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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

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to quote an earlier post by , well, me..."Make Us Believe"

Something has got to be done with the pitching for sure. And how about that Black Hole Member #2 hitting into 2 DP's?

Of course Lieby is having a good year so far, it's his walk year.

Why can't baseball be like football and not have guaranteed contracts?

I agree with Jason, please fix this mess Pat!!

Don't really see what Gillick can do that this point. Have to just hope the Phils get some better ptiching. I still think that Gillick should fire Manuel if Phils aren't .500 after the Mets series from May 7-9.

Hey Jason, good point. Stat something should be the team's new mantra.

Missed the game tonight...sounds like a rather good one to have missed.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the Phillies fell flat once again at home. I think their overall performance at home over the past three-plus years has been a discouraging and revealing aspect of the character of this club. Put simply, they're tighter in front of the home crowd. Championship teams have a palpable presence in home games. Teams aren't comfortable playing there. But then there's the Phillies. They don't respond well to the demands of Philadelphia fans. They seem more tentative, afraid to fail, try too hard, look and play tight. They're a far more enjoyable team to watch on the road.

Then again, there was that 12-1 homestand last year. The team got on a roll and the fans got behind them. So it is possible. There have been several relapses since, obviously, but something, some big hit or moment could change things around just as quickly on this homestand. But I agree, there is urgency here. This is a long stretch of games, mostly home games, against decidedly weaker teams. This is the easiest part of the schedule. There is no question that if the team doesn't take advantage of it, they have very long odds on making anything out of this season.

It is rapidly, if not past the point of approaching roster moves in the bullpen, even after thirteen games. Geary and Santana are liabilities, period. Practically anyone else could qualify as improvements over them. But the biggest problem with this team - its ongoing lack of confidence, or belief in itself - is far beyond Gillick's capacity to fix at this point.

They could start by firing Charlie Manuel. The new manager (just about anyone would be better) could rearrange the line-up and demand a few call-ups from Scranton. Charlie continues to make bonehead moves. I cannot stand the fact that he already had Nunez on-deck this past game and then stuck with him and knowingly bunted him with that speed burner Mike Lieberthal on first. Did he think magically Lieberthal was going to score from 2nd on a base hit if he did indeed ever made it to 2nd? I think not... And those bunt attempts from Nunez were down-right awful. That is where this game really was lost. Also, as I mentioned before, the line-up really needs adjusted. There is no way that Howard should be at #6 with Bell as his protection. Its truly amazing he is hitting .320 this year with Bell behind him. Speaking of Bell, there is no way he should be playing everyday. I don't care if its Gonzalez or Nunez who replaces him, but if a lefty is not out there, Bell should not be out there. Lieberthal also should be moved up to atleast 7th. The man's quick bat has returned, atleast so far. How bout this line-up:

Rollins
Abreu
Utley
Burrell
Howard
Lieberthal
Rowand
Bell/Nunez/Gonzalez

Everyone knows wholesale, organization-wide change is needed. But the most important thing they need - from the minors on up to the top - is to put a winner on the field in Philadelphia.

It's not too early to make changes. The Phillies set a goal to start hot, and are now almost guaranteed to do the opposite.

Like I wrote after the game, send Geary to Scranton. There's your head. Want more? Take your pick. But fans shouldn't be expected to sit back and put up with what they saw last night. They need to be held accountable, and the only person who can do anything about it, and provide some answers, is Gillick.

Weitzel, I completely agree with you that fans shouldn't have to put up with what they saw last night. The players wonder why they get booed. Well, case in point was last night's game. Poor overall effort by all. Bell once again killing the team on offense, Abreu's half-assed effort in RF, Dancy's idiotic "coaching" at 3rd, Manuel's lack of strategy, the bullpens inability to do any thing other than suck. I love the Phillies and hate them at the same time. Baseball is the best sport in the world by far, and the Phillies are my team. However, changes need to be made or the organization will continue to turn away fans, perhaps even once loyal ones.

The lineup should be
Against Lefties Against Righties
Jroll Jroll
Bobby Bobby
Chase Howard
Pat Chase
Howard Burrell
Rowand Rowand
Lieberthal Lieberthal
Bell Nunez/Gonzalez

AGainst righties, RyHo would provide protection for Chase and you would really like a guy with a 400OBp batting second (assuming Jroll can stay in the 340-360 range for obp)

Not sure I like the line-up construction based upon "pitcher handedness" arrangement. The quality portion of our line-up is already tilted heavily lefty and it really hurts us in the late innings if we are trailing or up by a small margin that the opposing manager can bring in his situational lefty for 2-3 batters in a row.

I always liked Rob Neyer's idea that more managers should deke their opponents by saying that they are starting a lefty and then, after the line-up is set, bringing in a righty. Sure, it might only work once or twice, but it could be an effective strategem.... esp. if teams deploy big line-up shifts.

I see a lot of heat here but not much light. Send Geary and Santana away and bring up...who? All these calls for Scranton guys, Geary WAS a Scranton guy and then had 60 quality IP last year in the majors. On yesterday's board someone said he threw a meatball to Church....no, sorry not every HR is a meatball. That was a pitch up near his eyes that Church did a great job of hitting...it was a good pitch. I know results are ultimately what matter, but Geary still has two good pitches and doesn;t walk many batters.

Geary and Santana are not great, and the last thing I want to do is defend them, but I think they are better options than anything else we have right now. There is nobody in Scranton ready to step in and that leaves....(cue scary music)...trading for a middle reliever. I don't think anyone wants that.

I said meatball. And that pitch was belt high, middle in (and not in a Wheels sort of way) from recollection.

How does one define quality IPs? I remember a lot of usage last year in non-pressure situations. I have nothing against Geary, for all I know he is a great guy, it's not personal, it's baseball. Results matter. He may not have cost us this game, but he certainly made the chances of a rally more difficult. Trailing 6-3 is a lot different than trailing 10-3.

One thing we may be not looking at enough is that Lidle showed some grit. He gave us 7 innings and had one of those plays in RF been made, we maybe knock a run or two off his line.

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/index.jsp?c_id=was

Okay, just watched it there, it was a tad over the belt, but still under the Nats logo. And middle in.

"they're tighter in front of the home crowd"

Yes they are, and the crowd contributes to that in a really big way.

Geary's ERA is over 11.00 and he has options left. Of course they should send him down. Meanwhile, Yoel Hernandez, who's been groomed as a back-end specialist for several years, has pitched great in AAA (1.25 ERA, seven innings, 4 saves). Going back to what I said earlier, the problem isn't the front of the Phillies bullpen. They're missing someone from the 7th inning on. Geary will never be that guy, so why not find out if Hernandez can?

Booing is not the answer. Do you really think their performance will improve by booing them? If you're disgusted, the best thing to do is not go at all. These are human beings we're talking about here. Boo them unmercifully and they will press, no doubt about it. Either get behind them through thick and thin or don't waste your money. That's the best message you can send to ownership. If they start to see 25,000 empty seats every night, maybe they'll get the message.

Hernandez looks good for the future, but only 90 IP above AA (and FWIW, he got rocked to the tune 11 hits and 7! walks in 8 IP during spring training).

Yoel's AAA #'s:
---------IP ERA WHIP
2005 55.2 3.40 1.38
2004 30.2 6.46 1.47

Geary's AAA #'s:
2005 16.2 2.70 1.02
2004 23.1 2.31 1.41
2003 87.2 2.16 0.98!
2002 100.1 3.03 1.39

Now, obviously Yoel is putting up his stats at a much younger age, but this is about who will help now. Geary has a much better track record of being able to gets both AAA and Major League hitters out than Yoel (last 3 appearences excepted).

As for changes, 3 things:
1) Fire Manuel (Varsho as interim)
2) Nunez starts at 3B against RHP
3) Lieberathal hits 7, 3B platoon hits 8.
Basta!

The rest of the lineup/bullpen should stay the same. This is the same order that absolutely raked last year down the stretch (with Rowand replacing J-Mike/K-LO). They will hit.

I have been to two games this year and both games the booing is way out of hand. Yes, thay haven't played well at home this year but the unmerciful booing is out of control. It's no fun to go to a game and listen to booing the whole time.

Folks seem to have overlooked the performance of Rhodes last night. 0-2 counts on two different batters and he grooves one for an RBI double, and then with the bases loaded, hits the other LH batter. This when it was a 1-run game.
The grand slam didn't matter after that.

You guys are a bunch of girls. I say keep booing until they MAKE US BELIEVE.

I don't understand -- on paper, the Phillies looked great this year. Not the best team in the divison (that's the Mets), but certainly as good as the Braves for second place. There is no way that my beloved Nats should be able to go into Philly and not only beat the Phillies, but BEAT them.

And, your right, we knew we were cooked when Carlos Baerga batted clean up. So how do I feel now that Daryle Ward is hitting clean up and playing right? Ask me in a month.

I agree with some others about the booing. It's an absolute joke. Last night, when Abreu misplayed the two balls, the idiots at CBP lustly booed the very best player on the team. Abreu is a Gold Glover and an All-Star for pete's sake. There's just no reason for it. No wonder the team plays tight and presses at home, the place is hostile.

I hate the losing just as much as the next person, but maybe the "faithful" should spend more time booing the opponents rather then our Phillies.

David Bell must go, play Nunez.

"Abreu is a Gold Glover" funniest thing I've seen all day.

Abreu is awesome at the plate and a deserving all-star year in and year out. However, don't be fooled by the gold glove that he was awarded. He is not a gold glove caliber fielder. He's not horrible, but he's not what his gold glove label suggests either.

Phils have only played 13 games and have just come off winning 2 series. I was at the game last night and they played poorly, but it is only one game. I don't understand the panic or the call for big change. I agree that I have seen enough of David Bell as an everyday third baseman. I don't understand signing Nunez and Gonzalez if you don't intend to play them. That is an expensive investment in utility infielders. I also don't understand the loyalty to Bill Dancy, but this should have been handled in the off season. As far as demoting Geary, waiving Santana and so forth, it is way too early to discuss this. Geary has pitched 6 1/3 innings.

We always say it's too early to make big changes, then the Phillies are once again out of the playoffs come the end of the season.

Santana doesn't have the best track record. He may turn it around, but how long are we willing to wait. Geary was good last year and is going through a tough time right now, but do we know he's going to magically turn it around? David Bell is horrific at 3rd base, how long must we suffer? That's what all this complaining boils down to...the suffering of the Phillies' fans. I am loyal, I want this team to win more than anything. But I am not going to put false hope into a team that doesn't have what it takes. Bottom line, Phillies are in trouble at the beginning of the season. Only 13 games, but you know what, these 13 games matter just as much in April as they would in September!

True, it's worth taking a deep breath, and I'm optimistic about the rest of the series. But even those of you advocating patience are listing two or more changes the Phillies should make, most of them more significant the Geoff Geary. That's what I'm talking about. That's a start.

I'm not ready to write this team off for the season, because I think Gillick will only be patient with the current roster not producing for so long. We have some really great players (Howard, Utley, Burrell, Rollins, Myers, and some other really good ones like Rowand, Gordon, Madson, and a few others). But we've heard about the infamous Black Hole and the horrible middle relief...changes will come, or the Phillies will not even be a treat for the post season come Septemeber.

Two constants on this site:

1.) David Bell stinks

2.) Everytime someone posts somethng negative and uneducated about Pat Burrell, he turns around and nails someone at second, or hits a 2-run homer.

Man, there are some real, true baseball fans here, but the Burrell bashing and microscope on Abreu's fielding baffle me.

Even if Abreu were only average in right, which I'd say he's slightly above average, he'd still be worth having for his hitting and speed.
st

Of all the personnel issues the Phillies have, the easiest to rectify would seem to be the third base coach. What is it with Dancy, anyway? Why does he make so many execrable decisions? Does he need glasses or something? Maybe the Phils need a coach for the third base coach.

If the Phillies can't even fix that problem, I don't hold much hope for anything else getting done. Besides, shuttling players back and forth to Scranton just seems like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. And subbing Nunez or Gonzalez for Bell... well, I dunno, I guess it couldn't get any worse. Could it?

On Bell, I tend to side with Manuel on playing him last night. Lidle means a lot of balls will be put in play. Bell has been pretty sharp defensively so far. But again, his numbers against RHP are what they are, as are his GIDPs.

Steve T, since I'm the only one on this site who "bashes" Burrell, I'll take exception that you would use that as a reason to preclude me from being a "real" baseball fan. I watch the games as diligently as I can from 2,500 miles away and I've been watching for over twenty years. I've done more than enough to explain the reasons for my dislike of Burrell. It's an opinion. It may not concur with yours. That doesn't make me uninformed. Consider your choice of words next time.

If you want to sit there and tell me that Burrell's six homeruns have had any kind of real impact on the outcome of any of games in which they were hit, and go on to tell me that he's a crucial force in the team's fortunes because he leads the team in homers, then I'll go so far to say you are the one who isn't watching closely enough.

Yesterday, J. Weitzel did the "bashing" only to see Adam post that he had just hit a two-run homer. So you are not the only one.
Also, I did not say anyone is inherantly uninformed. Just on that particular opinion. Which I stick by.
With all the things wrong right now, and in the past few years, the Burrell situation is not one to spend a lot of negative energy on, it seems to me.
Oh, and I am sorry to report that it seems I spend as much time watching the games as you do and have the past 20 years, for better or wrose :-) st

Sam Donnellon's column today focused on what I alluded to earlier in this post, the Phillies' (and other Philly teams') tightness at home. This is a real concern. It's something that won't go away without winning, yet the hostility is likely a factor in preventing the team from doing as well as it can.

When I go to games, I generally don't boo. I don't think I would boo Abreu. But I understand people's frustration and their need to vent it, especially as much as it costs to go to a game. You can't expect people who genuinely care about their team to just not show up. What makes a fan a fan is caring about something, not spiteful indifference. The Phillies and the people who run them have frustrated fans to no end for the vast majority of the past twenty-two years. That's a long time. Combine that with the fact that it looks to be business as usual out of the gate yet again, and it's no wonder people are looking for excuses to boil over. It isn't helping anything, true - but I don't see how there's any way around it. The fans here are going to keep it up until they get their way. And the team has no choice, other than to just deal with the negativity, but to keep trying to get it right until it produces a winner. In the minds of most fans, that can't happen with the likes of Manuel, Abreu, Bell, Lieberthal, and especially David Montgomery and his conservative corps of lifers. And they're going to boo until it not only looks different, but feels different, and is different.

As for me - and not to necessarily separate myself from any of these sentiments - I agree with the 'deep breath' notion and know that there is a long way to go on this homestand and in the season. As dead as the Phillies looked in May last year, they were able to turn it around. It can happen again.

I used the example of Burrell called out looking as an example of a cliched Phillies annoyance. This came after Dancy made a bad call, Bell grounded into a rally-killing double play, and Abreu made a gaff in the field. My point was that the game through two innings was a grab bag of cliched futility.

I also think a great majority of the boo-birds are just Eagles fans who have nothing better to do on a Tuesday night. I mean, I have heard that stinkin' Eagles chant at Jack Russel Stadium in the middle of March—interupting my peaceful Lager, hot dog and watching the Hooters girls run out to the outfield barstool! How dare them! st

"I also think a great majority of the boo-birds are just Eagles fans who have nothing better to do on a Tuesday night"

Thats just crap, I mean we are talking about the same people for the most part. We are booing based on performance/effort or lack there of. I am as patient as the next guy and I WOULDNT trade Abreau, but when u do boneheaded things you get booed. It's simple.

MAKE US BELIEVE

How many of us here have visited other cities to see games? I assume a lot of us have. My experience is that it's a totally different world out there in other baseball parks. Whether that is because of the way Philadelphians are as a whole, or because the team's play has made us this way, I just do not know.

And That Dude, wouldn't you be angry if knuckleheads doing the EAGLES chant go in your way of viewing the Hooters girls? I think you would! :-) st

Well, at least the Phillies aren't 6-10, yet.

I go to Fenway about 5-8 times a year and the fans there boo just as much (they even booed Schilling last year only tne months after the immortal sock!)

BUT, Boston fans are way more supportive of the team and can distinguish between hustle and talent...Manny is the most lacadazical player in the game (he makes Abreu look like Rex Hudler) but its clear he cares about the team (like Abreu). The fans recognize this and generally don't boo him.

Now, I've only been to Fenway since the begining of the Epstein era and apparently things used to be worse when the team had an ownsership not commited to winning and an inept GM (sound familiar).

Fans in the Midwest and West Coast generally don't boo as a rule and just show up to drink and socialize (see Cubs, Chicago and Dodgers, LA) or resemble college fans (Cardinals).

From what I can tell, the combiantion of poor ownership + East Coast mentality = booing.

"BUT, Boston fans are way more supportive of the team and can distinguish between hustle and talent...Manny is the most lacadazical player in the game (he makes Abreu look like Rex Hudler) but its clear he cares about the team (like Abreu)."


Take the 04 WS win away and they wouldve run him out of town. TRUST ME.

Phantom poster, that's what I mean...I don't think the fans in Boston have mellowed because Epstein is a warm and fuzzy guy, but becuase he produced a winner.

You can't compare Fenway and Boston, or New York, or anywhere except perhaps Chicago or Cleveland, to the context of being a Philadelphia fan. The Red Sox have had a *consistently* competive team for years, most often a winning team. They even had their championship. There is not going to be the latent impatience built up from years of futility there. The harshness in Philly is not, as Mike Schmidt once suggested, "something in the cheesesteaks". It is due to generations of disappointment experienced among a deeply rooted and passionate region of people. No one from other cities has a right to condemn or scoff at the attitude of Philadelphia fans unless they've lived there and felt what it's like to be disappointed, undermined, and at times even betrayed - not as the exception, but the rule.

Fans in every city seem to carry stigmas and stereotypes and Philly fans are not the least among them. However, I have been to many games around the Midwest and and I can assure you that while Cubs fans do like to drink and socialize, it's not a matter of "just." Hell, one of the great outbursts of all times against fan negativity is the famed Lee Elia rant on Cubs fans.

Likewise, in St. Louis, Cardinal fans do indeed boo players, both past and present, including most recently Isringhausen and Encarnacion. Quite a bit of discussion about it on Cardinal blogs, much along the lines of what's been posted here. Pujols publicly spoke out against the booing and in support of the targets of the Redbird boo-birds.

It's been a few years since I've seen a game in KC, but back in the day when they were good, yeah, you could say that was a fully supportive hometown crowd. Nowadays, if ever there were a bunch of fans who should be booing, it's the ones in KC, but I don't know how they are reacting to the current state of baseball there.

Of all the flaws/problems this team has, Pat Burrell's bat has to be just about at the bottom, if not at the absolute bottom, of the list. I don't care how many games you've watched over the years, if you don't get that, then you don't understand what you're watching. Over 162 games last year, he hit .281/.389/.504 with 32 HR and 117 RBI. Period. Those are great numbers. Period. It is IMPOSSIBLE that none of those homers and none of those RBI "had any kind of real impact on the outcome of any of games in which they were hit." So, please, there are enough problems we can discuss about this team without wasting our time on that.

As for Abreu's fielding, I'm not at all sure that it is a hustle issue; I just think he's really bad at it. He gets a horrible, horrible jump on the ball, judges the ball terribly, and takes horrible routes to the ball. As a result, he has to end up pulling up on a lot of balls because he's just not going to get there. He's like Roger Cedeno: a super fast guy who you would think could cover a ton of ground, but because he's terrible at judging the ball, he never is able to utilize that speed to good effect. In any event, his bat more than makes up for any/all of his shortcomings in the field.

I happen to work for a Yankees fan, and of course this guys claims they are THE classiest, most knowledgable etc while Philly fans are dogs, etc. You've heard it all before.
Though I admit I am embarrassed by Philly fans more often than not, when someone else busts on them, I stick up for them. It's kind of like having a stepmom, i guess.

See, Rick Shu Blues, it's not just me :-) (and no, that's not posting under another name.)

Kuff, I'm not saying Burrell is really a problem for the team. I am saying that he's not as good as those numbers indicate. He had plenty of important hits last year, but he also failed with great frequency in crucial situations. What I've seen this season has continiued that trend, although I wouldn't say he's had any particularly meaningful hits this year so far. What I attempt to point out is that Burrell is a guy whose reputation is inflated by numbers; he is not a go-to guy, he is not a guy I want to see come to the plate with the game on the line.

I guess I'm as tired of defending my take on Burrell as much as everyone else be of reading it, but I felt compelled to respond to that borderline attack. Again, these are only opinions here. All I'll continue to say is, if you watch the games, keep an eye on what Burrell does with runners on in crucial spots, and what he does when leading off an inning, coming up with the bases empty, or hitting when the margin of difference in the score is 3 runs or better. And tell me you aren't watching a different player.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. He hits a 2-run HR in the 4th last night to close the game to 4-3. That's a big hit. Just because the bullpen stank to high heaven and let the Nats put up 6 runs in the 8th and 9th to make the final 10-3 does not mean that Burrell's HR was meaningless at the time it was hit.

Considering that this franchise has a grand total of ONE World Championship in over 125 years, I think that us frustrated fans are entitled to boo whomever we desire!!

That having been said the only two that I boo down there are Bell and Lieberthal.

Let's see what the kid does tonight.

I don't get the anti-Burell rhetoric. Remember this is the guy who made his name with big time HRs off Benitez and the Mets.
Also, I'd say his 2-run blast last night was pretty meaningful at the time.

FWIW, here are some "Clutch" numbers on Burrell and a sample of other notable players ("Clutch is a Bill James formula that factors in AVG. w/RISP, HR w/ men on, etc.) Obviously, positive #'s are better.

2006 -4.7
2005 7
2004 -3.4

For comparisons sake...

Abreu

06 2.5
05 4.9
04 2.8

Utley

06 .3
05 1.9
04 0

Pujols

06 2.6
05 .9
04 .8

A-Rod

06 .4
05 -8.8
04 -5.3

Jeter

06 1
05 -10.3 !!!
04 -5.9

Renteria (included b/c every announcer says he is clutch)

06 .8
05 2.9
04 -.2

Also, Lieberthal's suctastic performance in 2004 merited a -13.4!!! From what I can tell from this quick survey, Burrell has indeed stuggled this year and in 04 but that his 05 season was VERY "clutch", and that his raw numbers indicate a pretty damn good hitter in any situation.

The formula is here:
http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/statpages/glossary/

So according to that listing, Abreu is the clutchiest of the bunch over the past three years. Clutchier than Pujols. Clutchier than A-Rod and Jeter. Clutchier than Chase Clutchley, even.

I'm not saying that it's wrong or anything, just... interesting.

actually that was me posting anon, I forgot to put my name in.

"idiots at CBP" - well said WsetReading. The tenth man is the single most significant dysfunction for this team.

And...TheRagTopGuy...of course you are "entitled" to boo. But that doesn't mean it is a good idea. We are all "entitled" to do lots of really dumb things.

I don't get the Burrell bashing. You mean to tell me all 30+ HR's and 117 RBI's were when the Phils were up 10-0 or losing 10-0? Please. Not to mention he plays a great LF considering his size/speed and has an above-average arm. The guy mashes.

I'm all for booing someone for lack of effort but when Lieby comes up for his first AB and he's hitting .350 and gets booed it's rediculous.

A couple of years ago I'm watching the Phils play the D'Backs in Phoenix. There are three guys sitting behind me. They are booing and cursing Burrell and Lieberthal, and anything else that piques them, pouring minis in their beer, and harrassing the guy sitting next to me: he asked them to clean up their language because his six year old daughter was with him. Inning by inning they get worse and worse. The guy and his daughter leave in the fifth. Other people get up and move away. It all feels familiar to me. One of them asks, "What's wrong with these sissie Diamondbacks' fans?"

Then they argue about who was the Phillie who homered from each side of the plate in the same game. I know the answer -- Steve Jeltz -- and that was the certain tip-off. The three were visiting from Philly.

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