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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Seems like you mean 19 BBs, JW?

*19 walks

Yes yes I see.

No biggie on the loss tonight as long as they take tomorrow to take the series. I like their chances with Oswalt vs. Lannan.

Get a badly-needed off day on Thurs and Vic back for Friday.

Hmmmm, I've been ripped here before for saying that Lee has not yet lived up to his billing...........or contract.

Any refutation from the Merry Cliffmas Sychophant Club?

Was at the game tonight. Lee was awful. So were Rollins and Howard.

Brown is good and should be the starter in RF.

Not much else to say.

You don't have to cover for me anymore. I use the juice.

Was also at the game. Agree with Jack.

Mayberry looks shaky, but I'm not that down on him as some on this site are.

Zagurski... gah. Stutes? Also gah.

Brown - needs to play everday.

There are a few things I do hope change in the next week or so:

- JRoll out of the leadoff spot. JRoll had a .690 OPS and was hitting .259 out of the leadoff spot before the 0fer tonight.

Vic is the clear choice for the leadoff spot and JRoll should be moved down to the #6 spot.

- Break up the 3 left-handed bats in the 3-4-5 spots with Utley-Howard-Ibanez. It just makes late inning decisions too easy for opposing managers especially with Howard's struggles vs. LHP this year so far.

- Send down Zagurski. Zagurski is exactly like Romero except he throws a bit harder and doesn't have a changeup. Both have marginal control on their fastball even in the best of times. Romero (warts and all) still is fairly effective vs. left-handed bats.

- 15-day DL Gload when Vic comes back. Yeah, yeah the Phils need a left-handed bat off the bench. One who can't drive the ball or even apparently run the bases/field a position.

- Send Mini Mart down. I don't understand how Mini Mart helps this team more right now than a Barfield, Young, or Orr. I imagine the sole reason he is up is because Utley can't start everyday and they won't have a backup SS on the bench on nights where Valdez starts.

Big deal. You can move Valdez over to SS if needed and just carry an extra guy who can play 2B or 3B. How many freaking teams can 3 guys who can play SS anyways.

Missing Kentucky Joe:

- As much as Blanton struggled this year, they miss him in the rotation. KK/Worley are a clear downgrade from Blanton and like having KK in the pen on nights like tonight where he can soak up 2 innings if needed.

So Ryan Lawrence thinks the Phils are going to go with a 12-man staff when Vic gets called back up on Friday?

"The Phillies are wary of pitchers’ workloads with a busy stretch ahead. That may mean a position player will lose a spot on the 25-man roster, the The two most likely candidates being Michael Martinez and John Mayberry Jr."


Look, I'm not a huge fan of Mayberry in any way.

But if he gets sent down instead of Mini-Mart, it's an absolute joke.

Here's an idea: how 'bout the guy who can't run or field? Like, literally, cannot run or field. Via Gelb --

Can the Phillies afford to carry a player who cannot run or field?

"I guess we can if we want to," Manuel said. "I'd say his pinch-hitting definitely counts. He gives us a quality at-bat. We need some sticks on the bench."

Full Entry

Pessimistic me somehow just knows the Phillies will keep Gload, & "versatile" Rule 5 utility flop Martinez, & send Mayberry back to AAA -- this despite the fact that Mayberry fields & runs, if not hits, better than the both of 'em.

On the surface, there is no contest-Mayberry should stay and Martinez should go. However, there must be some reason that they are not telling us as to why MM is preferred over RFD.

Old Phan: Maybe because r00b & Co. aren't willing to admit they chose a Rule 5 dud? I'd argue their stubbornness RE: Herndon indicates a certain lack of realism on the part of the FO as regards such players.

I would say the whole Rule 5 thing is a joke, but I can't complain since that's how they obtained Vic.

So the possibility of a 12-man pitching staff where one of the guys likely won't pitch for a week or longer while going with a 5-man bench that possibly could just Sardinha, Gload, Valdez, Mini Mart, and Francisco?

Have to wait and see but that would be some piss-poor roster management.

"I guess we can if we want to," Manuel said. "I'd say his pinch-hitting definitely counts. He gives us a quality at-bat. We need some sticks on the bench."

Look, anyone who has read this site since last year knows that I am a big fan of (a healthy) Ross Gload. But this is ridiculous for a variety of reasons.

1. Yes, you "can" keep Gload. You also could keep me as your 25th person off the bench. Neither option is sound or practicable.

2. Yes, Ross Gload usually gives you a good AB. However, if you are so devoid of guys who can work a good AB off your bench that injured Ross Gload is option #1, then solution isn't to stick with injured Ross Gload. The solution is to re-work the bench. Trading deadline is coming up. Worst come to worst, Rizzotti and Overbeck could probably give good ABs. They could also run (a little) and play the field (in extremis.)

3. Ross Gload is not OPS'ing over 1.000, or any number like that that would make this decision remotely justifiable. A guy would have to be KILLER with the bat to justify having to be replaced with a PR at all times.

There is no room for Gload if he can't run or field. Drop him and trade for a decent bench bat or call up one of the kids. This is frigging ridiculous.

No, awh, Lee has not been worth his contract thus far.

Lost in all the Lee hype last year was that although he was sparkling for Seattle, he was really kind of mediocre with Texas.

He was 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA with Seattle, and 4-6 with a 3.98 with Texas.

So he has had Blanton-like stretches like this previously, and it's entirely possible he'll rebound. (Of course it's possible he won't, but I don't see that as likely. Maybe if this goes on for a full season, I'll consider it.)

You can't keep Gload at the expense of Mayberry. Lose Martinez and call up YOung and you've filled both roles, even if he's not "Ross Gload!" Gload did have the savvy catcher's interference tonight. I didn't contemplate that possibility in considering when and how Gload's BA, SLG and OBP might finally deviate from the linear. Does that increase his OBP and leave his BA static?

In the "moving forward" department, Brown has clearly ensured his continued presence on the 25 man roster and, in the lineup. He lashes the ball; he keeps the bat level through the zone. They need to ride his bat as far as it goes.

Old Phan: I pointed this out the other day. They selected Vic in the Rule 5 draft, but DID NOT keep him all season.

They offered him back to the Dodgers, who declined. They then optioned him to AAA for the rest of the 2005 season.

Which, of course, is exactly what we are saying they should do with Mini-Mart.

There has to be something about MM that the FO sees that no one else sees.
It's interesting that they didn't keep Vic, yet held on to Herndon and MM and refuse to let go.

Mini Mart is some kind of security blanket for them so far. I think they know he's going back but, he fills a role and they'd be more inclined to move him when the rest of the roster stabilizes a little more. At least, that's what I'm telling myself for now.

The suggestion that, with time, he's going to be a regular player or have a larger role than he has is pretty tough to understand.

"There has to be something about MM that the FO sees that no one else sees.
It's interesting that they didn't keep Vic, yet held on to Herndon and MM and refuse to let go"

I don't believe this, because if they actually saw something, wouldn't they share it? Like, "We believe in Herndon because with that sinkerball and the proper training, we think he has a 20% shot of being the next Derek Lowe, and if not that, at the very least a high leverage bullpen arm!"

Since they're not...well, I think this is a case where the simplest explanation is the best. Nobody is saying anything but platitudes because they don't have much else to say.

Old Phan: Yeah, they see a guy who can play multiple positions, which has some value on a major-league roster that is limited in number.

However, they're making a mistake. It's ok to say that. He plays no position well, and is a horrible hitter. He isn't even that fast or good of an athlete. As a front office, they're very good. But they're not perfect. I think we're allowed to be honest about that, right? I mean, we don't have to assume everything they're doing is the optimal decision. No front office is perfect. They'd be the first to admit that (well, maybe not Rube).

Now, maybe Mini-Mart turns into a solid major-league player and I'm dead wrong. But I put the chances of that at about .01%. I think it's clearly a mistake if they keep him going forward.

Old Phan: Different GM.

Is tomorrow a must-win game?

On one hand, no. It's a mid-season contest against a cellar-dwelling inferior rival that we've already dominated this year. A loss would put the season series at 6-3 us, and you can't win 'em all, especially on the road. and we've had a grueling stretch with precious few off days and it's starting to get really hot -- that can drain a team.

On the other hand, a loss puts us at .500 over our last 26, puts us at 1-1 in series after the much-heralded hard-schedule games, sends a signal to a young, hungry opponent that our foot is off their neck, and means that Halladay (who was shaky), Lee (loss), and Oswalt (loss, in this hypothetical) follow a shelling of Worley, as well as two wins against the Mets that could have been losses save for late-inning heroics by the offense (or meltdowns by the Mets bullpen, in a less favorable light).

If only Mayberry had spent winter ball playing 2B & SS all these years...To have a 2nd IF is the only reason they would keep Martinez over Mayberry. Plus, Martinez can play OF. (Although remembering his misplay of that ball on Sunday makes me laugh.)Maybe he can't do anything well, but he can do it marginally. He's like this year's Eric Bruntlett.

As an aside, I think it's waaaaaaay too early to judge Lee's contract. He's going to be just fine. The thing that separates him from a Doc is lack of consistency. He goes through these rough patches. I'm still glad he on the Phils for the next 5 years.

Martinez fills a role at which futility passes as competence. At some point, versatility does not equal utility. I think that point is fast approaching for him. There's virtue in a slow trigger on re-configuring the roster, though. Martinez's future has never been a high priority for Amaro this season.

If versatility is really the only reason they wanted Mini Mart, then why on earth not get someone like Hairston or even Eckstein,who went unsigned this year? I can't imagine Eckstein would have wanted much more than the minimum, and he plays almost every infield position (poorly, but still better than Mini Mart) and hits too (poorly, but again, still better than Mini Mart).

I mean, I know how much everyone here hates Hairston and Eckstein, but...

Hairston>>>>Eckstein>>>>>>>>>>Mini Mart.

Maybe it is just a quirk of mine but I believe it is very easy to identify problems and then leave the solutions up to someone else. I am certainly not smart enough to be a GM, and can understand leaving solutions up to the people responsible for them, but it does seem a bit too easy to criticize without recognizing how difficult a solution may be.

I see nobody in the minors who is playing their way onto the major league club. I see no easy replacement for Gload, and really do not want to trade a quality prospect for a lefty pinch hitter. Maybe Chad Tracy is available for next to nothing?

Likewise, I do not see obviously better options (hard to argue they could be worse though) to replace Martinez. Since last season, I wanted the Phillies to find a good bench 3B/LF right handed hitter to offset Gload at PH and allow Polanco to 2B for rest days (e.g. Wigginton). Now, I'd like a similar lefty bat (e.g. Hinske). Not sure Larish could do that but he fits. Otherwise, Orr as the primary PH? Maybe I can live with the Gload / Kendrick combo. What else are either one of them good for?

Delwyn Young. Pete Orr.

There, I identified two better options than Martinez. That was tough.

Any other stumpers?

I hope everybody that said anything is ready to admit they are wrong. I'm waiting.

I'm with you Jack. Martinez is no loss and Gload should not dilute the bench. I'll give you 25% of Gload's pinch hits - Dom Brown. Ibanez can fill another 10-15% of those late inning spots while he's resting his old ass in favor of Francisco. Fill the rest with Young or Orr as the replacement for Martinez. Gload's not losing a job due to performance. He's apparently not able to play the field or run the bases. Martinez is all holes. Baby swiss. Tits on a bull (credit MG).

Good pinch hitters are hard to come by &, if Gload can hit .280-ish with a .700+ OPS off the bench, there's enough value in that as to justify a roster spot for him, even if he can't run or play the field. Problem is, if he's so injured that he can't run or play the field, I have serious doubts that he can hit .280-ish with a .700 OPS off the bench. He certainly hasn't looked good at the plate since his injury was announced and, if he couldn't muster even a single extra base hit in the first 2 months of the season, I wouldn't imagine that his power production is going to improve as a result of this injury.

Speaking of LOOGY's...

Sergio Escalona has actually done a pretty nice job out of the Houston bullpen in that capacity. He got the win on Monday against the Cubbies.

The Phils have some roster problems right now. Most of it, is their own making.

You have a main pinch-hitter, who can't run or play the field. So if Gload hits one into the gap, does he stop at 1st? A starting pitcher will have to used all year to pinch-run for him. I am sure we'll all be thrilled watching Hamels pull a hamstring rounding 3rd and miss a month of the season.

You have a "utility" player, who is shaky playing any position and has shown no ability to run the bases or hit from either side of the plate.

Your 5th starter is now back at Lehigh, because he was jerked around after he had been pitching great and is completely out of rythem as a starter. Your long man, who had been doing a fine job in that role, now gets to be the 5th starter again for a few starts. So you are probably weaker at 2 spots.


A serious question here...why didn't the Phils call up Andrew Carpenter to take Worley's spot? They have no long man in the pen now. Baez is probably shot, after that marathon performance. Zagurski was working as the LV closer and he can't throw strikes anyway. I understand that Zags is probably not here for long anyway. And Carpenter has never really impressed in his time in the bigs either. But at least he can throw multiple innings. And he's pitched very well out of the pen this year in AAA.

I didn't understand that move. If Oswalt has to leave in the 2nd inning tomorrow for whatever reason, who pitches?

Apparantly the right move was to sign Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia on the cheap instead of Cliff Zito. Kidding.

Coming off a Cy Young year in '08,two back to back trips to the Series, and a dramatic trip to free agency, one has to wonder if Lee is just spent right now. No reason to make excuses but it makes sense. Though if you look at the numbers, this all started when he was traded to the Rangers.

Of all the things to worry about (for example, how wrong we all were-except for a select incredibly perceptive, yet humble, few-about Cliff Lee) the one that bothers me least is that a loss today "sends a signal to a young, hungry opponent that our foot is off their neck."

We lost a series in DC last year (remember the debut of Roy Oswalt as a Phil?) so their neck has previously been foot-free.

Here's to hoping we don't see Schweitzer for another 2 months, when Dom's hitting streak comes to a close.

"Though if you look at the numbers, this all started when he was traded to the Rangers."

And he had a start skipped and a cortisone shot while we was with the Rangers due to back problems.

If he's still performing poorly (poorly for Cliff Lee, not poorly on an objective level) due to back problems 8 months later, that's a big cause for concern.

"Your 5th starter is now back at Lehigh, because he was jerked around after he had been pitching great and is completely out of rythem as a starter."

Their fifth starter is on the disabled list for a second time. During his first stint, Worley looked pretty good and, he looked prett good in limited work in relief. At no time, however, has he demonstrated an ability to work deep in games, which is a minimum requirement for me to say a guy is "pitching great" as a starter. His last two outings were shaky and he allowed 11 runs in 8 innings. Whether that's the team's fault, or not, I have no problem in them sending him to AAA to try and get back on track.

Two things:

• God forbid; could Cliff Lee be "damaged goods"? After his amazing tenure in Seattle last year when he walked 6 batters in 103 2/3 IP, he simply has not been close to dominant. Even when he's racking up big strikeout totals this year, he seems eminently hittable. Could this be a case of the FO seeing a marketing bonanza with his signing, and looking past serious back issues? Yes I know the Yankees offered Lee huge $$, but they must be chuckling. In their infinite shrewdness, they got Bartolo Colon who has been brilliant.

• Who actually makes decisions on this team, anyway? Michael Martinez is worthless; Jack pointed out than either Delwyn Young or Pete Orr could be a significant upgrade over a player that is absolutely no threat offensively. If Martinez stays because Charlie "likes" him, that's freaking asinine, and the team's management philosophy must be called into question.

Phew, now I feel better. An egregiously ugly loss to the Gnats -- with Lee on the hill -- does that to me.

"Your long man, who had been doing a fine job in that role, now gets to be the 5th starter again for a few starts. So you are probably weaker at 2 spots."

Kendrick is next on the depth chart and is an obvious choice to replace Worley in the rotation. If they truly need a long man today, it will be Kendrick. But, with an off-day tomorrow, I assume they'll just empty the bullpen.

.333/.378/.545 (.924 OPS)

Dom Brown so far on the season (only 37 PAs). I think he's been taking advantage of his opportunity so far this year. I think Mayberry and Brown both stick around this Friday. The club has not been showing any preference to Mini-Mart over Mayberry, as Mayberry started his 12th consecutive game last night. That tells you all you need to know about who they prefer between the two. They obviously like Brown.

Really, the one regular who may get the boot over Mini-Mart is Ben "I still have an option left" Francisco.

That's who I'd have my eye on, as we barely see the guy anymore.

"I can't imagine Eckstein would have wanted much more than the minimum, and he plays almost every infield position"

Could Eckstein even reach first from SS or 3B anymore? There's no way that rag arm could play the OF, either.

I think until the FO thinks that Polanco, Rollins and Utley are all 100%, we will continue to see Mini-Mart. Sigh.

Did cut_fastball just call the Yankees management "infinitely schrewd?" Good Lord.

One thing is clear: Domonic Brown simply isn't ready to hit MLB pitching and he needs consistent AAA at bats to prove himself. We're killing the team by putting him out there every night.

Fatalotti, I've been wondering about Francisco's status for a couple days. What I tell myself is that they're starting Mayberry because they want at least one solid defender in the OF and, Ibanez, Francisco and Brown don't fit that bill. Assuming they don't choose Martinez over Francisco, when Victorino returns, it may actually mean a little more playing time for Francisco, at least against lefties. Even if he doesn't, I can't see a point in sending him down just to keep a spot for Martinez. The guy is a major leaguer. Probably preaching to the choir but, that would be a real head scratcher.

As for Clifton Phifer Lee, I'm not that worried. He has a stretch like this every season where he looks very human. He's a control guy that doesnt have overwhelming stuff. When his control is off a bit, he's very hittable. He did the same thing after we traded for him in 2009 too.

From Aug 29th to the end of the regular season, he started 7 games with a 6.13 ERA, .331 BAA in 39.2 IP.

He also did this in Texas last year: From July 10th to August 31st, he posted a 4.69 ERA in 11 starts.

This is why he's never had a great ERA+ season when compared to guys like Halladay.

Basically, I dont see this as anything out of the ordinary.

Sending BenFran down to keep Mini-Mart would be collossally stupid...especially with Interleague play coming up. Who's gonna DH? Are we going to use a gimpy Ross Gload who cant even run the bases? Will Mini-Mart and his .400 OPS DH? Valdez?

Didn't anyone notice Cliff barking at Werth briefly in his first at bat about the strike Werth complained about? Cliff barked at him that it was a strike. Tom noted it on the broadcast and they cut to a shot of Halladay getting a chuckle out of the exchange too, but I guess all of you were too busy debating call-ups and roster moves or giving players cute little nicknames to notice a great moment.

Does Cliff Lee have an option left?

Terry: I don't want to live in a world where fans don't spend an inordinate amount of time devising cute nicknames for players.

Cliff Lee has a FIP in the tops of the NL. He'll be fine.

It really looks like Dom Brown needs more time down at AAA to get him major league ready. Last night just a bloop double and bloop home run, we can't expect him to keep blooping his way to a respectable OPS and in time, he'd probably sink below Michael Martinez.

There is no upside to keeping him here. Let him feast on AAA pitching and push up his trade value so we can go get a real major league hitter.

As a quick aside: What is Greg Dobbs' batting average this year?

The Aces thus far:

Halladay is Halladay. Lee, not as good as hoped to date, but thanks, NEPP, for the logical perspective. I knew Lee had gone through rough patches before and has bounced back. I'd rather hve him struggle now than in September & possibly October. Hamels has been superb. Right now, I'm a little more concerned about Oswalt's health/back over the long haul.

That's a good poll question. Which starter are you more concerned about: Lee or Oswalt?

The team is just having trouble adjusting to having this new guy in the line-up....Chase Utley and his .222 BA! Ha, ha!

Oswalt by a significant margin. Lee had problems locating some of his pitches yesterday. I'm not aware of that being a symptom of back trouble. Oswalt, on the other hand, looked uncomfortable in his last start.

Should of kept Happ

My analysis:

Last night's game stunk.

Move on, win today and the series. Enjoy the off-day and beat up on the Pirates.

"Their fifth starter is on the disabled list for a second time."

Blanton isn't any good. We don't miss him one bit. Those 5 inning, 5 run games aren't missed.

Worley was pitching better then him, before he was taken out of the rotation. In a couple of weeks, he'll be back.

R. Billingsley,

Agreed about the game, but when was the last time BL commenters ever "moved on"?

Keeping Mini-Mart over ANYONE would be ridiculous. He serves no purpose. Offer him back to the Nats. If they take him, good for them. If not, you can stash him in AAA.

I don't see how this is a difficult decision. At some point, versatility becomes redundant. It would take a colossal run of injuries for him to see meaningful playing time. We have plenty of OFers. We have a utility IF. Why not bring someone up who can PH? Or keep all of the OFers when Vic comes back?

Mini Mart probably shouldn't even be playing everyday for LV.

"Blanton isn't any good. We don't miss him one bit. Those 5 inning, 5 run games aren't missed."

At least you're consistent. If I understand what you mean by "isn't any good", I would translate it as "he's over 30".

Blanton is no world-beater and he's certainly not untouchable as a member of the staff but, he's got a big edge on Worley at this stage of their careers. In terms of 2011 performance, Blanton had two bad starts to begin the year, two good starts and then 2 decent starts where arm trouble limited him to five innings. His worst start wasn't as bad as Worley's and his two best starts are better than Worley's. Let's not let our love of Phillies farmhands cloud the picture. If Blanton's healthy, he's the fifth starter.

I like to think I can take some credit for pushing Will S to dig in so freaking deep on Domonic Brown that this nice little stretch that Dom is having has caused him to go away (one can only hope for good). Even if Dom struggles going forward, I think this stretch shows exactly why the hype on him is justified, and why it's worth it for him to be playing here given our other outfield options. That was the entirety of the argument, and NEPP, Jack and others were clearly right.

If the absence of Will S is the only positive thing I have added to B*L over the years, it's enough for me.

To those of us (with gray/thinning hair, most likely), some of the metrics are confounding. I do undestand that they provide a statisical method of saying a player is performing well or not. Having a top-5 FIP is nice. I guess.

I do, however, understand an older metric that compares the number of wins to the number of losses. Combined with what I observed of C___ L__'s outings this year, I completely understand 4-5. He is not performing well consistantly.

I will now sit back, wearing my Nomex suit, while the collective 'you' flame away.

Pirates haven't been very beatupable this year. They could have to scratch to even win that series.

I think they'll ride mini-mart as last bench man until Sept 1 call ups, then we'll see him even less than now. Belliard or Young or some other utility bat will replace in pennant stretch. Pride is beyatch, and I don't think RAJ wants to admit an error. I just wonder if the Nats will actually pay up the pittance to get him back.

lee is not hurt. he's tops in the nl in k's. you don't have that if you are injured. now oswalt is definitely not completely healthy and you can actually see that. you can't see squat on lee

The big surprise for the Pirates has been that their rotation has performed well. Phils dodge Correia and get Karstens opposite Hamels on Friday; he's been pretty good in a swingman role. Then Kendrick faces Morton, who is reborn this year with a new arm angle and no more 12-6 curve but, who has been vulnerable to lefties (.445 vs. .889 OPS). Then Halladay beats (please) James MacDonald on Sunday who has some nasty stuff but is a bit inconsistent.

Matt Gelb (via Twitter): "Jimmy Rollins and Domonic Brown sit. Placido Polanco is leading off."

The reason people present xFIP, SIERA, into their analysis of Lee's performance is to say that going forward, Lee has been getting unlucky so far and that going forward, due to his factors of his control GB%, HR/FB%,LOB%, etc, that things will eventually turn out well for him going forward, regression.

So far it seems like similar troubles to Hamels in 09. If his ERA stays at this level all year, it will clearly suck. But to say he's a BUST of a contract is absolutely ridiculous on such a small sample size. His peripherals are there for what an elite pitcher has, and is therefore justifiably being paid for it.

The weakness of FIP is that it only tells you what should happen based on peripherals, not what actually is happening. Based on his ridiculous K/9 rate and still very respectable BB/9 rate, Lee should be getting better results than he is getting...however, he isn't right now. Oswalt is the exact opposite. His peripherals are weaker than his ERA and ERA+ but he's gotten "lucky" for lack of a better word. He's gotten key outs when he's needed them. Over the length of the season, I would expect Lee's numbers to improve while Oswalt's numbers decline if the current peripherals continue unchanged. Oswalt's not nearly missing as many bats as he has in the past as he's battling a back injury. Lee is seeing some balls that would normally get caught fall in but as his peripherals show, he's still missing a ton of bats.

Its only June 1st though so there really isn't anything to worry about. Even an average Cliff Lee is a damn good pitcher.

Oswalt is a concern because he's posting a very low K/9 rate (5.8), his velocity is down and he's not getting as much bite on his breaking balls. All of this is related to the back issues though, not any type of age related decline. Once his back gets better, his stuff will improve. Even with the back, he's still a very good pitcher so its not major and he's shown he can pitch will less than perfect "stuff".

However, it is ridiculous to have Brown sit in favor of "no tools" disco francisco.

Likely, he will make me eat crow by hitting a solo shot in the 4th inning.

If Oswalt is able to recover soon and add a cpl miles an hour to his FB, his swinging strike % should go up quite a bit and his breaking balls will have that much more bite.

I'm not so sure if his chronic back issue will flare up more or less this year, its hard to say.

Zolecki (via Twitter): "Today's Lineup @ WSH: Polanco 3B, Mayberry CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Francisco RF, Ibañez LF, Ruiz C, Valdez SS, Oswalt P."

Heather, I absolutely think Lee will rebound. I merely posted what I did because in many quarters he seems to be above criticism.

Mind you, I don't think he deserves the type of vitriol that has been cast in the direction of the Sandovals, Mesas, Liebers,, but overall he has not pitched as well as he can or should this season.

For that matter neither has Oswalt, IMHO.

So, the optimist in me says there is room for improvement in 3/5 of the starting rotation, and that bodes well for the club.

Think about that: Lee, Oswalt and whoever occupies #5 have room to improve.

And the offense has room to improve. (Actually, in hindsight, when I posted yesterday that since St. Utley's return they had only scored less that 5 runs once I think applied the BL Reverse Jinx for last night's game.)

And the bullpen could get better if Lidge returns and is effective.

Yet, despite all the deficiencies on the roster and in performance this team is still in 1st place.

Should be a fun summer!

Cliff Lee has been a disappointment. Simply put- he needs to improve.

"Now, maybe Mini-Mart turns into a solid major-league player and I'm dead wrong. But I put the chances of that at about .01%."

Oooh, Jack, I disagree.

I don't think the chances are remotely that high. :)

Are we facing a LHP? If not, why would you sit Brown?

cliff lee's success measurement should only come playoff time....till then i will hold judgement....

Mayberry hitting 2nd? interesting lineup.

"All of this is related to the back issues though, not any type of age related decline."

Why are we to assume that those two are mututally exclusive conditions?

Wouldn't a back problem be one of the things you might see from a pitcher who is getting older?

NEPP: Yes. Lannan.

Not Phillies related, but if Soria really has lost his closer role (even temporarily) KC's gotta be kicking itself that it didn't trade him for top shelf prospects already. Just further proof that small market clubs shouldn't over-value closers.

We are facing Lannan today, and if my numbers are correct, this is about as close to an automatic win as they get.

0-10 lannan all-time vs phillies....

well he hits all our lefties. i wouldn't play any of them

One thing of interest on Oswalt:

Per pitchfx, he's ditched his slider this year in favor of his changeup. He's also thrown far less curveballs (typically his best pitch) in favor of his changeup. As a result, he's seen a spike in his GB rate and far less HRs than is typical for him.

Prior to this season, he was throwing his slider about 15% of the time. He's at 5.2% so far in 2011. He also dropped his curveball usage from around 15-18% over the last several years to just 10.0% this year. Meanwhile, his changeup is all the way up to 24.2% from 15.1% last year and a career mark of just 7%.

He's basically a completely different pitcher than he was 2-3 years ago now. If you look at his season splits from last year, this change occurred after he came to Philly so I wonder how much Dubee and Halladay have to do with the change in pitch selection.

I see Mayberry and Ben Fran are getting one last chance to prove that they're more valuable than Martinez.

Brown asked out of the lineup. He already missed time with two different hand injuries this season, and didn't want to risk getting hit with a Lannan pitch on the hands, which had about a 60% probability of happening.

Phils have had at least two losses against Lannan: Howard for a couple of games and Utley for a bunch. Everyone needs to wear battle armor cause Lannan is compelled (just can't help himself) to throw at Phillies.

Over/under on Lannan HBPs tonight: 2.

Do both Mayberry and BenFran have all 4 limbs and a beating heart?

Yes? Then they're more valuable than Mini Mart.

nepp-i would say a lot......

I would nominate Mini-Mart to be the first off the bench when Lannan hits Utley, Howard or Mayberry. Charge the mound, Mr. Martinez, and show your old team what you think of them.

In fact, I think Mini-Mart should charge the mound while Lannan is warming up for the first inning.

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EST. 2005

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