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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

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I watched this one through seven, so I saw all of Lester's excellent start. Hence, 2/3 of the post are reader quotes.

So comments on the game...Lester is a very good young pitcher who already has a no-hitter this season so the people saying he as a 60th percentile guy were understating his ability slightly. The Phillies don't do well against good young lefties and it showed last night.
Utley really needs a day off as he is slumping badly and Ryno showed that he is what he is...a very streaky hitter who's either really on or really really off. He looked lost on a couple of his Ks last night and Burrell/Utley didn't look too much better.
Victorino is quickly turning into one of my favorite players...his bunt single in the 1st was a beauty.
Ruiz is killing them with weak ground balls to the point of I am officially gonna start referring to him as Rally Killer instead of Feliz.

I was at the game last night and it was interesting that there were practically no moments when the crowd got into the game. The two best scoring chances found Ruiz at the plate and there was no expectation in the crowd that he would come through (and he didn't disappoint, or, uh, he did disappoint). I have to agree that we just lost to the better team last night.

Utley looked totally lost at the plate. I don't imagine he'll take today off with a young righthander going, but I hope just an off day tomorrow does the trick. It was amazing how weak the lineup was with him slumping and Howard struggling against a tough lefty (although he did have a bunch of good at bats, working the count).

More than anything I think this series has shown that we can definitely play with the Sox. This hasn't been the case in the past when the Red Sox or Tigers have mopped us up in interleague games. The game last night was still close even without any offense and an off night for Moyer. Let's go for the series win today.

With Youk and Ortiz out of the Sox lineup, we SHOULD have been competitive. Without those 2 they are not a championship club. Also, on another note, Ellsbury steals in the 9th were bushleague at best...I'm happy he got caught trying for 3rd with 2 outs.

Ruiz is hitting .190-something against lefties. He probably shouldn't have been out there to begin with.

Utley will come around, and I agree that some of the comments yesterday were a little over the top about Utley being in "big trouble," but I agree that his timing is off and I've been saying for a while now that he needs a day off.

Jason, this is a thread topic suggestion for the next off day: The Phillies offense. There have been a number of interesting discussions in recent days here. Andy and Parker puzzling about the impact of wild swings in runs scored. The debate about whether Howard is having a career bad year. The debate about the dropoff (is there one?) in Rollins performance. The debate about whether defense or offense is more important at 3B. The debate about Chooch vs. Coste.

Let me add fuel to the fire as a jump-off point for any and all things offensive:

2007: 5.51 Runs/p.g., .274 BA, .354 OB
2008: 5.32 Runs/p.g., .264 BA, .342 OB

That's a 3.4% dropoff in runs scored, a 3.6% dropooff in BA and a 3.4% dropoff in OB.

The pitching, of course, has kicked ass (ERA+ of 116 compared to 111, a 4.5% improvement) largely because it hasn't had a single injury. Will that be true the rest of the season? And, while everyone has asked the question "Is the pitching good enough for the playoffs?," no one has asked "Is the offense good enough, especially if a pitcher gets hurt?"


J: I think most were simply saying he needed a rest. No one here really ever bashes Utley...he simply looks tired out there right now. Ironically going into the game, he was doing really well against lefties this season (something like .319 avg)

clout: from the last thread, Compare the Phillies "dropoff" with the rest of the League...its probably a pretty close comparison. Offense is down accross the board this season and the Phillies are no exception. Overall, the offense is not gonna be the problem for the rest of the season.

I agree that missing Ortiz is a big deal, but Casey has been really strong filling in for Youkilis at first so I'm not sure how much of a difference his absence has made. Of course, I imagine Ortiz would be at first without the DH if he was healthy.

Two major lineup mistakes last night: not starting Coste against the lefty (Ruiz came up small in some big ABs), and letting Utley talk his way out of a night off. Last night was a perfect time to give him a rest. He plays so hard, its not surprising that he looks a little tired.

I didn't see the game last night, so I can't comment on specifics. But I knew going into the night that it was going to be a hard game to win... Boston crushes Moyer and Lester is just really really good. I am just happy it wasn't a completely crushing win... 10-0 or 15-1 or something like that. It was kept close enough that one big inning would have made Boston sweat pretty profoundly.

Yeah, I was really surprised that Coste didn't start.

Coste should have at the very least pinch hit for Ruiz in the bottom of the 7th with 2 on and 2 outs. Coste's AB in the 8th was meaningless.

I'd start Utley today and let him rest tomorrow. I'd also give him off Saturday vs. the lefty Saunders and let him rest some more on Monday's off day. After that, back to every day!

Interesting note on Utley...he actually does better against Lefties than righties...at least this season:

LHP: .318avg/.403obp/1.103ops
RHP: .293avg/.389obp/.963ops

It was probably part of the reason he started last night.

Note: Those numbers were going into last night...not including it.

Clout: 1st in NL in runs, 42-31 record, 3 game lead in the division.

I agree that the pitching is due to come back down to earth, in which case we may in fact need more offense. Or we could improve the pitching, which is what I would recommend. Trying to improve on the top offense in the league, or trying to improve on a pitching staff that over its career has been mediocre at best? Seems pretty simple to me, that we need another starter and another bullpen arm.

Ellsbury stealing in a 3-0 game is bush league? Since when is a 3 run lead insurmountable, especially against the Phils? Let's not get carried away, stealing in blowouts is bushleague, but last night was by no means out of reach.

Also, here is the leaguewide numbers comparing 2008 and 2007 offense:

2007: .266/.334/.422
2008: .258/.330/.410

So there has been a leaguewide drop in offense, albeit maybe a little bit smaller than ours as a team.

You can't really count the Phils missing Ortiz and Youkilis as two breaks, since one of them would have had to sit anyway. Factor in that Casey has hit well in the two games so far and its hard to see much benefit from it. It is nice to be in the home park with NL rules. National League Baseball is so much better, and not just because of Colon's amazing at bats in game 1.

From the Boston Herald: "Manny Ramirez isn’t in the lineup for this afternoon’s game vs. the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The clubhouse is just about to open, so we’ll find out if it’s just a case of day-game-after-a-night-game breather or if he aggravated his sore right hamstring last night. Ramirez left last night’s win after seven innings, presumably for defensive purposes. We’ll have more news later."

Ellsbury stealing in a 3-0 game isn't Bush League, its Abreuesque.

That 3.4% drop-off in runs scored is largely due to Howard & Rollins, who are having enormous drop-offs from their 2007 production. It's true that both Burrell & Utley have improved their production from last year, but that improvement is not as great as Howard and Rollins' drop-off.

I continue to think that the Phillies' also miss Aaron Rowand's bat. Werth & Jenkins have given them decent power, but at the cost of consistency. Last year, Rowand's batting average went above .300 on April 12. From that point forward, his average never again dipped below .300, and his OBP never dipped below .374.

The Phillies need more guys like that in their lineup; that's why I've been so anxious to get Lou Marson up to the majors. Instead, we've got too many guys like Feliz, Ruiz, & Jenkins, who hit for low averages, don't draw any walks, and don't even make the opposing pitcher work for his outs. I don't think it's a coincidence that our offense has gone down this year; I think there's an element that we had last year which is missing. Will that missing element be fatal to our post-season hopes? Most likely, yes, unless we get another top-tier starter so we can set ourselves up to win a few 2-1 games.

I can't believe that, with all the comeback wins the Phillies have had this year, there are people who are criticizing Ellsbury for stealing a base with a 3-0 lead.

I agree BAP, that's pretty ridiculous.

obviously stealing second base was totally a legitimate move, but stealing third in that situation is just plain dumb.

Dumb, it was. Bush league, no. Speaking of base stealing, the RedSox stole 6 bases last night off of our defensive specialist catcher. Fortunately, Ruiz made up for it at the plate, with his awesome assortment of infield ground outs and rally-killing DPs.

Looks like Utley could use an off day, but that's a bit of a daunting task when you yank your best player. Leave him in to work things out or rest him. It's like the old 'starve cold, feed a fever', or is it the other way around?

Just a thought, but with So To not really being the guy who they had hoped, what are the odds that the Reds might be willing to part with Ryan Freel? His attitude and grittiness would be a nice fit for this club.

Coste's at bat in the 8th was weak. Plus, I think Ruiz got robbed of 2 thrown out runners (Crisp at 2B, Crisp at 3B, where Crisp clearly popped off the bag for a split second while Feliz still maintained the tag). Still, those GIDPs were big. But there is no question that Chooch's defense and game calling abilities are better than Coste's. Ruiz definitely needs to catch Myers so that he can use the Tony Pena stance to keep Bret's stuff down.

You never ever ever make the 3rd out at 3rd base...basic fundamentals...going for 3rd was Ellsbury trying to pad his stats, nothing more. 2nd was legit, 3rd was bushleague. I guarantee Tito ripped him a new one for it after the game.

"But there is no question that Chooch's defense and game calling abilities are better than Coste's." Davthom73 is readying his riposte.

Also, I agree Ruiz was screwed out of at least out call.

Sorry, that was supposed to be "Ruiz was screwed out of at least one call."

I didn't see it so I can't really talk, but if Crisp was called out for hopping off the base after he stole it, would you really give Ruiz "credit" for that? It's more like Crisp was in there safely, but erred in securing it. Reaching there, but it doesn't sound like Ruiz' throw got there first.

Where has DavThom 73 been? I miss his posts.

BB makes a good point there.

In other non-baseball news: Tiger Woods is done for the year, he's having more surgery on his knee.

BB and NEPP: Yes, but that presupposes that the ump got the original call correct. The throw beat Crisp to the bag and the replay was inconclusive as to whether Crisp avoided the tag. On one angle he looked to be tagged prior to the initial safe call. On the other angle, while Wheels definitively stated he was safe, I don't think that it was that clear cut.

I didn't see it so I dont really have a real opinion. I was on another channel when that play happened. Using "Wheels" as your support isnt the best evidence...

MPN: The glove clearly caught all air on the outfield-side of Crisp. Crisp slid into the bag on infield side. You can tell on the replay that the glove is flying through the air and not touching any body. The glove is clearly on him when Coco hops up into the air though. All in all, credit Ruiz for getting the ball there in time.

I was not invoking Wheels! Hah. Ask Jason Weitzel, he knows my opinion on Wheels. It's not favorable.

MPN: LOL...I'm just kidding with you...Wheels sucks.

Opponents Batting Averages by Catcher (career numbers):

Myers: With Ruiz -- .266/.320/.449
With Coste --.266/.338/.491

Moyer: With Ruiz -- .273/.333/.462
With Coste -- .295/.330/.506

Hamels: With Ruiz -- .222/.279/.382
With Coste -- .225/.274/.381

Eaton: With Ruiz -- .380/.354/.469
With Coste -- .326/.395/.558

Kendrick: With Ruiz -- .275/.336/.449
With Coste -- .302/.328/.448

Ruiz is a horrible offensive player, but Davthom wouldn't have much of a case for arguing that Coste's game-calling abilities are better than Ruiz's. And, for that matter, don't expect Coste to keep hitting over .300. .280, with very few walks, is more realistic. He's a nice story, who gets a lot of love on Beerleaguer. But he's weak defensively and he's not exactly an offensive dynamo. In short, he's an ok backup.

Lineups posted - for the phils its Jenkins, Dobbs and Ruiz (and Utley).

An ok backup? Coste is a career .309 hitter in 450 AB's with 18 bombs. I don't know of too many backup catchers with those numbers.

Ruiz again...damnnit!

According to today's Inq, a Phils scout attended last night's Maddux-Sabathia matchup in Cleveland. The Phils could use either of those guys. Sabathia is the far more dominant pitcher in 2008, but Maddux might be a better rental.(a lot less prospects for similar performance)

The Phils probably have scouts in every game in the big leagues.

Similar performance? Between Maddux and who exactly? Not CC for sure.

lol
Q: how do you know your team got shutout the previous night?

A: you go to their website and the highlight video they have up is your shortstop throwing out their pitcher at first.

On last night,

I'm frustrated also with Ruiz' lack of offense. I had anticipated that he would improve rather than regress. I have to give him some credit for his defense though. He nearly threw out Crisp and Ellsbury at second, and then immediately did gun down the speedy and cocky Ellsbury at third. That's nice work on two hard to catch baserunners.

Play Chase today, rest him the next game unless he comes back like a banshee. He looks lost up there, and I am wondering if it might not be playing on his head. That ball popped out of his glove like a super ball in late innings last night on the steal attempt.

Continue to be concerned with Ryan Howard's inability to settle into any consistent kind of groove, and about the team's feast or famine offense. Cole laid a good game on the Red Sox and a night later, Lester came back and, to his credit, like it or not, one-upped him. Subjectively, as great as Lidge has been, Papelbon looked very intimidating out there. Blew two of our best hitters away like they were little leaguers, and I was actually feeling sorry for Werth. He's one of those guys that I suspect noone gets comfortable with, in the slightest.

Chase always seems to bounce back from these slumps, often just when it is most needed, but not sure if Howard is destined this year to go on one of those rampages where he almost carries the team. They have run into a couple of pitching buzzsaws. Some were expected (Volquez). I can't who the pitchers were, but I do remember a Mitch Williams comment about a couple of the lesser pitchers tossing "career games" at the Phils this year.

We'll see. Not a "must win", but another important game. A series win against Boston (Manny/Papi/Youk or not) and a couple of hits from Chase would be big for the team.

Tony: Even Coste himself says that the reason he puts up such good numbers is because of his limited use. If he ever became the full-time catcher, his offensive numbers would go down. More importantly, the stats I posted above make it pretty clear that our pitching would suffer significantly. Not to mention that opposing base runners would go hog wild on us.

I was at the game too, and to be honest, many of those steals were not "throwout-able." Pitchers didnt do the greastest job keeping them close. The game was SLOOOOWWW, so the crowd wasnt into it, other than the Shane bunt single in the first and rollins' double in the eighth. Phils seem way to inconsistent at the plate this year, and Ruiz just blows. Howards 4 K's were ugly, good god.

Coste should not be a starting catcher, even he says he is best used as a backup/bench player. But he is certainly not just an "ok back-up" but one of the better backup catchers/bench players in league.

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