Plenty to talk about following last night’s twin killing. Let’s get to it.
The closest thing to a morning edition in the Phillies’ blogosphere is Tom Goodman’s Swing and a Miss, which has an excellent, detailed summary of last night’s double-header.
Goodman praises Pat Gillick for the addition of Jeff Conine, who "never appears to get too high or low and always plays under controlled intensity ... At 40 years of age the fire still burns within."
Goodman also points out that the entire outfield has changed since opening day, or most of the season for that matter. That includes the addition of Shane Victorino, who has earned the right to keep a starting job, in center or in a corner.
--- Victorino isn’t the only player making a name for himself as a possible part of the Phillies’ future. Since his latest call-up, catcher Carlos Ruiz is starting to look more comfortable at the plate and behind it, working with fickle starter Jon Lieber last night.
Offensively, Chooch is hitting the ball hard and finished 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs. He’s accomplished all he can in the minors, and at this stage, is likely to stick, either in Philadelphia or elsewhere in the Majors. Officials from around baseball have inquired about his availability. From a Sept. 1 article in the Daily News:
" '... Ruiz, 27, has a strong arm, pretty good catching skills and a .304 batting average with 25 homers and 109 RBI in two full seasons at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Phillies seem uninterested in trading Ruiz, since he and 33-year-old rookie Chris Coste might be their best options for next season.
" 'Unless we do something to get a top-of-the-line guy, which is doubtful," said assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle.
" Veteran Mike Lieberthal, 34, is fighting through his third injury of the season, a nagging back issue suffered Aug. 9 that cost him three games last weekend. He already has missed 9 weeks with knee and hip injuries, and he is a free agent after the season.
"Which means that Ruiz is the starter next season, right?
" 'I think he’s a contending candidate," Arbuckle said. "I don’t think it’s an absolute lock.' "
I’m not the only one who noticed Ruiz’s demeanor with the pitchers last night, particularly in the ninth inning working with Ryan Madson. "I even like how he goes out to the mound and puts his hands on the pitcher," Goodman commented this morning. "He wants them to trust him."
--- Name the best National League middle reliever, according to Hardball Times Win Shares. That's right, it's Geoff Geary, who earns Beerleaguer's vote for unsung Phillies hero of the 2006 season.
Geary's nine Win Shares place him ahead of several higher-profile middle relievers who were bantered around as possible Phillies acquisitions in the offseason, including Bradon Looper, Dan Wheeler, Chad Qualls, Bob Howry, Soloman Torres and Duaner Sanchez, who's out with injury. Overall, he trails only Takashi Saito, Billy Wagner and Trevor Hoffman, all closers.
Since Aug. 8, Geary, the team leader in vuture wins with 7, has surrendered just one run and no homers since Aug. 7. On the season, he's 7-1 with a 2.95 ERA and trails only Torres of Pittsburgh with 82 2-3 relief innings. Geary has been a true horse.