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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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Did anyone check out Blanton against tonight's home ump? Blanton has been VERY unsuccessful going 1-4. This ump will not give him the low strikes that his success depends on.
The Phils need to have a very early bullpen insert ready for this game. Would that be Kendrick???
I don't think that would be as bad as it might appear. No matter who is pitching, the Giants hitting does not intimidate anyone.
The problem consistently boils down to the Phillies offense. And let's face it, the Giants have great pitching. I'm not convinced that the Phillies are in a slump as much as they are facing the best starting FOUR in baseball.

I knew this year was mushed when my boss pushed a business trip we had planned for the first week in November back because of the world series.....that is when I knew it wasn't to be.

Is it a byproduct of being "old" that guys like Utley, Ibanez, Victorino, and Rollins are steadfastly refusing to take the ball the other way and hit it where it's pitched? The pull-happy party was bad enough at home, but I can't believe the lack of effort made to adapt to a non-hitter's park yesterday. Age? Yeah, they're getting old, too, and when they slump they look positively geriatric as a unit. But I think this is more due to a lack of preparedness. Sometimes I think Manuel is too hands-off, and he expects that the veterans can figure things out for themselves. But they aren't. Someone needs to step in and say, look, fellas, this is San Francisco. Let's concentrate on manufacturing some runs.

I don't get the whole "Utley is losing his luster" argument. In fact, I think it is kind of silly.

Yes his numbers were down this year but he also missed a significant part of the season. In the 5 previous years he averaged ~150 games a year and this year played 115. Missing 35 games probably cost him 10 home runs in those games, plus whatever he lost as he was getting his swing back together in the season.

Also, in the Reds series he was 3 for 13 with a home run and 4 RBI's so it's not like he was having a bad post-season before this series. Also, last season he had a terrible NLCS and then lit it up in the World Series. He has struggled so far this series and had a bad game yesterday but I wouldn't claim the "luster" is gone. Guys have bad games and series. The problem is we have a few guys in our offense doing the latter one right now.

On Blanton: I think it's the right call to go with him. Halladay on short rest feels to some like the best chance to win but the bad scenarios outweigh the good. First off, if you want Halladay to pitch you're probably operating under the assumption that Blanton equals a loss so that would hold true anywhere he pitches in the series. I prefer him matching up with Baumgarner as opposed to Lincecum, Sanchez, or Cain. In this spot he has a margin of error (although not a huge one with our offense).

Secondly, if Halladay goes today and loses then what do you do? Then you have to go Oswalt on short rest in Game 5 because you don't want Blanton pitching with the season on the line. If Oswalt would win then you have to go Hamels in Game 6. If he wins then you are going with Halladay on 3 days rest again which- for as good as Halladay is- is not a great recipe for winning a series. At some point those short rests catch up to guys. Go with Blanton and have Durbin and Kendrick ready to go, and hope the offense can push some runs across the plate today.

The entire team is culpable, as summarized nicely in this blog entry:

An Ugly NLCS By The Numbers

The Phillies aren't old, they're stubborn, & a steadfast refusal on the part of themselves & their manager to adapt to their opponent -- & their opponent's ball park -- is going to lead to a disappointing end to this season.

And another problem. The Phillies hitting has been tempered by their very defensive orientation. They are consistently taking first pitches. The Giant pitchers know this and wind up pitching 'backwards'. So the hard, middle of the plate pitches are taken and the soft stuff gets outs. The Philly hitters have always had problems with the soft stuff and that's exactly what they are seeing in this whole series.
This needs to change. They need to both relax, start having fun with the game and get REAL aggressive. I don't think there is a formula or a plan for this. It's really getting back down to baseball basics. When you take away a players natural aggressiveness with a defensive game plan, you are creating weakness. This has to stop. The Phillies can beat this team with a more aggressive hitting approach at the plate. In any case, we should live or die with our toughness and not our weakness.

What we're seeing offensively is also exhibit A on why they shouldn't even think about re-signing Werth, even for modest money. You have to infuse younger players into the line-up at some point. Even though Werth wouldn't be the first guy you'd pick to take out of the line-up, he happens to be the one whose contract is up.

ericg51 - I seem to think Yankee pitching did the same to the Phillies in last years WS. This year, all smart pitchers did that to the Phillies.
Phillies take the first pitch. Then they end up in the hole and these SF pitchers have to many tricks in their bags when they are up 0-1.
Ibanez might as well just wave off his ABs and tell the score keeper to just tally up another out.

I also wouldn't claim the Yankees being down to "age" either. They are hitting a hot team right now and a couple other factors worked against them.

- Their ace pitcher had to pitch Game 1 in a park where historically he has been pretty terrible.

- The Yankees best post-season pitcher was in a spot against the other teams ace.

- They had to turn to a guy in Burnett who was pretty bad all season long. (They had a legitimate reason to go to Sabathia last night.

"I also wouldn't claim the Yankees being down to "age" either. They are hitting a hot team right now and a couple other factors worked against them."

You missed one of the biggest reasons. Managerial decisions. If Girardi knew he was going to pitch Burnett, it made much more sense to pitch him against Lee and basically concede that game, and pitch Pettite against Hunter.

Had he done that, the series would be tied now at 2-2.

I stubbed tickets for today's game and Thursday's game during the game yesterday. I'll be in the upper deck in right field maybe with a sign. I feel lucky.

Heather: Managerial decisions. If Girardi knew he was going to pitch Burnett, it made much more sense to pitch him against Lee and basically concede that game, and pitch Pettite against Hunter.

So Charlie should have pitched Blanton against Lincecum and Halladay against Bumbgarner?

Heahter: On some level though I understand why Andy was placed where he was because it meant if the series goes to 7 games (still a possibility) that Pettite pitches that game. It just worked out against the Yankees where Lee would get that same game.

OT (& I'm sure it has been discussed already), but a note on the "fans" in New York:

Seeing aerial shots of a veritably empty -- like, maybe 1,000 people in the stands EMPTY -- New Yankee Stadium by the 8th Inning of the past 2 games is one of the most sad (&, considering said shots came courtesy of the Conan Blimp, unintentionally hilarious) things I have ever seen in baseball. I mean talk about humiliating ...

If the NLCS comes back to Philly I hope 40,000+ stay in their seats until the final out, whether the Phils are up or down by freakin' 20 runs. Say what you will about Philadelphia sports fans, but we MUST be better than that.

"So Charlie should have pitched Blanton against Lincecum and Halladay against Bumbgarner?"

That would be true if Blanton was as horrible as A.J. Burnett has been the last 2 months and Halladay was unable to pitch Game 1.

So assuming both of those were true, then yes, I would have to say that's absolutely what UC should have done.

Game 4 should be the best match-up for the Phils' offense, outside of perhaps Cain in the bank (that would be game 7, btw). Despite the common narrative, the 2010 Phils hit lefties better than they hit righties, 111 OPS+ against lefties vs a 102 OPS+ against righties. The stadium will certainly neutralize some of this advantage, but nonetheless, for an offense that is clearly struggling (whether it's age, luck, or approach) a pitch-to-contact lefty might be just what the doctor ordered.

Less scientific, but perhaps just as therapeutic, the Phils have also done a great job against lefties in the playoffs the last few years. They've already beat Sanchez this year, beat Kershaw and Sabathia (also lost to him) last year, and unless my memory fails, did the same in 2008.

From BP's write-up of the game. I think this is dead-on:

If there’s a lesson in all this, it’s not that Cain is a better pitcher than Hamels, or Bochy is a smarter or more intuitive manager than Manuel. Mostly it’s just a reminder of baseball’s capricious nature—had Utley delivered in his two chances with men on base, situations set up by Manuel’s lineup decisions, or if it was the defensively challenged Burrell had been bedeviled by a blinding sun, this may have been a very different story. Pitching has defined this series and will continue to do so, and well-pitched games lead to low scores and contests likely to turn on one lucky (or unlucky, depending on the dugout you’re sitting in) bounce.

"The stadium will certainly neutralize some of this advantage, but nonetheless, for an offense that is clearly struggling (whether it's age, luck, or approach) a pitch-to-contact lefty might be just what the doctor ordered."

Good point!

Vic, Rollins, Polanco, Werth (historically), and Ruiz have the advantage, Utley doesn't have much of a disadvantage, and Ibanez is a black hole anyway. So only really Howard should be at a distinct disadvantage.

Couldn't have happened to a bigger c*ckslurp:

Braves Cut Ties With OF Melky Cabrera

You will forever be on my list for your antics during the '09 World Series, Melky. I hope you end up pawning your ring (that's "ring", singular; it's the only one you're ever gonna get) for crack someday very soon.

The 2009 Phillies also hit lefties better than righties.

Man, could make a million bucks today if I owned a dog-selling business.

Screw up your courage, men (and women). The Phillies are a better team. They'll win.

" but the 26-year-old may never live up to the hype he generated in New York."

No truer words have ever been blogged.

G-town, not to mention the fans interfering, running onto the field, throwing bottles in the Rangers bullpen. This has all happened, but of course very little mention in the national media.

Interesting Note on tonights game:
Wally Bell is tonights HP Ump

Highest Strike Rate among the 12 LCS Umps at 64.4%
Lowest H9 8.66
Highest K/9 7.66
Lowest BB 2.71
Lowest Whip 1.26
Second Highest HR 1.1 (not sure how this fits in)

Does not Bode well for the bats.

A large percentages of the games in the NL playoffs thus far have pretty much turned on defense. All three games this series could, arguably, be said to have been lost by defensive miscues. Defensive miscues are also what largely determined the Giants' and Phillies' first series. (The AL playoffs have largely been a different story.)

Blaming the offense is pretty ridiculous. Whining about how old the team is or how bad the offense is, obviously, is blown out of the water by the fact that the team ranked very high in the NL in runs scored, and finished with the BEST RECORD IN BASEBALL.

Some say the Phillies need to be more patient and go the other way, others say that the Phillies need to be more aggressive.

The fact is that both squads have dominant pitching that will largely shut down the other team's offense. The only way that isn't the case is if the teams basically get lucky: a pitcher makes some uncharacteristic errors or, as last night, luck of the draw results in relatively few hits coming with RISP.

If either team has a distinct advantage in hitting with RISP and/or defense, they will win. Those factors being equal, the Phillies will win, as they have a better team.

Now screw up your courage, folks, and enjoy the game tonight.

Phlipper: The better team does not always win. You know that.

The Phils are better. They also may lose. These things are not mutually exclusive in a 7-game series.

Phlipper: You are dead right, of course, that these games will largely turn on luck.

Close, low-scoring games (which the two games we've lost have been) will often be determined by random chance. Over 162 games, the Phillies are better than the Giants. Over 7 games (or less)? Anything can happen, especially in these types of games. Basically crapshoots (maybe with the exception of tonight, where both pitchers can be gotten to).

"The better team does not always win. You know that. "

No doubt, Jack. Luck, uncharacteristic defensive play, hits with RISP (which we agree is largely a factor of luck), can all determine the outcome.

But whining about how bad the Phillies are (or how old they are) is chasing an illusion, just assigning an explanation because it reflects a priori biases.

They had the best freakin' record in baseball, and their offense performed in the top tier of the league. They aren't down 2-1 because they're old, or because their offense "stinks."

SF outside of Posey and Sandoval are all 29+ so the age is basically the same. Perhaps the fact that their entire team is lifetime platoon players has them fresh for the playoffs!!! I kid I kid..kind of.

Phlipper, I agree with you to an extent.

However, one can say the Phillies are playing badly RIGHT NOW. I don't think Game 1 and Game 3 wins by the Giants were entirely due to dumb luck with the Phillies playing excellent baseball that should have won.

I agree the Phillies were the better team over the course of the season. But they might not be the better team right now in this series.

No one thought the Phils would sweep. Hence the Giants had to win at least 1 game. They've won 2, in a 7 game series. Hence, this pain was inevitable. I just bet Joe Blanton goes out this evening and pitches his heart out, giving us 7 innings, 3 runs.

As I said yesterday, we have Werth with his eye on huge money, and Jimmy Rollins is not likely to retire after his contract. There's 2 guys who are playing for both money and pride. Victorino and Ruiz have fallen off a cliff this series, and Utley can't be as bad as he looks, can he? I expect big things from all 5 of these players. The heck with Ryan Howard; he looks like he needs an off season to get his mojo back. Unless his eyesight or bat speed have gravely deteriorated.

And another thing -- what if the Giants start to believe their "press clippings"? Since when do the Giants “swagger”? Their closer looks like a clown with a painted on beard and Cody Ross wants to be a clown! Both are due for their comeuppance.

I always take the Phils when their back's to the wall. I predict a 7 - 2 beatdown, Phils. Then we take our chances with H2O.

"However, one can say the Phillies are playing badly RIGHT NOW."

I'm not really sure what that means, Heather. They made some bad plays in two out of the three games. Is that, in any way, predictive of how they'll play tonight?

They swept the Reds, they finished the season red hot. At what point do you arbitrarily draw a line to say what "now" means in that statement?

A very good team with a proven track record of excellence made some bonehead plays in two games. They got bats on the ball more than their opponents, and didn't get the hits to drop. They didn't get hits with RISP - the other team did.

Basically, what people are saying is that after an excellent season, and a sweep of a good team in the Reds, suddenly they are playing badly because they're old and because their offense stinks? It doesn't make sense.

What if they hit well tonight and score 8 runs. Would it mean that suddenly they weren't "old" any more and that their offense stopped "stinking."

Does a team become "unstunk" the same way that Ibanez, Moyer, etc., have become "unwashed up?"

I'd be willing to bet that there's no statistical evidence that a team that has just won four games in a row is any more or less likely to win the next game than a team that lost four in a row - independent of their overall record. The best predictor of a team's next game is their overall w/l record (and of course, injuries, who the pitcher is, etc.).

Chance are, the Phillies will win tonight. If they do, chances definitely are that they'll win the series. If they don't the odds are obviously longer, but in each subsequent game, individually, I'd take my chances (with, ironically, the toughest game being the one Doc starts.)

"Basically, what people are saying is that after an excellent season, and a sweep of a good team in the Reds, suddenly they are playing badly because they're old and because their offense stinks? It doesn't make sense"

I did not introduce the old/washed up excuse, because that is going down a rabbit hole that you can't necessarily prove to anyone's satisfaction.

I am saying they are playing badly right now (as in, not up to season or career norms, esp. on offense.) Their offensive numbers for the DS and CS bear this out, with the possible exception of Howard.

Could it turn around tonight? Yeah, I guess. Am I as certain as you seem to be? No.

I hope you are right though.

You know the expression about "looking for keys under the lamp post?"

That's how I view theories that "explain" why the Phillies are now down 2-1. People look at the record and then find explanations to explain what's happened: it's because they're old, it's because they don't go the other way, it's because they swing at first pitches, it's because they can't hit lefties, it's because it's freakin' daylight.

They are down 2-1 because they made some bonehead plays in two out of the three games. It's really that simple.

The first-pitch taking theory sounds a bit bogus to me, but I don't have time to research the stats.

If sophist were here he could provide stats that tell you how often the Phils swing at first pitches and what their BA is when they do.

" Their offensive numbers for the DS and CS bear this out, "

Heather. That is a total of six games. And they scored runs in a couple of them. And they faced pitchers that are obviously good by virtue of carrying their teams to the playoffs. Making some general characterization about their offense on that basis - certainly to offer it as a predictive postulation, doesn't add up to me.

"That's how I view theories that "explain" why the Phillies are now down 2-1. People look at the record and then find explanations to explain what's happened: it's because they're old, it's because they don't go the other way, it's because they swing at first pitches, it's because they can't hit lefties, it's because it's freakin' daylight.

They are down 2-1 because they made some bonehead plays in two out of the three games. It's really that simple"

I don't see how you could take their pathetic offensive numbers and say that that doesn't factor into their poor performance, and instead ascribe everything to a boneheaded play or two.

Game 4 of the NLCS has been the Phillies' money games the last 2 years.

Let's hope the trend continues.

"Game 4 of the NLCS has been the Phillies' money games the last 2 years.

Let's hope the trend continues"

Take Gload in case of an emergency just doesn't have the same ring, though....

Where's Matt Stairs when you need him?

"I don't see how you could take their pathetic offensive numbers and say that that doesn't factor into their poor performance, and instead ascribe everything to a boneheaded play or two."

Heather - I don't ascribe it to "their offense stinks." I ascribe it to the FACT that they've been facing extremely good pitchers. The measure of their offense is, clearly, how they performed over an entire season: they scored the second most runs in the league. They scored runs at a good clip over the home stretch of the season.

They didn't perform well offensively during a couple of games where they faced some of the best starters in the league. Drawing larger conclusions from that doesn't seem to be to me well-founded.

Phlipper: I never said their offense stinks as a whole. I said it stinks right now (for whatever reason...age, the phase of the moon, etc.)

And bottom line with the offense stinking RIGHT NOW, that is the main problem.

I'm not arguing over the fact that their offense, overall, is ok. We agree on that.

Honestly, Heather, I don't know what it means to say they stink RIGHT NOW. Does it mean that they didn't score runs over six games, the bulk of which they were facing the better, or the best starters in the league?

If that's what it means, then I agree with you.

Everybody is talking about the anemic Phillies hitting and then reminding everyone that we swept a very good team in the Reds. But our hitting pretty anemic in that series and it was fairly anemic in the last week of the regular season. This league championship has the appearance of the on and off again Phillies offense. They are very erratic and what makes it worse, when they are in a slump, it seems like the whole team if OFF - Victorino, Rollins, Ruiz, Utley, Werth, Polanco, Ibanez, and Howard - none have been hot.

If I have to read another post ascribing the success or failure of a player or a team to luck, I'm going to go nuts. The continual reference to "luck" to explain outcomes of individual at bats or makes me wonder if some people watch games with the same attention they give to the daily lottery drawing. Outcomes can be influenced by luck or chance but, in the main, the decisive factor is almost always execution.

Okay, I'm done. Sorry for the rant. Just a bit on edge wondering if Blanton will get lucky tonight, or not.

"Game 4 of the NLCS has been the Phillies' money games the last 2 years."

Wherefore art thou, Jonathan Broxton?

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