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Friday, September 29, 2006

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With the 2006 season marking the third highest attendance in Phillies history, I'm guessing that the front office feels that Version 1.1 isn't worth the upgrade!

It is going to be an emotional series (at least at first) in Miami. The Phils feel wronged and may be pressing, where the fish are just playing it out for their lame duck manager. It sounds like they want revenge, too. At least if we're going out, it should be an entertaining end to the season.

Blackmail hits the nail on the head, too. "Version 2.0, still in develoment" may have just as many bugs, as long as the seats are full and revenues are flowing. The product just has to be good enough to put butts in seats and keep the sales numbers on the uptick.

I'm not sure about 2.0. Unless the front office uses the Abreu savings (and the money "earned" from this late season run) to sign someone like ARamis Ramirez, this team is going to have some flaws in the lineup. 1B, 2B, and SS are set, but if the rest of the lineup is Vic, Rowand, Coste, Nunez and Burrell/Conine/Delluci, there may be problems. Both Vic and Rowand are valuable CF but not corner outfielders. Burrell may be hurt, Dellucci is simply a terrible, terrible defensive outfielder, and Conine is (despite his mythic reputation on this board) a below average player who will be 41.

After the excitement of this season runs out (which I hope is sometime in late October!), we may be looking at a team with some excellent building blocks, but also a lot of dead (and expensive) weight.

Oh, and the manager? Were the Phils to make the playoffs, he would be so exposed in the national spotlight, it would be embarrasing.

Oh well, we'll have six months to talk about next year, lets hope the Giants step up against their rivals and the Phillies sweep!

Nevermind that last line guys. Too vague on my part. Next year would be 2007 Version 1.0. I meant 2.0 as the postseason version for this team, the one with no pressure on it. I'm not even considering next season.

Like the Phils, I've come up small in a clutch September post.

I think that the misunderstanding belies our pessimism, or vice versa.

Weitzel- it's all good, it's tough blogging under these conditions. Phillies have left our minds in disarray.

What would you think about giving Bourn a shot in the outfield next year, perhaps in right field? This would give them the possibility to drop free swinging Victorino in the order, or to utilize Rollins' power better.

It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Burrell will be gone next year, but I don't think they'll be able to move his contract. And as bad as he's looked in clutch situations this year, you can do a lot worse than a 30 HR - .250 AVG 6th hitter.

If I'm Pat Gillick, I'm trying to get Aramis Ramirez at any cost. Ramirez would be a perfect righthanded bat to protect Howard. The Phillies should have the payroll flexibility to pay for him, as the only big expense is having to pay Utley arbitration. A team consisting of Howard-Utley-Rollins-Ramirez in the infield, Burrell-Victorino-Bourn in the outfield, Coste and Ruiz behind the plate, and Myers, Hamels, Moyer, and Lieber in the rotation would be a big improvement over this team, and wouldn't cost much more money. Thoughts?

Bourn in RF? he barely has the OPS to play CF, even assuming he manages to figure out how to hit ML pitching (and how to slide into second). this season, he had all of 28 extra base hits in 118 AA/AAA games (10 doubles, 13 triples, 5 HR).

The number one priority in the offseason needs to be getting rid of Manuel.

Unless the Phillies make major acquisitions (which they won't), they are going to once again be an 85 win team. The only way to push this team above the 90 win mark is through a real manager.

The kind of manager that would have been using Fabio Castro in mop up duty over the last 2 months.

The kind of manager that would see Howard is getting nothing to hit, and putting Utley behind him.

The kind of manager that would understand Author Rhodes is not the same player circa 1998, and use him appropriately.

The kind of manager that would have been playing Chris Coste at 3rd for the last two months.

agreed, Bourn needs at least another half-year in AAA

i kind of like the idea of a rowand-victorino-bourn outfield for defense and speed, but that puts a TON of pressure on the infield for offense, and we'd need an incredible upgrade in pitching.

but: w/ such a small park, i'm not sure we need all that speed and defense in the outfield. if burrell could hit like he's supposed to, no one would care about his speed.

oh, and rollins is supremely overrated. i would totally approve of a trade if we got a capable defensive replacement. the bloggosphere hammered him for most of the year b/c of his downright crappy OBP, but it seems all is forgiven now that he's collected 25 homers.

Manuel wouldn't have had to use Castro had he managed his bullpen correctly the whole year.

Putting Utley behind Howard I think is retarded. They just need more people who can hit is all. Howard - Utley or Utley Howard.... either way you have two guys who can hit and then a void.

The Rhode Show was extremely depressing all year.

Coste is a good catcher, leave him there.

You missed my biggest flaw with Manuel: Bad Aprils. In 2005 they finished with winning records in every month except April when they went 10-14. Knowing this, Charlie prepared his team in 2006 Spring Training to come out of the gate strong....oh wait, no, they went 10-14, again. Fact of the matter is that April wins matter and for 2 seasons Charlie has failed to prepare the team for opening the season.

Rollins isn't overrated but he needs to learn to kick it into gear sooner in the season, or we need to get a manager to bat him lower in the line-up (behind Howard) until he lights up.

Geary hurting - From MLB.com:

His 2.51 ERA for September suggests that the extra work hasn't affected him too much. He gave up the tying run in that 10th inning but struck out Alfonso Soriano to keep the game tied.

"Don't get me wrong, my arm feels like it's going to fall off," Geary said, glancing at his right shoulder, which was wrapped in ice. "But when the [bullpen] phone rings, I don't feel anything."

Geary's 89 1/3 innings of relief rank him second in the National League behind Pittsburgh's Salomon Torres, and his 80 games are ranked sixth.

Utley behind Howard is a bad long term move, but it should have been happening these last two weeks. We might find ourselves still in the wildcard race had it happened..

Pitching, boys, pitching, pitching, pitching. They cannot go into next season with a pitching staff as presently constituted.

P.S. An OF of Burrell-Victorino-Bourn would be the worst in the major leagues. Hands down.

Unfortunately, we have not gotten to see how close Bourn is to being major-league ready, he has scarcely played. I believe Rowand will be back and Bourn will start next season back in the minors.

The Marlins are going to be even more up for the Phils than were the Nationals. The Phillies may barely have enough left in them to win one of the games this weekend.

As I asserted on last night's thread, the outcome of this latest failed playoff run is not good enough for me. It is assumed the Phillies have overachieved because of what they've done since the trade deadline. I'm pointing my perspective a little further back, to the beginning of the season. Considering that there have been no major injuries (besides Rowand), would any of us have considered an 85-win, playoff-less season an 'overachievement' at that point in time? We would instead have been downright disgusted, to a man. That's what I feel today. I feel like absolutely nothing has been gained from the 2006 season. If they seem a step closer, I have to ask, a step closer than what? Last year they finished a game out of the wild-card, fighting desperately from a consistent 1 to 2 game deficit all September, and came up short. And here we are again. You cannot term the treading of water a success, and you cannot say that just because they made a valiant last-ditch effort that the season was salvaged. These Phillies could have done better. They could have done better in April, they could have done better in June, and they could have done better in September. They are, once again, a profound disappointment to the city of Philadelphia.

Lieber didn't pitch great last night but he gave his chance a team to win. That's what he needed to do. I don't care if Phils had vintage Steve Carlton out there last night, they would have a problem winning a game by scoring a single run.

This team just didn't play with moxie when it counted this week. You can't lose 3 of 4 to a terrible Nats team. I don't care about how fellow posters will comment on how this was a great run. This team lost when it counted. Period. Different team and year, but same end result for the Phils.

Basically, if this organization is serious about every being a contender again, they need to count on winning 90+ games. Winning 85 or 87 games will keep you competitive and draw fans to the ballpark, but it won't get you to the playoffs unless you truly have a fluky year.

As this team is currently constituted, they don't have the pitching or depth to win 90 games. Besides being a giant tease again this season, the worst thing this late season run did was increase the number of season ticket sales for next year. Now that the Phils' owners have the money in their pockets, they aren't going to have to be aggressive in the offseason.

Anybody who thinks the caliber of a starting pitcher (e.g., Zito) or a positional player (e.g., A. Ramirez) is coming to Philly next year is delusional. The Phils just aren't going to throw that kind of money out there.

Instead, Gillick is going to have to hit on nearly every one of his offseason moves this year. No more bringing players he had ties to (e.g., Gonzalez) or worthless scrubs (e.g., Fasano).

Manuel HAS TO GO, no matter what. There can be no argument there. here's the rub, if he goes, they need someone with credibility, like a Pinella type. The entire coaching staff just needs to go.

After reading the comments from Olsen and Tankersley, if the Phils are mathematically out of it tomorrow, I will be very disappointed if they don't get after Olsen. The Phils light him up and he plunks Nunez, then mouths off about his dislike for the Phils. Bean him when he hits or go to the mound if he hits one of ours. They'd have nothing at all to lose at this point.

Go Giants!
Go Phillies!

RSB: I wrote words similar to these on this very site before the season began: "There is no way this team with this rotation can make the playoffs."

So for me, this result is not at all suprising. What IS surprising is how well the pitching did in the second half of the season.

This wasn't a playoff team at the season's start, was CERTAINLY not a playoff team after they dumped Abreu and is not a playoff team now. It is a scrappy bunch of overachievers who have big holes to fill in the OF, 3B, C and the bullpen. They also need at least one starting pitcher to either replace Wolf if he doesn't re-sign or to have in reserve in case of injury.

Setup man and closer are real concerns for next season. Flash started breaking down midway though the season. His stuff looks horrible. What good is that?

Is there are single relief pitcher who should be kept in his current role next year? Geary, for sure, if his arm hasn't been destroyed. Maybe Matt Smith as lefty middle reliever. But that's it.

It might have been nice to see what Castro and Condrey could do with a little more time to prove themselves, so now the GM might be inclined to go fish again. Gillick did a pretty bad job assembling his bullpen. They lucked out with Geary and White, but that's about it. Booker, Rodriguez, Santana, Franklin, Rhodes were total misses.

This is a problem with the farm system too. Why can't they develop relief pitching, and why does it take so long to identify whether pitchers are cut out to be starters or relievers? For example, why did Eude Brito spend the entire season as a starter with AAA Scranton? Everyone knows he's not an MLB starter. They're going to do the same thing with Mathieson once he returns - starter or bust.

Certainly I didn't think the Phils were guaranteed to win the division, or even to win the wild-card, but as many did, I sensed that this was a contending team with as good a shot as anyone else to make the postseason. My feeling is that they miss out year after year not because they are not talented enough, but because they don't know how to capitalize on whatever advantages they get. When they play at home, they are a .500 team. When they get runners on, they strand them with horrendous frequency. When they get a break in the schedule down the stretch, they can't seize the opportunity.

Interpretations of why the Phils fall short of the mark will continue to be varied, and certainly I am not discounting the many flaws this team has had throughout the season, including the shortcomings of the rotation early and the bullpen late. I just know that when it comes down to it in the end, the Phillies always manage to put themselves in position for the prize, and then shrink from moving one more step forward and actually taking it. When the same outcome transpires over so many Septembers, you begin to feel that despite the different personnel and the different flaws of each individual team, that the problem is sheerly epidemic.

Actually, Jason, Brito probably isn't an MLB reliever, either. "Developing" relievers is usually a matter of deciding some young fireballer in A ball isn't going to cut it as a starter and propelling him up the ladder while he's still young. That's how the Angels keep doing it.

RSB, I have to agree with Clout: They're precisely where I expected them to be back at the beginning of the season. They took a much different route there than I thought they would, especially the surge after the surrender trade of Abreu, but I can't say I'm surprised, or particularly disappointed.

All those who think the pitching improved in a vacuum recently, check again. I don't have a month-by-month breakdown of pitching performance, but it's significantly better after the All Star break -- in other words, after Nunez took over full-time at 3B. Staff ERA was 4.82 in the first half, 4.44 after the break, and WHIP also improved once someone started catching the ball on that side of the infield. I've never seen Coste at 3B, but my guess is he doesn't have Nunez' range and therefore wouldn't be much of an upgrade over Bell. If I can find the monthly splits -- or have time to do the work by hand -- I'll update this. But the point is that, pitching in a bandbox, extra baserunners must be avoided, so that the HRs that are hit don't come with so many men on base.

Well, if you think the Phillies always choke down the stretch, and yet you know that personnel has not been a constant with the exception of Rollins, Burrell, Lieberthal, and Randy Wolf, then maybe you have to blame our managers. Bowa wasn't great and Manuel sure isn't either.

Neither manager you mention has made any difference to the fortunes of this team. The Phillies are still as hopelessly stuck as the day two years ago when Bowa cleaned out his office. It's time for the Phillies to realize that Manuel hasn't gotten this team any closer to getting over the hump. Very few managers have the ability to have a positive effect (much less a negative one) on a team, but if I were Pat Gillick, I would intend to keep trying until I found one.

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