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Thursday, August 31, 2006

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EXCELLENT post. Nothing more to it than that, really.

Excellent summary of the last 2 years. Jason, this site has become one of my absolute favorites and I love to reading the rants of the regulars like Lake Fred, Rickschublues, etc... Hopefully the Phils can finish off this season with a WC birth (at least), and we'll continue to follow along on Beerleaguer.

I have to agree with the good doctor, Jason. I think your site has become the preeminent Phillies site for excellent writing, timely info, and lively discussion. Keep up the good work -- hopefully well into October!!

Great post. Excellent summary. I had forgotten a lot of last year's stuff.

Just like after the President addresses the nation, the Democrats trot out their rebuttal speech. Have you allotted equal space for Clout to rebut and argue that 2005 was great and 2006 is a barely .500 team that traded away the store for a handful of magic beans?

Jason, I agree that this season has been more interesting than last--dizzying highs, terrifying lows, and creamy middles. I think that for better or worse, for good reason or not, people had gotten bored with the old core. Disappointment no doubt played a part, but so did the oft-quoted functional definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result.

We knew the firing of Wade represented some kind of shift, but to me the jury is out on just how much. From a guy who seemed like a weak GM bullied into an old-school baseball outlook, we now have a team architect who's unapologetically old-school. He likes athletic types (CJ Henry), and he evidently buys into all the non-quantifiable stuff (veteran/playoff experience) that drives so many of us crazy.

Is it working? Obviously, the jury is still out; we'll know in a month or so. Overall, I think it's tough to argue that the current roster is as talented as what Gillick inherited last November. But the mix might be better, and--vital from a fan standpoint--the team is more fun with Howard, Hamels and Utley in the forefront.

What's exciting to me longer-term, though, is the stable of home-grown pitching talent we're starting to amass. Hamels is the biggest name, but by my estimate the Phils now have a half-dozen other guys in the top four levels of the system that project to be league-average or better starting pitchers. That's pretty darn good.

This season has been exciting primarily because of Hamles/Howard/Utley. You may undervalue last year's September however, which because of the pennant race and J-Roll's streak was pretty damn fun.

Also, you can't really make the comparison yet...if the PHillies fall one game shot again, that might change things...all in all however, this year has been fun.

If the Philles fall one game shy of playoff baseball, I think this season can be considered an amazing success. Two months ago if someone told me that the Phils would make it interesting and come up a game shy, I would have called them nuts. As exciting as this year has been, this team is obviously building for the future (using a different model than those in the past) and anything they can salvage out of this year is just a bonus!!

It should also be pointed out that this year's team would not be nearly as exciting if the NL wasn't absolutely awful. Last year's team, or for that matter, the '04, '03, and '01 teams, would have won this race by three games.

This is not to be negative, just to point out a fairly obvious point about the reason for all the excitement this year.

Also, WP, perspective matters...if someone had told you *at the start of the year* the PHils would fall one game short, you would probably have been dissapointed, especially considering that that this year would see the first full year from both Utley and Howard.

Lake Fred: There's nothing to rebut. Jason's criteria are totally different than mine. He's not dumb enough to say this team is better than last year's. What he said was this team is more interesting and more fun to write about. I fully agree. It's fresher and younger too.

Whether this team is better or not, remains to be seen. If they match last year's, which went to the final day of ther season and fell one game short of the Wild Card (yes, that actually happened despite what you read on this site) then we'd have to rate them equal, if not in won-lost, at least in finish. If this team winds up eliminated sooner than that, then logic tells you it was not as good as last year's team.

This post sums it all up perfectly. The only things I hope we're debating this time next year are which team the Phils will get in the wild card round and whether they should revamp their uniforms to look like the old school Philadelphia A's, which would be sweet.

The NL is definitely worse this year. What strikes me as odd about this year are these last 32 games against teams that are sub-par. We played all of our games against the League leading Mets, but only have played 9 against the fish? Played both series against the cards and reds to completion, but still had all the games against the astros and lowly cubs?

If the phils finish 20-10 (win every series) they'll finish the season 87-75, one game off of last years mark, and two shy of last year's wild card winner's record.

It's just an interesting schedule the last 5 weeks. Sprinkle in a Mets, Cards and Dodgers series and put a fish, astros and cubs series earlier in the season and the phils could have at least 4 more in the win column.

Some interesting comments above.

Clout, I agree with your last post.

Will, I enjoyed your good look at the schedule.

Dajafi, I liked your take on things.

Doctor, thanks for the compliment that you love reading the rants of the regulars. Do I really rant? I thought I generally try to be postive, satirical or humorous in my posts. I, too, enjoy the regulars, like Willard and Kdon. RSB said he's not regularly connected. Sounds like he moved. I wonder where to?

The schedule gods went weird on the Phils this year... First was the early season huge homestands, and now we have barely any games at home, and very few games with in-conference opponents.

This season has been quite a ride so far, and hopefully they can pull out the cinderella ending.

All I know is, I can't wait for September 4th. Labor Day, Dollar Dog Day, and... Clemens vs. Hamels.

The grading scale for PG is the same as it was for Fast Eddie: win the division, A; win the wild card, B-; home in October, F. Everything else is just noise.

Fred, I'm now in Portland, OR. And my computer was connected this morning, so I'm back for good.

This season has felt a lot like last year to me: agonizingly slow start, teaser of a hot two-week stretch, relapse into frustrating mediocrity, sudden sense of urgency come August. The difference is I think this year's team makes it in. I don't think this team loses six, even four to the Astros. There's all kinds of incentive for this team to show it's a distinct unit from the one that lost to Florida and Houston. This is a different Phillies team now, and it's a different Marlins team. They will soon be upon this final frontier of proving ground, and they have the looks of a team that is going to come through for Philadelphia (and beyond).

I cannot believe or comprehend how the bullpen is getting by without Gordon. There still has not been one game blown in the late innings since he was shelved. It's this kind of thing that has me thinking it might just be for real. I know I've displayed skepticism as to the Phillies' chances even in the recent past, but when your team is a half-game out of a playoff spot on August 31, you'd have to be considered a nattering nabob of negativism to stick with that line of thinking.

RSB, Portland, Oregon!? Back when I was a boy, I think the Phillies Triple A club was in Eugene, OR..or I could be completely wrong.

I got to thinking more about Will's schedule comment and Joe's follow-up. The NFL gives the weak teams an easier schedule than the better teams to give the illusion of parity. MLB can't do that but they could give the weaker teams easier schedules earlier in the seasons, to lull the fans into thinking their bad teams are good. That'll cause tighter races longer through the season. Then they could have the weak teams play the good teams in Sept. If the good teams play to form, then they'll be considered hot, going into the playoffs.

I also think they ought to scale back or eliminate the interleague games. We need the NL teams to play the NL out of division teams more than rarely like the 6 games we have with the Cubs this year.

Not to beat a dead horse since we're all Phans, but sure the weaker NL has played a bit of a factor in the Phils being where they are right now (although I'll still argue that they'd be at least another 2 or 3 back in a best-case scenario WITH Abreu). However, if I were to dismantle MLB today and build from scratch with a 5-10 year plan, the vast majority of the young players I'd take would come out of the National League East. You could argue that the best infielders in baseball sit between the Mets (3B and SS) and Phils (2B and 1B - I know, I know, don't forget about Pujols).

As "weak" as the NL is this year and as badly as they were beaten in interleague play, if they can hold onto their players (a huge IF), the worm will have turned 5 years from now.

Willard: Abreu's OPS of .953 has got to be killing the Yankees so you're surely right that the Phils would be way behind had they kept him. I don't watch the AL much, but how far are the Yanks behind Boston now that they're stuck with Abreu?

nothing quite like a Phillies Phan's rant!

I'm sure his Win Shares have jumped up pretty noticeably since his departure as well. And if it meant the same kind of kick in the pants to the Phils, I'd love to see Pat the Bat back to his old form in another uni, as well.

I agree that this team has been interestig to follow this year due to different story lines; however, I think KDon, Clout, and a few others have a very valid point about the poor-level of competition in the NL this year.

If the Phils were in the AL, they would be 11 games back in the Wild Card. Basically season would be over at this point. The only real worthwhile stories would be Hamels' continued development & Howard's chase for an MVP.

Yeh, you right, Clout. Boston has rolled over and laid a big stinker in the league, being swept five games at home by the hated Yankees, then Big Papi checks into the hospital and they get swept in Oakland and the big former Phillies Ace Schilling hasn't won a game since Aug. 4th. I really don't attribute the Yankees success to Abreu, I more lean to the "Boston dogged it big time" theory.

It will be real interesting to see the Yanks lineup in Oct. I have been really impressed since they got Abreu. If Matsui comes back to form, the Yanks' lineup might be one of the best lineups in Oct. in the past 20 years.

I have to give much credit to the Beerleaguer posters. We're not commenting about the Triple A call ups and demotions post. No, we're still here in this post, duking it out on the 2005 vs. 2006 post jousting about Abreu, the Yankees, the AL vs. NL, the Red Sox, schedules, and other such rants.

Lake Fred, we're Philly fans!!! What did you expect, optomism?

The Yankees were supposed to have that kind of postseason lineup for several seasons. Then they ran into a buzzsaw. I'd worry about a team like Minnesota. That's a must-watch series this weekend, but the Twins pitching is a little hurt. If they can get Liriano back healthy, and they slip in as the Wild Card, that's trouble.

Another comment on interleague play. I checked the records of the WC contenders in interleague play. The worst record belongs to the Phillies, who lost 8 more than they won. The Braves lost 5 more than they won. The Astros lost 4 more than they won. The Reds lost 3 more than they won. The Padres only lost 1 more than they won. The durn Fish split their interleague, playing .500 ball against the feared AL. If I was the commish, I'd abolish this practice.

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