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Monday, June 20, 2011


The Brewers were my pre-season pick to win the World Series and they've shown no reason to doubt them so far.

Contrary to what you'd think, with our pitching staff, it's not the teams with the best pitching that could bite us in the butt come playoff time. Unless the Phillies' offense does something to figure things out in a much more consistent manner, the toughest matchups are teams that can hit enough to ding our staff for just 3-4 runs.

In a short series, I'd be very leery of a team like Cincinnati. Their pitching is more than adequate to shut down the Phillies' offense in a short series and Bruce/Votto alone could put up enough runs to make us reconsider the whole "pitching wins championships" schtick.

We have proven that we can handle the reds....the brew-crew scare me with that offense...

Braves/Giants. Both have the starting staffs & bullpen that could match up with the Phils and shut down this middling offense. Over a short series right now, I would say it would be a sheer crap shoot with either one of these teams.

Jack and I both think the Braves will be challenging at the end. Nuff said

McKeon has benched Hanley Ramirez tonight. Didn't take long for him to make a real mark on the Fish.

Does the Brewers' overall pitching staff (especially their bullpen) though really wow that many people? Going to rely upon the likes of Loe, Hawkins, and Mitre in key spots late in a game? Axford really the guy that is a lockdown closer in the 9th?

Gallardo is a 'Jekyll and Hyde' type. Greinke has been a flat out disappointment so far. Marcum has been very good and the one guy I think the Phils would matchup up horribly against right now.

Does it surprise you guys that the Braves have racked up 36 of the 72 votes so far?

Definitely the Braves. Their rotation can stack up against ours and they have some clutch hitters. I know Uggla has sucked on toast this year, but he has potential to knock in a winning run. And who wants to see McCann up in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth? One thing that has impressed me with the Braves this year is their ability to play all 9 innings. They are not out of it until the last out.

The Braves because they're in the division. Can't do anything til you win the division. Wild Card is a crapshoot.

Has everyone seen this article? Basically, if you include defense and baserunning, Victorino has been a better player over his career than Howard (even counting 2006).

Figured this might start some discussion on the off day.

I think it's the Brewers fairly handily over the rest of the field.

The Brewers have the starting staff that they can match-up with the Phillies. They come the closest to making our starting pitching advantage a wash. Marcum has been great. Gallardo has been considerably better since the beginning of May. In 9 starts he has given up 2 runs or less in 7 of them. They have two legitimate MVP candidates along with a very good player in Hart, a solid player in Weeks, and the type of guy (Gomez) who can give the Phillies fits in a short series.

The Braves are very good as well, but I think their main strong point right now will not be a strength at the end of the year. Their bullpen has a lot of mileage being put on their arms this year and you'd have to think at some point that will catch up with them. Plus, Fredi Gonzalez is still the manager there.

I think the Phillies are better than the Reds (by a larger margin than most think), the Cards, and the D'Backs. The trick with the D'Backs is that Chase Field has been a house of horrors for the Phillies. I'd hate to go out there needing to win both games to send it back home. Every single regular in the D'Backs offense right now is over a 100 OPS+ except for Kelly Johnson. I still think that line-up though, and the bullpen come crashing back to Earth.

The Phillies are better than the Giants this year which is similar to last year. I don't think in a short series again the Giants play as hot as they did last October.

"They come the closest to making our starting pitching advantage a wash."

As of right now, our starting lineup does a great job of making our starting pitching advantage a wash, too. Good thing our bullpen has been better than average and we get the occasional long ball.

IMO, you can eliminate the D'backs. I don't think they'll be there at the end of the season.

The other six teams, including the Phillies?

Well, if you understand that the playoffs are a crapshoot, then you might as well just toss all six names intoa hat and pick one.

That said, I look at the Giants, Braves and Cards as the biggest "threats" in the playoffs, with the qualifier that the Phils make it to the postseason.

I dunno, there's just something about the Brewers that make me suspect. Maybe it's the inexperience of the SP in a playoff push? Not impossible to overcome, to be sure, but still an issue, IMO.

I am setting the over/under at 25 minutes for Wheels to refer to "Trader Jack" in loving terms.

TTI gets it, IMHO --

The trick with the D'Backs is that Chase Field has been a house of horrors for the Phillies. I'd hate to go out there needing to win both games to send it back home. Every single regular in the D'Backs offense right now is over a 100 OPS+ except for Kelly Johnson.

I’m 1 of 2 voting for the Dbacks. They mash and mash some more. This iteration of the DBacks reminds me of the '07 Phils. Didn’t much matter who they ran out there to pitch; the offense would find a way.

Here is a fascinating look at how the Dodgers organization is structured and it sheds a ton of light onto why Selig rejected the deal between Fox and the Dodgers organization. After reading that- I reluctantly have to say that Selig made the correct choice here.

I guess you need the link

I think the Brewers have the best all-around team on that list, with Atlanta a close second. But I still picked the Giants because, with their strong pitching, deep bullpen, and pitcher-friendly ballpark, I continue to think that they present a matchup nightmare for us.

Great article, TTI.

In a Playoff Series, I'd rank the following teams as the biggest threat to the Phillies (least to greatest):

(6) Cincinnati Reds

(5) St. Louis Cardinals

(4) Arizona Diamondbacks (higher if by some chance Arizona has Home Field)

(3) Atlanta Braves

(2) Milwaukee Brewers

(1) San Francisco Giants (absolutely no prayer for the Phillies if SF has Home Field)

The Brewers could be dangerous if their pitching clicks in a short series but I'm not really worried about any of them.

Imagine how good the Brewers would be if their top 2 pitchers (on paper) were actually clicking consistently:

2011 ERA+
Yovani Gallardo: 95
Zach Greinke: 75

Yeah but Greinke is a true Ace and Hamels is not...right?

Going back further, Greinke has a 94 ERA+ since the start of the 2010 season (42 total starts)

Was his CY season just a ridiculous fluke? That's what its starting to look like. I mean, this season, his peripherals are very solid but his results have been terrible...odd.

Like I said, they could be tough if these 2 guys start clicking consistently.

It is too early for this question because we have to see what happens at the trade deadline, injuries can obviously happen, etc. It is way to early to be thinking about playoffs and what team would be ideal because the rosters as constructed today will not be the same as the roster we see in September/October.

BTW, its the 20th now so all stats can begin to be taken seriously.

Any an all of them. The Braves have starters to match up with us. They all have the bullpen to put any late 8th/9th inning heroics to an end. Buster is out but they can get another acquisition come trade deadline. The Brewers are the sleeper team an have us on the revenge radar.

NEPP: I was going to make the point about Grienke that his peripherals are well above his normal averages. I don't know what that says about what will happen as the year progresses.

Hard to predict. We haven't even seen what the dog days of summer do to some of these other teams (not to mention our own). In other words, I'm worried about the teams who carry momentum through August.

NEPP: So all the players having horrible years thus far (i.e. Hanley Ramirez) and guys having a year above their normal averages (i.e. Bautisa,Asdrubal Cabrera), since it is June 20th we should expect the same the rest of the season? Isn't it a little too early to make that assumption?


Ibañez stinks. Also, anyone -- sportswriter, taking head, fan, et. al. -- who predicted Ben Francisco would be anything but the disgusting loser his is should commit seppuku.

I'm wondering if Greinke is just imploding with men on base or if he's just getting unlucky. His peripherals are much much better than his current ERA:

ERA: 5.28
FIP: 2.53
xFIP: 1.94

"Also, anyone -- sportswriter, taking head, fan, et. al. -- who predicted Ben Francisco would be anything but the disgusting loser his is should commit seppuku."

I thought he would hit 20 HRs dead on this year. That looked remotely like a shot until Brown was called up. Now ~10 seems much more realistic.

TTI: Thanks for the article. Bud Selig absolutely made the right decision to deny the FOX-Dodgers deal. Is there any precedent for something like this - selling the rights to your team to pay off your divorce settlement? Geeze. Way to abuse America's game and one of it's most storied franchises.

MVP, you miss the point of the cutoff. This is merely the point where we can start to discuss the stats as we have about 75 games of sample size. Sure, guys will turn it around but we can start to say "Maybe this isn't just a slump, maybe its real" with guys like Ibanez and even Polly (who has been terrible since his hot April).

Things that concern me so far:

1. Raul looks pretty finished. May was fun but he's right back to terrible in June with a .588 OPS and a .693 OPS on the season.

2. Polly has been fine defensively (though not as good as last year) but his bat is very very mediocre so far.

3. Rollins looks like this is simply his level of ability at this point: Good glove, mediocre bat but good patience. A low .700s OPS is fine for a good defensive SS...he simply shouldn't be hitting leadoff.

Good things:

1. Pitching, pitching and more pitching. Our pitching staff is about as great as we could have hoped with our Top 3 being nearly unhittable and Oswalt chipping in solid efforts as the #4 guy. The bullpen has been better than expected with strong rookie efforts.

I can't believe BenFran has been as bad as he has been. Everything pointed to him being mediocre/average as an OF but he has really underperformed when he was given a clear shot at the starting job. Other than his willingness to work a walk, he's been pretty pathetic all around.

Cy Vogelsong?

Now has started 10 GS:

61 IP, 4-1, 2.07 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 2.8 K/BB, .231 BAA

anyone hear about this?

sounds like a joke almost, but it could be a TERRIBLE idea.

NEPP: Thanks for the explanation. In that case, I agree with your concerns and the good things.

CRD: Unfortunately, I believe this is real. J-Roll was supposed to pull the same idiotic stunt last season, only he injured himself beforehand, which led to the cancellation of the event. I had hoped that would be the end of it.

If Selig really wants the best for baseball and the Dodgers and McCourt (and ex) really wants a deal with Fox, they should either make Fox buy the team (which I believe it owned before and sold when it became a money-pit) or get out of the way and force a sale to someone else who has the wherewithal to handle it. Technically no owner but Bud and his daughter) can do whatever they want with their team under the MLB agreement.

Considering how bad it was the last time Fox owned the team, I hope they dont go that route.

Give it to Mark Cuban...if he'll have it at this point.

And Atlanta pulls ahead 2-0 on a 2-run 7th inning homerun by Tim Hudson, of all people.

"CRD: Unfortunately, I believe this is real. J-Roll was supposed to pull the same idiotic stunt last season, only he injured himself beforehand, which led to the cancellation of the event. I had hoped that would be the end of it."

It is slightly better than JRoll attempting to challenge any comer to 'steal a bag faster than JRoll' and have JRoll blow out a hammy/quad in the process.

Let's go down the list.

St. Louis- I think they've played over their head thus far. No way will Berkman continue at this pace. They've already lost Wainwright, which makes their rotation weaker than our's- now they've lost Pujols for at least a month. With Milwaukee and Cincy in the same division, I don't think they sniff the playoffs.

Arizona- like their offense, but there's no way the pitching holds up through September. They'll fade.

Cincy- they are basically the same team as last year, and I just don't think the pitching is good enough. They've played a bunch of close games against us the last two years but the Phils have come out on top almost every time. The series wouldn't be a cakewalk by any means, but unless they trade for another starter, the Phils would be heavily favored in a playoff series.

SF- if they make the playoffs, obviously nobody wants to see them. The starting pitching will be formidable- now they've even got Ryan Freaking Vogelsong throwing up 0's for them. But they had a lot of offensive magic work for them last year, and without Posey, it will be even more difficult for them to recreate it. The Phils would have to be slightly favored in the series.

Atlanta- With Florida absolutely in the tank, the only competition in our division. In a short series, you'd have to figure this would be a complete toss-up as they can match-up with us 1 through 4 in their rotation- but I think the Wild Card is coming out of the Central. And if Uggla doesn't turn it around, they don't have a prayer to catch us. I don't think they make the playoffs. If they do, it would be a hell of an NLCS.

Milwaukee is the team. Start with the offense- obviously superior to the Phils. They've got the best back-to-back hitters in the NL in Braun and Fielder. They can beat you with speed and power- now they've got Nyjer Morgan, and if he doesn't self-destruct he is an upgrade over Gomez.

Then you look at their rotation- Marcum has baffled the Phils. Gallardo and Greinke are wild cards, but they're capable of pitching like #1's- one of them will be starting Game 3. Then you look at the potential Game 4 starters- Wolf dominates the Phils and Narveson is exactly the type of pitcher that dominates the Phils (and did so earlier this season).

The advantage the Phils have over every other team in the NL is that they've got 4 guys they can run out in Games 1 through 4 of a playoff series that can and probably will pitch like #1's. With Wolf and Narveson, the Brewers can neutralize that Game 4 advantage, have a 1 through 3 that have all pitched like aces, and they've got the offense to back it up.

They are also ridiculously good at home. Bullpen is obviously something the Phils can look at as an advantage, which helps make this (potential) series a complete coin flip- a better chance than any other team in the NL would have against them.

Real teams don't worry or rank who they face. Let season play out and if they have taken care of business then they will be rewarded. If they didn't then it will be a tougher road. A lot of baseball left , and moves to be made.

2 threads behind as usual.

As someone older than Old Fan, I enjoy old jokes. Best one lately, "Don't buy green bananas." Hope that doesn't upset TTI.

Phils usually handle Pujols pretty well. I predict his replacement will enter with Mini-Mart-like #'s and pull a Cody Ross.

That should have read "old-age jokes"

If the Phils play well, there is nobody in the NL that can play with them.

The NL is as weak in 2011 as its ever been.

I think the 2 most "dangerous" teams are Milwaukee and Colorado. Milwaukee because they have a good offense and potentially 3 very good starting pitchers. And Colorado because of their homefield advantage and potentially a pretty solid starting staff and bullpen.

If the Phils don't win the NL this year, then they will have vastly underachieved.

Are you for real Denny B what gives you that conclusion...

Pre-post-season, I have to give the nod to the Atlanta Braves, simply because they are in-division.

When (if) we hit the post-season, I fear any team with really good pitching. That isn't to say a 2nd or 3rd tier staff won't shut us down--but if they shut us down for 4 games in a series, we don't deserve to win.

"If the Phils don't win the NL this year, then they will have vastly underachieved."

This about sums it up.

denny - You could have made the same case last year too.

Yeah the Giants offense is terrible but their pitching staff could easy blank this offense, Phils simply don't hit in SF, and I wonder if some doubts wouldn't creep into the Phils' mind from lady year.

MG- the doubts are going to creep into the fans' minds, not the players. This team isn't some mentally weak group that's going to be intimidated and fold because of something that happened a year ago.

Also, historically the Phils have not hit well at AT&T Park, but that wasn't the issue in the NLCS. They scored 5 runs in the loss and 4 runs in the win. It's not some mental block. It can be done.

You talk a lot about 'myths' on here, and one of them is that the Phils got out-hit in the NLCS. They didn't. They got out-pitched.

You talk a lot about 'myths' on here, and one of them is that the Phils got out-hit in the NLCS. They didn't. They got out-pitched.

Incorrect. The Phillies were both out-hit AND out-pitched.

Starting pitching we match up an have on edge oneveryone assuming we stay healthy. Its the hitting an other intangibles that we fans worry about.Weakness where exposed during the Yankees WS an Giants series. We basically have the same club minus Werth. Also although bullpen has been great we still have two young hurlers out there. An aging veteran (Jose C), Baez an who know if Lidge will ever pitch again or at least be effective.

GTown, if the Phillies got outhit, how then did they score more runs than the Giants in the series?

Just askin'?

two words awh Cody Ross murdered us...timely hits

From Heyman:

"2. Carlos Beltran, Mets OF

Mets people have determined they would be willing to eat most or even all of the rest of Beltran's $18 million 2011 salary if they can get a decent young piece or two back, and that should help grease the skids for a trade after 6 ½ up-and-down years in Queens for the multitalented player. Beltran has looked close to 100 percent this season -- he has a .500 slugging percentage -- after a spring training in which he was limited to parts of only three games because of knee concerns, so they shouldn't be limited to examining deals with only American League teams, though that's still where the logical interested teams reside. The Red Sox have long liked Beltran (top assistant Allard Baird was the GM when Beltran was starring in Kansas City), with the White Sox and Tigers other possibilities. The Yankees were making some sense when DH Jorge Posada was struggling from the right side and rightfielder Nick Swisher from the left, but the Yankees appear very focused on upgrading their pitching staff at the moment. Beltran also has no-trade powers, but he is said to be likely to accept a deal to a contender."

If the Mets would eat almost all of Beltran's salary, I'd love to see the Phils throw a couple decent prospects at the Mets for him.

Not sure how I wsould going about committing seppuku, but it doesn't sound like a great experience. In any case, I guess I'm one of those who is lined up to do so, because I thought Francisco had a good shot for a solid season, and that he could be a capable - not equal, but capable - replacement for Werth.

In the same spirit, I don't believe Uggla will continue to play like he has thus far. Could be an overall down year for him, but he is due for a bit of progresion to the mean. And he's been so bad thus far, if he does bounce back, it could be a problem.

Beltran for prospects and $$$ has seemed the obvious play, to me. If you're upgrading the OF, do it right.

With all those teams closely bunched and the trading deadline 6 weeks away, I have a hard time projecting what they'll all look like in October. I'm picking the Braves strictly because they're always tough head-to-head with hte Phils and they have the most opportunity to affect their regular season success.

Terrific article by David Murphy this morning on the challenges that Amaro is facing over the next few months.

I voted for the Braves, even though I think they stink. Tells you how much I think of the rest of the league.

Got to the part of the Murphy article about the declining results in the postseason since 2008 and wondered how many more baseball seasons we all have to experience before it becomes clear that the results of best of 5 and best of 7 series don't really prove which teams are superior.

Then Murphy writes that the only contender with less HRs than the Phils is the Giants. Yeah, can't imagine a series where a team like the Giants could possibly beat a team with more homers.

All you need to know about why the Phils might not make the playoffs is found in David Murphy’s snappy little piece (thanks, Marc):

Phillies general manager Amaro facing big test in months ahead

What’s even creepier is the Phils’ winning the pennant, and then getting shredded by the AL buzz saw:

The AL is definitely the better league

Damn. I really wish we had at least 1 guy besides Vic having a great? career? year. I hope like !@#$ our great pitching is not derailed by an opponent’s offense that’s just 1 run better.

We do have more than one guy having a career year: In fact, we have a couple more.

Roy Halladay
Cole Hamels
Ryan Madson

We're an elite pitching team with an average to slightly above average offense. We are one move away from being damn near unbeatable (if we were to replace Ibanez with a legit fiedling/hitting left fielder).

No reason to fret. This team is in good shape.

Ian O'Connor thinks the Mets should tade David Wright and keep Jose Reyes at $20MM/yr:

If Reyes is worth $20MM - and gets it - what is JRoll's relative value in comparison?

Pretty crazy FIP/ERA splits for Grienke, that might be one of the biggest variances I remember seeing.

cut, the "AL is the Better League" mantra ia nothing new.

People have been saying it for years because of interleague play results.

Frankly, I don't think AL teams are "better" per se, as much as I think they have a 'natural' advantage with the DH.

Sure, they have to drop the DH when playing in NL parks, but that just levels the playing field for approximately half of the interleague games.

In the other half, the AL has a significant advantage because they have a big bat in the lineup that regularly DH's when they play each other.

Face it, no NL team has a Thome, Ortiz, Vlad Guerrero, etc. sitting on the bench who can jump into the lineup when they play in AL parks.

Frankly, I don't think AL teams are "better" per se, as much as I think they have a 'natural' advantage with the DH.

Posted by: awh

IMHO, the Phils may have won the 2009 WS if:

- NL had home field advantage or,
- Yanks didn't have a DH

It doesn't particularly matter for the Phillies if the AL overall is better than the NL.

What matters is that they have one team that is definitely better (Red Sox), and one team that may be better (Yankees). Those would be incredibly tough WS matchups.

Of course, as EFF aptly put it, maybe we should stop pretending that 5 or 7 game series represent who the better team is.

I'm no fan of the DH or interleague, in general. But, I did go to a game last night and was disappointed that Vlad Guerrero's only appearance was as a pinch hitter. Would have liked to have the DH for one game.

G-Town- what's that link supposed to prove? That the Phils scored more runs than the Giants despite losing in 6 games?

You're not even making a point. In fact, you're just proving the opposite of what you argued.

Hugh, agree on the DH and interleague.

Also, one thing I forgot to ask in my post above (I don't know the answer):

What is the home/away record for AL and NL teams in interleague play?

Do AL teams also win more in NL parks, and if so, is the winning margin statistically significant enough to "declare" their league better?

I would certainly expect AL teams to ein more games in their home parks because of the legitimate DH on their rosters.

Murphy's article was very good.

He raises a point, somewhat buried, that I thought would be the key going into the Giants series last year--we don't have much power anymore. The fact is, in close, low-scoring playoff games against good teams with good pitching and defense, you're not gonna consistently string together innings with 5 or 6 hits. You need to be able to score some runs with one swing on a mistake pitch, because that's all you might get.

If I'm Ruben Amaro, that's what I'm after. A guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark.

I agree with Jack regarding getting a Home Run hitter.

Matt Kemp can hit the ball out of the ballpark.

I know some people here are concerned about Oswalt, and he, admittedly, has not looked "right" since his stint on the bulldozer, but I offer some positive vibes:

Career Splits:

1st Half:

191 G, 77 - 63, 1,207.1 IP, 3.35 ERA, 1.229 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 3.23 K/BB, .258/.307/.391 against, .303 BAbip

2nd Half:

137 G, 77 - 25, 877.0 IP, 2.96 ERA, 1.130 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 4.00 K/BB, .246/.291/.375 against, .295 BAbip

Fatti, I would love it if they got Kemp, but how realistic might acquiring him be?

Anon, I have no idea. But the guy's not even 27 yet. If the Phillies paid a lot to get him, and locked him up, they'd get his prime years and he could be here for 6-7 years. Having Kemp, Vic and Dom in the OF for the next couple years (until Vic eventually starts to decline) will be very sweet.

Not likely at all, but a poster can dream, no?

Yeah, i'd overpay for a guy like that. Hell, I'd even through in Tuffy Gosewich.

Who are the best players by position in the MLB? Which league has the most out of the 10 spots, 1b-3b, SS, OF, SP and RP?

"What is the home/away record for AL and NL teams in interleague play?"

I believe that the article cut linked above outlines the differences in record.

"Who are the best players by position in the MLB? Which league has the most out of the 10 spots, 1b-3b, SS, OF, SP and RP?"

That's what Bleacher Report is for-rankings!

Haha BedBeard...very true but I think we could come up with a better list

Another question I have from the Murphy article: the record vs winning teams.

Does it count teams that have a winning record now that were losers when we played them (like the Brewers or Dbacks) and does it include teams that had winning records when we played them and now have losing records (do you split the games against the Marlins into both winning and losing team categories?).

New thread

Iceman & awh: The Phillies scored 1 more Run than the Giants in the series (thanks to their 6-1 victory in Game 2), but trailed in BA, SLG & OPS.

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