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Saturday, April 19, 2008

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Am I really the first one to post? For the first time ever? Amazing.

Great analysis, Jason. I woke up knowing that Beerleaguer would be the place for something other than a "glass half full" assessment of how the Phils only lost by 2 runs last night and almost came from behind. The Mets really made one bad pitch all night, and I wonder why this Heilman guy turns up in so many big spots. I guess it wasn't a big spot until after he trudged off the mound.

Clearly, the box score does not reflect the nine innings as a hole, and those of us who actually saw the game know what it could potentially represent. Santana showed that he was a big game pitcher, and reminded all of us that this isn't 2007 anymore.

That being said, take the next two, and it will be easy to move on into next week over .500...

In games with aces on the mound, the team which makes the fewest mistakes and capitalizes on the others team's wins.

The only mistake the Phils capitalized on was bringing in Aaron Heilman.

Howard is the weak link on this team. No excuses like last year of being injured. Completely lost in the batters box. No idea how to adjust. Thompson can not help him.Needs to be moved from the clean up spot to at least #7.

Gauging by some of these screeds I'm seeing on Howard, it might not be long until the boos start raining down. I hope it doesn't get ugly. Things are weighing mentally enough on Howard without having to deal with that.

Santana or not, I'm sorry, the Mets do not terrify me. Even as good as he was, let's remember that the Mets barely won that game. They aren't any better than the Phillies, period. And I say that with as much objectivity as I can offer. Maine's the only other dependable pitcher in their rotation.

Some highlights from Todd Zolecki's interview with Mike Arbuckle:

Q: Some teams like the Tigers and Yankees seem to ignore MLB's slotting system for signing draft picks. It seems the Phillies follow MLB's slot recommendations more closely. How will you approach this issue in the upcoming draft?

A: I think generally we have been a club and are a club that tries to do what's best for the industry. Every club has to make their own decisions as to how they're going to go about doing their business, but I do think that there is something to be said for trying to do what's best for the industry.

Barf.

Q: Do you think Greg Golson has finally turned the corner on tapping his potential, or is it still too soon to tell?

A: We're very happy with what he's done. We all feel that he's started to figure out things at the plate. He's a guy that I could very possibly see making a move over the course of the season at some point to triple A.

Translation: Golson is projected to be on the major league team next season.

don: Why not send him down? Or better yet trade him to the Yankees for prospects? I have a list that includes a #1 draft pick.

Avoiding a sweep has to be at the top of the Phils checklist at this point. I was arguing with a Mets fan friend that the Mets probably needed last night's game more from a mental standpoint, but now that that's done, the Phils just have to make sure they don't fall too far behind.

The offense is hurting right now, too. They miss Rollins and Victorino (especially his defense), and Howard is killing them on both offense and defense. It's still early, but they have to make sure they tread water and keep in touch with the Mets until they start clicking.

I'm not sure moving Howard back that far would be a good idea. I mean would you really want Feliz or Ruiz or Bruntlett farther up then they are?

Despite the sporadic offense the last two weeks, most losses came down to fundamentals: fielding, throwing and bunts.

Our pitching has kept us in games and simple errors and lack of getting a bunt down has lost them.

Don,
It is April 19th. Take a valium. Ryan Howard is still one of the best power hitters in baseball. Ortiz has been terrible in Boston this year as well. Should he hit 7th?

I am sure you are one of the fools who will boo him the next time he strikes out. You should have to pay a fine if you do, in my opinion. Either that or be forced to give back your Mike Schmidt jersey. Er, you probably booed him as well and called for him to be traded.

Jackass.


On Romero: I think that is another misleading stat. Anyone who watched the game last night would know that he did not make bad pitches. They were well placed pitches that the Mets hitters did one heck of a job hitting.

It was the same way with a couple of the balls Wright hit off of Hamels. He threw some changeups that were almost on the ground and Wright went down to hit the ball. It a situation where you tip your hat to the hitters, and not blame the pitcher. Great pitching usually beats great hitting, but sometimes it is the other way around. Last night Hamels and Romero pitched well, but didn't get the desired result. If you want more evidence of how a good pitch can go wrong, ask Dennis Eckersley if he would have thrown the same pitch to Kirk Gibson when he hit the infamous HR. I've heard him say that he threw it right where he wanted it, but Gibson just hit it out. Gibson had no business taking that pitch yard, but he did. So goes several of the balls hit off of Hamels and Romero last night. It is good hitting, much less than bad pitching.

I actually logged onto Beerleaguer for the specific purpose of posting that nauseating comment from Arbuckle that the Phillies try to do "what's best for the industry" when it comes to paying draft picks. But RSB beat me to it.

The mets are just hitting better than the phillies right now. Angel Pagan has been a nice surprise and Wright seems to be really hot...he almost hit a home run on a ball that Hamels threw below his knees and off the plate.

Howard will come around, but to be fair, he does look lost. No reason to move him out of the cleanup spot or anything like that. Remember, during the spring he was raking to all fields; it's not as if he instantly lost all his ability to start the season.

It could be the cooler weather, it could've just been Santana yesterday (yes, he was very good, remember). Howard will be fine.

Wow, that Arbuckle quote is horrible. Says it all, huh?

Changing gears, I think there is a very good "glass half full" argument to be made after last night's game. As another poster said, the Mets made one bad pitch all night (love ya, Heilman) and the Phils made mistakes all over the field, yet they end up only 2 runs behind. And how much better can Santana pitch, yet we were a mere 1 run behind after the 8th. So I'm not despairing for the next 6 years. Cole didn't have his best stuff, yet he nearly matched Sanatana. Sounds alright to me.

Now, if we continue to throw the ball all over the field and make horrible judgments, all bets are off. But if we clean up our game, we'll be fine. I'm not scared of the Mets.

Say what you will about clout, but everything he says nowadays makes me laugh. Maybe it's because I despise Feliz as well, but I'd rank him as the frontrunner for funniest Beerleaguer for the 2008 season.

As for the team - my biggest concern is Howard. Santana is Santana, and anybody who didn't see this coming hasn't been following his career. But if Howard isn't hitting, homers or otherwise, this offense is hopelessly mediocre. It's a team, besides Rollins and Utley, of .250 hitters with moderate power.

To everyone complaining that this offense is "hopelessly mediocre", buck up and be realistic. They might just be "average" while Rollins is out, but he when he gets back the Phillies offense will be fine.

RSB- I disagree with you regarding the Met's rotation. Oliver Perez has become a force in that rotation. Sure he will turn into Chernobyl every fourth start, but those other three he will be good to border on being an ace. He is the best #3 guy in the NL East. Santanna/Maine/Perez is pretty terrifying alone, but Pelfrey's last start hinted at the potential for a real nightmare for the rest of the NL East.


Missed the game and saw the highlights. Some thoughts:

- Mets' offense isn't as good as hyped. Yeah they are scoring runs but that is missing the point entirely. At some point, the clock will strike midnight and Pagan will turn back into a reserve OF who hits .260-.270 with marginal power. Same for Schneider. Castillo is scuffling along and Delgado hasn't show much either. Places alot of pressure on Beltran, Wright, and Reyes to really care this offense.

Remember these three numbers if any dopey Mets' fan tell you the Mets have a good OF (27% LD vs. 18% NL AVG, .306 BABIP vs. 287 NL AVG, .286 RISP vs. .255 NL AVG). All of these numbers are really above the league average and point to the Mets' offense being a bit lucky in the early going. It's not going to last particularly the 27% LD.

- Phils' defense stinks right now and I don't understand why Cholly put Werth in CF over Taguchi last night. Made zero sense. Yeah Howard has been poor. But you know what so has this entire infield including Utley who has been SUCKED so far. That's right Utley has sucked in the field and gets a free pass.

Don't understand it why Howard gets blasted for any miscue he makes yet Utley who has made 4 errors (and could easily be credited with 7-8 instead and crappy on his DP pivots and throws). Take at a look at conventional stats (errors) or saber stuff (RZR and OOZ) and they tell you that Utley's performance has been among the worst at 2B in the NL so far. Do I think it will continue - no. But let's not universally praise Utley either. Say what you will about Feliz's offense but he is the only guy in the INF right now who is consistently playing decent defense.

- The area that strikes me as the biggest difference between the Mets and Phils right now is their bullpens. The Mets' bullpen is pretty damn solid top to bottom. Hell, the last guys guys in their pen (Smith and Sanchez) would be go-to setup options in the Phils' pen. Plus, I would take Wagner over Lidge anyday.

- Cholly is a stubborn SOB at times. There was no reason to start Ruiz last night. None. Yet he did anyway. It is a good thing to keep guys loose but it is another to keep trotting guys out there who are struggling badly everyday just because they are the "starter." Cholly did that last year with Burrell for 6 weeks in May-June and several other examples the past few years. Only guys on this team who deserve the right to really play everyday are JRoll, Utley, and Howard. Maybe throw Burrell in there but he can be notoriously streaky.

RSB - Disagree too about the Mets' rotation. Figueroa will eventually show his true colors but the rest of the guys aren't bad options at all. Yeah, Perez can be streaky and his control can disappear faster than food at a Berks County buffet but he is still a much better option than Gramps. Same goes for Pelfrey over Kendrick.

I think it is also safe to assume that utterly ridiculous talk about "Phils being in the Mets' head" crap will thankfully cease. Nothing more hearing that kind of lazy reporting. Talk about the talk about the Cubs or or the Red Sox before they won. Just plain stupid.

Why is this defense so bad this year? They have committed 17 errors in 17 games. The seoond most in the NL. Ruiz had two errors all last season. He already has two this year and his throwing has been erratic and the passed ball last night was costly. Last night Howard looked like a hockey goalie who makes a great save on one play then gives up a soft goal on the next.

RSB, I have to disagree with your comments regarding the Mets pitching. I mean I know you're being a homer and all, but the trio of Santana, Perez, and Maine scares the hell out of me. Especially considering that two of them are lefties. We can only hope that Pelfrey doesn't get it together because they have a better bullpen than us. Rollins, GET BACK HERE!

Dull - Some of it has to come down to the demeanor of this team. JRoll and Utley have both been poor in the field and that won't continue. Feliz is nearly useless with a bat but he has settled in and started to look pretty fluid over at 3B. When all is said and done, the INF defense should be ok.

Phils really do miss Victorino's range in the outfield already. I can remember at least 6-7 well-hit balls he covered up. Werth just doesn't have the range or the experience to read balls properly to play CF everyday.

One guy who actually looks pretty good in the OF is Burrell. He has made a few plays this year I haven't seen him make in 4-5 years. There has been a ton of talk about Burrell's change to his hitting approach.

Here is an alternative theory that no one has really talked about - Burrell got married and the rumors/stories about him partying have dropped off the map. Seen it happen with plenty of my friends. Amazing what eating better and getting consistent rest will do to your job performance. I think that is as much as a reason as any why Burrell is producing. Same might apply to Eaton who supposedly went through some real difficulties with his child/family last year.

Ya I always wondered what the personal issues with Eaton were last year.

And also Ruiz isn't going to hit under .200 for the whole year, that will be a boost when he starts hitting like he should. Till then, get more starts out of Coste please!

While it relies on sketchy stats, the Phils have a huge difference between ERA (3.48) and Runs allowed per game (4.41). Defense was supposed to be a big strength on this team, but it hasn't been quality lately. The numbers all suggested that 2b, CF, and 3B would be at or near the top of the league and that SS, C, and RF would be solid to above-average. Losing Vic the hoover in CF hurt, Utley's been out of it, and Bruntlett is Bruntlett...

Its still a small number of games, though. With more time on the playing field, chances are things will right themselves and the Phils' pitching will benefit.

I am not panicking with Howard, yet. Obviously, once it warms up, he should find his groove(if he can start making contact more frequently). My question is -- why do you bat Utley and Howard 3 & 4 with a stud lefty pitching and an above average LEFT-HANDED closer in the 'pen?? How about inserting a red-hot Burrell in between them and take a little of the pressure off of Howard while he's struggling?? Add to this argument Burrell's success against Wags and it seems like a no-brainer. I'm not for juggling the lineup everyday but it seems to make sense. Now if we could just get Howard to actually stand at first base while awaiting pickoff throws.

maybe not the right place, but sad news:

johnny marz was just found dead at home.

:(

On Burrell: did he stop partying in 2002 and the first half of 2005, as well? I think we can better trace his success to an improved approach to hitting, and possibly a clean bill of health. I seriously doubt Burrell's 'lifestyle' had anything to do with his on-field struggles.

As for the NY rotation, I'll disagree right back. The word I used was 'dependable'; Oliver Perez is more or less an antithesis of this term. Dependable pitchers don't implode, or at least threaten to, halfway through the majority of their starts. His entire career has been a model of inconsistency. As for Pelfrey and Figueroa - how can anyone know what the Mets are going to get from these two over an extended period? As for Martinez - will he made 15 starts this year? Will he pitch 100 innings? There are at least as many question marks in the Mets' pitching staff as there are in Philadelphia's. The only two guys they have right now with solid track records are Maine and Santana, and what you get from Perez is an unknown from inning to inning, much less start to start.

Zow. Marzano gone, just like that.

What was the cause of death? Anyway, moving Howard to 7th is crazy, but moving him to 5th would make a lot of sense.

RSB- "Dependable pitchers don't implode, or at least threaten to, halfway through the majority of their starts"

Unfortunately this is factually incorrect. He implodes in a minority of his starts and the rest of the time he is good to VERY good. Look, at the end of the season he will have a 3.2ERA over 200 innings. He might not be "dependable" but I will take it over a guy who "dependably" gives up 4-5 runs a game (eaton, moyer, kendrik). Perez is not an unknown, he will blow up on occasion, have a 3.2era, a K/9 over 9 and win 15 games and he is their THIRD starter. Good lord man, show me a better #3 then that.

As for Pedro, they don't need him. They have 3 good to amazing starters. The only team in the NL with a better rotation is AZ. At the end of the year the Mets will be among the top 3 for RA.

Now with any luck today will be one of Perez's blow up days, but who knows he could also toy with a no-no. Either way he is pretty entertaining to watch.

PhillR, you might want to take a look at Perez's career trends beyond last season. This is an erratic pitcher any way you would care to define it. The Mets would have no business believing they can trust him to repeat what he did last year. He's not someone you can project 15 wins for simply because he did it in the previous season. If he does it again, then he does, but it would be the first time he'd have put together back-to-back good seasons. You certainly can't *expect* it.

RSB - You aren't adding the fact though that the Pirates had completely messed up Perez's mechanics and with his head by constantly tinkering with him. Peterson deserves a lot of credit for getting Perez straightened out and turning him around for the most part. I would take Perez over the likes of Kendrick, Moyer, or Eaton any day.

I'd be somewhere in between PhilR and RSB on this. On the one hand, there's no way you can be certain he'll have a 3.20 ERA or anything close to it. He's had a number of seasons where he's pitched much worse than that. On the other hand, the fact that he's erratic from game to game doesn't really matter if he has a good season overall. I mean, it might annoy fans and his teammates, but it doesn't hurt his team (unless he pitches perfect games in his good starts and gives up 8 runs in his bad ones, but no one's that erratic). Anyway, I think it's pretty probable that he has a better season than whoever our #3 starter turns out to be (Eaton??).

Well, I would take him today, as well. I don't think the Phillies are going to have much of a chance against Perez if he's on his game, mostly because you don't expect Howard to do anything against him, and with Rollins still out, that reduces the number of real threats in the lineup to a select few. Better hope for an implosion.

The Mets look like they're starting to finally gain their bearings a little, and I don't anticipate that they'll have any problem with Moyer.

If you're going to criticize the Mets' offense by noting people like Schneider and Pagan hitting over their heads, I think you have to be fair and recognize that some of their big guns like Beltran, Reyes, and Delgado have yet to do much at all, but will turn it around at some point (at least Reyes and Beltran). Alou will hit well for 100 or so games, as well. At full strength, the Phillies have the better offense, but you can't dismiss the Mets offense by citing Pagan and Schneider.

Isn't Beltran playing well so far?

Is there any rational reason why, against tough lefties like Santana and Perez, we continue to hit Utley and Howard back-to-back?

Split them up. Put Burrell in that 4 hole, and drop Howard to 5th. Those back-to-back lefties in the middle of the order, as productive as they are, become almost automatic outs against really good lefties.

Matt - Not dismissing it. The fact is that numbers right now show the Mets have have been get some very timely hitting and smashing an abnormally high number of line drives. Neither will continue all season.

Cholly is such a stubborn SOB. If Howard continues to struggle, you will see Cholly split up the lineup but only after another week or so.

denny b.
There are several buildings in our neighborhood with big brick walls. I suggest you go shout "the split up Utley Howard" thing to the walls. They're about as likely to change the order as Chollie is, despite Howard's slug-like and Burrell's hot as hades starts.

In fact, I'm going out right now to yell at some walls about that very thing...I'll try to be back by game time.

Charlie will change the order one day, but he'll wait until at least May 15th to do it, and by then Burrell will cool off and Howard will start to hit and it'll be a bad move. Kind of like how he had Burrell batting sixth last season until he had the 5th, or so, highest OBP in baseball (and the highest in that one-month span). By the time he moved him up, Burrell wasn't nearly as hot.

clout. Sarcasm will not cure his pathetic results

Mets fan here. I just read about John Marzano dying. What a shame. I always enjoyed his commentary. He knew the game and seemed like a real good man. Life is so fragile. My condolences to his families: the Marzano family; the Phillies family and the Temple Owls family.

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