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Monday, September 22, 2008

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It's funny how easy it is to ignore defense when assessing teams. The Phils did not play particularly well offensively. The Marlins directly or indirectly gave the Phils a bunch of runs with their defense. The Phils have a bunch of consistent (Burrell) or good defenders (the rest, mostly) and no real black holes.
Howard will make errors but he's playing much more inspired defense the last couple of months, which I am fine with. Dobbs is looking much better at third too.

Any word on whether Dobbs is injured?

Congratulations guys. It must be fun to root for a team with heart. Good luck against the Brewers in the NLDS.

Defense? Irrelevant around here. Actually, it must have been the hand of G-d that reached down and tweaked Dobbs, whereafter Feliz immediately made 2 nice plays and 1 unbelievable play (not to mention the HR). Luck like that make you think good things are ahead.

Great blog. I am really glad we won't have to see the Marlins again. Instead they can launch homers against the Mets on the final weekend of the series.

The first inning walk to Howard has to be alarming. He needs some protection. What do people think of switching him to 3rd and put Utely at 4th. I would even go with an order like:

1) Rollins
2) Werth
3) Howard
4) Chase
5) Victorino
6) Pat the Bat
7) 3B
8) C
9) P

This team is heating up at the right time and the bounces are going our way. This is going to be a fun last week. Bring on Atlanta!

One of the announcers in a televised game a few weeks back (during the series in Chicago)referred to the Phillies as "The meetin'-est team in baseball". I laughed at that, but I can't argue with it.

Oh yeah, I forgot to add that days like yesterday make it easy to take the cable bill at the end of the month with the Extra Innings package on it. It was great to see the Mets fall on their faces again too. There is nothing like the close up look on the Mets fans' faces while they watch their team blow it. Imagine what it must be like to be on that team and do so much to win only to see the bullpen blow it. As Nelson on The Simpsons would say "HA HA"

on madson, have they ever outright given him the 8th and told him he was the set-up man for an extended period of time, besides maybe filling in here and there when we needed him when gordon or whoever at the time was setting up was down?

Huge props to Dobbs for his play at third yesterday. If he misses it the Phillies are behind in that game 4-3 most likely. Who knows what happens then.

Jamie Moyer would be really close to a 20 win season if they had held some of those great games he pitched. Nonetheless he has had a great season.

Although I am a believe in the "any given day" philosophy, I'd much rather face the Braves and Nats than the Fish and Cubs. It's gonna be a crazy week.

Would a healthy Hanley tip the series 2-1 Marlins? They definitely caught a break missing .939 OPS/33 SB at the top of the lineup.

Hanley is such a difference-maker the Fish gave him the first real contract in Fish history. Again, the hand of fate.

jw, i dunno. maybin and amezega had decent series, but i for sure thought they would start hanley for the rubber match vs moyer.

Len39--

Got to keep Ryno and Chase apart, as Cholly has been doing for the last number of games.

If Jaime is able to get to 16 wins with another good start, I think he might garner some Cy Young votes. Of course, I haven't looked at any statistics, but then again neither do most writers, who usually go with their gut.

Seriously, I think Moyer has been my favorite player this year. Being successful at his age with his stuff amazes me every time I watch him pitch.

If Moyer had 3 more wins he'd be in the Cy Young conversation. Obviously wouldn't win with the year Webb and Lincecum have had, but he'd certainly get some 3rd place votes.

I gotta say, the game Saturday night, I watched it on my DVR and I fast forwarded through every half inning the phils bullpen were pitching.
Allowing 12 batters to hit with runners on base, but somehow making it out the way they did, looked great in X2 speed.
I don't think I could have watched it in regular speed.
Great game yesterday, Moyer continues to defy the age question. Sign him up!

Burrell and Howard each sitting at .247. One on the way down, one of the way up. I could care less who wins this batting average race just as long as both produce well over the final 6-pack of games. Go Phils!

if the phillies are having MORE meetings now, it's a new thing. In the first half of the season and last year, I watched our pitchers hung out to dry time and time again, without a break from the catcher or the coaching staff. Last year, we heard it alot about Ruiz not going to the mound, some speculating that a language barrier preventing mound meetings.

I've seen pitchers not seemingly ready to go in the bullpen. A rush to get a guy in. Or waiting until the bases were loaded and a run in, to come out and talk to a guy.

I'm surprised that Cubs announcers would say the Phillies meet the most. Because that award has to go to LaRussa, hands down.

If it's a new thing, it's working. Don't mess with success.

I think its great that both of our starters got wins in the past two games with our offense shutting down for significant amounts of time. After so many seasons of futility im still not used to having a bullpen that gets it done.

I agree, there's an awful lot of meetings at the mound, but this is probably to get the pitchers mind right, given him a breather, make the batter ancy, and just piss off the opposition...prolongs the game, but it's working so whatever.

Len:

Hope's right. You've got to separate Utley and Howard. I wouldn't touch Howard in the 4 spot, and frankly, I like the order Charlie's been using in the first 4 spots. I'd bat Victorino 5th and Burrell 6th (Vic's been hot lately). Against a righty you may want to bat Dobbs 5th and Vic 6th followed by Burrell at 7th. Catcher would always bat 8th.

Weitzel's dead right about the Mets bullpen. Without Wagner, this is probably the worst collection of arms for a team still in contention. The only relievers they have who are any good are specialists who can't pitch against hitters from the opposing side. Smith, Schoeneweis, Feliciano, all fall into that category. The remainder are mediocre relievers who shouldn't be in the 8th or 9th innings except for mopup. Luis Ayala, Heilman are good examples. Duaner Sanchez is probably the best of the group and he's hurting.

Anybody want to start a pool on how much money the Mets will spend on free agent relievers next year? I'm betting 30 million, like a 13 million/year contract for a closer like Fuentes, and 2 setup men whose contracts combine for 14 million, plus 3 mil/year for a specialist. We're going to see one of the most ridiculous bullpen revamps in baseball history. It'll be even better if some of the signings don't work out.

Remember the "good old days" when we needed mound meetings every other pitch to settle down Padilla?

Take 2 out of 3 from Atlanta and Washington and the Mets will have to go 6-1 down the stretch to win the East.

On the other hand, tonight does not look good. The Braves have seen Happ and have sent a lot of fly balls into the outfield at Turner Field that would have been home runs at the Bank.

Eaton's deal is, what, 3-$24M? Chump change compared to this mess:

"Silva coughed up five runs in 3 1/3 innings in his last start and is 4-15 with a 6.46 ERA in 28 starts overall, so skipping him could hurt the Mariners' draft position."

4-$48M, and his only value is improving their draft position by sucking.

godfather: the brewers spent how much on their bullpen this offseason? teams gotta learn that throwing big money at relievers isn't a sure sign your pen is gonna be solid.

The Mariners are an unmitigated disaster.

Hope: Good point. I am just trying to come up with some way to protect Howard. He needs to see pitches.

Teams are going to walk Howard, the way he's hitting, no matter who's hitting behind him in that situation.

It's funny because the Mariners sure looked like a team on the rise in 2007. Then they go out in the off-season and acquire Bedard and Silva -- one an established ace, the other a solid, inning-eating middle of the rotation starter. Then it all imploded.

Len -

I think Ptb is what we have. In spite of his inconsistency, he is dangerous, has 80+ rbis and can get hot at any time.

Phargo wrote: One of the announcers in a televised game a few weeks back (during the series in Chicago)referred to the Phillies as "The meetin'-est team in baseball".

That was the August 31st broadcast on WGN-TV. I had driven all night evacuating from Gustav, and saw the Phillies were on the tube. I popped in a blank DVD, set the timer and crashed. I watched that game later that night. Moyer was pitching and won that game, too.

In a dead night of winter, I'll have to relook at that game and find out the announcer's name and get the exact quote. They had quite a discussion about it. They were probably ticked as it was delaying their game and they had a hot dinner date waiting somewhere.

Hope: I'm a Pat The Bat fan and when he gets hot I have no problem with him in the 5 hole. Right now though he isn't inspiring any fear in the other team's lineup and Howard needs to see pitches.

Who would have thought that Silva would implode (well that's not a huge surprise) and Bedard would require shoulder surgery (oops, he's always been an injury risk).

Its ashame but oh well.

On the Brewers: signing Gagne was a smart move...NOT! when will teams stop listening to the crap Boras spews and actually do their own research on free agents of his?

Amazing how much Met fans are freaking out right now, considering they have one of the best pitchers in baseball on their staff and a much better lineup than the Brewers. They sound just as fatalistic as Phillie fans from about a week and a half ago.

Even with Sabbathia, I just don't see the Brewers getting in...the other night with bases loaded and down by just 1 run, Fielder strikes out to end of the game. Things just aren't going their way and it's compounded by a bad bullpen. At least the Mets' offense is still hitting plenty.

On a personal note, I got to visit the Nats new stadium this weekend. It's nice but it is pretty antiseptic; not much character. They were in the midst of suffering a sweep at the hands of the equally woeful Padres. What an awful game. I spent more time watching the out of town scoreboard. Willie Harris took bad routes and misjudged two flyballs in the outfield which led to a few Pads runs. They look like a AAA ballclub right now. If the Phils drop more than one game to the Nats this week, they don't deserve to go to the playoffs.

It'd be nice to play the kids and start Eaton on Sunday.

pretty sure it was bob brenly who made that comment because the whole infield gathered every other batter for an inning that game

"They were probably ticked as it was delaying their game and they had a hot dinner date waiting somewhere."

These being baseball announcers, I have to assume that the dinner was hot, not the date.

Hey doubleh, I was wondering how the trip went. I hope you at least had good weather and good snacks and beer.

Start Adam Eaton on fan appreciation day? Yikes.

phargo: The trip was nice. Weather was beautiful. Hotel was OK, but nearby the stadium (which is near the naval yard), so there was nothing to do outside of the game. We should have stayed in the city and took a cab instead of staying near the game, but you live and you learn. I had their famous Nat dog with chili and it was pretty good. Their beer selections aren't great, but I don't think the Cit's are, either.

I will say this; they are some of the friendliest ballpark people I've ever met and I've been to 10+ stadiums over the last few years. CBP's are pretty nice, but these people couldn't do enough for you. They also have something called "Saturday Night Movies" where after the game they air a movie (I would assume it's usually baseball). This weekend it was "Field of Dreams". I thought it was cool, but I guess when you aren't selling out dates, you need more gimmicks. Could you imagine CBP doing that with 40,000+ fans in attendance?

Oh, and Red Sox fans are utterly obnoxious. A big group of them came to the game to cheer for the Red Sox, who weren't even playing the Nats. They uttered profanities at Aaron Boone every time he came up to bat. And Phillies fans get all the bad press...

I realize I'm in the monority here, but the fact that New York has 4 games remaining against a team that has (a) already won their division & (b) is a lock for the top record in the NL has me concerned. Granted, the Mets are 0-2 against the Cubs this season, but those games were back in April. Chicago's only real motivation now is to make it through the regular season injury free. Not that they'll automatically mail it in the rest of the way, but still ...

Meanwhile, the Phils finish off the year w/ 3 games vs. a Nationals team that has consistently frustrated them (9-6 so far in '08, but Philly has lost 3 of the last 4). We ought to be hammering Washington, but every game seems to be a nail-biter. Perhaps my local sports pessimism is working overtime here, & I've got nothing to worry about ... or do I?

Certainly start Eaton. It'll remind the fans to appreciate the fact that he hasn't started since May. And with any luck, it'll be his last start for the team.

I'm all for a Kyle Kendrick start on Sunday with some relief from Adam Eaton and a Golson and Marson start. Bruntlet, Jenkins and Stairs can always use more at bats too.

I'm not too worried about the Mets playing the Cubs. Pinella just said yesterday that he was going to play the remaining games tough because they matter for playoff implications. The players . . . who knows. But the same can be said for the Nats and the Braves. They have absolutely NOTHING to play for right now. I'd say they're a better bet to roll over than the Cubs.

G-Town Dave: I doubt you're in the minority. The Braves will be out for revenge and the Nats give us fits. But if we are able to take 2 of 3 from the Fish, we should be able to at least do the same with the Braves and Nats. The Fish are a much, much better team than either one of those 2.

But I do think the Cubs have something to play for and won't be mailing it in. For one thing, they still have to win a game to lock up Home Field Advantage, which they will want to do considering their home and away W/L records. Also, I heard a couple of sportswriters commenting on which team the Cubs would not want to play in the first round, and though they all concurred that the Cubs could play with anyone, they said the matchup the Cubs would like least is the Phillies (because of their firepower).

So...it would be in their best interests to make sure the Mets lose more games than the Phillies, no?

doubleh,

"Oh, and Red Sox fans are utterly obnoxious. A big group of them came to the game to cheer for the Red Sox, who weren't even playing the Nats. They uttered profanities at Aaron Boone every time he came up to bat. And Phillies fans get all the bad press..."

That sounds familiar to me. Years ago, I went to an Orioles-Angels game at Camden Yards. A group of Red Sox fans settled in to the row behind us in the 3rd inning. One loudly asked another "Who the h@ll is pitching?", and when his friend did not respond and I told him, got an F-bomb for my trouble. Every time Mo Vaughn came up, they loudly booed him, calling him Mo' Donuts.

Dantheman: Well, at least they were at a game in the same league. Coming to cheer/jeer at a game between two teams with the worst records in the NL is just boorish.

doubleh: I certainly hope the Cubbies are viewing their playoff match-ups in that manner! I'm actually quite confident that the Phils will make the post season one way or another, but I want the Division so much more than the Wild Card. The difference is pretty much academic nowadays, but last year spoiled me! :-)

4 wins over these last 6 games should be a realistic goal for this team. Hopefully, those 4 wins can be achieved sooner rather than later and rest can be given to key players.

BP.com preview:

Jurrjens has also been scuffling lately; in his last five starts he's surrendered 24 runs in 30 innings, pushing his ERA from 3.15 to 3.72. It appears that the 22-year-old right-hander from Curacao is tiring—he threw between 141 and 143 1/3 innings in each of the last three seasons, and this year is almost 40 innings over that, putting him beyond the pale in terms of Tom Verducci's "Rule of 30" for pitchers under the age of 25, a warning sign for next year as well. [...] Lidge became the fourth Phillies pitcher to notch 40 saves in a year, after Jose Mesa, Mitch Williams, and Steve Bedrosian. [...] Lidge still leads the majors with 7.45 WXRL, the greatest number of wins added by a reliever since Lidge himself posted 8.10 for Houston in 2004.

From NYM v CHN:

The moral dilemma facing Lou Piniella is therefore what balance to strike between resting his regulars for the postseason and fielding a competitive team to maintain the integrity of the NL pennant race. A further variable thrown into that equation is that if the season ended now, the Mets would be the wild-card winner and would travel to Wrigley Field; Piniella therefore might want to get his starters as many looks at Mets pitching as possible, going on the theory that the batter is the one who benefits most with increased exposure. Piniella played an entire lineup of backups yesterday in Chicago's first game since clinching, but has indicated that will not be the norm over the rest of the week: "If we need to rest a player here or a player there, that we can do. I just can’t play the lineup like we’re playing today the rest of the week. It just wouldn’t be fair to the teams, and it wouldn’t be fair to us, because we haven't clinched home-field advantage yet either."

4 wins would be great but even 3-3 should get it done.

Carlos Ruiz is certainly making the future of the catching position more interesting isn't he? I'd say he's an above average defensive catcher when you include the way he apparently handles the pitching staff. And when he hits a little he's very valuable.

You know...they have won 9 of 10. And Burrell won one of those games with his dinger. I say keep Pat at the 5 spot as things are going well. Even though he's swinging with a toothpick right now you have to believe he'll snap out of it eventually, he's been doing this for a while now.

And maybe...just maybe Pat gets his swing back here at home just in time for...THE PLAYOFFS.

By the way....anybody have all of the ESPN "experts" predictions for the NL East before the season started? Would love to see that.

Showing a movie after the game? The Phillies would never do it. Those movies cost $3.50 at Blockbuster, you know.

I think the Phillies will take 2 of 3 from the Braves while Milwaukee does the same to the Pirates. Meaning that the Phils are still up 3 games going into the weekend and have clinched a tie for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Mets take 3 of 4 from the Cubs. That would set up the Phils being 1 up on the Mets going into the weekend and the Mets 2 up on Milwaukee in the wild card.

Pitching match-ups:

PHILLIES:

9/22 - Happ vs. Jurrjens (ATL)
9/23 - Hamels vs. Hampton (ATL)
9/24 - Myers vs. Reyes (ATL)
9/25 - OFF
9/26 - Blanton vs. Lannan (WAS)
9/27 - Moyer vs. Perez (WAS)
9/28 - Hamels/Happ vs. Martis (WAS)

METS:
9/22 - Niese vs. Marquis (CHI)
9/23 - Santana vs. Harden (CHI)
9/24 - Perez vs. Zambrano (CHI)
9/25 - Martinez vs. Lilly (CHI)
9/26 - Pelfrey vs. Volstad (FLA)
9/27 - Niese vs. Nolasco (FLA)
9/28 - Santana vs. Olsen (FLA)

BREWERS:
9/22 - OFF
9/23 - Bush vs. Karstens (PIT)
9/24 - Sheets (??) vs. Maholm (PIT)
9/25 - Sabathia vs. Duke (PIT)
9/26 - Suppan vs. Dempster (CHI)
9/27 - McClung vs. Marquis (CHI)
9/28 - Bush vs. TBA (CHI) - should be Harden but can't imagine him pitching that game.

Doubleh:
I live in Baltimore right now and I have to agree wholeheartedly with your statements about the Nats ballpark. It's nice because it's new, but it's nothing special. It's far too generic, if you ask me, no real character to the place, nothing unique. Fans are very nice, which given what they've got to root for is surprising.

Moving to another topic, I'd thought I'd throw an idea out to you guys: suppose you were GM of the Mariners or Nationals, what would you do in 3 years to make the team competitive? I say we play fix a franchise and see how smart some of you guys are. Clout, I'm looking in your direction....

Regarding how the Cubs are going to play out the rest of the regular season, here's a good article from the Chicago Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chi-22-cubs-cardinals-chicagosep22,0,1854904.story

Most interesting:

"How much they get to rest against the Mets and Brewers is questionable, because Major League Baseball insists on sending out a representative lineup against contending teams and both opponents are fighting for playoff spots."

I did not know there was such a rule, but I like it.

Godfather - here's what you don't do. In a small market situation (Nats, Pirates, Royals, etc.), you DON'T throw big money into free agency. You can't get the top guys anyway and the ones you do get are overpriced and mediocre players anyway (see Pirates with guys like Jeromy Burnitz, Joe Randa, etc.). So you take that money and put it into building your minor league system, drafting and player development. Maybe even dip into the overseas market. If you have a borderline All-Star caliber player who is a year or so away from free agency, look to get 2-3 quality guys back in return (like the Marlins - Beckett for Hanley and Sanchez). Basically be more like Oakland or Florida rather than Washington or Pittsburgh. I would much rather trade for a guy like Hanley than sign Cristian Guzman. I would rather have Florida's pitching from the system than rely on Jose Lima type pitching.

Anyone read Stark's article on ESPN today?

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?page=pennantpulse/080922

If games were to end in the 6th inning this year the Mets would have an 11 1/2 game lead on us. Even crazier if games were to end in the 8th inning, the Mets would lead us by 6 1/2 games. Truly shows how awful that bullpen is over at Shea.

My vote for the biggest non-issue "issue" of this playoff race is the decision to play those two Astro games in Milwaukee. Did it suck for the Astros? Sure, it did. The whole hurricane sucked, but it happened & MLB had to figure out a way to deal with it. It's not like they played those games in Wrigley Field. They played in a neutral park. The park happens to be close to Chicago, but I've always thought the home field advantage has far more to do with being familiar with the park, than it does with having a bunch of screaming fans cheering you on. By that measure, neither team had any advantage.

In any event, even if the Astros did have a right to be a little miffed, they totally forfeited their right to complain when they went out and got a grand total of 1 hit in the 2 games at Miller Park, and then got out-scored 27-4 over their next 3 games after that. Sh*t happens. Get over it and quit whining. Your team is lucky to have even been this close to contention considering the hideous talent on your roster. When the time came to deal with adversity, you guys choked spectacularly.

sarge: Incredible.

Sarge - It also shows how good our pen has been.

BAP - Little harsh. The other issue was that many players had family member evacuating and personal property in harms way. It's an unfortunate situation.

Sarge:

I read the article, but you beat me to post. I found that amazing. You knew there would be a discrepancy between the two 'pens, but I didn't think it would be to that extent. I like the way James broke it down, too. Ending at the 6th and 8th, instead of just using blown saves, losses and similar metrics. It really puts into perspective how bad the Mets' 'pen has been this year.

I know wins are at a premium... but as far as tonight's game goes, I don't want to see Brad Lidge, Chad Durbin, JC Romero or Ryan Madson even warming up let alone in the game. If it means losing one to have a little better piece of mind through the end of the season, then so be it. It's Happ for 6, Seanez, Eyre and Condrey for the save!

HH- I went to a Nats-Phils game 2 years ago at RFK and I would agree with you that the ushers and the fans are extremely nice. I went without tickets and was going to buy some scalped tickets from a couple and the lady at the ticket window told them they couldn't sell them right in front of the park, they could only give the tickets away. The couple i was buying the tickets from actually GAVE the tickets to me and then bought me a beer when we got into the stadium. Incredible. (The couple did look horrified when I booed PtB in the 1st inning though)

sophist: Yes, I know -- and I didn't mean to come off sounding harsh about the hurricane situation. My point was directed specifically at the decision to relocate the games to Miller Park. It has been overblown. The Astros got 1 hit in those 2 games combined and they lost their next 5 games by a combined score of 38-4. Yet, they are acting like they fell out of playoff contention because MLB screwed them.

MLB did what it could on the Astros games. Selig had a much expanded interview about the situation and basically went through every possibility and Milwaukee was the only one that made any sense. The other legit option they thought of was one of the LA stadiums but that would have meant a cross country trip on no sleep for one of the teams going to Florida. Bottom line: Hurricanes suck and the season doesnt have alot of off days to reschedule things when crap like this happens.

Reds just beat the Marlins. Aren't they mathematically eliminated now after that loss?

Mike

I think they can still iwn the WC, 5 1/2 back 6 to play ?

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