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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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What a wonderful outting by Joe "Cy" Blanton. Romero looks to be hitting a wall lately for whatever reason. Moyer's performance (7 IP, 3 ER) was still easily good enough for the win most nights except last night. He's been a pleasant surprise so far in the 1st Half as to how reliable he really is. Who would have thought he'd be our #2 guy in the rotation?

Minor Leagues (from last thread): Benson had a much improved 2nd start in Clearwater: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K though he did pick up the loss. If he's healthy he can help this team.

Harden vs. Eaton should be fun.

I would note that Brad Ausmus and Michael Barrett both play for teams that are hopelessly out of contention. If the Phillies aspire to be no better than that, yes, Ruiz is fine in the starting lineup.

As I wrote in a late-night post, after most of you were asleep, the Phillies might be able to afford a good-defense, no-offense catcher if they had a better all-around lineup. But they have to find more offensive consistency somewhere and, unfortunately, I don't see them getting rid of Jenkins or Feliz or reducing their playing time. It's time to send Ruiz back to the minors, give Coste 60% of the starts, and start phasing in Marson.

And if my aunt had b***s, she'd be my Uncle. I need to see more from Benson before I even think of him making some sort of impact in the majors.

The game turned on the A's getting two bloops and a blast.

We don't seem to get any bloops nor any blasts these days.

Remember "Hittin Season"? I sure miss it- it would cure a lot of bad morning after feelings!

On a positive note, I'd like to give a hat-tip to Jaime for an awesome 6 innings last night, despite the 3-run bomb. He delivered an awesome performance and his 4 ERA is more than many of us expected. I just love watching him pitch -- the offense let him down big time last night.

BB: I need to see more from Benson before I even think of him making some sort of impact in the majors.

So do I, so do I...If he can stay healthy and rebuild his arm strength he would at least be an experienced replacement option for Brett Myers. Myers 7.56 road ERA is killing this team. Benson was a #3 starter when he was healthy.

Charlie has cost them two games in the last week. If he removed Myers for Romero (vs. BoSox), Phillies probably get out of the inning-if he removed Moyer for Durbin, the HR probably doesn't get hit. Also last night, a golden opportunity for Dobbs to pinch hit for Ruiz vs. RHP, the move is not made and we're dead.

Its just been a long time since he's been a contributor and his constant arm concerns give me no real reason to count on him.

I thought the Phillies M.O. was to stink in April and May and heat up in June? It's frustrating when they get on such a roll that it looks like they're going to really establish themselves as the class of the NL (not to mention the division) and they come crashing back to earth so hard. It's been said here before but I'm disappointed with the way they've played top teams in interleague this year.

I wouldn't have minded more aggressive managing last night, either. Manuel was very agressive with his road moves earlier and it really worked for him.

Why does Benson continue to get so many mentions on this site? If he actually is able to show some consistent velocity and actually make 4-5 starts in a row, maybe I will but not until then.

MG: Because hope is a good thing...perhaps the best of things and no good thing ever dies.

The only imterleague play in July is the All Star Game.
Gotta get better then.

I recently read where they are building a large super collider in a 27km-long underground tunnel near Geneva, Switzerland, which will smash together protons at super-fast speeds in a bid to unlock the secrets of the Universe. Critics are worried that mini-black holes made at the soon-to-open facility on the French-Swiss border might threaten the Earth's very existence. There are fears about the possibility of a mini-black hole - produced in the collider - swelling so that it gobbles up the Earth.

Cholly says he trots out a mini-black hole in his line-up every night and the earth still exists….and he’s still in first place!

I'd like to see tonight's game start off with Rollins bunting for a hit and then the same from Victorino; then a double steal and see what happens. They need to try and create something, anything positive early in the game.

Let's not forget interleague play killed the Phillies playoff chances in 2006. They were 5-13 in interleague and missed the wild card by 3 games. Last year, the Phils were 8-7 in interleague, and won the division. This year, they're 2-8 in interleague.

MLBTR mentions, in passing, that Tom Gordon's shoulder has been "barking" -- which might well explain why his use has been so limited lately, and why he has been so ineffective when he has been used.

It's all starting to come together for the Phillies, in just the way that the pre-season pessimists predicted.

This team is really tough to watch these days. It's amazing how quickly it turned and it's amazing that they are still in first place.

The whole lineup is a mess and Utley looks lost. They need that doctor from the Natural..."losing is a disease" guy.

The only hitter I have confidence in these days in Vic and that is not a good thing.

In defense of Cholly and Jamie being in, he absolutley owned Brown in the prior at-bats. The gods just punished them and momentum shifted when Ruiz setpped to the plate.

Jenkins needs to ride pine - he is awful.

Losing is a disease...as contagious as Bubonic Plague.

Also, the Phillies have almost completely negated their better start. This time last year they were 3 games above .500. Today they're 6 above.

LF - Very classy post. Posts like that are the reason for BL. Thank you.

There was a spot like this last year where I really hated to watch some of these games, then they snapped out of it. It's the feast or famine nature of this team. They need some guys who can manufacture runs when they longball isn't working, and less rally killers like Ruiz/Feliz.

Lurker here, again.

AL A's fan. NL Phillies fan.

Watched the game last night, up close and personal. Moyer was very good, and even better with the help of the umpire calling the balls & strikes.

I don't want to go on about 'Big Joe' Blanton, other than to say one needs to look deeper than simply his W/L record if one wants to properly evaluate his pitching ability.

Moyer pitched a great game last night, so did Blanton. If Jamie had been pulled when he began to show signs of fatigue (hitters getting on base) I think they end result might have been very different.

Oh, I read a comment asking why the catcher was batting lead off last night. The reason for that was because the A's usual lead off guy, second baseman Mark Ellis, was not in the the line up last night and Suzuki has done well in the past getting on base against left handers.

Dollar hot dogs tonight!

There is no reason to start bashing charlie. He was making the exact same moves a month ago and we were all praising him. I completely agree that Romero has been less then stellar this year. Its becoming evident why the Red Sox didn't want him. As for Ruiz, this is getting a little out of hand. Not only is his average piss poor, but he always seems to be up in big spots. I don't feel like looking this stat up but Ruiz has to be in the top 5 in the NL in double play's. And most of these double plays seem to come when the phillies really could use a hit. They all seem to happen later in the game. I realize Coste can't catch everyday but he needs to play more. We need his bat more then we need Ruiz's glove.

Moyer is old, 45 year olds shouldnt be throwing 100+ pitches in a game. Cut him off around 90 and maybe there's a different result. Romero on the other hand, throws his best when he throws more often. The more rest you give Romero the more he loses his control. He needs to throw every other night to stay sharp. 2nd time in a week we hang the SP out to dry when the bullpen is perfectly well rested.

Yeah, I looked at Blanton's game logs and didn't see the game as a lock. He got some of the strike zone Moyer got, maybe, hard for me to say as I dozed off and on.

Key words to sum up this streak? "Charlie Manuel judged wrong." I'm becoming more and more convinced that the man does not know baseball very well and I'm a little tired of our team's ABs during "hittin' season." Someone in the last thread made the point that Manuel is heralded as a hitting wizard and in my opinion, that's about all he has to offer. When the Phillies aren't hitting, it doesn't rest on his shoulders, but he's the one who needs to do something ANYTHING that will benefit the team. So many times he relies on his "gut feeling"... well it seems that he's lost his touch. Willie Randolph managed to lose 7 in a row at a crucial point in the season last year and he's gone... it might be that time for Charlie unless he directly does something to help this team soon. Even putting in Coste more than twice a week or pinch hitting for someone when your inning lineup is "Werth, Jenkins, Feliz" in the final inning of a game you're down three. The team will respond to leadership... and the team's normal leaders are not doing well... THIS is where Manuel needs to pull up the slack, but he's not doing it at all.

"I don't want to go on about 'Big Joe' Blanton, other than to say one needs to look deeper than simply his W/L record if one wants to properly evaluate his pitching ability."

Maybe we should look at the splotch on his hat that he touched with his sweaty right hand before each pitch? Let's compare 2007 Blanton to 2008 Blanton:

2007: 34 G, 230 IP, 106 R, 16 HR, 40 BB, 140 SO, 3.95 ERA, 106 ERA+, 3.50 K/BB, .677 OPS against

2008: 17 G, 110 IP, 60 R, 12 HR, 32 BB, 52 SO, 4.58 ERA, 83 ERA+, 1.63 K/BB, .756 OPS against

Bobby D - three games is a lot in a game where the division is decided by 1 game in many years. I don't see them losing three more. This team still has winning streaks left in them. This is the valley, and they're still in first (optimistic, I know.)

ADAM_ Some of your points are valid but your overdoing it a bit here. Manuel is THE PERFECT manager for this club. The guys absolutely love him. He won the NL East last year and has the phils in first place right now despite their losing streak. I think Manuel knows his guys better then we do so if he wants to leave Moyer in, on a night where Moyer was absolutely brilliant the first 6 innings, why is that a problem? I don't see it as one. I love when people start typing into blogs about what a manager should and shouldn't do. There is a reason he gets paid millions and you are writing on the comments page of beerleaguer.com...Leave the man be. He will probably end up winning Manager of the year. Can't wait to see you criticize him then...

I think Charlie brings one thing and one thing alone to the table. The boys like him and they play loose. All of a sudden the perfect storm appears in the form of a team wide slump and Carlos Ruiz coming up in a lot of big situations(all the more remarkable when you consider how infrequently the two guys in front of him get on). Now they're as tight as a drum. It looks like the Bowa years in that dugout. More and more it looks like Utley really is "the man". As soon as he comes out of his funk I'll bet the rest of them do too. And he will snap out of it. Then opposing pitchers will pay. He'll have a lot of fun getting back to .310 or .320. BTW I'm not blaming him for the teams struggles just theorizing that he he's become the guy this year.

Feel free to have Joe's 'splotch' investigated by Waxman et al.

No doubt that Blanton had a very bad outing last week against the D-Backs and his former teammate, Danny Haren. That outing alone boosted his ERA quite a bit.

I am not arguing that Blanton is a Beckett or a Webb, only that I believe he is a solid starting pitcher.

If Harden wasn't made of glass, I have little doubt that he would be in the number one spot for the A's, followed by Duchscherer and then probably Eveland. Blanton would be the number four or five guy in the rotation, if sorting based off performance so far this season.

If Manuel wins manager of the year, I won't be criticizing him... I'll be criticizing the selection committee.

adam: I agree with you that Cholly has been slow to react to this horrific hitting slump. Why aren't we seeing more of Coste? How about some more starts for Greg Dobbs? Geoff Jenkins is 3 for his last 40 and hitting less than .150 for the month of June. What was he doing in the lineup last night, while Dobbs sat on the bench?

Still, while I've been as harsh as anyone in critizing Cholly, a six-game losing streak is hardly a firing offense. It isn't the manager's fault that no one in the lineup is hitting, or that Jenkins, Feliz & Ruiz are the worst trio of hitters in the history of major league baseball.

And, before anyone goes off doing research, that last statement was an exercise of my poetic license. Literally speaking, I'm sure there have been one or two, or maybe even hundreds, of trios that were actually even worse than Jenkins, Feliz, and Ruiz; I don't need to see any posts which document this for me. Suffice it to say that our trio is horrific, by any standard.

The pitching has been halfway decent by league standards during this slump. Really good teams don't through skids like this. It's a fundamental flaw in the way this team is built. Too many streaky hitters who strike out too much, and they're all doing it at the same time. It's as simple as that.

Hard to blame Manuel for his entire lineup going through a slump at the same time. Romero has not been as good as last year, but anyone expecting him to basically be perfect had the wrong idea anyway - he's been a major part of a stellar bullpen.

If you want to blame Manuel for sticking with Moyer, that's probably right, but its always going to be very hard to win when scoring 2 runs.

Solutions?...anyone?...(crickets)

This team won't win under its current ownership. We have big market expectations for a small market payroll. Choosing between "win now" and being competitive in the long term isn't acceptable in a top 5 media market. If the Phillies' payroll was porportionate with their revenue, they'd have won a World Series by now. How many of the Cubs core players were homegrown? How about the Red Sox?

Since moving into Citizen's Bank Park, the Phillies haven't signed any major free agents. Do you realize that? Our last big signing was Jim Thome! Lots of help he's doing us now. If the Phils paid their players what they deserve, and spent some money on pitching, they'd be THE BEST team in baseball.

Look at our top competitors- they traded for Johan Santana and signed him to a long term deal before he ever tried on their uniform. Now we're talking about trading for Sabathia-but forget about keeping him! Phillies fans can't be so selfish- we have to think about the owners.

We need to start some "SELL THE TEAM" chants at CBP. The national media would jump all over that, and the pressure would be on. Middleton should just buy the other shares and get it over with. Make a solid offer already, because this is getting ridiculous. We're entering Norman Braman territory. Buy the team before these core players get old.

****Middleton should just buy the other shares and get it over with.****

I get the impression that he would love to have a controlling interest in the team but Montgomery is against it as it would mean him losing his job basically.

I noticed something weird. During that fateful seventh inning last night I made a post that said "Dont do it Charlie". I didn't want him to remove Moyer. I now realize that I have been unable to adjust to the fact that we have a really solid bullpen. As life long Phillies fans we just aren't accustomed to it. It's like a Pavlovian response to tremble when the manager goes out to the mound to talk to a pitcher who is pitching a great game. I was also remembering a few weeks ago in Fla. when that jerk Olson for the Marlins was sweating like Patrick Ewing on Jeopardy and Jamie smoked him. It was about 800 degrees that night and Moyer just kept dealing while the young guy looked like he was going to fall over. Last night it was very cool and the two runners allowed before the bomb were kind of lucky hits. Of course, I was wrong in the end, but that was before my self-diagnosis of Suddenly Solid Bullpen Syndrome.

Baxter: Small market payroll? a) incorrect b) haven't we noticed yet that there's little correlation between payroll and winning? Mets, Yankees; Marlins, A's. Teams with good scouting, drafting, and coaching win.

BobbyD: If you don't have good scouting and drafting, you have to cover it up with payroll. The Phillies have done a little bit of that, but only in the most marginal ways (Jenkins, Feliz, 1 year of Garcia, Lidge, 2 years of Wagner, etc.)

Top 10 payrolls in 2008; 6 of these teams stink.

NY Yankees—–209,081,579
Detroit—–138,685,197
New York Mets—–138,293,378
Boston—–133,440,037
Chi.White Sox—–121,152,667
LA Angels—–119,216,333
Chi.Cubs—–118,595,833
LA Dodgers—–118,536,038
Seattle—–117,993,982
Atlanta—–102,424,018

Bottom 10 playoff teams in baseball; 5 of these teams are in the playoff race.

Texas—–68,239,551
Baltimore—–67,196,248
Arizona—–66,202,713
Minnesota—–62,182,767
Kansas City—–58,245,500
Washington—–54,961,000
Pittsburgh—–49,365,283
Oakland—–47,967,126
Tampa Bay—–43,820,598
Florida—–21,836,500

Morty, your point may be right to an extent, but part of the reason the Yankees are an average team with a 200m payroll is because for years they tried to cover up bad talent development with signing big money free agents.

You need a great core of drafted/developed players and good payroll to fill in the gaps you can't fill internally. The Red Sox are a perfect example of this mentality. Also part of spending is the draft and busting slot like the Sox have done the past few years. That's why they have guys like Masterson, Lowrie, Bucholtz, Ellsbury, Delcarmon, Pedroia filling holes in the lineup right now. Toss in a couple good signings and here we are 2 WS wins later.

baxter: The solution is obvious. Play teams weaker than the Phillies. This begins happening in Texas.

To change the subject since I am watching the Braves game - russell Branyon is hitting 297 with 10 hrs. What did we get for him or did we just release him?

Bobby D:

It's not sure fire method, obviously nothing is, and you still need some decent scouting to pull it off (i.e. Freddy Garcia, Jenkins), but it beats the opposite: neither this nor that. The Phillies od not have any overall strategy, because they do not have good leadership - they do not know what they want. It all starts at the top.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have been playoff perennials, and this season is not even 1/2 over. Even the Mets led the NL East for almost 2 straight years, nothing to sneeze at, and have plenty of time to turn the ship around this year.

to any players reading this thread:

I, and I imagine a lot of other fans still believe in you guys.

I have no idea what is going on in the clubhouse, but the Phillies seem to have lost their aggressiveness. Not aggressiveness at the plate, but aggressiveness in general. Baseball is not an easy game, and we all understand that. But the team seems to have lost faith in each other.

The team could use several pointers:
1) Don't try to win games with single at-bats.
2) Don't do it alone.
3) Don't try to be a hero. Just play within yourself and have faith the others will come through.
4) Relax. But focus. You've lost a lot of games recently and at this point, you've got to feel as if you're starting the season over.
5) Rollins: You've proved your point. You are the engine-MVP of this team. Now go drive this team.
6) Utley: Just relax
7) Howard: Try being a singles-hitter for a week. You broke out of previous slumps by becoming a line drive hitter. Beat the shift by consistently poking balls to left field. After they adjust, not only will you have your timing back, but you can start drilling them all over the place.
8) Ruiz: Get some balls.
9) Phillies fans: Get rid of expectations. Just be happy that you're not the Yankees, Mets or Tigers.
10) No one is ever entitled to victories or success. No matter what the media or fans say. You gotta keep on earning the respect. That goes double for you J-Roll.

NEP: Yep. We have the core...

The Phillies talk about the need to add another lefty reliever, but one thing I think is hurting them even more is only having one lefty on the bench. If there had been, is there any doubt that Manuel pinch-hits for Ruiz with the bases loaded in the 7th?

Speaking of that occasion, I assume that's what you mean, Jason, by the lack of 'aggressive managing'. I agree; I think Dobbs should have pinch-hit there regardless, and that non-move was far more glaring than the more justified decision to leave Moyer in to face Emil Brown.

I'll complete the thought..."If there had been" more than one LH hitter on the bench.

To any of the players reading this thread: feel free to share your groupies with us common folk. Just sayin'.

released him...as he sucked horribly for us.

On Dobbs, I'm not altogether certain he's 100 percent healthy. He had a bad back for a while.

Morty: NEP: Yep. We have the core...

You're right we have a very good core...the FO has simply failed to surround it with complementary players...or even another legit starter...that's where the money thing comes in.

out of my league -

Going into the ARI game, Blanton's ERA was 4.23. Yeah, it went up .5, but it was still lofty prior to that game. His OPS against, at that time, was .744.

One game, when a guy's thrown half his IP from last year, such marked increases in XBH against, BB and such marked decreases in SO.

2007 may have been a career year, as his K/9 and other peripherals are looking more like 2005-2006 this year.

The comment about his hat was a joke, although he clearly had something on there that he was touching, and I'm not the first to notice that this year.

Someone mentioned needing another LOOGY in the Pen and another bat off the bench...I agree 100% with that. DFA Taguchi and find another lefty for the Pen...the team needs the flexibility really bad right now.

Didn't Branyon win us a game last year in pinch hitting a homerun?

What is everybody thinking about the Fish? I had been dismissing them until recently and now they seem to be struggling again. They are starting to worry me again, though. The Muts don't worry me at all except for the fact that watching them win anything is like root canal without the novacaine. I was sorry to see them fire Randolph; everything was going perfectly for us. But no improvement is evident there. In fact things seem worse. Oh how I love it so. I don't think anything of Atlanta either so it comes back to the Marlins. They remind me of a team that could bite you if you let them hang around. At this point, it would appear that we are going to let them all hang around. God we should be running away with this crummy divison! Of course as currently constructed, we get gutted in the post-season. Thoughts?

"One game, when a guy's thrown half his IP from last year, such marked increases in XBH against, BB and such marked decreases in SO."

That's supposed to say: one game, etc., can't be the sole cause.

Here's a controversial opinion- I think the Phillies front office has done a fantastic job, given their limitations. Of course there is a correlation between spending money and winning, especially in a big media market. I don't buy this "Gillick is an idiot" talk; he knows what he's doing, but he's not allowed to acquire the players we need to win.

You know why the Marlins won two World Series titles in their short history? Because no one cares about them, seriously. The Marlins can blow up their team every few years, because they don't have 5 million people screaming WIN NOW, like we have here. Small market strategy doesn't work in a big market. You can't win cheap and win now. Therefore, the Phillies cannot win.

Middleton, or someone, anyone, needs to buy them out. I'm sure there are plenty of billionaire Phillies fans, and the current ownership would listen to generous offers. They're appraised at what- about 480 million? If someone offered them 600, they'd probably do it. Then if they actually put money into the team, it would be worth almost a billion, like it should be.

NEP: My point exactly.

Maybe it's something about this time of year or interleague play, but only one NL team has been playing well lately: the Brewers.

They are the only team with a winning record in their last 10. 11 of 16 NL teams have records worse than 5-5 in their last 10. In the NL East, everyteam is on a losing streak greater than or equal to 2 games.

Disturbing Feliz Trend:

2007: 11 E, .973 FPCT, .851 ZR, 2.91 RF
2008: 7 E, .962 FPCT, .801 ZR, 2.80 RF

He's taken a fairly large step down in every major defensive category so far this season. Also, those 7 errors this year project out to around 15 for the season. The huge drop in his Zone Rating is the most disturbing as he's covering far less ground at 3B than he did last year.

****baxter: Middleton, or someone, anyone, needs to buy them out. I'm sure there are plenty of billionaire Phillies fans, and the current ownership would listen to generous offers. They're appraised at what- about 480 million? If someone offered them 600, they'd probably do it. Then if they actually put money into the team, it would be worth almost a billion, like it should be. ****

It wouldn't take that much actually...he'd only have to get half the team to control its spending. If he bought out Claire Betz 1/3 share of the team he'd be running things. That would cost around $160 million of his $2 billion+ fortune.

Mrs. Betz is (allegedly) on her death bed.

And Middleteon allegedly wants to buy her shares of the team but Montgomery wants them to be bought out by the rest of the ownership equally to prevent anyone from singlehandedly controlling the team.

Someone should remind Charlie that opponents are hitting .387 when Moyers throws between 91-105 pitches. Looks like Jamie should be on a 6 inning, 90 pitch count.

I can't recall fully, but I remember hearing about some convoluted partnership agreement issues regarding transfer or sale of an ownership stake. It makes me think Montgomery might have the upper hand in such a hypothetical situation.

http://www.phillymag.com/articles/the_phantom_five/

Here's an interesting article published on the subject of the ownership group.

Not sure if anyone has said this yet, but this is reminiscent, to me, of last year's NLDS. Up against pressure and a quality opponent (be it young pitchers we'd never seen before or hitters that we couldn't cool down), the bats fell silent and the pitching came up short.

Phils should have gotten to Blanton last night. He wasn't throwing that well and had really struggled the past month. Interested to see what they do against Smith tonight (going to the game and never seen this guy pitch).

Dull - Honestly I don't think Cholly keeps close tabs on stats like that. I know Moyer was having a really god night but he is 45 years old. This isn't some guy who is going to get a second wind later in the game or likely be able to muster up something late. He just gets gassed when he gets around 6 innings/90 pitches. I wish Cholly would just be acknowledging of that fact and have started somebody fresh in the 7th.

baxter: Gillick is clearly no idiot, but he sure hasn't done a "fantastic job" within the "constraints" of a nearly $100M payroll. The Marlins, with a payroll nearly 5 times smaller than ours, are just 1 game back in the standings. The A's, with a $47M payroll, and the Brewers, with an $80M payroll, both have better records than we do. The Rockies had a $55M payroll and won the NLCS championship last year. I would reserve the word "fantastic" for these GMs.

I can't really pass final judgment on Gillick's regime until we see what happens this year. To date, however, I'd say he has done about an average job. He has done an above average job at finding low-cost and under-the-radar acquisitions to fill complementary roles (i.e., Durbin, Romero, Werth, Dobbs, Moyer, Lohse). But he has done a below average job at filling out core needs -- instead wasting large sums of money on guys like Eaton, Jenkins, Feliz, Rhodes & Ryan Franklin.

The bottom line is that Gillick inherited a nearly playoff-ready team. On his watch, they missed the playoffs in Year 1, were extremely lucky to make the playoffs & get swept out in 3 games in Year 2 and, up to this point, don't seem to be any better in Year 3. To be sure, the Phillies' owners are cheap, but $98M is more than enough to field a World Series winner if you spend your money wisely. Too often, we haven't.

Allegedly someone already tried to buy the Phillies (Pat Croce and group of investors was the rumor) but Monty & Co. wouldn't sell.

It would be nice to have someone with deep pockets and a real interest in winning buy the team. Yes, I know spending a lot of money doesn't automatically win you a championship, but what they've done so far hasn't worked (the WS the Phils won was under Ruly Carpenter's watch, not current FO), so it's worth investigating. At the very least get someone who's willing to invest a lot more money in scouting and bust slot a few times--we could have Joe Saunders pitching for us had we paid him what he was initially looking for (instead of beating us the other night).

BAP: Agreed on all fronts re: Gillick. He's done a fine job with in-season acquisitions (Moyer, Iguchi, Lohse, Romero), but the free agent signings (other than Lidge) have been pretty much a bust.

Ask yourselves this question: why is it that the Barajas/Helms of the world played well before they came to Philly, played like s*** here, and then went elsewhere and played well again? Is it the coaches? Are we fans really too tough on the players with our expectations?

sophist -

I think of it this way, I am hopeful that if the A's make any moves come the deadline, those moves would be made in an effort to push for the post season - this year. A push for the post season, to me, means Blanton's a keeper. I have no problem with having a solid started like Blanton, knowing that he is not expected to carry the team, but fill out the back end of the rotation.

That said, I sure would like to see the Phillies in the post season as well, and in my opinion, that means the Phillies need to better round out their starting rotation. The bats will wake up on their own, hopefully not against the A's (Sorry.)

HH: I wonder about the fan expectations and reactions(booing etc.) affecting play. It certainly shouldn't when you are being (well)paid to play professionally. And I don't have much sympathy for under-performing millionaires but this town can be extremely tough. I equate it to playing for Larry Bowa constantly. The pressure does seem to get to our athletes in all sports. It could partly explain our lack of success in all sports. The fans are the only constant. Having said all that, there's no other place I'd like to call home. And there probably isn't a better place to win either.

doubleh: Lidge was acquired by trade, not free agency.

On your other question, I'm not sure I agree with the premise. I know Barajas is having a good year, but it's the first one he has ever had and, considering he's 33 years old & has less than 150 ABs this year, I think the odds that it's a fluke are about 99.99%. His failure with the Phillies is not about the Phillies having poor coaching. It's about the Phillies signing a player who not only stunk, but who ended up taking a roster spot from a player who was far, far better.

On Helms, I have always believed that he was nowhere near as good as he looked in his 2006 season (when he hit .329), and nowhere near as bad as he looked in his one year with the Phillies. PG overreacted to Helms' 2006 career year, signing him for starter's money which he didn't deserve. Then he overreacted again when Helms had a career worst year -- going out and signing the expensive & superfluous Pedro Feliz, while giving Helms away for nothing and taking a $2.5M salary hit in the process. And, lo and behold -- just as I predicted --Helms is having the better year offensively. Not by much, but I expect the difference to get wider as the season goes on.

donc: Amen. I don't think the athletes in this town have a CLUE about what will happen should one of these teams win a championship and end this awful drought. The party will make Red Sox Nation seem like a small village by comparison. I would venture to guess those same athletes will never have to pay for anything again in this town so long as they live.

BAP: You're right--my bad--I meant off-season acquisitions and through free agency, which would have included the trades of Lidge (good) and Garcia (not so good).

I'm not saying Barajas or Helms were fantastic by any means, but it's just interesting to me when we watch people come and go from our roster and how they perform elsewhere as opposed to here. I wonder if there's any stats on journeyman players (like Lofton types) and how they play for us vs. other teams.

Certainly I think some of our coaching is suspect, don't know? Third base for sure...

BAP: Don't forget, also, that the Helms mistake was identical to the Nunez mistake. Bad player has career year and PG signs him thinking the career year will be the norm.

I say all the time there should be less pressure on Philly teams. Look at the 93 Phillies-they're heroes for finishing SECOND.

Same with the 80 Eagles-heroes for finishing SECOND.

Most towns you have to win the actual title to be 'legends'.

It's really pretty simple. The reason teams like Oakland and Florida and Minnesota can succeed despite low payrolls and higher-spending teams like the Mets and Phillies flail away in mediocrity is that the quality of organizations still supersedes budgets in this game. (And Boston would be in the same damn place - as they were for decades under the staid, ever-loyal Yawkeys - if they hadn't transformed into such a smart operation.) It's no mystery at all. The Phillies don't win not because they don't spend, but because they don't produce their own players. The Phillies had to go out and shell out for spare parts who turned out to be inadequate because they can't produce them internally - thus upping the payroll high enough so that they're doubtful about keeping a higher-premium player in the long run. Please, let's be accurate in our blame here. This notion that the Phillies won't spend, are cheap, etc. might have historic merit but it misses the mark if you're really looking to pin down the reason why they don't do any better. And excessive blame or credit towards Gillick, to me, is absurd. It's hard to see what he or anyone else realistically thought he could do given the state of the farm system, except tinker his heart out. He;s done that; he's won a few and lost a few. Nothing he's done either way is ultimately responsible or will be responsible after he;s gone, for the long-term condition of this francise and its ability to win. The organization needs better people to oversee the minor league system, period. It needs better scouts, better instructors, it needs a higher priority. Nothing's going to change until and unless THAT changes. Whether the ownership needs to be replaced in order for that to happen is debatable, but you wouldn't exactly have a weak argument in favor of it.

Did anyone hear an onslaught of booing during those five losses on the last homestand? Has anyone heard it at all tis year except in isolated bursts for Myers, Howard, and Gordon? Hell, they;re not even booing Feliz or Jenkins, which is astonishing. People by and large haven't been so down on the team, from what I've heard watching the games. And there were positive vibes all over the place in the previous homestand. 'Expectations' should have absolutely nothing to do with this picture anymore. They just aren't good enough to sustain a high level of play for very long.

In addition: people have referred to the stability of the Phillies' roster this year as a good thing, but one thing it means is that they don't have anyone worth calling up to push underachievers like Jenkins, Taguchi, Myers, etc. So it's really not 'stability' so much as a necessary holding pattern.

Hasn't the Phillies payroll gone down under Gillick's watch, while every other teams' has gone up? So during Gillick's tenure, the Phillies cut payroll 25% and improved slightly, without signing any free agents. You can't apply a small market model to a large market. Big market media doesn't allow Marlins-style wholesale rebuilding.

Remember the outrage on WIP when the Eagles let Reggie White go? The Phillies payroll is about 60%-70% what it should be. The Cubs, Mets and Dodgers spend about double what the Phillies do, while bringing in a similar amount of cash.

RSB:You are absolutely right about the quality of the organization. I look at the young guys that the sox bring up and feel nothing but jealousy. The string doesn't seem to have an end. The Phillies have to go that route. No question. However, I think there is more pressure here than most places. And yes things have been better this year, but let's face it until the past week there hasn't been much to complain about. I don't mean to make excuses but I do think it's at least somewhat of a factor. But the management of this team is and has been mediocre for a long while and the level of play will always mirror that.

The Phillies draft better than the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees or Mets. Those teams have prospects because they sign players above slot. How many of their core players are homegrown? The Angels and Dodgers draft better than the Phillies, but they also spend a lot more money.

Compare homegrown stars on big market teams:

Yankees- Jeter, Rivera
Red Sox- Papelbon
Cubs- Kerry Wood?
Angels- Lackey, K-Rod, Garret Anderson
Mets- Wright and Reyes.
Phillies- Burrell, Howard, Rollins, Utley, Hamels

Now lets compare stars bought/acquired by big market teams:

Yankees- A-Rod, Pettite, Giambi, Mussina, Abreu, Damon, Matsui
Red Sox- Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Josh Beckett, Schilling, Matzusaka, Lowell, JD Drew, Varitek
Cubs- Zambrano, Derek Lee, Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Ted Lilly, Fukudome
Angels- Vlad Guererro, Torii Hunter, Gary Matthews Jr
Mets- Carlos Beltran, Delgado, Pedro Martinez, Billy Wagner, Johan Santana, Moises Alou
Phillies- Brad Lidge

Blaming the front office is missing the point. They're just shielding the blame from the real culprits- the owners. If the Phillies front office were allowed to acquire pitching they would. If they were allowed to get a real 3B, we'd have one. If they were allowed to resign Burrell and Lidge, they would've done so already.

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EST. 2005

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