solid innings from rookie starter Kyle Kendrick and a grand slam off of the bat of Aaron Rowand. The Phils seemed to do all the right things in this series and pulled to within 2 games of the division-leading New York Mets. You have to like the position the Phils are in at the moment.....they just need to avoid those nasty bouts of inconsistency that they are prone to get caught up in.

Other items of note from the series:

- Wes Helms FINALLY hit his first home run of the year in the 3rd game of the series on June 13th, a mere two months into the season. Are you telling me that we don't have a guy in the minors who could have turned in Helms' .252 average with 1 homer and crappy defense at a lesser price than whatever it is they're paying Helms? Really?

- Just a masterful 7 inning pitching performance from Adam Eaton in game 1 (6/11) of this series, which the Phils won 3 - 0. With this win, he raised his record to 7 - 4. He did not give up any runs and struck out 5. He's helping in salvaging Pat Gillick's reputation as some of his other free agent acquisitions (*cough* Wes Helms*cough* Rod Barajas) have not worked out so well.

- Speaking of Rod Barajas, I wonder how much longer we're going to have this guy on the team. I already documented some his defensive blunders here that have hurt the team, but when is this guy going to hit? He was 1 for 9 for the series to bring his average to a mind-boggling .214 average. In the third game of the series against the White Sox, he even managed to treat the fans to a 3 strikeout performance. The fans are now seriously starting to get on this guy. This isn't like Pat Burrell, where he makes so much money, you can't gas him or trade his salary. Barajas needs to be made to disappear in favor of Chris Coste and soon.

- Cole Hamels had another stellar outing in game 2 of this series (6/12), going 8 innings, giving up two runs and striking out 9 in the Phils 7 - 3 win. Basically, it seems the starting nod for the NL in the All-Star game will come down between Hamels and the Padres' Jake Peavy. Unfortunately for the Phils, Hamels will not be starting against the mighty Detroit Tigers this weekend.

- Shane Victorino stole his 20th base of the season on Wednesday. He stole a base in each game of the White Sox series.

- With the RBI in Wednesday's game, 2B Chase Utley now has 53 RBI, good for 2nd in the NL behind Carlos Lee of the Astros.

The Phils have a 3-game set coming up against the Tigers at the Cit-house.

Other Philly Sports News:

- The Flyers re-signed goalie Antero Niittymaki to a 2-year deal as insurance against Martin Biron falling on his derriere. At the season ticket holder Q&A session I went to that featured GM Paul Holmgren and coach John Stevens, it was obvious when listening to Stevens speak that he holds Niitty in high regard and that he wasn't simply being nice in a hockey sort of way.

- Donovan McNabb actually did a little practicing for the first time since his knee injury in last year's Tennesee game. Naturally, the way the sports media is in this town with the Eagles, the media was all over it and I was completely bored of this story about an hour after I heard about it. Call me when training camp starts, please.......

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Your Consistently Inconsistent Phils

In the past week, the Phils have gone from completely exhilarating their fanbase to completely annoying them. Despite finishing a recent 6 game road trip with a 4 - 2 record, the Phils can't seem to take advantage of a good situation when one presents itself.

The road trip began with a 3-game sweep of the much-hated New York Mets. The great thing about these wins (other than who it was against) was that every night there was a different hero:

June 5th: Chase Utley goes yard against the Mets' Jose Feliciano in the 11th inning to propel the Phils to a 4 - 2 win.

June 6th: Down 2 - 0 in the top of the 7th inning, Jimmy Rollins silences the booing Queens faithful by hitting a 3-run bomb off of Aaron Heilman to put the Phils ahead for good. Phils win 4 - 2.

June 7th: In what may have been the most dramatic blow of the 3-game series, Pat Burrell ruined Billy Wagner's 31-game streak without a blown save by burying a 3-2 offering from Wagner to tie the game in the 9th inning. Burrell later put the game away in the 10th inning with an RBI double that plated Ryan Howard.

It should be noted that the Phils received excellent starting pitching throughout the course of this series (Moyer, Eaton, and Hamels) and that Antonio Alfonseca saved all 3 ballgames.

Naturally, the way that the Phils swept away the division leading Mets had Phils fans talking and feeling pretty good. Especially, because the Mets had some injury trouble and Phils were entering their next series against one of the worst teams in baseball, the Kansas City Royals.

Just when you thought it was safe to follow the Phils.....

Kansas City went on to not only take 2 of 3 from the Phils, but the Royals emphatically kicked the snot out of the Phils by a score of 17-5 on the last day of the series. The bullpen just imploded as the combination of Ryan Madson, Jose Mesa (yes, THAT Jose Mesa), Geoff Geary, and Francisco Rosario gave up an astounding 11 runs. Mesa managed to uncork 2 wild pitches in his inning-plus of relief in his return debut with the Phils.

Further adding to the doom and gloom that was brought about by dropping 2 of 3 to one of the worst teams in baseball is that Freddy Garcia appears to have hurt himself pretty bad and appears to be done for the season, although nothing is official.

The MLB Draft: The baseball draft came and went and if you blinked, you missed it. This is in stark contrast to the NFL draft, where everyone has an opinion. To me, the baseball draft is entirely too long. Apparently, the draft is designed to have 50 (that's 5 - 0) rounds and concludes after all 30 teams have passed on a selection or after the final selection of the 50th round, whichever comes first. That is not a player draft....that's a death march.

Not only is the draft too long, but no one ever knows who any of these players are. This is unlike football, where the majority of NFL fans also follow NCAA football. Same with the NBA. Even in hockey, if you follow hockey, you know who the top junior players are because the hockey press actually covers that stuff. Almost no one covers the baseball draft to the point where you know the players real well. I really don't know any NCAA baseball fans (and have no desire to follow the sport). I wonder how much of that has to do with the fact that that the draft is held almost in the middle of the MLB season does it detract away from the event itself.

Anyway, the Phils took a pitcher with their first round pick named Joe Savery, a lefty from Rice University. According to, this guy is supposed to have a lot of talent, but is somewhat of an injury risk. That is the same sort of thing they said about Cole Hamels when the Phils drafted him a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Phillies May 2007 By The Numbers

I've been as consistent in keeping up with this blog as the Phillies have been through the MLB season so far (which is to say I haven't been consistent, but neither have the Phillies). So, before we get any further into the month of June, today seems like a good day to go back and take a look at the merry month of May and see how our Phils did by the numbers....


The number of wins the Phils pulled down in May 2007. Not for anything, but it should have been more and there were certainly opportunities. Unfortunately, the Phils were 2 - 7 in 1-run ballgames, with a foul mixture of poor situational hitting and a crappy bullpen. These wins gave the Phils a grand total of 26 wins for the year; good for 3rd place in NL East. As of May 31st, the Phils were 8.5 games behind the division leading Mets, who can seemingly do no wrong.


The number of wins the Phils were able to get against the freaking Arizona Diamondbacks in the 6 games they played against the D-backs in the month of May. As of today, the D-backs are 1/2 game behind the Dodgers in NL West and they have the Phillies to thank for that.


This was the batting average of bench player and Ryan Howard fill-in Greg Dobbs. Dobbs, whose presence on the team I was beginning to question, kicked in some excellent games for the Phils while Howard was on the DL. Dobbs also showed good power, with 5 home runs during May. This performance will definitely merit some more starts around the infield for the left-handed swinging Dobbs, who can apparently play both 2nd and 3rd base.


This was the May batting average for my favorite Phillies whipping boy, Pat "The Broken Bat" Burrell. There are two starting PITCHERS who had better batting averages than Burrell during May (Cole Hamels - .250; F. Garcia - .273). Burrell is the leader of a handful of players that are simply killing this team to date.


The number of wins accumulated during May by the most exciting young pitcher in the league, Cole Hamels. He has simply held this starting pitching staff together on his own and is clearly the ace of the team. Hamels also accumulated 49 strikeouts and as of this writing, is 3rd in the majors in strikeouts with 91, which puts him behing Eric Bedard of the Orioles and Jake Peavy of the Padres. His 8 wins overall at this point of the season leads the National League and is second overall in the Majors (behind John Lackey of the Angels). With just 2 months and a couple of days into the season so far, it's fair to say that Hamels has been the MVP of the team to date.


The number of losses sustained by Freddy Garcia during the month of May. While Garcia's numbers aren't completely brutal (he had an ERA of 4.17 during May, which was comparable to Hamels), he certainly has not pitched as he is capable of at this point. He seems to have trouble getting past the 6th inning (only past it once to date) and simply does not look like the innings eating strikeout pitcher the Phillies thought they were getting. I could have easily hung the starting pitching goat horns on either Jon Lieber or Jamie Moyer as well, but neither had the expectations coming into this year that Garcia had.


The number of home runs during the month of May that Wes Helms hit. It is also the same number of home runs he has for the entire year, which is also the same number I've hit so far. Wes Helms should be careful or he'll find even more time on the bench, as the Phils have been trotting out Greg Dobbs at 3rd base lately in addition to Abraham Nunez (.338 average during May 2007). Third base should be a position to produce offensive power numbers, even in a platoon situation, and Helms is simply not getting it done to justify his deficiencies in the field (which are many).

High point of May 2007:

Clearly, the 3 game sweep of the Braves during Memorial Day weekend after a near disastrous series in Miami against the Marlins. The Phils had trouble with the Braves all year till that point and they really smacked the Braves around by scoring 27 runs in 3 games to finally establish some semblance of superior play against a good opponent. Winning 3 of 4 games against the emerging Milwaukee Brewers comes a close second....they were one of the hotter teams in baseball coming into Philly and they got beat pretty good.

Low Point of May 2007:

This is easy....the events of May 23rd against the Marlins. They actually won the game 8 -7, but it didn't feel much like a win.

Myers was injured in the second game of the Marlins series in the 9th inning of a game that featured more bizarre 9th inning twists than I've ever seen. It was a non-save situation in the 9th, with the Phils up by a score of 7 - 3. The Phils brought in Brett Myers, who to that point, had an ERA of under 1 working out of the bullpen, and the game started to unravel in the strangest ways. It started with Myers giving up a couple of extremely fluky hits that were essentially popups that found open spaces. After a solid base hit by Dan Uggla, two of the biggest defensive blunders of the season took place over the course of two batters (a big one by Greg Dobbs and a worse one by Rod Barajas), and by that point, the lead was all but gone. The next batter proved to be the dingleberry on top of what was a huge excremental sundae when Brett Myers threw what turned out to be his last pitch of the night and immediately clutched at his right arm. Many Phillies fans could think of only one pitcher at that point, and that pitcher was "Tommy John" (as in, "Brett Myers would need "Tommy John" surgery and would be out for the year"). Clay Condrey came in and shutdown the Marlins to pick up the win, but it didn't feel very much like a victory. Myers went on to be put on the 15-day DL; the injury, a strained shoulder, is described as not as bad as originally feared.

This injury puts a crimp in any plans they had to to have Myers keep the bullpen together till they could ship Lieber out of town. It also hurts an already hurting bullpen, with Tom Gordon still on the shelf.

In addition, I think the defensive blunder by Rod Barajas pretty much cost him from getting any major playing time in the immediate future. Barajas, during the 9th inning debacle, had a chance to tag out a runner that was clearly going to be out at the plate and end the ballgame. Instead of getting down to block the plate, however, Barajas stood up and allowed the baserunner to slide beneath him, which he was successfully able to do. It was a brutal mistake at an awful time. Furthermore, it cast Barajas in the somewhat cowardly light of wanting to put avoidance of contact with the runner ahead of preventing the tying run. Bundle this stunt with Barajas' weak .212 average and you've got yourself a seat on the bench.