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Friday, September 30, 2011

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Only thing I am worried about is doc's first inning and if we can get four runs in each game. With new line up shouldn't be any problem, and home crowd will get boys of summer going!

The person who said we tend to magnify the strengths of the other teams and sell the Phils' strengths short had a real point.

LaRussa can stack his pitchers as much as he wnats. Bottom line is his team will have to take two games from Halladay, Lee and Hamels to get through this short series.

Again, with the obvious caveat that none of these guys goes out and simply has a lousy "throwaway" type game, and that the Phils muster at least some timely offense - that is a very tall order.

Oswalt is no picnic either, he is capable of being the surprise of the post season for the Phils. And I think it quite possible that Hamels will again flash his pre-stiff shoulder form.

If you're LaRussa - or really any other manager - you're basically hoping that the Phils offense goes to sleep just when you need it to, that at least one of Halladay, Lee and Hamels tosses a stinker (or two), and that YOUR team is playing full bore 100% playoff caliber baseball. Not an optimistic picture.


eh, if the phils had the cards in the last series instead of the braves, i would have expected the same result - a sweep. the most recent series against the cards, although very recent, was just not the same phils team. they just clinched, the full lineup wasnt used, and the players heads weren't in the right place. they turned it on against the braves and the phillies have won 4 straight going into the postseason.

im not overly confident, i expect a 4 maybe 5 game series, but i 100% expect to see the phils in the NLCS.

Answers to your five fears:
1. Games are 9 innings, not 7.
2. The series could be over before Garcia pitches.
3. See phils and nova above.
4. Phils have 4 Aces.
5. Check Pujols record vs. Phils.

what, me worry?

I came here to bury Caesar, not praise him.

-Roy Halladay on the Cardinals

The season series against the Cards is one of the most misleading indicators there can be.

Game 1 vs. Cards: Lineup was Rollins, Valdez, Ibanez, Howard, Mayberry, Francisco, Orr, Ruiz. Oh, and Cliff Lee walked 6 batters. There were 3 MONTHS this year that Cliff didn't walk 6 batters. (Lost 3-1)

Game 2 vs. Cards: Lineup was Rollins, Mini Mart, Polly, Howard, Mayberry, Francisco, Valdez, Sardinha. Nuff said. (Lost 2-1)

Game 3 vs. Cards: Full regular lineup and Doc on the mound. (Won 10-2)

Game 4 vs. Cards: Regular lineup except Francisco for Raul and Cliff on the mound. (Won 4-0)

Game 5 vs. Cards: Roy Oswalt's last start before his DL stint. Lasted just 2 innings thanks to severe back issues. (Lost 12-2)

Game 6 vs. Cards: Lineup was Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Pence, Polly, Mayberry, Francisco, Schneider. Game was lost in the 11th inning with Schwimmer on the mound.

Game 7 vs. Cards: Full regular lineup with Oswalt on the mound. (Won 9-2, clinched division)

Games 8 and 9: Clinching hangover, no Howard among others.

If you really want to take those 9 games and think they have any bearing on the playoff series, go ahead.

Albert Pujols is my main concern.

But, the Phils can determine their fate by their bats. If we have our offense going this series will be fun.

Injuries are probably the biggest hit the Cards will take.

Holliday is out for at least Game 1. Furcal is 'questionable' with his hamstring injury.

Craig has had a nice year filling in off the bench as a corner OF but he isn't Holliday. Punto will likely play for Furcal.

It is still a pretty decent lineup but the Phils will catch a nice break if both of these guys miss the first 2 games in Philly.

Nick Punto is getting the start?

Well that changes everything...

The only thing I truly fear is a picture of a Cardinal ending up in the game thread headers.

CJ, thanks for that.

looks like the 3 wins came with the full lineup and cliff, doc and oswalt on the mound.....sounds like the upcoming nlds series win in 4 games, right?

Offensively, the key matchup is going to be if the Phils can put the clamps on 'Fat Elvis'

If Holliday is out, it means the Cards will don't much power below the cleanup spot. They hit Freese their in the clincher.

If Holliday can play, there 3-4-5 with Pujols-Berkman-Holliday becomes a lot tougher to get through & it allows them to bring Craig into to PH late (best PH on the team).

Without Craig on the bench, the Cards don't have a great offensive option late in games.

Mix in the likes of Patterson/Theriot/Descalso off the bench to PH.

Not exactly a bunch of world-beaters and zero pop besides Patterson.

MG - There their they're. I'm sure it seems like a small thing, and I know you've said you have problems with it before. But it's really not that hard to straighten out. In this case, just reverse the way you used two of them and you're good.

Bowler back to Shall Na Na.

Bowker back to Shall Na Na.

Their lineup with the castoffs from other teams makes me think of the Giants last year, but their pitching is nowhere near the Giants. Phils will sweep LaRussa and company out the door!!

Bowler? Huh?

I'm officially afeared.

Oh. Bowser retired years ago.

Any ideas on how the Cards will set up their bullpen? Is Motte going to be the closer & Salas the primary set up guy?

Re: Phils offense vs. Cards offense

The Phils lineup finally came together in July (when our regulars got healthy) and then August (with the addition of Pence) before shutting it down early in September. I figured it might be good to compare Philly to St. Louis in July and August:

July R/G and OPS
Phillies 5.52 and 795
Cardinals 4.92 and 779

August R/G and OPS
Phillies 5.28 and 763
Cardinals 4.18 and 739

Over the second half of the season, including the Phils shutdown through much of September, the Cards averaged just 0.07 runs per game more than Philly... which is about 5 total runs over the second half.

Damn auto correct. I'm done...back to my reader not poster gig.

Beat reporters tweet that Bowker got sent home... Orr and Kratz will be carried as emergency players. Phils will carry 11 pitchers.

Per Gelb, the Phils have "sent Bowker home". I suppose it'll be left to Martinez to provide those key, late game, PH Strike Outs.

Dave - What would TBS say about the player card on Mini Mart?

Strengths: Versatility?

If Craig & Punto are in the starting lineup, the Cards bench is just as crappy as the Phils. Phils might even have the slight advantage because they do have one good hitter off the bench (Mayberry) and the Cards won't.

my biggest fear this series? busting my TV screen with the remote as TBS announcers call both Halladay and Holliday "Holliday". I'll be GETTING STEAMED.

MG: Versatility; Resemblance to Chico Debarge.

I had similar concerns (or is it disconcerts?) regarding the Reds in the NLDS last year, but luckily, they were proven to be dead wrong.

I think there are far more reasons for St. Louis to fear the Phils. Especially given LaRussa's idiotic pitching rotation. Phils leave Philly up 2-0, win in 4. Check out the full preview on the Felske Files here... http://jstolnis.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/phillies-cardinals-nlds-preview/

Who is High Cheese on twitter, the David Murphy linked in the thread?

He is a huge douchebag.

11 pitchers makes no sense at all for a short series with our starting pitchers, but ok. I guess then that KK, Blanton and Herndon are all on the roster, at least one of whom is redundant, unless somehow Savery snuck on there, which would be a major, major upset.

Kind of funny article on whether it's manly to bring a glove to CBP in case a ball comes your way:

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/130826448.html

Two important points:

1) Don't the Phillies as well as other professional players of the manly game of baseball routinely use gloves to catch balls, even lazy pop flies? What does that say about their manliness?

2) According to the rules of nature, worrying about whether something is manly or not automatically makes you unmanly.

Oh great.

I was just feeling optimistic because in winning their last 4 games, the Phils were the "hottest" team in the NL playoffs, and had "momentum" on their side.

Now I read this post and realize that bridge-jumping is the only viable option.

Never mind. 11 means only one of Blanton/Herndon, most likely Herndon.

I'd be shocked if Blanton made the NLDS roster.

Jack - Yeah its pretty foolish to carry 11 pitchers in a short series with this staff but who exactly deserved an extra spot on the bench? Orr?

Phlipper - do you have a garage? why don't you just park it there and leave it run?

yeah david murphy is pretty awful. zolecki and salisbury are the best.

I'm not worried. We have the best pitcher in baseball, my man Doc Halladay. I will be wearing this shirt to Game 1

http://www.cafepress.com/phillyphanatics

I'd expect, with a hand/finger injury, that even if he can play Game 2, onward, Holliday won't be nearly the Holliday we're accustomed to seeing, especially offensively. Those injuries linger. Hell, we might STILL be chalking up Dom Brown's ineffectiveness to his hand injury from Spring Training.

Huge injury for the Cards to have to overcome.

I posted earlier that my main concern was Pujols, but I need to add to that.

My other serious concern is LaRussa taking the games to 6 hours in lenghth and lolling the fans and Phillies team into a coma.With all his time outs in the regular season he was maddening. I can just imagine him in the playoffs.

Load up on caffine for the 8 o'clock starts.

Bake: My feeling has always been that once you become a teenager, it's time to leave the glove in the car.

"If you're LaRussa - or really any other manager - you're basically hoping that the Phils offense goes to sleep just when you need it to."

This is my, and I imagine many, if not most, others', main concern. And there's precedent for it.

I'm looking forward to seeing Pujols and others in the Cards lineup. I'm also looking forward to LaRussa taking the White Sox job or retiring.

"If you're LaRussa - or really any other manager - you're basically hoping that the Phils offense goes to sleep just when you need it to."

This is my, and I imagine many, if not most, others', main concern. And there's precedent for it.

No question about it. Here are the team slash lines for the past two Postseason series in which the Phillies were eliminated:

'09 World Series - .227 BA/.318 OBP/.464 SLG/.782 OPS

'10 NLCS - .216 BA/.314 OBP/.321 SLG/.635 OPS

The Offense needs to step up & get Runs home when it counts.

MG, Minimart effectively ended the Braves season with that extra innings catch in CF. TBS, who is affiliated with the Braves, should praise a lot more than his versatility!

@Gtown: I've never brought a glove to a game. But that's just down to not liking having to carry a load of crap around, not whether it's manly or not.

Also, speaking of unmanly or, rather, generally immature things in the world of fandom, I remember when it was considered childish to wear all sorts of clothes emblazoned with some sports team's logo. Now you go to CBP and all you see is various kidults, crumbling middle-aged sorts, and old-timers packed into shouty red Phillies gear, like so many billboards. I suppose it's festive and whatnot, but just imagine the contempt our forebears would feel.

manntreeoh: that shirt is pretty unimaginative - they should have turned Doctor October into a play on Doc Oct from Spiderman with an image of Halladay while all 8 metal arms are firing baseballs off a mound.

Prediction: the Cardinals are either "playing with house money" or "just happy to be there." WIP and various other media will tell us which based on how the series goes.

As we worry about the last bench player and last pitcher on the team, let's remember how little they will actually be used (if at all).

2010 NLDS: Bourn, Francisco and Sweeney accounted for 2 or 99 ABs. Only 3 pitchers threw more than 1 IP.

2009 NLDS: Cairo, Frank, Stairs only 5 of 135 ABs. Only 7 pitchers threw more than 1 IP.

2008 NLDS: Bruntlett, Jenkins, Stairs only 4 of 128 ABs. Only 6 pitchers threw more than 1 IP.

2007 NLSD: Bourn, Coste, Iguchi only 3 of 93 ABs. 8 pitchers threw more than 1 IP.

Obviously, even one AB or 0.1 IP could be meaningful, but there's a pretty solid chance that the last man on the bench and the last arm in the pen appear in no more than 1 game, if that.

Hugh -

That's a good idea - except I don't have a garage.

I've considered jumping off my roof (my house is 3 stories), but I'm not sure it's quite tall enough to ensure death. If I were only crippled, someone might turn on the TV in the hospital as I recuperate, and watching the Phillies crash and burn while in the hospital would be too much to handle.

"'09 World Series - .227 BA/.318 OBP/.464 SLG/.782 OPS

'10 NLCS - .216 BA/.314 OBP/.321 SLG/.635 OPS"

That's just not good.

"The Offense needs to step up & get Runs home when it counts."

Yep. Surges of anxiety, well, surge whenever I anticipate the Phillies' runners-on-with-no-outs ABs.

The bridge is a good bet, then, Phlipper. Of course, if you want to be certain there will be no recovery, I'm betting there are freight trains running through your town on a regular schedule.

Bake: Excellent point. My father comes to PA once or twice a year to visit & catch a game, & the most "gear" he'll sport is a Phils cap. I generally do the same, but if the weather calls for it I wear my Phillies '08 WFC hoodie w/ no reservations at all. I suppose these things change w/ the times.

Agree that David Murphy comes across as an arrogant prick.

If LaRussa delays games as much as the Yankees did in the '09 WS, I'll throw a shoe through my tv.

"Now I read this post and realize that bridge-jumping is the only viable option."

Not time to climb the bridge yet (and I recognize this was a tongue in cheek comment by Phlipper). I have a lot of confidence in this series, but it never hurts to be cautious at the same time.

There was an incredible piece Bill James wrote in The Baseball Abstract many years ago about the Royals-Cardinals series ca. 1986ish. He went on in great detail about how everyone from fans to the press figured the Cardinals would "barbecue" the comparatively hapless Royals.

He discussed the surprise of the Cardinals fans and scribes when they all realized the Royals could in fact turn double plays pretty well, that they did know how to run the bases, and that did have some pretty fair position players and pitchers too. In fact they were a good MLB team who weren't intimidated by the favorites.

And he described each game in detail leading to the colassal meltdown in the final game of the series as the heavily favored Cardinals went down the tubes.

Not seeing it happen here, mind you, but it was a great cautionary tale.

GTown Dave: "'09 World Series - .227 BA/.318 OBP/.464 SLG/.782 OPS

'10 NLCS - .216 BA/.314 OBP/.321 SLG/.635 OPS

The Offense needs to step up & get Runs home when it counts."

The Phils had an OPS under .800 in 3 of the last 6 playoff series that they WON, including a .574 OPS in the NLDS vs. the Reds last year.

Sometimes it's not just about the hitting.

Doc's got the momentum going on the trash-talking front also:

http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/09/30/quote-of-the-day-roy-halladay-channels-shakespeare/

Reporter: Can you talk about the balance of being in touch with what the other team’s capable of, having the proper respect, but at the end of all that, thinking about what do I know I can do and what our team is capable of, so you don’t give too much respect or too little? That balance there.

Halladay: I heard a quote a long time ago, I came here to bury Caesar, not praise him.

CJ: I know your point, but your last point is basically the takeaway. It's the playoffs. Every AB matters. Dan Johnson was the last guy on the Rays bench, a September call up. Saved their season.

You construct the best 25 man roster you can because you just never know. And if I think the 25 man roster isn't properly constructed, I don't see any reason why it isn't valid to criticize it. Geoff Jenkins in Game 5 of the WS. Matt Stairs. Dave Roberts with a pinch-run steal for the Sox in 04. You just never know.

Murphy makes some pretty compelling arguments in his posts. This is the best team the Phils have faced the NLDS so far.

Strongest reason is the Cards are trotting out Carpenter & Garcia in Game 3 & 4.

In 2008, they faced Bush and Suppan. Two veteran journeyman. Bush held them in check for 5+ but they pounded Suppan for 5 runs in 3 IP. About as weak a combo you will starting a Game 3/4 for a playoff contender.

In 2009, they faced Hammel and Jimenez on short rest. Pounded Hammel chasing him before the 4th but Jimenez pitched a really good game against them.

In 2010, they faced Cueto and would have faced Volquez again in Game 4 on short rest. Cueto held them in check but only last 5+. Pounded Volquez in Game 1 chasing him early and he had struggled down the stretch.

The Reds' starting pitching was pretty mediocre down the stretch and it was the single worst staff the Phils have faced in any playoff series since '07.

"Yeah its pretty foolish to carry 11 pitchers in a short series with this staff"

You could make the exact same argument about the bench: why do we need a 6 or 7-man bench when, with our starting pitching, we're not likely to do a lot of pinch hitting?

11 pitchers seems right. It allows us to keep a 6th bench player (Mini-Mart or Orr) for pinch running duty which, with all of our slow & hobbled players, could potentially be important. And it's not like we've got some dynamic bench player who we're forced to leave off the roster because of the 11th pitcher. If we kept only 10 pitchers and 7 bench players, that 7th bench player would be someone who isn't even as good a hitter as Cliff Lee.

murphy's blog high cheese has a nice reasoning with stats on why larussa starts lohse and his possible thinking. it really is a nice writeup.

The Phillies' offense is fully capable of lapsing into a coma over a 5 or 7-game series. But I don't think there's anything terribly unique about the fact that, in the playoff series that we've lost, we have hit poorly. I would venture a guess that you could say the same thing about the vast majority of teams which come out on the losing end of playoff series.

MG: The only reason they're facing Carp and Garcia in games 3 and 4 is because they're facing the same terrible pitchers they've beaten in past years in games 1 and 2. If they had their rotation set up, it'd be the exact same scenario in the past. That makes no sense.

Yeah, I'll admit to being partial to Phillies caps and even hoodies, knowing that I should be showing up to games in nothing but dark suits and a fedora or a flat cap, hobnailed boots, and earth-toned dockworker garments.

Anyway, I'm sort of surprised at the anti-Murphy comments on here. I thought he was something of a BL darling.


I will say this after having dealt with journalists a fair amount in tech space and healthcare. They often are generalists who don't have much/if any subject expertise. Most glaring in finance and science especially.

You really don't need much subject experience/expertise though to be a sports journalist. Hard part is that there has been such an explosion in stats on to the scene, general trend of players not talking as much/much more limited access, and trying to cover a topic that is beat to death by alternative new forms of media.

Couple that with the traditional stuff like tight dead line turnaround time frames for stories and I can't imagine it is the easiest time to be a sports journalist. Difficult to read something unique, compelling, and well-written.

Love the Halladay quote.

If we somehow end up at a Yankees/Cards World Series, Fox might as well go ahead and sublet out the rest of the NFL season's broadcast rights. The Series might not be over before Spring Training.

Bob: "LaRussa can stack his pitchers as much as he wants. Bottom line is his team will have to take two games from Halladay, Lee and Hamels to get through this short series."

Or, to look at it another way, the Cardinals only have to split with Halladay to get through this short series.

The key for me is the first two games: If they beat either Doc or Lee in their first matchup, the odds shift dangerously. If the Cards lose the first two, LaRussa can rally his troops behind the fact his top 2 SPs start games 3 and 4.

If there is a split of the first 2, then the entire season rests on the performance of Cole Hamels. I would not want to face a must-win situation behind Oswalt vs. Jaime Garcia in St. Louis in game 4.

CJ: Jim Leyland read that Murphy article and now he's planning to start Justin Verlander in Game 4. For all their post-season experience, the Yankees have never faced a team which has a No. 4 starter like Justin Verlander.

Roster Thread ==>

Pretty decent right up by Murphy but I disagree with the conclusion. Like La Russa's decision to gamble with Lohse/Jackson in Game 1 & 2.

Trying to steal a game at CBP by hoping you get a competitive start from either Lohse/Jackson and you can take Halladay/Lee deep once or twice.

Biggest issue is that it is really hard to see the Cards beating the Phils twice in a series with Lohse vs. Halladay if it comes to that.

"I came to bury Caesar, not to praise him" > "Lets go eat"

clout, very true. If there is a split in the first two games, this board will light up like a Christmas tree, and you could throw a party of BLers at the bridge Phlipper chooses.

i'm telling you right now clout that if the phils are down 2-1, halladay is going to pitch game 4. they won't say that now as it's defeatist type stuff but i would be shocked if he didn't

Never really minded Murph much but yes he does come off as a self-absorbed prick from time-to-time.

Should Pujols scare us more then Pence scares St. Louis fans? Pence and Pujols have pretty similar stats for Aug/Sept.

Pence had 65 hits in 198 ABs (.328) with 11 2B, 2 3B, 11 HRs. Pujols had 69 hits in 211 ABs (.327) with 10 2B, 0 3B, 13 HR.

atn,

don't have the stats to prove it here, but just from the standpoint of making conversation, my guess is that this represents pretty much day to day business as usual for Albert, with the potential for a very scary hot streak that could be well above that stat line. OTOH, my thought is that - no disrespect for Pence - his Aug/Sept line would be a bit above his typical line, without as much potential for significant upside. Phillies have handled him pretty well so far, but I'll never forget that monster HR against Lidge. That's what he does, glad we haven't gotten burned too badly yet.

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