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Saturday, August 11, 2007

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Increasingly appreciative home crowd?

Well I sure heard a lot of boos directed at Charlie Manuel so I am assuming you were speaking strictly about the players?

All I keep reading and hearing lately is how hard the team plays. That's pretty special, and well-deserved. They're playing their asses off.

It truly is amazing. In forty-plus years of watching this game I've never seen such a patchwork quilt of a team play such inspired ball. Just imagine where they'd be if they had a manager.

Pat Burrell's resurgence might be the best story of the season. He's on fire. He's smashing bats, he's kicking up divots, he's looking to drive the ball ...

I was actually MORE moved by Pat carrying out one of The Vukovich's triplets.. It's nice to see a tender side of a supposed "skirt-chaser"..

while most of us can't claim to have been continuous supporters of pat this season (or last season), nobody ever wanted to see the guy fail. he's easily been one of the most frustrating players to follow the last few years. and, well, it's great to see that pat's fans and supporters no longer need to dig deep into a statistical toolbox to prove that he belongs. anyone who has been watching has seen a newly determined and inspired player for the last 30 games or so.

bathtub: "Nobody wanted to see him fail." That's totally false, as anyone who reads Beerleague can attest, but I agree with your sentiments.

JW: I totally agree. We can nit-pick about individual at bats, pitches or plays in the field, but at no time this year did I ever feel the team wasn't giving their best effort. Somehow they have managed to keep things together as key pieces have dropped left and right throughout the year. Dobbs, played his best when Howard was out. Alfonseca and Madson kept the bullpen together sans Gordon and Myers. Kendrick stepped up and to some degree Durbin when starters were in short supply. Iguchi steps in for Utley. Werth does a credible and unexpeted job filling in for Victorino/Bourn, heck even Roberson threw in a 4 for 4 in Chicago.

I know the word "team" is overused in sports, but this group has been proving all year that they are a team. They have a chemistry and really seem to like each other. It's easy to say, "it's all about the team", but these guys are showing they've taken it to heart and as unpopular as this might be, Manuel does deserve some credit keeping them together as a team.

They may end up disappointing again at the end of the season, but speaking for me, this will be one of my all-time favorite Phillies Teams.

It's early on a Saturday and I haven't had my first cup of coffee yet, so here I go talkin' crazy again, but MichaelZ, really?

Lay off Uncle Cholly, would ya? Sure, he's made some decisions that I question, but he's a baseball manager, not a tarot-card-reading psychic. Baseball is an unpredictable game and we here at BL have the distinct advantage of something called hindsight, which means poor ole' Uncle Cholly gets bashed on here for whatever he does or does not do. It's high time, however, that somebody gave credit where credit is due and we recognized that good ole' Uncle Cholly does a real fine job at gettin' them boys to play. "Inspired baseball," as you all are calling it, is a product of many parts, foremost among them being an "inspiring manager." Managers ultimately don't make the plays on the field. Their biggest challenge is to keep whatever players they may have at their disposal prepared and productive throughout the grinding marathon course of a 162 game schedule. Can you honestly say that another manager has squeezed out more production from such a ragtag group of waiver wire arms and Triple AAAA bench players? To that end, we've got to admit that Manuel really has done a "helluva job."

Impartiality is something I try to stick with in the header, but I'll admit to be being fed up with Pat down here in the comments thread, especially during last September's emotional thrill ride. Through thick and thin, Pat has his legion of supporters. I can only pretend to be one of them right now. Clout is correct: those who wanted him to fail are well-represented on Beerleaguer.

There has always been a misperception in this town... often found on this board that in the past few years the Phillies have played, "uninspired" or "flat" or "they look like they don't care" etc.

We have a FALSE impression of how you are supposed to play sports in this town. Everyone wants a team of Pete Rose's. People who play "inspired" or "full of energy". In football with the short season, you need that. In hockey, you have to play that way or you could get your self clipped by an opposing player. In basketball, you can take games off more easy in hockey ( but are you just saving yourself for crunc time?)

But in baseball, to keep the energy level at Pete Rose level for 162 games+ is nearly an impossible task. Some players (especially on this team) try to keep their outward emotions in check. Philly fans see this as a sign of weakness.

The person who typifies that more than anything is Chase Utley. Rarely a smile. He returns to the dugout with the same face... regardless the result, Home run, Sac fly, strikeout. But because he has consistently performed on the field, he is never questioned.

But players like Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell in particular, and Mike Schmidt and Scott Rolen before them, were vilified by this town (including those on this board) becuase of the lack of emotion displayed on the field. When in many ways that's the only thing you can do to keep yourself going through 162 game season. Uh oh, they are in a 2 week funk, see that they don't care.

How many times I have heard in the stands or on sports talk, that Pat Burrell "doesn't hustle". That is the most false statement in the history of sports. Burrell knows his limitations in the field and who uses that to his advantage. If there are men on base and he can't get to the ball without diving, he will sacrifice the hit to use his arm to hold a runner or throw a guy out. Abreu did the same thing. (And the Abreu not going after balls at the "wall" did not occur at the VET, but only here at CBP where the GIANT SCOREBOARD HAS NO GIVE.)

The core of this team has been together for 3 or 4 years (or more in Rollins and Burrell's case ). Alot of people claim that Abreu and Lieberthal leaving "changed the chemistry" of this team. I'll argue that NOTHING has changed, save for the respect players have for VETERANS. "He's been here the longest, he's the leader." That's why this became Rollins team publicly. But not much has changed as far as chemistry in the locker room since Manuel has been here.

I think wanting Pat "traded" and wanting "him to fail" are 2 different things. It was hard not to be frustrated with him. Good to see him come through, he's a good guy and he deserves it.

Huge win last night.

Yesterday, someone claimed the Marlins game was a "big game" in which the Phils always come up short. Well, it wasn't. It was the last game of a three game set in which the Phils had already won two against a team not fighting them in the standings. Last night WAS a big game. It was against a direct rival in both the division and WC races with our ace on the mound.

That first inning comeback was HUGE. I'm not sure it can be overstated.

I never, ever wanted Pat to fail, but I did want him traded. I supported him up until about the middle of June this season...too bad I didn't hold out faith another 2 to 3 weeks.

It's funny that Pat's numbers in the end are EXACTLY (more or less) what he is being paid over 10 million for.. It was the LACK of return that has so many fans upset. It's also the inconsistency during the season that is so frustrating. If his numbers were achieved "evenly" throughout the course of the season, the vitriol AND the effusive praise toward Burrell would be tempered

Michael C: Personally, I do believe the chemistry in the room has changed between the Bowa and Manuel eras. At no time was I laying blame on either Abreu or Liberthal as to creating bad chemistry. My observation was simply that I feel this team has a belief in themselves that shows on the field. To me that's chemistry.

Who exactly "wanted" Burrell to fail? That's misrepresentation of the legitimate criticism many people directed at Burrell. I'm glad to see he's turned it around. It doesn't make anyone "wrong" about the previous criticism, although it does make anyone look bad who claimed he was 'washed up' - and I was certainly one of those.

I'm away on business this weekend and wasn't able to see the game last night and won't see another one until Tueseday. Just caught some highlights on Sports Center today, looked at the boxscore and found myself a computer. It feels good to back with some Phils fans! Was the game as intense as it sounded? Must have been a roller coaster ride. The first inning letdown, followed immediately by the first inning comeback, followed by two pitchers pitching their hearts out, followed by and gritty, hustling offense, followed by a shaky bottom 9 and with some iffy managerial decisions thrown in for good measure. Was Gordon as bad as it sounded? Thank God I'll be back soon and can watch the games. It is killing me! Good luck the rest of the weekend.

RSB, I agree totally. Wishing someone to fail and criticizing their play are not equals. I would find it very hard to believe that anyone wanted Burrell to fail. Most, myself included, were frustrated at his performance at the time. I agree with Jason, I like the "new" Burrell. He is throwing helmets, getting more aggressive and trying his hardest in the field (although he's just too slow).

About a day before he went on his tear I said he was "done". I'm thrilled he's turned it around.

I was actually a Pat Burrell supporter until early this year, when I finally concluded that there has to be a better use for his $14M salary. Now I'm not so sure -- especially with Rowand's likely departure in the off-season.

On the other hand, while Burrell's numbers are going to be good once again, they don't exactly tell the whole story of his season -- and the same was true last year. Burrell gets to his final numbers in a way that is different from just about any other player in baseball -- through a few incredible hot streaks & long, drawn-out slumps that can last for months. When he's hot, though, he can truly carry the team -- as we have recently seen. But when he's in a down period, he seems to weigh down the entire offense. This pattern isn't unique to this year. It's been his pattern in just about every season, though not to the extreme of this year.

Since the Phillies ae paying this guy $14M that could be spent on either starting pitching or another very good outfielder, it is fair to ask whether Burrell's wildly inconsistent seasons are a net positive or a net negative, as compared to other players who put up similar numbers but do so on a more consistent day-to-day basis.

Of course, I can already hear Clout asking: BAP, just how many of those players are out there, let alone available? And that's an excellent point to which I have no good response -- and it's probably the very reason why Burrell can't be traded. But I still think it would be worth doing some genuine research into the relative value of consistent day-to-day performance as compared to streakiness. If these qualities could somehow be captured statistically, you would get a lot clearer picture of Burrell's real value. I don't profess to know what such research would actually show, but I don't think you can fully evaluate Burrell as a player without at least asking the question.

Carlos Carrasco's line at Reading last night:

1.2 IP, 4 hits, 6 walks, 7 runs (5 earned). Ugh!

"That first inning comeback was HUGE. I'm not sure it can be overstated."

Sure it can! Without that first inning comeback, the Phillies organization would have folded yesterday.

BAP: There are TONS of players in mlb who are incredibly streaky. If you're a fan of one team you really don't pay attention to those guys, though, and there's no doubt that Pat is the streakiest of Phillies hitters.

I'd love to have a steadier, better fielding LF with .900 OPS to replace Pat, but I've yet to read a single suggestion about how that upgrade can happen with this team. One positive about Pat's hot streak is we don't have to read the idiotic posts about how we should trade him away for nothing, a la Abreu.

If it was game 5 of the NLDS, 9th inning, bases loaded two outs, Phils down by 1, and one person could get the game winning hit, I think a secret poll would show people saying if they could choose anyone on the roster to get that winning hit, it would be Burrell. That is who people would want to see do it.

BTW Hopefuly Rowand is ok....our outfield will be pathetic if he cant go.

With the game being pushed back for the Vukovich thing, it may have caused both pitchers to be off. Some of you may remember that there were a lot of great starters who settled down after the first inning. If you didn't get to them in the first inning, you didn't get to them.

I thought the game was scheduled for a 7:35 start due to the tribute. I am out of marker so can't comment if did cause a change in how they warmed up but my guess is it didn't.

Any word on Rowand?

I'd go with Utley there, I think.

Bay, I share your frustration with Burrell's long cold spells, but I'm skeptical about him pulling the whole offense down with him. IN each of the past two seasons, Burrell has started out with hot streaks while the rest of the team has underperformed, leading to horrible starts both seasons.

By the way, whoever said Abreu didn't shy away from the wall at the Vet has a poor memory. He has always been afraid of the walls and the second baseman -- though, after playing three seasons with Marlon Anderson, the worse infielder I ever saw on popups, I understand his reluctance to thunder toward the infield on those tweeners down the right-field line. I realize most Philly fans blamed it on a who-cares attitude, but I think it was simply a case of a guy who thinks about nothing but hitting. If he were slower, he'd be a DH.

Clout: No doubt there are a ton of streaky hitters out there. And I KNOW for a fact that I (and many others) have a strong tendency to see negative qualities in Phillies' players that we overlook on every other team's players.

I guess the point I was making is that if you were somehow able to factor in Burrell's streakiness, you might just find that you don't need a player with a .900 OPS to replace Burrell. Maybe a more consistent player with an .850 or .860 OPS would be of greater benefit to the team than a wildly streaky player with a .900 OPS (and I'm not even factoring in defense here). However, I admit this is just a hunch that I have & I am aware of no statistic which captures a player's day-to-day consistency. Without such statistical data to rely on, it would be fairly risky to trade Burrell because: (1) my hunch might be wrong; and (2) there would be no way to really measure whether the .850 guy really is more consistent than Burrell.

Alby: That's correct. When Burrell is hot, he can make up for a lot of other cold players. And, fortuitously enough, he has seemed to save his hot streaks this year for times when other key players were injured or not performing.

You could also make the argument that, even when he's slumping, Burrell: (1) still draws walks; and (2) is only 1 of 9 bats in the lineup. However, because of where he normally bats in the order, Burrell's walks are of less value & he does tend to get a lot of ABs with men on base. So, when he's in one of those funks, he really does hamper the offense. When Burrell was slumping earlier this year, I wrote a post suggesting that Cholly should bat him 8th, as his walks would help flip over the lineup &, if there are less than 2 outs, would put him on base when the top of the order came up.

have we all forgotten the streakiness of Rollins last year? of Howard this year? there is no player on the face of the earth who puts up the exact same numbers month after month. this year's extremes aside, I don't think Burrell is that much more or less streaky than any other hitter in this lineup.

I've been a Burrell supporter throughout... nice to see most people came around :)

Hopefully Rowand comes out OK. If the problem is with the eye itself I imagine they'll be able to fix it, if its a brain thing it would be trouble...

Keeler - I'm a Burrell fan and always have been, but I'd rather see Utley and I might even say J-Roll as well. I just can't bear the idea of him looking at strike 3 right down the heart of the plate to end the season.

I did a survey of our one-run losses to see if there was any particular reason why we lose so many one-run games. Below are 18, I seem to have missed one. In 10, the loss was attributable at least in part to the bullpen. Only 3 of these, however, are entirely the bullpen's fault; in the other 7, the opposing team's bullpen held us scoreless for anywhere from 3 to 6 innings. In 5, including two of the bullpen losses, we rallied to make it a one-run game but couldn't tie it. And in 5, we were simply held down by the opposing starter and bullpen. So in 12 total, the offense played some part in the loss. It's hard to generalize without looking at the whole schedule, but I think this shows that, besides of course having a weak bullpen, we do have a tendency to struggle in late innings at times against other teams' relievers.

Gordon blows game in 8th; Shouse, Linebrink, Turnbow and F. Cordero hold us scoreless for 4.

Gallardo pitches better game than Kendrick; offense can't get anything done against Turnbow and Cordero.

Myers blows tie, and offense gets nothing done against Eyre, Marmol, Howry and Dempster.

Mesa and Zagurski blow lead; offense manages one run off C. Cordero to make it one-run game.

Chris Young pitches better game than Hamels, then Bell and Hoffman hold the lead.

Kendrick gives up 5 runs; offense does nothing against Seanez, Beimel, Broxton and Saito.

Zagurski, Mesa, Alfonseca and Durbin give up a run apiece; offense is held scoreless by Rockies bullpen for six innings.

Alfonseca blows save, Mesa loses it; offense is held scoreless by Astros bullpen for six innings.

Down 6-1, offense comes back to make it a one-run game in late innings, but can't tie it against B. Wagner.

Moyer gives up 3 in the 8th to make it 4-0; offense manages 3 runs off Lyon and Valeverde in the 9th but can't make it 4.

Down 5-1 going into the 9th, offense gets 3 runs off Valaverde - not quite enough to get into extras.

Rosario loses it in extras; Pinto, Gregg, Tankersley and Gardner hold us scoreless through 3 2/3 innings.

Tied game until Castro gives up a run; F. Cordero relieves Sheets and gets the save.

Down 2-0 going into the 7th, offense scores 3 off D. Davis and B. Lyon, but Alfonseca and Rosario give up a run apiece and Valaverde saves the game.

Owings pitches better than Eaton; Phils get nothing off Lyon and Pena.

C. James pitches better than Garcia; Phils are then held scoreless for four by Paronto, Yates, Gonzalez and Soriano.

Gordon gives up 2, blowing save and taking the loss; Phils are held scoreless through 3 by Stanton, Coffey and Coutlangus.

After 6 innings of scoreless relief, Rosario loses game in the 13th; Phils are held scoreless through 4 by Colome, R. Wagner and Speigner.

I was down there last night and the energy level was incredible! After the 1st inning, both pitchers settled in nicely. When Charley came out to get Romero, I think they crowd booed because they wanted him left in there. I don't get it, whenthe guy is pitching well, why change him even though you have a RH hitter coming up? You could save some wear and tear on the rest of the pen.

I can't believe how fat Alfonseca is. We were in LC field and had a good look at him coming in. At least he shut them down.

Flash is really shaky too. The man had problems finding the strike zone and if the Bravos would've been a little more patient at the dish, the outcome could've been different.

I've always liked #5 and am happy to see his recent resurgence. Even when he was at .209 he never quit working and I think that's what I like the most about him-his work ethic.

Going down again with the wife on Sunday, sure hope that Moyer hits his spots or it could be a long day.

Great catch by Werth last night also, I think he is very under-rated on this squad.

My lineup for tonight: (assuming Fence-Face is out)
1. Rollins SS
2. Iguchi 2B
3. Burrell LF
4. Howard 1B
5. Dobbs RF
6. Werth CF
7. Coste C
8. Branyan 3B

I didnt say Burrell is who you would want at the plate, but rather who you would want to get the game winning hit. I would cringe if Burrell was up in a situation like that.

lineups are posted, Rowand is starting in CF. sigh.

sigh of relief

@alby... I'll defer to your memory... but my recollection is usually pretty solid.. I've averaged going to the ballpark with season tickets 2 different plans about 25 to 30 times per year over the last 5 seasons and probably 10 to 15 for the previous 5. And rarely miss a game. But in my memory Abreu's play against the wall changed significantly when they went to CBP...

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