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Monday, May 25, 2009

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A 6.00 ERA against a team he has historically dominated? Not exactly a great sign of things to come.

Let's not forget Moyer escaped the 1st inning only because of a bad call. And the Helms HR hurt mainly because it was preceded by 2 BBs.

The question at this point is what comes first: the 250th win, or the 600th start (7 starts from now). I'd say the odds are even.

I was there today. This game was so mis-managed it hurt.

Moyer has to take the blame for throwing to Paulino with the pitcher up next. No clue what happened there.

Number of Phillies wins when the team scores three or fewer runs? 0.

That Vic attempted steal was bad. Lindstrom throws mainly fastballs with an OK slider. Just a bad game overall for you guys

NEPP: Exactly. I found myself wondering, "If Jamie can't even beat the Marlins, who *can* he beat?" I love the guy, but nothing he has done in the past month or so is even remotely encouraging.

I doubt the Phillies will do anything other than hope he returns to form, though. If the club is not willing to make a change w/ Lidge (a situation where they have a very viable replacement option), why think anything will happen w/ Moyer (where they do not)?

Number of wins when they score 4 runs: 1.

Classic Vic via Zolecki's Twitter: "There’s no excuses to the fact that I f’d up." Wouldn't be surprised to see Vic get a night off tomorrow vs a LHP. Play Werth in center and Mayberry in right.

Boy, Victorino let Lindstrom off the hook tonight. He had that deer in the headlights look in his eyes.

Didn't catch the game tonight, but see that Howard homered twice, Moyer had below average results again, and Park gave up a run and struck out 5 in 3 IP. And what's with the 75% successful stolen base percentage the Phils are sporting this year? Are the primary baserunners (JRoll and Vic) carrying extra weight or something?

Sophist, don't know if you're reading this, but we pointed out Howard's numbers for the past two weeks earlier today and called a monster week ahead for him. Looks like his luck is already turning around.

What was the estimated distance on Howard's first bomb off the brick wall?

P.S. You mean that bounced off the International Space Station and then came back down into the stadium? That bomb?

I'd really like to see Blanton start getting his act together because I believe his ineptitude, in a roundabout way, is sort of skewing many people's perspective (including the Phillies') about what is going on with Moyer. If you dare opine that Moyer is washed up, someone invariably responds with, "Blanton has been just as bad as Moyer. Is he washed up too?"

In truth, Blanton has NOT been nearly as bad as Moyer. His ERA is about .30 better, his peripherals are WAY better, and he has had more good outings. More to the point, Blanton's performance has nothing to do with whether or not Moyer is finished. When a pitcher is 28, and has previously been decent, it's reasonable to conclude that a bad patch is a slump; when he's 46, it's reasonable to conclude that a prolonged bad patch is the end.

Still, I think if Blanton straightened things out and started pitching better, it would not only help the Phillies, but it would also help crystallize -- for Phillies' management -- that Moyer's struggles can no longer be written off as a temporary slump. The Phillies generally need to be beaten over the head with these things, especially when they've made a big financial commitment to someone.

Was just reading the article about the game. In typical Phillies fashion, the company line seems to be that Moyer showed progress tonight. Of course, when you start out with a 7.62 ERA and a .355 BAA, I suppose just about any performance would look like progress. In the real world, though, 4 runs in 6 innings is a BAD performance. It is a 6.00 ERA, and no starter with a 6.00 ERA keeps his job. The fact that it came against a team he has dominated makes it all the more alarming.

It's encouraging to see Feliz and Ruiz continue getting on base...unfortunately Rollins and Victorino haven't been doing the same consistently. And aside from his big day in Cincy, Mr. Utley hasn't done much. In his last 14 games, he's hitting only .211 with 1 HR and 8 RBIs. Knowing that all hitters go through slumps, you prefer the key players to wallow early in the season. Let's hope his struggles aren't tied in with his repaired hip.

and in keeping with everyone's question...why can't they win at home?

"When a pitcher is 28, and has previously been decent, it's reasonable to conclude that a bad patch is a slump; when he's 46, it's reasonable to conclude that a prolonged bad patch is the end."

I think it's reasonable to conclude that a prolonged bad patch may be the end. I say that because Moyer's had a number of bad patches at nearly as old ages and not been done at all. I'd point you to July 2 - August 24, 2007, during which span he had a 6.99 ERA, gave up a homer per start, and was being hit for a .339 average and .956 OPS. He was 44 then; one may well have thought he was done. Or, look at April of '08, when he was actually pitching worse than April this year, getting lit up for a .336 average and .911 OPS against, a walk/SO ratio of 1 to 1.2, and a 1.75 WHIP. Also see July 5 to August 28 of 2006, when he had a 6.67 ERA, gave up a .322 average, etc. At that time he was 43, which isn't 46, but still awfully old.

Just got back from the game and some observations:

- Vic just has a low baseball IQ. Arguably the lowest on the team besides Myers. He is going to make at least several really boneheaded plays a season and you just have to live with it because he brings pretty of other positive attributes to the table.

Still there was real sense of electricity in the stadium and with Stairs and it was just popped when Vic got thrown by a mile. Compounding just how stupid a decision it was - Lindstrom threw a 94 MPH fastball and wasn't throwing from the stretch.

- Yeah Helms was 3 for 5 and all of them were line drives (he easily could have been 4 for 4 because had a smash line drive out his first time up) but his damage was all against Moyer. His bat looked slow and Park managed to make him look foolish on a K after a lengthy AB in the 9th.

Reminded of a game I went to last year where Barajas (it was May 17th) for the Blue Jays had a big game and doubled his RBI total for the season. Helms nearly did the same tonight and it sucks to get beat by a stiff like Helms.

- Volstad is really good but he needs to use his fastball a bit less and have better pitch selection.

Howard's first homer was a fastball middle in on the very first pitch and just poor pitch selection. Did the same thing again when Howard homered the second time up by giving into Howard with a fastball when he could have gone with a curveball instead.

- Howard was awesome tonight. Crushed two 90+ MPH fastballs from Volstad but more importantly had 3 stellar plays in the field including robbing a 2nd down the line.

- Feliz also was very solid tonight. Granted it helped the Volstad is a fastball pitcher (and both of Feliz's hits came on fastballs) but he is night/day against RHP this year compared to last year.

- Don't be fooled by the mediocre line. Yeah Moyer really only gave up 4 runs but the defense behind him tonight was largely spectacular including several very solid plays by the INF. He gave up lots of hard hit outs too.

- Volstad and Nunez came right at Werth all night long tonight. Hard fastballs (especially on his first pitch) galore and Werth managed a couple of dink ground outs. He really looked like he was having trouble picking up the ball.

Wouldn't be a bad idea to give Mayberry a start tomorrow night in RF and give Werth a blow against Miller.

- Park gave up a run but his niche on this team is a multi-inning RHP would has the ability to strike out a hitter if you need it.

- Victorino had 2 trainers out with him before the game doing a ton of stretching on his lower back and hamstrings. He was stretching until the national anthem and I wonder if he has some tightness in his back/hamstrings.

- Dobbs came into the game on a double-switch and got an AB against Nunez who made him look really foolish. I pretty much have zero confidence that Dobbs will do much right now with a PH AB.

As I watched the replay of the ill fated steal attempt, I was sure that I saw, in addition to Paulino's lightning fast exchange and equally impressive throw, that Vic had the tiniest lead that I've ever seen seen from any Phillie not named Howard, Feliz or Stairs.

It might help if any of the Phillies starters could consistently pitch to league standards. Myers finally slumped over the ERA+ 100 mark with his last gem.

Not that the point isn't good, but I dunno about Blanton. He's a career league average pitcher whose spent just about all his time in a park that's like #28 out of 30 in runs scored. I know he's probably not 7+ ERA bad, but, realistically, what's expected of the guy?

But, yeah, all of this is distraction around the fact that Moyer's probably cooked. What a silly thing to do with the contract length. Were they worried about competition over a 46 year old pitcher?

Our pitching is dire. The awesome offense is masking the problem--probably too well. 1 win with 4 runs or less? That's insane. Right now we're basically operating with a #4 and #5 and have vacancies in #1-#3 and the closer position. Obviously, our practical #5, Hamels, will step it up. The rest? Who knows. Our best bet right now is to catch Kendrick-esque lightning in a bottle with Happ.

I was not impressed with Chan Ho tonight and agree long relief does not suit him. Or playing baseball, period. I gave up on him five years ago; he wasn't even that great to begin with. Why is this guy even employed? When he's pitching, it looks like even Chan Ho is mystified as to why he's still in the major leagues. Philadelphia really is a pitcher's graveyard. I affectionately call this the "Mesa affect".

Anamels35 - Not sure but they just didn't play smart baseball tonight.

There were just several small things tonight was were really poor decisions -

1. JRoll's foolish running play in the 1st where he got thrown out at 2nd (BTY - JRoll missed the 1st base bag and Gonzalez easy could have come out and argued that call) although that was a good hustle play by Paulino).

2. Really poor selection to Paulino in 6th by Moyer in giving Paulino a fastball with a horrible hitting pitcher (Volstad) coming up. That turned out to the the GW RBI.

3. Vic's decision to try to steal a completely meaningless 2nd base down 5-3 in the 9th inning.

Phils just aren't playing very mentally savvy at home.

It also doesn't help that their pitching has generally been pretty awful at home (ERA over 5.50 in homes games vs. 4.86 on the road) and they surprisingly aren't hitting as well either.

Why am I so focused on Moyer when the offense was so inept tonight? Easy answer. I'm looking at the big picture. The Cubs led the National League in runs last year, scoring 56 more runs that the second place team. Yet, even the Cubs had 63 games in which they scored 3 runs or fewer. They managed to win 16 (around 25%) of those games, en route to a 97-win season.

The point is, even the best offensive teams in the NL will still have 50 to 70 games per year in which they score 3 or fewer runs. Unless you can win a reasonable minority of those games, you have no chance to make the playoffs.

This year, the Phillies have had 14 games in which they scored 3 or fewer runs. That projects out to 50 such games over the course of the season. If they're to make the playoffs, they will probably have to win a good 10 to 12 of those games, at a bare minimum. So far, their record in those games is 0-14. That's because of the starting pitching, plain and simple.

Whelkman - Agreed about the offense masking the pitching problems on this team. This team basically is a starter short and has a horrible closer right now.

Disagree on Park though. His stuff wasn't bad tonight and he took for one for the team tonight by going 3 innings for a really depleted bullpen. Park is not a starter or a setup man but he has a role as a RHP who can go multiple innings/throw hard out of the pen. Phils are just overpaying him.

"Reminded of a game I went to last year where Barajas (it was May 17th) for the Blue Jays had a big game and doubled his RBI total for the season."

Funny, tonight, in response to Helms, who I was busting on, I reminded my family of the "Babe Ruth ex-Philly effect" with Barajas lighting us up last year. I'm sure sucker trade Michael Bourn will go 4 for 4 with 2 HRs and a double next time we see him.

BAP - Agreed but the starting pitching looks like it might be coming around a bit. Hamels has been progressively getting better/had a solid May so far, Myers is coming off his best start/been a solid option, and I think Happ is going to give the Phils a chance to win more often than not which you couldn't say about Park.

The issue now is that Blanton or Moyer need to round into form as a credible middle rotation guy. Moyer just doesn't look like he will be able to do that and that leaves a big burden on Kentucky Joe.

As for Lidge, this notion of staying with him as the closer is insane. If he is hurt, he should be DLed when Romero return in a week. If not, he should be moved to a setup role and be given a chance to work out some of his issues with a little less pressure. Madson has the best stuff on this team right now and it really isn't even close.

I have a feeling that if this team would just move Lidge to a setup role and two other moves (getting Romero back to destroy lefties) and having Happ in the rotation/Park in the bullpen would give this team at least a more average pitching staff. They still may be a starter short with Blanton/Moyer struggling but they would have a pretty solid pen and a 3/5 of a decent rotation.

"His stuff wasn't bad tonight and he took for one for the team tonight by going 3 innings for a really depleted bullpen"

Yeah, he was hung out to dry. I thought he did a serviceable job, but...

"Phils are just overpaying him."

Bingo. I would have taken him at league minimum. If that meant he would have went to someone else, whatever. I'd have no qualm with Park were he making Condrey dollars, partly because it'd sting much less if/when the correct choice is to release him, which was already on the table upon his signing, at least in my mind.

Whelkman - My dad started derisively chanting "M-V-P" when Helms came up in the 9th. Some idiot didn't get it and yelled "Wes Helms sucks." No sh!t.

Philly fans get a good reputation as baseball fans but it is overrated. A ton of fans left (at least half) with the Phils only down 5-3 at the end of the 8th and the fanbase was largely full of teenagers/college kids in the 400 level tonight who were mostly drunk imbeciles.

The highlight was the kid behind me who threw up (lucky just missed me and uncle/dad) after eating 16 HOT DOGS and AT LEAST 5 beers. Thankfully the ushers came over and threw him and idiot friends out but "Dollar Dog Night" as nearly as bad as "College Nights" in terms of the disgusting and ridiculous behavior you see.

"I have a feeling that if this team would just move Lidge to a setup role and two other moves (getting Romero back to destroy lefties)"

"Demoting" lidge to setup might be the best thing right now; he's literally the worst pitcher on the team. Maybe even a stint at Durbin-esque multi-inning relief if that gets his confidence up. I have a feeling Romero's return might coincide with an excuse to shake a few things up, assuming matters continue as they have.

Whelkman - The real issue was leaving Moyer in to face Paulino in the 6th inning but I can understand why Cholly did it tonight. The bullpen was spent after the game yesterday and you hoped that Moyer had just enough left to get a mediocre hitter like Paulino.

"Philly fans get a good reputation as baseball fans but it is overrated."

Part of that story was how thunderous boos rained down upon Barajas the second he stuck his head out of the bullpen when he jogged across the field because he was due to hit. This was right after his consecutive defensive misplays that cost us games. I'm sure there are (many, many) idiots at the games, but I was impressed at people's observance of the situation and the instant heckling over events that were already a week old.

I don't understand the whole Lidge debate right now. It is idiocy. The options aren't "demote Lidge to the minors vs. mindlessly send Lidge out there as closer."

This team has the perfect candidate to take over as closer right now in Madson for a few weeks and let Lidge get out of the spotlight where can hopefully string together several outings over 2-3 weeks to regain some confidence.

I don't see the downside to making this move for the next 2-3 weeks. Worst thing is that Lidge continues to struggle and that Madson isn't quite as good a closer.

At best, Madson continue to pitch well as the closer and Lidge begins to find himself as the setup man. Hell, if Madson can pitch well as the closer and Lidge can start to give you some solid setup outings than I stick with it and ride a hot hand.

Cholly's notion of "bullpen by numbers" drives me crazy and it will likely continue to cost the Phils games the next few weeks.

"The bullpen was spent after the game yesterday and you hoped that Moyer had just enough left to get a mediocre hitter like Paulino."

I tend to tune Wheeler out but happened to catch something like, "Manuel just doesn't have a feel on how long to leave Moyer in." Something tells me "The Gut" felt the magic wasn't in this one and used the situation for some information gathering.

Whelkman - Barajas was the classic case of a new guy in Philly who made a notable gaffe in a game and the fans never got off his back after that.

Ibanez basically has bought himself great cred with the fans for the entire year because of his tremendous start even if he really levels off.

'I don't understand the whole Lidge debate right now. It is idiocy. The options aren't "demote Lidge to the minors vs. mindlessly send Lidge out there as closer."'

Must be referring to another argument. Minors hadn't even crossed my mind (yet). The "demotion" I referred to was another bullpen role. I probably shouldn't have used the word "demote".

"Ibanez basically has bought himself great cred with the fans for the entire year because of his tremendous start even if he really levels off."

I get daily ribbings for being a Burrell supporter. I counter with, "Will you still be doing the Rauuuul thing when he goes 2 for 30?" No Phillie is invulnerable to boos, but, yeah, Ibanez will really have to suck at this point to get the treatment.

from Lauber's blog yesterday:

"Asked if he would consider using setup man Ryan Madson as the closer until Lidge gets his stuff together, Manuel said, "No. That's worse. What kind of message is that? That's really worse. That's what Houston did. They used to slide him in the sixth and seventh. What good did that do?""
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I think Blanton is turning it around. He needs to avoid the big inning, which essentially means changing strategy during the 3rd time through the lineup.
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Lopez and Register got LIT UP today at LV by the Mets minor league team, which includes Wily Mo Pena, Javier Valentin, Mike Lamb and Cory Sullivan.
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Tyler Walker came off the DL the other day and promptly struck out two and gave up a weak grounder back up the mound for a perfect inning. Granted it was against three nobodies, but the guy has simply dominated AAA (12IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP, 13K, 1BB, 2H) He needs to be brought up.

Surprised about Manuel's quote re: Lidge. My perception was that moving Lidge out of the closing role for a while in Houston gave him a chance to readjust and bounce back. I do not purport to know what the right solution is, but the guy is not pitching the same as he did for the vast majority of last year, and may need some help other than just tossing him out there again and again.

I guess I'm not surprised Cholly was resisting the idea, but that he seems to be rejecting it out of hand so quickly at this stage. I'm all for giving guys a chance to turn things around on their own, but the problem may be something more than simply a brief loss of confidence or mojo.

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