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Thursday, June 19, 2008

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Its sad that the only game we won was against their 5th starter (with our Ace on the mound). If that had been against Beckett (as would be the case in a playoff game) we'd probably have been swept.

It's been a very, very tough stretch of nonstop baseball against good clubs. That loss on Sunday was huge.

losing 3 series in a row is not good. We really should have at least won the first 2 and now we're paying for it against good teams.

I repost these stats because I think it's more indicative of why we lost the last two games (especially Tuesday night). Sure, Moyer put on a ton of base-runners while Kendrick did the same and let them score... However, in both games 2 and 3, the offense was within reasonable striking distance and couldn't get it done:

            AB  H   LOB
Victorino 7 1 7
Utley 8 0 8
Howard 8 1 2
Burrell 8 0 1
---------------------
Total 31 2 18
Give credit to the Boston pitchers, or attribute it to the offense running cold. Not gonna win many series with the middle of the lineup hitting like that.

For the most part, the Phils have taken care of business in games they had every right to win. In other words, they were due for this.

After some of those weird drops and bounces against Atlanta, I knew we were bound to have a unlucky run...but still.

I'm optimistic, with shaky starting pitching on this tough stretch of games we stayed close enough for a change to win. The table was set a few times and the big hit didn't come. This tells me we can certianly hang with top teams, but we need another top starting picther.

As long as the phils are hot again going into the 4-game home series with the Mets for July 4th weekend. Must take 3 in that one. 2 minimum obviously. Play at least .500 from now til then.

I am new to the blog, but I was curious on your opinions on acquiring a guy like Derek Lowe. I am not sure if he will be available, but if the Dodgers continue to struggle he seems like someone who could potentially become available. He is in the final year of his contract I believe, and probably would be someone the Phillies could obtain seeing how he probably wouldn't require too much in return. He's a sinkerballer (perfect for CBP), and has big game experience with some success. Just seems like a logical fit for the team as Sabbathia would cost too much for what would assuredly be a rental, and I'm not wild about Bedard.

The Red Sox were able to plug in a bunch of young pitchers when their stars got hurt and we still struggled. How did this happen? By spending money wisely. One example is that they've drafted players over their slot price the last couple of years. Their depth is astounding. I hate the Red Sox but they are taking advantage of the system and are awesome for it.

Can the Phils do the same? Yes. Do we? No.

I would take Lowe in a heartbeat.

Heading on the road against Atlanta, we faced what was being called our toughest stretch of the season, much of which would be on the road.

3 at Atlanta
3 at Florida
3 at St. Louis
3 vs Boston
3 vs Los Angeles A

We're currently 6-6 with 3 left to play. Win the series against the Angels and we finish 9-6 (.600) or 8-7 (.533). Lose it and we finish the stretch 7-8 (.467) or 6-9 (.400). I really want to see this team take at least two of three from the Angels. Then, despite the disappointment in the middle, I'd be confident in calling it a successful run.

Remember, on June 5th, before this stretch began, the standings looked like this:
Phillies
Florida 2.5
Atlanta 3.5
New York 4.5

Today, it looks like this:
Phillies
Florida 2.0
Atlanta 5.5
New York 5.5

Taking at least two of three from the Angels should help us at least maintain those advantages and, perhaps, even extend them.

It's a big series. Let's hope Chase has found his bat!

@ Lynsk

This team has always struggled with unknown, young pitchers. I don't know if it's lack of scouting, game-planning, or what. Losing two out of three to one of the best AL teams doesn't surprise me. Very disappointing, but not surprising.

Lowe would be an outstanding addition to this pitching staff! That being said, I don't see the Dodgers dropping out of the NL West race anytime soon. They may be 33-38, but they are only 4.5 behind the D-Backs.

Also, with Seattle firing their GM this past week, would they have any interest in Amaro to fill that role? After all he is Gillick's apprentice and Gillick is well respected in Seattle. I wouldn't mind seeing him leave.

Yes, we still have a 2 game lead on the Marlins, but I don't like to worry about other clubs, rather focus on what the Phils are doing. And they're doing poorly. Since the sweep of Atlanta, they have lost 3 straight series and are 3-6. These are good clubs they're playing and they're failing. It doesn't get any easier with the Angels and A's on the horizon.

About Derek Lowe- hell yes I'd take him.

@Lynsk -- Sure the Phillies could pay over slot for their picks, but then you will see the Mets and Braves do so as well. Eventually the dominoes will fall ou'll probably see something similar to the payroll haves and have-nots with the big market teams overpaying for prospects. I guess that would leave the Phillies somewhere slightly above average in that respect. Alternatively, the Phils could throw more money at scouting and development if they want to stay near slot.

Boston Beerleaguer update: Interestingly coinciding with the Red Sox series, Beerleaguer superfan Buzz Bissinger was quoted in this week's Boston Phoenix showing support for Beerleaguer as one of his few respected sports blogs. Listed the web address and everything. Expect some more Boston traffic this week, Jason.

And kudos for turning that snarling old curmudgeon into a terrific PR mouthpiece.

GM: Hmmm... I always like to worry about other clubs since they're they ones we have to beat to make the playoffs.

Your point is well taken, however, and I didn't intend to minimize the fact that we lost three straight series. It happened. A break here or there and maybe we win one of the three 1-run games during that stretch.

Losing a series was bound to happen (been a month since it happened), but losing three in a row shouldn't happen for a team this good. It's a real shame that Chase's worst slump of his career hit during a stretch vs. some of baseball's better teams.

CJ- my comment was directed to the BeerLeaguers in general, not you specifically.

To a certain extent I worry about other clubs (more so in the offseason and around trade deadline though because that's when additions/subtractions are made). However, for the most part of the season I figure if the Phils play good solid baseball and win at a decent clip everthing will take care of itself. This isn't always the case, but my point is that it's no time to standings watch, it's time to step up and play good baseball against good competition.

GM: I would agree with that sentiment for the most part. The reason I bring it up is because this kind of stretch is exactly the kind of stretch where our division opponents should be making up ground. We've been rather fortunate that they havent. It bodes well for us when we get to start playing lesser foes again while our division opponents get tougher ones.

I know it's not as simple as it sounds to pay over slot and get results. It's not an exact science.

I heard Gammons on Baseball tonight a while back and he was talking about the Red Sox hitting on the first 5 of their picks (2005 draft possibly). The Boston scouts didn't find diamonds in the rough, they paid for their diamonds.

Flat out the Phils aren't playing good ball right now. This is a tough stretch but we shouldn't lose series against banged up Cardinals and Red Sox teams. I wouldn't be as down if we faced Beckett or DiceK in this series. Winning this Angels series will be tough but needs to happen.

Perhaps this has been said, but the worst thing about losing these past two series is that we needed only a split of the final two after demolishing the opponent in the first game. The Cardinals and the Sox should have been demoralized after their first-game drubbings, but our boys, it seems, tend to rest on their laurels. It speaks to the inconsistent nature of the offense.

Do we take the series from the Angels? I have serious doubts.

While I can't complain about their position in the standings, it's not what you want to see from a team that could have really put some distance on the rest of the division. Now we have to watch out for the Mets, who, despite all their embarrassments of late, snatched a series victory from the jaws of defeat to top the Angels last night. These guys were a laughingstock and now I fear we're going to have to worry about them.

I have been a staunch defender of Cholly's on this board for a couple of years now, but I do find fault with him on one thing lately. The Phils are struggling hard against quality left hand pitching. I think that Burrell needs to be moved to the 4 hole when they face such a pitcher. This will also make opposing managers loogy decision more difficult in the middle innings. Something new must be tried against leftys.

When beerleaguers kick around potential trade packages why is it the Ruiz is never a part of it.Marson should be off limits because right now our most glaring hole at the major league level(besides SP) is catching. Now this could change in the off season if Burrell is not resigned, but I will be shocked if Marson is not in the bigs by next season. Does Ruiz have any value as a trading chip?

Looking into the immediate future, because we have today off, I think it might be a good time to let Myers skip a start. Hamels will have had full rest and he could start us after Eaton pitches tomorrow against LAA. That way we at least have Hamels and Moyer pitching two games against a very formidable LAA team. Also, if we skip one of Eaton, Kendrick, or Myers starts again in the Oakland series, we could have Hamels on full rest again for Oakland and Moyer to start off the Rangers series. I think it's time to start looking at alternatives until we can get another starting pitcher.

CJ,

Enjoyed the post about the standings which put the disappointing losses in a little perspective.

No stats to base it on, but I would not be surprised at all to see the Mets go on a bit of a winning streak. Just ending the Randolph speculation will let them clear their heads and just play ball for at least a while And hate them or not, they are probably due for some breaks to go their way.

Holding them to 4 runs a game in our park wasn't bad.

Some bad luck and random strike zones thrown in didn't help.

Sox were way under .500 on the road before this week so it looks like they're moving to where they should be as that goes.

"Electric cheese"!! That's very nice, Weitzel.

I too see the Mets going on a tear. We might regret not being able to bury them in the standings this past week.

It certainly is a new kind of a Phillies seaon when the Phils lose three consecutive series in the middle of June and the list doesn't devolve into Metsblog territory.

No one likes to lose, but it's nice not have these kind of losses put us into the kind of holes we've been in the past few seasons.

Now let's start winning again! The schedule doesn't necessarily get easier going to the break:

3 vs Angels
3 at Braves
3 at Rangers
3 at Atlanta
4 vs Mets
3 vs St. Louis
3 vs Arizona

I'd really like to go at least 12-10 over those 22 games. That would make us 18-16 (.529) following our really nice winning streak and put us at 54-42 (.563) going into the All Star Break.

Does "electric cheese" leave a brief firetrail behind the ball as it zooms to the plate? Papelbon was throwing it, as was Lidge.

Both the Braves and Mets took 2 of 3 from the Angels, so if the Phillies can't do the same, I will be seriously disappointed.

Angels BP doesn't seem as impervious as the Sox', either, if you saw last night's game. I mean, Damion Easley, really?

I think higher than that is possible as long as Utley snaps out of it. We've proven we can beat the Braves consistently and we should beat STL and TEX...AZ and LAA are the tough ones...and AZ has been slumping too. 14-8 is possible, 13-9 is a little bit more so, etc.

GM Carson~

I happen to agree with you. We have not come up big lately. We had/have to chance to run away with the divison title and it's not happening. I don't care what anyone else thinks but to me the only team in the league we should have trouble with is the Cubs. No other team scares me.

That being said they have to find a way to augment the starting pitching. And I don't mean with Benson. While he could be a nice addition, I don't think he's an upgrade right now when all is said and done.

As long as butts are in the seats the owners will probably do nothing.

We beat ourselves in the Cards series. But Boston really showed what's wrong with the team the last two days.

Get the starter you need and move Myers to the 'pen. DFA Condrey or send Kendrick down if you have to to make room.

Two last points: 1. If Howard doesn't close his stance a little against lefties, he'll never hit them consistantly. Eveyone on the outside knows this. How come the Phils don't? 2. Re-sign Lidge and Buurrel before they become FA's.

Send Kendrick down? No...that won't be happening.

On Benson, he is scheduled to start tonight in Clearwater...hopefully he makes it through the start in good fashion so he can move on to Reading for another start. I'm not holding my breath on that though.

Yeah... send Kendrick down? A 16-7 career record with a 104 ERA+ in his short two year career? Not quite a candidate to be sent down. He's MORE than serviceable as the 4th starter. This bad start aside, Kendrick is far from our problem in the rotation. Unfortunately, he's still learning how to get lefties out... something he's forced to learn on the job because of our need to bring him up quickly last year... but he's still great against righties.

Kendrick? Are you serious? I think yesterday was the worst start he's ever had; Myers has had starts like his more times than I can count. I believe once he develops another pitch, he will be a solid #3 or #4 for years to come.

If only we could put Kendrick's mental makeup into Myers' head, we'd have one awesome pitcher (or vice versa, Myers' stuff into Kendrick's body--definitely make for a more athletic, fit pitcher than Myers).

Cholly needs some of these guys to work on their fundamentals...Kendrick and Myers absolutely need to learn how to get down a bunt. If you're a pitcher and you can't hit, you had better be able to bunt.

doubleh: Word is, Kendrick is learning a changeup and trying to use it more and more in games. He absolutely needs the pitch in order to become more effective against lefties. Had the Phils not run into disaster last year, he likely would have worked on learning the pitch in the minors. There's not turning back now, however, so let's give Kendrick lots of big leads so he can toss that change!

don: "Does Ruiz have any value as a trading chip?"

Yes he does. He's a good defensive catcher who last season was in the top 5 in OPS among NL catchers.

Now, a question for you: Who replaces him? And if your answer is Lou Marson, please explain why you think so and the state of his defense, error rate, pitch calling and plate blocking skills. Thanks.

~reads clouts post~

Nope I'm not going near it...I don't think Ruiz should be traded personally...at least not during the season.

Is it just me or could Carlos Ruiz hit into a double play even with no one on. Having said that, trading him now would be risky. This team can carry his weak bat, he's not a bad receiver. It's always helpful to remember, a team that strikes out by the boatload is going to be inconsistent offensively. 20 runs one night, shut out the next.

On Ruiz...probably. He's already hit into 8 DPs in 161 ABs...projected out over a full season for him and that number jumps to just over 21 in 428 ABs. His G/F ratio is a staggering 1.92 this season so he hits a ton of balls on the ground. Throw in Feliz (and his blazing speed) batting in front of him and it gets worse. Feliz is on pace to hit into 22 DPs in around 542 ABs. That's a lot of rally killing hits from the 7/8 spots of the lineup.

You got that right. At least we've got some pitchers that can swing the bat. But of course, no team ever one a world series because the staff carried some lumber. Getting back to Ruiz, he might be the only guy I ever saw who you would tell to start upper cutting the ball more. He never seems to be able to hit a fly ball when you need one. We don't have many good situational hitters. It would help if the eight hole hitter who is floundering around the Mendoza line could hit the occasional sac fly.

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