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« Howard homers Phils past Braves, into NL East lead | Main | Off-topic: Life of a ballplayer no day at the park »

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Comments

Great post, Jason.

Rollins and Howard had strange paths this season. I posted Rollins' streaks earlier this week, but here it is again.

Day 1 to May 18: 21 G, .342/.381/.570
Then to Aug 24: 85 G, .236/.308/.375
Aug 25 to present: 21 G, .407/.475/.616

So What's the new story? Maybe the 8th inning and the back-end of the rotation. Blanton came up big last time around. It's Happ's turn.

It would be nice to take a break from debates about Kendrick, Feliz, Eaton, whoever etc and talk about the last game, the next game, and the rest of the season.

Without the EKG of the season, why pay attention?

I was checking out your cafepress shop. Very nice . . . but where's the Beerleaguer pint glass? That would be atop my Christmas wish list.

Thanks for keeping this (occasionally commenting but always reading) relocated Phillies fan informed.

Oh, and I meant to post his season's numbers:

.280/.348/.445 -- 11 HR, 34 2B, 9 3B, 42 SB, 3 CS

Amazing how, besides the HR, he's coming closer and closer to his PECOTA and 4-year average.

One other thing that shouldn't go unnoticed about Rollins' season up to now is that, even when he was struggling, he's progressed his plate discipline this year. His BB% (up nearly 3% from last year) is at a career high and his K% (down 2% from last year) is at a career low.

Thanks Sophist. I didn't realize that.

Great post, Original J-Dub.

Chase Utley, in such a cold streak that he is now tempted to sacrifice bunt late in games, still has a 9-game hitting streak. Players like Burrell must hate him.

Already shooting for Best of Philly 2009

I see the issue as trying to ascribe a football fan mentality to a much different game. I think talk radio and sports tv shows, and to a lesser extent, blogs, only enforce this sort of overanalyzation and reflection. I enjoy it, but it can become exhausting if you become too emotionally involved because it's such a long, long season. I learned my lesson last year, and really have to constantly check myself to keep perspective.

I still slip occasionally, though. /wink

re-post from prior thread

Pat Burrell's Platinum Sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game) was just the fifth one in Phillies history. Even Ryan Howard has not accomplished this dubious feat. Last time it happened by a Phil was in 1999-Scott Rolen. By the way, Geoff Jenkins once struck out 6 times in a game with the Brewers (17 innings). Burrell is hitting .147 (11 for 75) with one homer and four RBIs in 19 games since Aug. 24. His .147 average is the worst in the National League and second-worst in baseball (Chicago White Sox outfielder Nick Swisher is hitting .121) in that span. He is costing himself hundreds of thousands of dollars with each flailing at-bat

Burrell looks lost...we could all complain about that you know...

Utley's been ok since game 2 against the Mets. He hasn't hit for power in awhile, however.

Last 9 games, 38 PA: .294/.351/.382

Solid BA and OBP for a slump.

The shared congenital neurosis of the Phillies fan is one of the coolest things about being a Phillies fan. I think we wear it as a badge of honor. Of course the biggest symptom of this affliction is spectacular mood swings. Another cool thing about being a Phillies fan. It let's you know your alive. And of course the hyperbole with which we discuss the Phightins is absolutely hysterical. The single biggest reason I hang out here. Pure entertainment.

Those are crazy numbers for Burrell. What's even stranger to me was that his August 23rd game was probably his best of the season, 3 for 5 with 5 ribbies against LA.

In the 64 games since July 4th, Utley's SLG has gone from .612 to .533. He has 1 HR in every 35 AB since then. Again his BA/OBP are relatively high considering his SLG drop: .276/.367 in that time.

In the 85 games prior to July 4th Utley's line was .300/.384/.612. He was hitting 1 HR in every 14 AB.

ESPN just reported this fact:

Ryan Howard is hitting .433 vs. LHP since Aug. 7th. Wow.

Since May 10th, Howard's line:
273/352/600, 39 HR, 119 RBI, 114 games

His OPS is up to a season high .872. His batting average is the highest it's been since he was batting .300 after game 3 of the season. He's poised to crack .250, an average few people thought he'd reach.

He's hitting 396/448/1000 in September with 8 HR and 22 RBI in 14 games. That's sick. Just plain sick.

More on Ryan Howard...

His line vs. LHP this season is now:
219/293/438

The 731 OPS may not sound like much, but he's actually above average in OPS+ at 106 relative to this split.

Are we still talking platoon?

The shared congenital neurosis of the Phillies fan is one of the coolest things about being a Phillies fan.

Ha. Neuroticism maybe is a trait shared by all us
Northeasterners
.

Wow, CJ.

I think the beauty of baseball is that along with the main plot line about a winning record, we get to delve into infinite subplots about the players, coaches, pitching staff, etc. At the end of the day we care most about wins and losses, but its the discussion about the individual building blocks that make up a team that make baseball so much fun to talk about. So forget the fact that we're ahead in the wild card and NL East right now, lets push some panic buttons. Sophist: great observation about Rollins plate discipline.

CJ: All season long I've been trying to tell you that Howard would eventually get hot and carry the team. But you just wouldn't listen.

I've got man-love for more Phillies...

Jayson Werth since taking over RF full-time:
315/431/605, 8 HR, 26 RBI, 6 SB, 37 games

His split vs. RHP is now at:
261/374/427, with an OPS+ of 124 relative to the ML split


Oh... and let's not forget the resurgance of Carlos Ruiz. Since July 22nd, his line:
280/368/409, only 8 K's in 40 games

bap: "CJ: All season long I've been trying to tell you that Howard would eventually get hot and carry the team. But you just wouldn't listen."

Yep... bap was right and I was wrong all along ;-)

I'm not sure I'd be able to keep such a vested interest in the sport of baseball without the extreme ups and downs that the Phillies have provided us over the last few years. Love/hate, indeed, but I wouldn't want it any other way. For every "Season=over" post, there's the obligatory "it's a long season" one.

I much prefer the sleepless nights and giving up on the team 2 or 3 times a season than being, say, a Nats or Royals fan. For that matter, look at how well Atlanta Braves fans turned out to "support" their team during the midst of their own run at especially successful years.

Give me consistent inconsistency, I say!

Sophist: Leave it to you to interject science and reason in to the discussion:). I am disappointed to know that we may not be as nuts as I thought we were though.

I was half asleep, but I also heard something on ESPN this morning about his OPS against left-handers being something like 1500 over the last month.

Jason, how long until you jinx the team with a Magic Number graphic on the site?

Ryan Howard's agent has definitely made himself a princely sum of money over the last 3 weeks.

I vowed to never give up on a season again after last year, and boy am I glad of that.

Personally, as a fan I love riding and writing about the high & lows of the season. Good way to blow off steam or a good reason to be overjoyed.

Werth against RHP

August (79 PA): .300/.443/.533 -- 2 HR
September (44 PA): .256/.341/.462 -- 2 HR

Pre ASB: .244/.343/.358 (143 PA)
Post ASB: .279/.406/.505 (138 PA)

So what you're saying is that Jayson Werth Can't Hit Righties.

Sophist:

Can you get us some LHP splist for Howard over the last couple months?

donc, don't despair. PAians are crazy. Unlike the rest of the NE, according to those charts, we appear to be extraverted. Only, unlike the other extraverted chart we are in the 4th quintile in "agreeableness." The rest of the extraverted states are midwestern states like MN that are in the top quintile in agreeableness. Extraverted and not so agreeable. Badge of honor.

What I think we also need to focus on is how this team has responded for the last month.

They were swept out in LA and people were saying they were done. When LA came to town we wanted them to win the series- they took all 4.

They went into New York needing to win the series to keep their season going- they took 2 of 3.

After stumbling against Florida it was clear they needed to sweep Milwaukee- they did, getting the Brewers manager fired in the process.

They are playing like they did prior to interleague this year, and in September of last year.

Rollins, and Howard are heating up. The starting pitching is great in our top 3 (despite Moyer scuffling a little last night). The bullpen is hittable but Scott Eyre and Ryan Madson have done great jobs as of later.

This team that was heartwrenching to watch in July, is exciting again. Hopefully these last 11 games give us even more to be excited about.

Great post, JW! I've had a perpetual case of 'on-the-edge-of-my-seat-itus,' and your level-headed summary of why we Phils fans can't seem to shake the proverbial disease has really put things into perspective.

Re-reading your post--are you sure you don't write for Keith Olbermann's commentaries on "Countdown"? (requisite chuckle)

Oops! Sorry about the link to my (still prenatal) daughter's Web site in my signature...damn Firefox autofill!

Howard vs LHP

Apr (42 PA): .098/.119/.244
May (50 PA): .286/.380/.690
June (43 PA): .146/.186/.146
July (51 PA): .234/.294/.362
Aug (39 PA): .226/.385/.484
Sept (21 PA): .421/.476/1.053

Pre ASB: .185/.245/.363 -- 7 HR
Post ASB: .282/.378/.577 -- 6 HR

Ned Yost was right!

It may be a warped way of looking at it, but it's almost like if you don't get furious at your team you don't care. I personally swear them off about 20 times a season. Of course, I'm in front of the TV the very next game. It's like an idle threat to a child. One more time and your grounded mister....this time I mean it. Ten minutes later the kid burns down the garage. Just one more time...I'm not gonna tell you again. Willard the Preacher said it best...I wouldn't have it any other way.

I think as fans we would all like to win the division in April. In New York, they prefer February.

But the players and coaches know that while you make it difficult to make the playoffs with a bad April, that you certainly can't win the whole thing with a great April.

We learned yesterday about the "VALUE" of a win and a loss in September versus April. (Which is a fun conversation after trying to figure out the "VALUE" of a Middle Reliever versus a Closer.)

While it may seem odd that last night's victory is no different in the AGGREGATE than the 5th straight win on May 30th, it's the aggregate that determines the division champ, that's how it is. It "feels" like last game was much more important. Although, considering how people on this board reacted in June during the 6 game losing streak, you know that every game is equal.

The importantance of last night's victory was not about the standings so much, but what happened in the game. Something that seemed to be missing in the last few months, but was around most of last year. Coming from behind with clutch hitting and clutch pitching, to pick up the other teammates who felt like they didn't do the job. Burrell may have felt like crud for taking the 0 for 5. At the end of the day he gets to celebrate a win. And knows that he had something to do with wins number 3 and 4 in this win streak. That can erase the memory of an 0-fer, real quick.

The quality of play last night can carryover to the rest of the team, we saw it last year. Just like we saw how losing streaks and slumps can build upon themselves. That's why it's important to stay "even keel". The best teams usually do.

They find themselves in the middle of a 5 game winning streak. The longest of the season (2 other 5 game streaks). Last year's longest was 6 games. September 13 to September 18. Hmmmmmmmmmm.


The Lidge highwire acts are amazing. Last night I could see pitching around Chipper to lead off but after that he lost his control. Then when he has no room left on the bases he comes back the earth like he was never in trouble to start. I watched the replay twice and I was still nervous. BTW, Pedro make huge play in that inning. I wonder what Rollins said to Lidge before he finished off Blanco?

CJ: no, we're not talking about that anymore.

As we celebrate Howard, Werth, Ruiz, etc... we can all hope these players pick it up:

Pedro Feliz since returning from injury:
226/279/290, 11 K's, 5 BB's, 24 games

Pat Burrell since his 5 RBI game vs. LAD:
154/224/231, 27 K's, 7 BB's, 20 games

Chad Durbin since August 3rd:
20 G, 21.2 IP, 6.65 ERA, 1.800 WHIP

Anyone hear from RSB lately, it seems like he hasn't been around in a while.

Also, Lake Fred, hope all is well after Ike.

"That's why it's important to stay "even keel". The best teams usually do."

Exhibit A is Jimmy Rollins.

vegas: Probably something like, "It's Gregor Blanco, dude, not Babe Ruth. Strike this mothergrabber out, already."

OK, I'm paraphrasing a bit...but I bet Utley said throw a f'ing strike. Or maybe that was me. That's it, it was me. Sorry.

Ribbies: Also good to see Parker back. He was absent for a while too.

I forgot one more thing about Ryan Howard's amazing run...

How bout that defense? Although Durbin ended up giving up the runs, Howard snagged that ball down the line turning a double into an out. And that's not the only sparkling play he's had recently.

Is it possible that Ryan Howard will play to the moment for his entire career? Is it possible that it's the pressure and situation that generates his focus both at the plate and in the field?

Sophist: Absolutely right. The players need to stay on an even keel. Fans? Not a chance. Unless we pull a Bartman we can't have any affect whatsoever on the outcome. That's why we go nuts IMO. Come to think of it I was at the infamous Burt Hooton game in '77. I know that I personally had a hand in that game (along with 68,000 helpers). Of course my heroic effort was short lived but we won't even go there.

CJ: It's got to be the pressure, the whole teams thrives on it. The middle of the season they slacked off because they had the division lead and other teams had struggles. Now, can the stay focused, that is the challange.

CJ - I will say this about Durbin. He's been good with inherited runners in those 20 games. Even considering last night, he's inherited 17 in that 20 game span and allowed just 5 to score (so just 2 scores in 15 inherited runners prior.)

That's a solid number considering he has a .894 OPS against in that time.

That should be 3 scores. Damn subtraction.

I pushed the panic button a few weeks back and it got stuck in the "on" position. Despite leading the division and the WC race, the "panic" remains. Then to see that Happ is getting a start sets the "panic" to the next level. Isn't Happ just like Kendrick, but with less MLB experience? I can see Cholly's logic now. Cholly'd brain is talking to his gut.

Cholly's Brain: "Moyer got rocked. I think he needs his rest."

Cholly's Gut: "He don't need no rest, just guts! He needs to gut it up better."

Cholly's Brain: "I'm not sure about starting Happ in this high pressure part of the season."

Cholly's Gut: "Brain, you have no intestinal fortitude. Stick the kid out there. He'll do fine."

Cholly's Brain: "No, I don't want to send this kid into the pressure cooker."

Cholly's Gut: "Shut up!"

Cholly's Brain: "OK, gut, I'll start Happ!"

Sophist: That's good to read. And I don't mean to get too down on Durbin because he's been so key to this team for so long. I just think he's getting a little burned out. Maybe we can start spreading him out a little more. Ryan Madson would have a lot to do with that.

CJ- That's a very interesting take on Howard focusing more in crunch time. I hadn't thought of that. Howard's recent defensive prowess is much more of a surprise to me than his recent offensive surge.

donc - 3 straight bases loaded walks? I wasn't even in utero, so I can't take any credit there.

"Brain, you have no intestinal fortitude."

Classic. Fred, there's lots of good feeling, it seems, on BL today. But you're right. Panic may only be a few hours or a week away.

Also, Madson should be our option for the time being in the 8th. Does anyone know when Madson found out he could throw 95mph? I have been trying to remember him throwing that hard at any point in his career and I can't.

Re: Ryan Madson

He's had 8 straight scoreless appearances, including three in that stretch that lasted 2 innings. In this 8.2 IP, he's allowed just 5 hits and no walks and he's struck out 13.

Oh, thanks for the concern, ribbies. Just drove back to Houston yesterday. My apartment is north of town in an area called Bammel. It is close to a main road, so it had power, which came on yesterday, too. I had to throw out my frozen and perishable refrigerated items, but all else is well. My workplace, in the Greenspoint area of Houston has power and they made us come to work today. Many have no power and those on the coast are in real bad shape, but, hey, the Phillies are in first place and all is well with the world!!

CJ

I am with you. Howard needs to be a star and he needs to come through. It's evidenced by his stubborn belief that he should be paid among the game's greats when he is below average defensively and the single season strikeout record holder. He and Rollins are cut from the same cloth. They are sensitive to criticism and unmotivated by it. They thrive in the spotlight and let's hope they sustain it.

Players like Rollins and Howard win MVP's and have memorable runs. Utley is an interesting comparison to them. He seems to thrive without the spotlight, and perhaps he will never win an MVP because of it.

Players like Utley though are the glue that holds a team together through inconsistency and controversy. He may not be a "vocal leader" but his daily intensity and focus are legendary at this point. He clearly leads by example.

Whatever Werth is drinking I'd like to get my hands on. If you look at his numbers this season as a full-time starter finally (I've been arguing for this since May) and think about his athletic potential, you have one hell of an OF at a good price (for now). Forget Jenkins. Hopefully they have a line on their balance sheets for sunk costs, goodwill or write downs. $15 mm for Eaton/Jenkins next year. Just fugheddaboutit.

One good thing about using Madson in the 8th is that there's less need for a LOOGY (not that, in a tight spot, you may not want to bring in Romero anyway.)

Madson's splits this year

RHB: .250/.284/.369
LHB: .246/.326/.357

Glad to hear it Lake Fred.

Re: being a phan-

One of our favorite things to say on any applicable oocasion at my house for the last few months is "Boo? F*ck you!" It comes in very handy.

Sophist:If you could only have heard the noise. I get goose bumps every time I think about it. Hooton was blubbering and sucking his thumb by the time he left the mound. (See what I mean about hyperbole.) My dad and I still talk about it. My greatest and worst sports memory ever. All in one game. That's Phillies phandom in a nutshell.

Madson

Apr 22 to July 20:
37 G, 2-0, 41.1 IP, 9 R
.631 OPS against (3.09 SO/BB)
21 IR, 6 IRS

July 23 to Aug 28
18 G, 1-2, 17.2 IP, 12 R
.873 OPS against (1.375 SO/BB)
11 IR, 5 IRS

Aug 31 to present
8 G, 1-0, 8.2 IP, 0 R
.355 OPS against (13 SO, 0 BB)
4 IR, 2 IRS

Mets in September:

Jose Reyes 204/283/315
Ryan Church 227/292/386
David Wright 333/386/627 (1 for 8 vs. Nats)
Carlos Delgado 320/364/660 (3 for last 19)
Carlos Beltran 354/446/667 (0 for last 10)
Fernando Tatis 323/432/484 (out for season)
Luis Castillo 100/182/150
Brian Schneider 286/344/429

The middle of the order has hit well in September, although they've been horrid the last couple games. Their biggest problem seems to be the top of the order where Reyes has lead off and Church has primarily hit 2nd. Reyes must be having bad flashbacks since last September, he did 205/279/333.

Reyes is a punk. It should surprise no one that he comes up small in a pennant race.

And in case discussing the playoff race isn't enough, the 2009 schedule was released today.

Interleague features trips to NY, Tampa Bay & Toronto and visits from Boston, Toronto & Baltimore.

http://mlb.mlb.com/schedule/index.jsp?c_id=phi&y=2009&m=4

CJ - The Mets started Sept playing well. 6-2 hitting .279/.354/.494 as a team and scoring 6.25 per game.

They're 1-4 in their lsat 5 though. .253/.315/.386, scoring 2.6 per game.

These are small samples. The Mets, outside of people like Delgado, are what the season says they are.

Let's hope The Big Man stays hot. He just shows what he can do when he puts the bat on the ball. The AB against Gonzalez last night may have been his best AB of the year. He did everything right and look at the end result.

I am worried though about Burrell. I have always been a phan of his. We now see why the Phils will wait to re-sign him if at all. Over the length of his current contract, he's put up decent numbers. However, the Phils believe I'm sure, that the total return on their investment probably doesn't justify another investment in him.

So what do they do? Do they finally give Howard the $$ he wants and let Burrell walk? Do they go year-to-year with Ryan and still let Burrell walk? Or do they re-sign Pat? If Burrell does go, does Werth replace him in left everyday? If not how do they replace Pat's product if LF? I don't think they can do it for less than what he's making now on the FA market.

I'm curious to know what some phans think. A new GM will be in place but with the same current philosophy no doubt.

I wish the Phils had more room for error in the standings and tonigt's game will be tough. But they are showing their meddle and obviously won't go down without a fight. I would love to see them go 9-2 over the last 11. GO PHILS!

Well guys as a Mets fan i've come up with this positive, We've given up the lead with 12 to play instead of the last day of the season LOL.

This time around I expect the Mets to win the division. Don't ask me how...But even if they continue to choke, Last year was a great example of why not to get too wrapped up in sports.

So now we get shut out by Odalis Perez and I am not surprised like last year..I'm prepared for it

of course had Burrell and Howard reversed their seasons... we'd be questioning howard more (hard to believe).

The difference between the two. When Burrell is on a hot streak, he's one of the best 10 hitters in the game. When Howard is on a hot streak, he's one of the best 10 hitters of all time.

@bap -- how's that for hyperbole!

Um, bballscientist, I don't know how to tell you this, but, um, to Phillies fans last year was actually a great example of why you should get wrapped up in sports.

Anywho, best of luck this next week and a half.

Dpatrone: That's a good point about Howards bomb last night. Great at bat. Terrific discipline to let junk go and swing at the strikes. The only called strike was a great pitch that he probably couldn't have done anything with anyway.
Contrast that to many of Burrell's recent at bats. He looks like the old Burrell. The one that has an uncanny ability to only swing at the bad pitches and meekly watch the strikes go by. At least he isn't bailing on balls right down the middle as much as his last dark period. I don't mean to be too hard on PtB because he did so much of the heavy lifting early in the season, but we could really use him right now. Maybe he's gassed and should get a day or two off, but right now he just looks lost.

Ribbies you should change your name to Benedict Arnold...just kidding. I dig your sportsmanship.
Mike C: That's my kind of hyperbole. Love it.

I think it was Sarge, maybe it was Wheels, last night who noted a few times that Burrell was fouling off pitches right over the palte. "right in his wheelhouse." That sounds like Sarge.

Burrell did actually take some big cuts at actual strikes last night. But over all lately he has been hacking at some real crap. When he gets in one of those ruts he is absolutely putrid. As we all know, unfortunately, these streaks can be prolonged. I still wouldn't mind seeing the Phils retain him. I know we had a scorching debate about just that a few weeks ago. I wonder if now his contract demands might have fallen into the range where the Phillies might be interested. Either way he has spent some serious coin in the last month or so.

@donc -- thanks

@sophist -- that's correct. in fact on one strikeout, he swung through a pitch right down the middle. Is it just timing? Is it pulling his head off the ball? Is Milt Thompson writing a novel in that notebook or charting pitches?

Oh no Sophist reads gene expression! Not entirely surprising I guess.

Weitzel's advice if followed would basically spell the end of this blog. Even-keelness lends itself to silence.

Burrell has been missing those fastballs right down the middle, which is why I agree that he's just cooked at this point. I don't have the numbers, but it seems like Charlie has left him in significantly more this season instead of pulling him for defense in the 7th or so. He's been doing it with Bruntlett recently and did so with Taguchi early on (until that backfired), but I recall marveling at how Burrell was still in at the end of games throughout most of the summer.

Edit: Burrell has logged 1123 innings in the field this year, over 100 more than all of last year, and the most since 2005.

I guarantee you the drug makers and alcohol producers sure as hell don't want us taking an even keel approach to baseball season. Imagine the profits they'd lose!

"To whom good genes are given, an interest in genetics is natural...."

Yes and I credit my handsome face with my career in phrenology.

Ribbies

It goes both ways...Fans think they have control, But they don't. Its just a game, The collapse last year was harsh because I thought the Mets would hold on.

This year it would suck if we didn't make it but a lot less then last year. Call me a non hardcore baseball fan but i'm not letting a sports team ruin my days. Especially my fragile mets

Signing Howard should be the Phillies #1 priority this offseason. Really. Keeping the big guy happy should be of paramount importance to this team. They could just sign him for 3 or 4 years, but give Ryno the stability and respect he deserves.

I don't care what happens to Burrell after that...if he's willing to stick around for a reasonable price, fine...

What they shouldn't do is "fill holes" in their roster with mediocre veteran free agents. They spend so much on those guys. They should just sign one really good starting pitcher.

bball, I know I was just giving you a hard time. I should have actually been thanking you, you're one of the few Mets fans that come around here and are not a total wanker.

bballscientist - "preparing" for a collapse? Are you SURE you're not a Phils fan?

Hah, I come around win or lose.Checking the pulse of Philly nation I suppose.

But I swear, I can't wait for basketball season already. I'm not letting the Mets give me a drinking problem

that was good Willard, Your funnier then Willard scott

baxter: I agree with you, but you know that players have to agree to deals for them to work too, right? Like the front office can't just decide, ok, we're going to sign Howard for 3-4 years, keep Burrell at a legit price, and sign one really good starting pitcher. What if Howard refuses to sign a long-term deal for less than 8 years, 180 million, and Burrell wants 4 years, 70 million, and all the really good starting pitchers want to sign elsewhere because they don't want to play in CBP?

signing howard makes sense... only if you find a right handed first baseman with plus defense to platoon with him. That should take away 200 to 250 PA.

That should remove at least 15 HR and 50RBI off his season totals. But those are meaningless. But at least his OPS+ will be better.

Just checked it out. Phils playoff odds were at ~17% on 9/10. They're at ~80% now.

Speaking of which. What does everybody think about tonight? Would be nice to see the Phils put up some runs for Happ, of course. Mets are going up against a guy who spent almost all year in AA and AAA. They have Knight pitching.

So would the Phillies play the Wild-Card winner if they won the East? I'm not worried about jinxes; we're not talking about the Mets here...

I wouldn't want to play the Dodgers right now...although, I guess the eventual wild-card winner would likely be the hottest team...

and of course, no one wants to face the Cubs in the 1st round...

From BP.com's game preview:

Jurrjens has been pretty stingy about giving up homers this season, having allowed less than 0.6 HR/9, but he has been easy to run on—opponents have stolen 24 bases against him this year, more than any other National League pitcher, while getting caught only three times (89 percent success rate). That's an even better percentage than the lofty mark at which the Phillies as a team have stolen this year—Jimmy Rollins and company have swiped a bag on 84 percent of their theft attempts; while not as good as last year's major league-record 88 percent, that is still the best rate in the majors, and the third-best mark in league history after last year's Phils and the 1994 Orioles (also 84 percent). Rollins is a remarkable 42-for-45 on the year, a 93.3 percent rate, the third-best ratio in a season of at least 40 attempts, equaling Carlos Beltran's 42-for-45 effort from 2004, and trailing only Ichiro's 45-for-47 campaign in 2006. Philly's shortstop has been joined by Jayson Werth, who has nabbed 17 out of 18 attempted steals, and who is now 41-for-46 for his career. In contrast, Atlanta as a team is at the other end of the spectrum with a 66 percent success rate, next to last in the majors this year behind Cincinnati.

If the Phils are lucky enough to make the playoffs, here are the potential first round match ups:

Phils win WC:
Phils vs. Cubs, Mets vs. Dodgers

Phils win East, Mets win WC:
Phils vs. Dodgers, Cubs vs. Mets

Phils win East, Brewers/Astros win WC:
Phils vs. Brewers/Astros, Cubs vs. Dodgers

Mike, I hope that post is sarcastic...

@TK -- let me check... yes... yes it was.

so the Phillies will play the Astros then?...

One thing struck me last night about the time I stopped hyperventilating over Howard's blast. Why were the Braves pitching to him in the first place. I know the conventional wisdom says don't put the potential winning run on first base. And yes I know it was a lefty/lefty thing. But wouldn't you have still rather taken your shot at the arctic PtB.
It occurs to me that dropping Burrell down a notch or two as some have suggested here makes a lot of sense right now. Especially against the Braves in light of Bobby Cox' stated Pavlovian fear of Victorino. If he regards Vic as highly as he says he does, the Flyin Hawaiian might afford Howard a little protection. At least for now against the Braves anyhow. As someone correctly pointed out earlier, Ryan is currently looking remarkably like he did in September of 06. At that time everybody basically waved the white flag and stopped pitching to him. He was lucky to see a single hittable pitch a game. Remarkably, as often as not he parked it. And of course he was walking a couple times a game. He really showed incredible discipline for such a young guy. It seems that at the best possible time he has recaptured that discipline. He is the most dangerous hitter in the game right now and I think it's only fair to assume that opposing managers are about to take the bat out of his hands. It is imperrative that Charlie puts somebody behind him that other teams have to respect. At the very least, Howard should spend a lot of time on base from here on in.

The Phillies Magic number is: 12 !!!! HOW SWEET IT IS.

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EST. 2005

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