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Wednesday, April 03, 2013


***Unless Kendrick's found miracle "special vitamins" and Howard finds his '06 self again, pain. Severe pain. Wow. Talk about Wiley E, Coyote "falling off the cliff***

I dont buy that. Howard and Doc were non-factors in the 2nd half last year and they played at a playoff caliber level then.

Adding a rejuvenated Utley and if Dom Brown develops along with the addition of Adams and this is a team good enough to sneak into the post-season.

Its a bit hard to remember but Utley in his healthy prime was arguably the 2nd best position player in baseball behind Albert Pujols. Utley played at a HOF level when healthy. If he's healthy again, he's still a huge presence in our lineup and in the field.

Gonna repost this from the last thread:

MG is exactly right. I don't buy this sudden onset of age-related crappiness. Doc is hurt. It's some kind of chronic thing where the DL trip isn't the obvious answer, so of course they're letting him see if he can pitch through it. But he'll wind up on the DL with whatever this is before he makes his fifth start, I wager, and probably much sooner than that.

Everything ever = Over

This is a throwaway game. Pouring rain and some inconsistent balls and strikes. 9 hits ain't bad for the Fightins.

I think we saw the first Roy 2.0 start tonight. Lots of K's and lots of hittable pitches. Hopefully he chooses which he wants. He's smart enough to figure that out, we hope.

Its tough to judge anything with the rain factor.

The positive signs were ... the strikeouts and the 16 swings-and-misses he induced through just three innings.

On the surface that's a positive, but it's hard to tell from this one start. Many a prognosticator had the Braves as a team which would be aggressive & strike out a lot. It's possible Atlanta was simply playing to type, esp. once they opened up an early lead.

"Howard and Doc were non-factors in the 2nd half last year and they played at a playoff caliber level then."

Do you think that was particularly sustainable, though? I certainly think the performances by Hamels and Lee were. Utley was fine and probably projects to be better this year. But that run was also propelled by great stretches from the likes of Frandsen, Kratz, and Kendrick. Maybe KK picks up where he left off. But on a lot of nights after the Pence/Vic trades, the lineup included 4 guys who were basically AAA guys.

I think this team obviously needs a few things to break their way, most notably either a return to form from Doc or another step up from Kendrick. At best, this is an average offense--there just isn't enough power to be more than that. They're going to need high quality pitching 3 nights out of 5. The question is whether they get it, past Hamels and Lee.

Jump out of the minors and into major league flavor with Godshall's turkey bacon.

I would love to see Halladay's release point/arm slot tonight vs last year vs 2010-11. I bet you would see a bunch of variation tonight and last year with a pretty tight clustering in 2010-11.

Usually a sign is a guy is pitching hurt with a shoulder/back pain & an injury.

***Do you think that was particularly sustainable, though? ***

If Brown develops and Adams locks down the 8th, its within the realm of possibliity.

The crucial at bats that Kratz had will be Chooch in only 23 more games. I kept repeating that after each time he stranded a runner and will probably have to continue to do so.

Chooch will probably bat 5th so it'll be Michael Young in the 8 hole.

Which is still an improvement over Kratz.

Cliff Lee tomorrow, maybe we can get an Ace like performance from the man who largely flew under the radar all spring.

23 games until Panama Carlos returns.

Insane. I looked at the final line today on Halladay before the the game and it was up to +130 to +135

Started at -105 just 72 hrs ago and was still at +115 just under 48 hrs ago. Braves were down to -135 or -140.

That is as bad a move on a single MLB game as you will ever see and it would take a sea of money to move the line that much in less than 2 days.

To get "bitched-slapped", twice, by the so-called second-tier rival in the division is sickening and inexcusable. God help us when we "play" the 'Werthless' Gnats.

RAJ has a huge conundrum on his hands. Pretend this is an "anomaly; '...nothing to see here...'" or back up the truck.

I'm certainly grateful I'm not RAJ. The "limited" partnership could dump him for cause (pardon the 'Seinfeld' reference) " a bag of dirt" for this opening volley. Good luck, springtime ticket sales.


The only thing that tempers my discouragement is that we're only two games into the season. I see some individual bright spots, but I do not like what I see from them as a team. It seems like every other team has a better team approach to hitting than the Phils. Amaro addressed that publicly at one point, but I do not see where anything has changed. The only way you're get a better team approach to hitting is by changing the manager. You won't get it with the one you have now.

Cut, are you paid by the quote?

They don't have a particularly great team approach to hitting because they don't have particularly great hitters.

At this point, you have Utley and that's about it, as a guy that really concerns you in the lineup. Howard is still a power threat, but between the shift and lefty relievers, about 80% of his ABs are neutralized.

Other guys are decent hitters, but no one that really strikes any fear. Dom is showing a nice approach, but he's not really a serious threat to go deep at this point in his career.

Used to be Rollns, Utley, Howard, Werth, Burrell all as guys who could really beat you up through the lineup. Just doesn't exist anymore.

This same season around early March, people were saying the same thing about Dan Haren. Just a few weeks ago, both Dan and Doc offered up "dead arm" excuses for their inabilities to throw anything for a strike and both topping out at mid-80s velocities.

Only real difference is that Haren was in a contract season last year, and got a 1y/13m for it, and Halladay is more or less trying to get the 259 innings for his $20m 2014 option to vest (2013- 225+, not ending 2013 on DL, and 415+ IP 2012-2013), if not, this could be considered his contract season.

They don't have a particularly great team approach to hitting because they don't have particularly great hitters.

That's OK, though, because this team is built on Pitching & Defense.

2 down - only one hundred and sixty games left. It's panic time!

Really good article by Salisbury (who I still think is the best beat writer the covers the team).

Some interesting comments by Halladay about the need to be more aggressive earlier in the count. He did manage to get 12/19 first-pitch strikes tonight.

Curious to see the pitch f/x data tomorrow but Salisbury said he used a lot of changeups/splitter & curves with few fastballs - cutters/sinkers.

It has to be tough to throw basically not through any fastballs and still have a strong strike/ball ration & good command.

If Halladay felt comfortable and was healthy, I don't understand why he would be so reluctant to use his cutter/sinker even if it was at 87-88.

He obviously won't be as effective at 91-92 (and still mixing in his 4-seam fastball when he needed a strike and to keep hitters a bit more off-balance) but it would keep hitters from sitting on either his changeup/splitter and curve & get him in more favorable counts.

It has to be tough to finish hitters too since they are expecting basically 2 offspeed pitches and probably helps them to at least foul off pitches.

If Halladay doesn't start to use that cutter/sinker more, he's not going to make it. Even with it, hard to see him being anything more than a 6-inning guy at this point who throws a bunch of offspeed stuff and has his share of good/bad outings.

Also want to see the pitch f/x data for Papelbon too tonight. He seemed like he a bit splitter heavily again and didn't have his usual fastball velocity (92-93) or command tonight.

Something that bears watching with Papelbon since he seemed a bit splitter happy in spring. Didn't see his last outing in spring but he was only topping at 93-94 or so this spring. He used to be routinely at 95 and topped at 96-97 when necessary.

Interesting I went back and watched Halladay get pulled by Cholly and he was livid.

Afterwards, it was interesting watching as Halladay looks like he yelled something towards the coaches when he was in the dugout.

Dubee came down to talk to him afterwards as Halladay was cleaning out his cleats and Halladay stayed straight ahead without even making eye contact.

Going to be interesting to see how this develops and how long of a hook Cholly will give Halladay.

Cholly countdown on...........

Not sure if anyone addressed this last night in the game thread, but Chollie's use of Papelbon last night is one reason I can't wait until we have another manager. If you want to give mop up duty to someone, give it to Durbin in a low leverage situation since he didn't get a single batter out Monday night.

Yeah, Doc also had a bit of an outburst in the dugout after his 40 pitch first inning. All we need on the team is a former pitching stud who acts like a baby when he doesn't perform well and doesn't respect the the decisions made by and the input he receives from the coaching staff.

Uh oh, looks like Doc 2012 is turning into Cole 2009, in terms of perception by the Beerleaguer board.

I, for one, came away more encouraged than discouraged by Doc's start last night. Plenty of pitchers don't perform well early in the season, and go on to have decent seasons.

And you don't strike out 9 guys by accident.

Sure, he's got some command issues now, but he was over 90 last night a few times, and his stuff still looks like it's there to a degree. I'll give him a few more starts.

Look, a rational thought in a sea of irrationality.

I'm gonna go ahead and toss this in the extended spring training bank. I think the combo of a very tight strike zone, rain, and KrAAAtz made it hard o see te positive. Doc is obviously not the same guy who had 2 no-hitters in a season, but it doesn't mean he can't have a successful twilight career a la Tom Glavine.

If the Phillies fall to 10-15 games under .500 before June 15, I fully expect Amaro to give Charlie the ax.

Fata: We agree on last night. I think at times he had very good stuff and his velocity was there for the most part. Just need some consistency.

Too often people look at the outcome and draw a conclusion. Or they just say "He is hiding an injury and the Phillies are aiding and abetting him."

Pap wasn't splitter happy last night:

4 Seamer: 18
Slider: 2
Splitter: 2

Pap's fastball velocity? 91.98 mph average, 92.7 Max.

Which is down for him, even in April.

I wasn't able to watch the game last night. Thank God. A few questions:

Papelbon pitched last night? In a 5-run game? On the road? In the rain? With seven consecutive games, with a travel day, and two day games after night games coming up? But he doesn't pitch in a 2-run game with an off-day?


I'm a bit young to remember Greg Maddux 1.0, but he was amazing is his later years. Did Maddux have a period of adjustment when he changed his approach? I'm curious whether Doc could follow a similar curve, and how long it would take to adopt a new approach.

It seems to me that it would take the majority of a season.

On a different note: For the first time in their existence the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs have a more interesting roster on opening day than the Reading Fighting Phils.

6 of the Phillies top 10 prospects are starting the season in AAA with the rotation being manned by Pettibone, Martin, and Adam Morgan. Tommy Joseph and Cody Asche are there to start the season as well. There will be Ruf watch and Gillies and Cesar Hernandez are there as well.

Should be fun to keep an eye on- especially because a good season there means some of those young guys are stepping up and that raises the value of the farm system going forward.


The very obvious UC answer: "He needed the work"

Remember that when he's unavailable to pitch a meaningful game over the weekend due to "overwork"

Also, the bullpen was pretty much shot because the starter only went 3.1 innings

I'm not overly concerned with papelbon or the velocity. There were times in mop up duty last year he came in throwing 91-93, essentially getting his work in. If there is such a thing as an "adrenaline pitcher" he would be the definition of one. I have to believe he'll dial it up when he needs to... maybe even today.

As a side note I think the phils will be in survival mode the first 25 games. It's impossible to quantify the value of Carlos Ruiz and that's been demonstrated in the first two games. The most obvious part is his clutch hitting and the more important piece is how he handles the staff. There's no doubt in my mind that they win the first game with Ruiz because he recognizes how Cole is throwing and changes the gameplan on the fly for the better. Also, it was apparent last night that there is no comfort level between Kratz and Halladay. Roy needs someone to help him through this transition and kratz isn't that guy.

With all that said, I think they'll be OK until Chooch gets back just because of how favorable the schedule is throughout April and early May.

On Maddux...Maddux, who BTW will probably start to be appreciated for how ridiculously great a pitcher he really was as we get a few more years of perspective on him, was unique in that he pitched at a very high level through his Age 36 season. In Age 37, he dropped significantly from a 159 ERA+ to a 108 ERA+ and never topped 110 again. From 1992-2002 (Age 26-36), his lowest ERA+ was 126, his highest was 271 and his average was 171. He was amazingly consistent and consistent at a very high level of play as he was pretty much always in the Top 2-3 pitchers in all of baseball. In those 11 seasons of his prime, he won the Cy Young 4 times and finished in the Top 5 on 4 other occasions.

However, there was no real transition, he simply took a step back in performance between his Age 36 and Age 37 seasons. From then on, he was a solid #3 for four more seasons and then a #4/5 in his final 2 seasons.

NEPP: I think your first answer is the most accurate. They had an off-day yesterday. If Charlie was so concerned about getting his work it, why didn't he throw him Monday and he would have yesterday off.

And you are dead-on with what's going to happen over the next seven games.

I hope Sandberg's loose and ready to go. It's only been two games and Charlie's already done typical, ridiculous Charlie stuff. (*NOTE: I am not saying that Manuel cost the Phils these games. [even though Monday was a winnable game]).

RBill: I think too that monday night the game was still within reach so he was holding Papelbon in case they needed him should the Phillies take the lead. down 7-2 last night I think Charlie felt it was a lost cause.

On an unrelated note, does anyone else think that Maddux hung around for the 2008 season just so he could get 1 more win than Clemens before he retired as kind of a giant FU to the other "great" RHP of his era?

Career Wins
Maddux: 355
Clemens: 354

Personally, if there's even a tiny bit of truth to that, Maddux becomes more awesome than he already was. If not, its still cool because Clemens is a giant POS.

It's not the 2 losses to a division rival, it's the way they lost. To get bludgeoned by monster HRs in the first game, and then to give up a back-breaking HR by Evan Gattis -- really? Evan Gattis? - in the second game is really galling.

Boy was I wrong about Justin Upton. If he keeps this up - and it's really hard to say if his trade to Atlanta is the final piece of the puzzle - my statement regarding the Phils staying "...neck and neck..." with this steamroller of a team looks foolish.

I knew the score last year; Howard and Utley were out, and Doc was hurt. Unfortunately, any optimism about this year's Phillies season arising from "all hands on deck" has really faded. There's no calvary to the rescue for us. Nuts.

NEPP: I have no idea what Maddux's motivations might have been, but I'd love to think that was the reason. I never could stand Roger Clemens.

MG: "I would love to see Halladay's release point/arm slot tonight vs last year vs 2010-11. I bet you would see a bunch of variation tonight and last year with a pretty tight clustering in 2010-11. "

Roy Halladay's vertical release point by pitch per year:

Last night he looked to be dropping down much further.

On Maddux: He was never a power pitcher. about 89-90. His pitches had movement and finesse. He would bust you inside with something that tailed back over then get you flailing at junk falling off the outside corner. Very hard to square up his pitches. You'd be lucky to hit the ball out of the infield when he brought his A game. He always pitched slide step so he was just as tough with runners on. He was a master at fielding his position. Your bunt had better be perfect. At he end of his career, it was not the loss of velocity, but the loss of the finesse that hurt him the most.

I only caught about 2 mins of the game, but in 1 of those Howard held up on a low outside ball four to draw a walk. That's gotta be a positive to build off of, right?

Staying positive: Mike Adams looked excellent again last night. Feel pretty good about holding onto leads heading into the 8th this season.

G-Town: I think you should take me to the home opener. I just found out that Schmidt will be throwing out the first pitch - to George Brett! What? George Brett will be there and I will not?!?! Inconceivable! But sadly true.

Despite my (mostly) joking statements from last night, obviously nothing has really changed after two games.

What I do think is true, and what I thought was true before the season started, is that the Braves are a better team than the Phillies for one primary reason--they have a lineup that can score runs via power. People continually underrate how important that is.

Take last night, for instance. Believe it or not, the teams had the same amount of hits. But the Braves had 3 home runs and a bases-clearing double. The Phillies had 7 singles and 2 doubles.

Didn't hurt that the Braves had 6 extra baserunners via walks, while the Phils only took 2 walks.

For someone who "values production," you think Rube would want guys who took walks and hit for power, but I guess not.

Subtle but interesting point in the Salisbury article. Doc doesn't seem overly confident with Kratz, and its unusual for him to even slightly cast blame. He's always been quick to share praise and take all of the arrows.
This reminded me that he was already out last year when Kratz came up, and hasn't had the chance to develop much rapport yet.
Chooch's return could mean alot more than a bigger bat in the line up. May can't come fast enough...

See Jack- when you aren't trying to troll and are actually invested in saying something of substance I can agree with you.

The Braves ability to hit home runs and strike out a ton is why I termed them the other day as a team that will feast or famine a lot of nights.

GBrettfan: You think you're jealous? Just imagine how JPiscopofan must be feeling! Unfortunately, I only have one ticket this year, but I'll try to take a pic for ya. Honestly, having never seen Brett play in person, I'm kind of excited to see he & Schmidt on the field together myself.

TTI: Maybe, but on the whole, that's a much better formula for offense than what we have.

Strikeouts are not really a bad thing. To the extent they correlate positively with power (which they do), it's actually usually a good sign for your offense if you have a high strikeout team.

Jack: Exactly. Simply getting on base is nice, but unless a team is also capable of piling up a few XBH they're not going to have much to show for it.

JPiscopofan, sadly, died in 1991 - which, coincidentally, was the last year that Piscopo was relevant.

Jack: Are you of the belief that this Phillies team will continue to not get extra base hits though?

This lineup is incapable of hitting for power or stringing together enough hits to manufacture runs. Unless that changes, it won't matter much how well Halladay or anyone else pitches.

My feeling is that if the team has a really sucky start like last year and are ten games under .500 at the ASB, they will announce that Cholly will be retiring at the end of the year. They will pull Sandberg off of 3rd Base and make him the bench coach. He will become the de facto Manager. Cholly will continue to hang on the railing chewing gum. Cholly will argue with umps and walk to the mound to pull pitchers, but he will be equipped with a hidden earpiece speaker hooked up to a wireless microphone concealed in Sandberg's hand. Sandberg will issue the instructions via the wireless strings and pupet Cholly will still appear to be the Manager. All of this will be done under Rube's strict orders.

TTI: To address your 8:29 post, I don't think Papelbon should have been used in Monday's game. My point was that if Charlie was so concerned about getting "his work in" (if that was, in fact, that case), then Monday would've made more sense because of the off-day. Much more sense than a 5-run game with 7 games in a row coming up.

He shouldn't have pitched on Monday. But he most certainly shouldn't have pitched in that situation last night.

TTI: I am of the belief that there is a significant lack of power on the team, yes.

Where do you see the power coming from? Howard is a 30 HR guy. Otherwise? Maybe Utley or Rollins cracks 20 HRs, though they've done that once between them in the last three seasons (Rollins last year). I don't see Brown hitting more than 15. Young? No. Revere? No. Ruiz? No. Nixberry? No.

I mean, honestly. Where do you see HRs coming from?

Relax, although most everyone on this site knows me to be ready to dump and rebuild these are just two games. Doc hitting 92MPH is promising and even though I am a proponent that as the years go by you lose something, often a lot, from your game; I can't imagine Doc deteriorating that much overnight. If he does there is something else going on we are not told or he is unaware of.

Phillies Total Runs (NL Rank) -- Extra Base Hits -- Strike Outs (NL Rank): 2006-2012

'06 865 R (1) -- 551 XBH -- 1203 K (3)

'07 892 R (1) -- 580 XBH -- 1205 K (3)

'08 799 R (2) -- 541 XBH -- 1117 K (8)

'09 820 R (1) -- 571 XBH -- 1155 K (9)

'10 772 R (2) -- 490 XBH -- 1064 K (14)

'11 713 R (7) -- 449 XBH -- 1024 K (15)

'12 684 R (8) -- 457 XBH -- 1094 K (16)

Jack: without looking at data, I would think that:

- Power results in higher strikeouts, but...
- Strikeouts do not necessarily result in more power. (Just ask the AAAstros, 43 KOs in 3 gms.)

Therefore, saying strikeouts are good is not an accurate conclusion.

Jack -

Since we're drawing conclusions about the team after two games - I know that you're a huge OBP fan. The Phils are 6th in the league in OBP. Nothing to worry about, bro.

BTW - might as well make it official. For now, I've given up any optimism about this team. I predict a record of @ .500, and I'm just hoping at this point that they aren't a team that is essentially eliminated from post-season contention by the ASB.

I still reserve the right, however, to make fun of hand-wringers, Debbie Downers, and Negative Nancy's.

Phils are 4-21 with RISP in their first 2 games and have had bunch of base runners.

That will change and their generally is speed in this lineup & some gap power. Just not an above average HR team anymore.

People harping on the offense have been missing the point for a while. What sunk the Phils last June-early June was their starting pitching. It was what has been terrible the last 2 nights.

Offense did rally in the season opener and just couldn't get a timely base hit or two lsat night.

I think you factor last year's performance in assessing these first 2 games as well. There was not a significant improvement in the lineup and there are way too many question marks.

Offense did rally in the season opener and just couldn't get a timely base hit or two lsat night.

The Offense hasn't rallied, Chase Utley has rallied. Or more specifically, so far he IS the Offense.

Maddux wasn't 89-90 his whole career... Early on he was 92-94 with movement and command. But he definitely adjusted to 88-91 in his mid career and then 84-88 later on in his career. But the idea that he was just a finesse guy is strange...with the movement he had on his pitches his stuff was nasty even if the velocity wasn't top-notch.

Jack: my question specifically dealt with XBH. But to answer your question- I think Howard is 30-35, Utley 20-25, Rollins probably 15. Brown's power will probably go about 15, Ruiz maybe 10 tops, Young probably about that number tops as well, and once Young is healthy he probably adds 15 with Nixberry going for maybe 10 all season.

lorecore - Great find and yikes. So basically Halladay is throwing at more of a lower angle on his arm slot. He's either doing that for 2 reasons (or a combination):

1. Trying to pitch through pain and discomfort in his shoulder
2. Trying to regain/maintain velocity

I just don't understand how people who saw Halladay pitch and watched him last night felt confident. The only thing I would say is that I don't think he can pitch any worse and that at least I thought his offspeed stuff had some decent movement on it which wasn't the case later in spring.

As for Papelbon, PAPCON got downgraded to 4 again. He's not going to be able to have the same kind of results he is used to at 91-92 MPH with his fastball.

Phils offense:

AVG - .264 (5th)
OBP - .321 (6th)

Granted that is a whopping 2 games but I just don't understand the bonepicking about the offense.

Even the '07 Phils would have been hard pressed to rally after the turdfest that Halladay/Valdes delieverd early last night.

MG: Matt Gelb found the same link I posted, and included some really good quotes from Halladay - about how his recuded velocity has caused him to mentally pitch differently.

MG: The entire thrust of my point about the offense was the lack of power.

Citing AVG and OBP doesn't exactly address that.

TTI: I think the Phils will finish in the bottom half of the league in XBH, HRs, SLG, and, of course, Runs.

Anyone who reads posts by Jack and Fatalotti knows that K rate and velocity are the two most important factors in a pitcher's performance. Runs allowed is a laughably meaningless stat as is ball/strike ratio. That's why I'm surprised at all the handwringing over Halladay. He was tremendous last night.

On another topic, I've never seen a post suggesting this, but maybe I missed it:

Is it possible that the outlier performances last year by Kratz and Valdes might not be repeated? That they might return to their career norms?

Chris in VT: I think Maddux is called a finesse guy because his ability to pinpoint location was one of the best in baseball history and, as you note, for most of his career he threw a 88-91 mph fastball. When you have the ability to locate your pitches as finely as Maddux did, you don't need to throw mid-90s.

I am puzzled about this whole theory that Halladay needs to change his approach and/or delivery angle to compensate for reduced velocity. In fact, I'll take it one step farther, and say: I believe diminished velocity has very little to do with what's going on.

Other than one game, he was basically throwing 88-90 in spring training -- and harder still last night. That's as hard as, or harder than, guys like Jered Weaver, Ryan Dempster, Kyle Lohse, and Tim Hudson -- none of whom remotely has the command or array of pitches that Halladay had.

In 2011, when he was one of the best pitchers in baseball, Halladay was at 91.3. It's simply hard for me to believe that a 2 to 3 MPH drop in velocity requires an entirely new approach and arm angle. And, not to play pitching coach, but if Halladay believes that he needs to nibble & throw from a new arm angle to compensate for a 3-4 MPH loss in velocity, then the source of the problem is not the diminished velocity but with his belief that he needs to pitch differently. Because the guy who walked fewer than 1.5 batters per game in every season between 2005 & 2011 suddenly can't throw strikes anymore. THAT is the reason why he's getting battered.

SLG .375 (8th)

Even on the measure the PHils are 'okay' for what it is worth after just 2 games.

Offense isn't the problem with this team and it wasn't last year. It was the bullpen issues in the 8th and the notable failoff in starting pitching.

"the source of the problem is not the diminished velocity but with his belief that he needs to pitch differently. Because the guy who walked fewer than 1.5 batters per game in every season between 2005 & 2011 suddenly can't throw strikes anymore."

I agree, from some Doc quotes and watching him last night - its apparent that his approach is what is holding him back. He's trying to put everything on the black and nibble instead of challenging hitters.

Actually clout, the three most important factors for a pitcher are his ability strike batters out, his ability to limit walks, and his ability to induce ground balls vs. fly balls.

Those are the three things that pitchers have been shown to have control over.

Pitchers can achieve high marks in any or all three areas by being a power pitcher with a fantastic fastball, a pitcher who relies on pinpoint precision and great guile, or, in rare cases, both.

Howard needs to start hitting or this offense is screwed.

It's worth remembering that Halladay was really wild early in his career. In his rookie year, he walked 4.8 hitter per 9 innings. The next year, that number was up to a hideous 5.6, to go with a 10+ ERA. Then Toronto sent him to AAA, where he switched to the 3/4 delivery style. His control has been stellar ever since.

I don't know what his delivery style was before he switched to the 3/4 style, but if he was throwing from the same angle that he's throwing from now, then I'd say we have our explanation for why he can't throw strikes anymore: he can't throw from that delivery angle.

DOM is likely going to bring the most value to a team as a top of the order hitter. "setting the table" for Mayberry/Nix/Kratz/etc. is a waste.

lorecore: True but I don't know how much tinkering i'd do with him just yet. Important to remember that when everyone is healthy that spot behind Brown will either be Ruiz, M. Young, or D. Young. All three of those options are better than Kratz who left 5 or 6 on base last night.

I would also say this (I think I said it before). I think a theory of pitching is that, in order to succeed, you are going to have to throw fastballs for strikes at some point. A few exceptions, obviously, but mostly I think this is the case.

There are certain ways to "protect" your fastballs for strikes. One is to throw 96 MPH. True, a straight 96 MPH fastball can still be hit sometimes by major-league hitters, but generally, a 96 MPH heater is going to be a more effective weapon than a 90 MPH fastball.

Another way is to mix speeds effectively. If a hitter is expecting a 78 MPH curveball or an 81 MPH changeup, a 91 MPH fastball for a strike can be effective. See Cole Hamels.

Another way is to have movement on the fastball that doesn't allow the hitter to square it up. This was the devastating part of Roy Halladay's repertoire for so many years--the cutter that generated weak GB outs.

The issue he's having is that pitch appears to be gone. Without it, he's stuck throwing only off-speed stuff, and that simply doesn't work. Sure, some guys (especially on the Braves) will chase and you can strike them out, but eventually you have to throw fastballs for strikes. And you saw what happened when he had to throw a fastball for a strike against Justin Upton in the first inning last night.

Maybe I'm way off. But that's one way that I see how to look at it. He needs to find a way to protect the fastballs he's going to have to throw for strikes.

Both home runs, Upton and Gattis, were off fastballs at 91 MPH and 88 MPH, respectively.

Pretty sure the one Upton golfed out wasn't a strike.

Jack: I have to concur with the theory that it's the lack of movement on his cutter/sinker that limited his effectiveness more than anything last night.

I think the reason for that is something up for debate, however.

Could it be that if he doesn't consistently hit the 92-93 range, the ball doesn't have the proper ratio of rotation : distance traveled to fade hard and fast like it used to? That would explain why he's changing his arm slot to try to regain the speed.

Could it be the changed arm slot doesn't allow for the same sort of movement on his particular brand of cutter/sinker? That in trying to rectify his loss in speed (either to silence media critics or because he doesn't feel comfortable in the 89-91 range) he's lost the ability to move it as much?

Could it be that he just hasn't found the proper release point yet for his new arm slot? That he'll be able to regain the movement after he's done it enough to really get a grasp on his "new" mechanics?

I would doubt the third, except he did have a couple of "so cutter'd" moments last night, which makes it hard to believe he's lost it completely.

Also, I recall at least one Bravo bat being broken in the 1st (Freeman turned it into a single, I think) or 2nd - possibly two.

Since he's not throwing hard enough to splinter it from velocity, that indicates he got some late-breaking movement on a fastball towards the knob of the bat.

Make that 1st or 3rd. Not many balls in play in the 2nd.

Jack~ You're exactly right about the Braves power.

And the Phils lack of it, which is something I've been saying all along, especially from the right side.

RAJ had chances to fix this in the off-season and didn't. The reasons he didn't don't matter, but he didn't nonetheless. He also didn't get a better #5. He did the best he could @ 3b and adding Adams to the 'pen, which will be much stronger was brilliant.

But the days of this team coming from 3 + runs down are largely over. And this team hasn't shown that it can go up by 3 + runs early and hold leads.

And this is why I've always talked about accountability. Posters often do not agree with me, but I'm not that far off in my assessments.

And yes, while we'll have some nice things to cheer about this summer (Utley, Revere, Howard etc.), we'll still get beat by better teams mmore often than not. After only 2 games, that's clearly evident. And RAJ has to look in the mirror and face himself about that, even if his hands were tied by the owners, which was/and is certainly possible.

Clout - true that Maddux had excellent command and didn't rely on fastball velocity, but my point was that doesn't necessarily make him a finesse pitcher, per se. The late movement on all of his pitches was nasty, and made his "stuff" well above average regardless of velocity.

I wish we could see how far those home runs cleared the fence. Both looked nearly catchable on TV. Why does it seem that Mayberry never knows where the wall is?

This is not to say that they should have been caught. Either would have been a highlight reel play. This defense will not be making many of those.

Mike: Brown was the OF who just missed the Gattis HR over the fence in LF, not Mayberry.

For all of the harping on the offense, just look at the % of WE after the 4th inning.

I don't care what kidn of offense you have when you starter/middle reliever come in like the last 2 games and put your team in a 5-6 run whole its over.

Halladay stunk last night. Hamels was little better the night before.

Jack - IIRC, Mayberry missed a chance at Upton's and didn't get off the ground because he was too close to the wall to jump. I think Wheeler even mentioned it on the broadcast.

Jack: The Gattis HR was to Brown, & Heyward's HR off of Papelbon was to Mayberry. I don't think Upton's was playable. Mayberry also had an atrocious throw Home on Francisco's RBI Single early in the game.

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EST. 2005

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