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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

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Although Gillick is still a bit of an unknown for us, he has shown himself not to be too attached to the Ric-Rods of this world. I'm fairly confident that Arthur Rhodes is not long for the bullpen if the minor-league guys can do a good job in relief. The key words which have jumped out about condrey's job yesterday and your article on sanches are control - that's what I want to see from middle relief. Also, the phrase 'unheralded' and 'steady since acquisition' is good to see - these are the guys that the Braves seem to have year on year.

Its not just that they have a stock of cheap effective, replacements in the minors - its that they know how to fit these pieces into the major league team without putting undue pressure on them.

We did a similar trick with Tejeda and Brito last year, and it would be good to see the Phils organisation continue to work in harmony.

I don't think they will miss Lieber either. It's not that hard to find someone who can give up almost a run an inning. There were a lot of people in baseball who thought signing him was a great move for the Phils, but it just hasn't worked out that way.

I think this is an excellent, albeit most likely short, opportunity for Sanches. The Scranton bullpen has pitched well this season and I would like to see some of those guys get opportunities because some of the guys the Phillies have run out there (Franklin and Santana) have been horrendous.

I know we beat up on Franklin a lot, but the guy just isn't good. Once again, 2.6 million dollars for a man who couldn't even pitch in Safeco?

Franklin could've done some good p.r. for himself had he struck out the last batter. Instead he yielded a single and needed Pat to make an athletic catch to end it for him. Franklin seems to be good for two quick outs and that's it.

Well, there you go... a new kind of relief specialist: Two Outs and Done, aka TOAD.

rhodes should be on this team way longer than ryan franklin or julio santana should. the problem with the lieber injury, as well as the hamels injury, is that it now places extra pressure on ryan madson to figure things out and leaves very little if any wiggle room to make any kind of move with gavin floyd. despite the fact that they have 9 wins between them, neither have been winning games this season. as good as madson's been the last two times out, he could only go 5 innings last game. that is not what playoff teams are made of.

In my opinion, Franklin is good for nothing, unless you like a pitcher that gives up a ton of hits with a scattering of bombs!

this team is NOT a playoff team. I would gladly eat my words come October if they prove me wrong, but they won't.

I missed the last madson game and wondered why madson was yanked after five? A double, HBP and a wild pitch don't seem to suggest a meltdown, and he did recover after those tow errors. Did he look out of gas at that point, or am I right in assuming that Manuel is being overly cautious with him?

Manuel is overly dumb!

Carson, in fairness to the Phils, if we manage four more months of 16-10 baseball like we've played in may, we should have 90 wins which should be enough for the playoffs. We're up against the braves in our divisional series, and we're currently split with the mets, but nothing in the last series against them suggested to me that we can't beat them.

I want and expect better from this team, but Gillick has june and july to change things. It's way too early to be signalling the end for this team.

I don't see why this team can't be a playoff team. look at Atlanta last year. only four guys threw 100 innings (only three 190+). horacio ramirez threw over 200 innings and posted a 4.63 ERA. no closer for almost the entire season. four position players with 450+ AB (only three over 500). other than Jones, nobody knocked in more than 78 runs. and they won 90 games and the division. yeah, I know they're The Braves and have some kind of mystical powers. but you don't have to be the Yankees or the Red Sox to win the NL East...look at the rest of our division, they're hardly any better off than we are.

I hear ya Oisin, but if it were not for the 13 out of 14 streak, the Phillies would look horrible. I like your optimism that they could be a 90 win team, and like I said, I would gladly eat my words. Just don't see it happening.

I think everyone is greatly underestimating the Mets. I hate them, but they're good and will only get better because their GM will go out and make improvements.

I've no intention of underestimating the mets - their offense is scary this year, no doubt, and their pitching is not imploding as yet. But I think we can bet them in our remaining games against them, and that gives us a chance over them.

I don't think you can ignore the 13/14 stretch and say 'if it wasn't for that' we'd be .500. We've seen two months of the Phils - an average april and a good may. The phils knew they had to play better and they did, dramatically so. If the wins had been scattered more evenly with a lot of winning series punctuated by the odd loss, I'd certainly feel more confident about predicting what this team will do. but other than that I have few complaints, and I'm certainly not predicting doom for this team.

Considering the landscape of things today, the Wild Card appears to be our best shot at the playoffs. The Mets are tough and Minaya seems pretty hellbent on continuing to make them better throughout the season (El Duque for Jorge Julio?!?!?!). We can take some slight solace in the fact that it came down to the last game of the year last year with nearly the same roster that we have this year. A few slight improvements and we should stay in the hunt. I'm not ready to blow this team up just yet. Not to mention 3 of the last 4 WS winners were all Wild Cards!!

I also question Foghorn's use of pitchers. Every box score shows the starter going only 5 or 6 innings. Next, each reliever only pitches one inning. What wears a reliver out more: pitching one inning in four consecutive games; pitching 2 innings one game, resting one game, etc.; or pitching 4 innings in one game and getting three games of rest? Is this the Uncle Charlie theory: Pitch one inning every day, to "stay sharp" and game tested?

Two things:

1) While I'm excited to see what the "young" guys can do, losing Lieber will hurt the team, for no other reason than it keeps FLoyd in the rotation. Also, since opening day, Lieber has pitched at least six innings in 8 of his 9 starts - not great innings, but he has at least kept the team in the game, kept the bullpen fresh. His ERA has stedily come down since opening day.

http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/stats/individual_player_gamebygamelog.jsp?c_id=mlb&playerID=117758&statType=2

2) CB, the Phillies are currently TWO GAMES back in the loss column for the wild card. Let's not throw in the towell yet.

Jason, I'm with you about Sanches--glad he's getting the opportunity. And I'm not altogether sorry to see Lieber shelved for a bit either... though my fear is that the spot starter will be Ryan Franklin. Maybe in Dodger Stadium he won't be quite as homerrific, but why chance it? The truth is that he's the worst pitcher on the roster, and shouldn't have a job... but at $2.6 million (!) I doubt he'll get his walking papers.

Lake Fred, the problem with Manuel's bullpen usage is that when you play close games and keep switching relievers inning after inning, the odds go way up that you're going to find the guy who "just doesn't have it tonight." This has been the problem for the last two weeks, as I detail in this piece posted on thegoodphight.com yesterday.

I do think it would be pretty neat to see Gonzalez or Mathieson get the spot start, as the phillies.com article suggests is a possibility.

I'm sorry I gave the impression that I was "throwing in the towel"...because I would love to see the Phillies make the playoffs. However, I am realistic and do not foresee this squad winning enough to make even wild card.

For the Phillies to maintain that 16-10 pace would mean going the rest of the season at a .615 clip to get to 90 wins and a final winning percentage of .563.

In this scenario, the Mets at their current .620 pace would finish with 100 wins, easily taking the NL East.

The Dodgers at their current .569 pace would finish with 92 wins, grabbing the NL Wild Card.

So two things have to happen for the Phillies to win 90 and get a play-off slot.

1. They have to play a lot better (.615 vs .520) than they have so far.

2. One or more of the teams in front of them would have to stumble. The Mets would have to stumble badly. The Dodgers, and probably two or three others that are ahead of the Phillies, would have to stumble at least a little bit.

Not saying it can't happen. Hoping it will is what keeps me watching. But it's a tall mountain to climb and gets taller with each passing day that the Phils fail to prove themselves a bona fide .600+ team.

Great post Nat!

Nice work dajafi, I agree that Manuel made mistakes in all those games.

Now, when trying to explain Manuel's ineptitude, I can link to your article rather than try to recall the horror directly.

The fact that Gordon came in in the 8th!!! the other day may indicate that Charlie is getting a clue.

Dittos to dajafi. I liked his phrase of Foghorn playing "relief pitcher roulette", spinning the wheel after each inning. It's an article well worth reading. It really burns me to see pitchers that pitch a three up, three down inning get lifted for dodo pitchers like "Home Run" Franklin!

Nat, your points are good ones, but to clarify slightly my point about the month of may. Much scorn has been poured on the phillies over the last 10 games, and the assumption by many is that these 10 games are the real phils, not the 13/14 streak, or indeed the month of may as a whole.

Right now, its too early to say, not least because we still have it within our capability to make significant changes and moves. I'm not saying this team as it stands right now is going to go 16-10 the rest of the way, and I'm not suggesting that every team's winning % for may is the predictor for the rest of the season. I am saying that as frustrating as the last 10 games have been for us as fans, may has been a pretty good month, better then april and probably an indicator of a pretty good ball club we'll be cheering in september. I don't understand why everyone is convinced that this slump is clearly an indicator that we're screwed.

the reason they seemed "screwed" to me is that this team seems to lose games the same way that teams in years past have. poor pitching, managing, and situational hitting. i'm not saying that they can't make it come october, but once again i feel i'm being realistic thinking that they're simply not good enough.

Telling that they'd bring up Sanches and not Brito. Brito had one good start last year, one that was so-so, and two that were atrocious. I don't know why people would even want to see him again unless it was an absolutely desperate emergency.

I agree with kdon that the worst part about losing Lieber is having to keep Yellow Floyd in the rotation.

The Phillies don't look like a playoff team from here, but I don't rule out that something - a key acquisition, improved performance from one or more key players - could change that perspective. They looked lost in April and then suddenly like a bonafide contender two weeks later. So another slump shouldn't completely revert our perceptions of this team's chances. Odds are probably against it, but I won't rule it out.

Brito wasn't called up right away because they wanted someone for the bullpen until Lieber's spot comes up in the rotation again, which then someone (possibly Brito) will be called upon.

Yellow Floyd. Harsh. But Fair. Arf.

It is harsh, I'll admit. He seems like a really good kid. I wish it'd work out better for him. But I don't see a lot to like about his pitching, now or for the future.

I wonder whether we could revamp Floyd for the bullpen. On his last outing I was amazed how many times he froze batters with his curve, throwing it repeatedly for an out, only to give up a homerun on one of his other pitches with the next batter. Surely there's a one inning reliever in there somewhere?

Floyd is a starter or nothing for this team. He's a bad pitcher to pitch from the stretch. He's too slow, too deliberate. I have to believe that someone with his confidence can't be called into action with a game on the line.

Part of the problem comes from pre-season optimism that hinged on having a strong start and a good April. When that didn't happen -- when, in fact, April 06 mirrored April 05 -- "this could be our year" turned into "here we go again."

Then comes the 13-1 stretch, which rekindled hope, followed by the 2-9 stretch, which doused that hope.

So which are the true Phillies? The April Phillies or the May Phillies? Unfortunately, the weight of evidence -- the 05 Phillies, the 04 Phillies, the 03 Phillies and however far back you want to go -- points to the April Phillies as closer to the norm. Plus, we saw a lot more of the April Phillies during May than we saw of the May Phillies during April.

A 13-1 string would be more impressive if it weren't sandwiched between a 10-14 and a 2-9. Just put .500 ball around that 13-1 and they'd be looking good at this point. But now .500 ball won't be good enough. They need to be the May Phillies in June, July, August and September to have any hope of playing in October. I don't think this will be accomplished by calling up more AAA guys, but who knows, they might get lucky.


Yeah, its probably a pipe dream, and I guess we're not in a position to experiment with him in the bullpen now. But that curveball is awful tantalising - if someone could beat it into his head how effective it is and how he should just have confidence with it . . . hell, maybe it's just me being blown away by actually seeing the guy pitch as apart from reading about his failures and looking at the numbers. MLB tv has skewed my perspective mightily.

Nat, we stunk far worse in april (9-13), may (15-13) and june (14-11) last year, and still managed to miss a post-season playoff by one game and finish up two behind the braves. The fact that this year we improved on a lousy april start makes me think that this team isn't as easy going and nonchalant about games early in the season.

Furthermore, whilst I'll happily look to the 2005 phillies for some guidance on where the '06 phillies may end up, this lineup is radically different from the 04 team and before because of Utley, Howard and Rowand. This team also showed considerabley more fight last year down the stretch than any phillies team that I can remember.

Finally, a key unknown in this equation is Gillick. We all got very good at predicting what wade would do, and often when he would do it (although even *he* surprised us last year by trading for Urbina as early as he did). I've no idea how Gillick is going to act, and so I'm not predicting doom and gloom for the team.

Yeah, Gillick is a key unknown. Will he pull the trigger on a big deal this summer to land a top-rank starter in a "win now" shot, even if that means giving up a key chunk of the offense (Abreu or Burrell) or a bunch of young talent? Or will he muddle through as best as he can with what's on hand, trying to sort out the organization's prospects from its suspects and hoping for the best while keeping more options open for 07?

Damned if I know, and I'm glad the decision is Gillick's and not mine. Tough call.


Maybe we'll see less of Fasano?

Losing Lieber hurts just for the fact that it means that Floyd and Madsen both stay in the rotation. I just haven't seen any upside to keeping either of them in the rotation.

Lieber may give the Phils some innings but he has been nearly as bad as Floyd this year. Lieber has as many quality starts, 3 of 10 starts, as Floyd.

Additionally, Lieber never has looked like a workout warrior but he looks a bit heavier than last season. Groin injuries can really stick with pitchers, especially older pitchers not in the best of shape.

This is a tough loss for the phillies hopefully there is some truth to the willis rumours floatin around!!!!!

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