Philliesflow.com
Google
 
Web www.philliesflow.com

 

Ticketcity.com

Phillies Tickets
E-A-G-L-E-S tickets
Mets Tickets
Nationals Tickets

 

 

 

 

 

 



November 30 2007

If you're looking for the silver lining with Shane Youman you gotta go with his 2006 season:

 

G GS IP ERA H BB SO Ratio
5 3 21.2 2.91 15 10 5 1.15

As silver linings go, 21 2/3 innings as a 26-year-old is a little slim.  Still, slim is better than nothing.  In 2006 he still didn't strike anyone out and still walked way too many, but opponents hit .200 against him and slugged just .280.  They had just four extra-base hits in 88 plate appearances. 

If that's got you all giddy you may just want to avoid his 2007 numbers altogether.  He and Eaton had the same ERA+ of 73.  But even in '07, Youman was only terrible as a starter.  In eight relief appearances he allowed 15 hits and 3 walks in 15 1/3 innings while throwing to a 4.11 ERA.

David Riske may be close to signing with the Brewers.

This article says that the Phillies are one of six teams interested in Geoff Jenkins.


November 29 2007

In the a lot-of-stuff-would-have-to-go-wrong category, the Phils claimed left-handed pitcher Shane Youman off of waivers and added him to their 40-man roster.  Youman just turned 28 and is 3-7 with a 5.13 ERA in 79 career innings, all with the Pirates.  He was 3-5 with a 5.97 ERA for Pittsburgh last year.  He struck out 29 in 57 1/3 innings and opponents hit .298 against him.  In his career he has struck 34 and walked 33.  He's probably not the answer for the Phils, but the effort to corner the market on mans between Outman and Youman seems fiendishly clever.  Will Batman succumb to the pressure and join the Phils?  Time will tell.

This article suggests Rowand is out of the picture for the White Sox cause he is too pricey.  This article thinks Rowand's fellow center fielder Mike Cameron will decline arbitration.

For a lot of reasons, I'm still not sold on the Phils not looking for help at third base.  I believe that pitching is the priority, specifically finding a starter, but I think third base help is still in the mix.  You have to think the chances of bringing back Rowand, however slim, would increase at least a little if the Phils don't add help at third.  This article suggests that Melvin Mora would approve a trade only to the Phillies or one of the New York teams.

This article reviews the Phillies payroll and goals for the Winter Meetings.

This article says the Pirates are looking to trade Matt Morris.


November 28 2007

It probably couldn't turn out much worse than trying to turn him into a starter.

Remember this?  Unfazed by his right-handedness, there was a time this season that the Phillies thought the answer to their bullpen woes was using Ryan Madson as a lefty out of the pen.  It wasn't all just talk, either, for at least a short time they actually did it.  In this game, for example, they let Madson hit for himself in the bottom of the eighth with the Phils up 8-7 and two outs and a man on second and he came back to face the switch-hitter and two lefties at the top of the Giants' order in the ninth.  I thought it was cuckoo for CocoPuffs then and I think it is now.  But it turns out the joke may be on me.

Here's what lefties did against Madson this season:

 

AVG OBP SLG OPS
170 308 284 593

Madson was fantastic against lefties this season.  They went 15-for-88 against him with just six extra-base hits, four doubles and two home runs. 

It's not time to climb aboard the Madson for left-handed specialist train just yet, though.  And not just because the idea is so ridiculous, either.  In the game I mentioned above, for example, Madson did come back to pitch the ninth.  He got the switch-hitter Randy Winn to start the inning, but walked the two lefties behind him.  One would go on to score and tie the game.  The Phils won it on a walkoff shot by Victorino in the bottom of the ninth.

Madson walked lefties at a higher rate than he ever has before, issuing a free pass to 16 of the 107 left-handed hitters he faced, about 15% of the batters.  Predictably, he has always walked more lefties than righties.  Coming into this season, however, he had walked lefties at the highest rate in 2005 when he walked 16 of 165 batters, about 9.7%.

Madson threw two innings in 2003 and followed that up with the best season of his career in 2004, pitching to a 2.34 ERA with a 1.13 ratio out of the Phils pen.  He was less effective in relief in '05, throwing to 4.14 ERA with a 1.25 ratio, before his miserable 2006 season in which he started 17 games and was moved back to the pen.  He ended '06 at 11-9 with a 5.69 ERA.  He bounced back nicely this season -- working exclusively out of the pen he went 2-2 with a 3.05 ERA and a ratio of 1.26.

Here's what right and left-handed hitters have done against him in those years:

 

  Right-handed batters Left-handed batters
Year AVG OBP SLG OPS AVG OBP SLG OPS
2007 275 313 408 721 170 308 284 593
2006 335 391 505 896 307 381 528 909
2005 233 282 344 626 292 364 528 892
2004 227 276 337 613 252 321 333 654

Madson dominated lefties this season, but despite that his numbers overall still didn't get back to his '04 levels.  One reason that they didn't is that he walked batters at the highest rate of his career, both overall and especially left-handed batters.  Another is that while he shut down lefties, righties hit him a lot harder than they did in either of his other full years as a reliever.  This year, for example, the 593 OPS he held lefties to against him was the 22nd best among the 167 NL pitchers that threw at least 20 innings against lefties.  But the 721 OPS that righties posted against him was just 93rd best of 218 NL pitchers that threw at least 20 innings against righties.  By comparison, in his best season, 2004, the 654 OPS lefties posted against him was 38th best among 169 NL pitchers that threw 20 innings against lefties.  His OPS against righties was 35th best among 206 pitchers that threw 20 frames against righties.

The notion of using Madson as a specialist to get out lefties is preposterous.  He was fantastic against righties as recently as 2005.  The good news that I think the Phillies think so too.  Despite the use of Madson to try to get some lefties at a desperate time for the bullpen this season, the Phils didn't have him face an unusually high numbers of left-handed hitters for the season overall.  Here's how many batters Madson has faced over the last four seasons and how many of them have been left-handed:

 

Year BF LH BF %
2007 237 107 45.1
2006 620 304 49.0
2005 365 165 45.2
2004 312 138 44.2

He obviously faced more lefties as a starter in 2006, but he faced lefties at about the same rate this season as he had in his other two full years as a reliever.

Sooner or later someone's going to have to explain to CJ Henry that if he keeps hitting .181 at Single-A the Yankees aren't going to want him, either.  The whole thing was a little weird, though.  Still is.  If CJ Henry starts to wear contacts and hits .340 next year I feel it will be more than any of us should be asked to shoulder.  Speaking of which, you know what story I can't get enough of?  Pat Burrell and whether or not he's wearing contacts.  Can someone get that one fired up again sometime soon, please?  Maybe put together a 24-hour cable channel to broadcast breaking news on the subject or something?

This article says that this year's ballgirls will have personality and won't be wearing lingerie and are misperceived by the public.

After two years with the Mets, broadcaster Tom McCarthy has signed a five-year contract with the Phillies.  That's great news for Phillies' fans, cause he's really good at his job.

Greg Roth, who blogs, or at least did as recently as the end of August, about the Phillies at Caught Looking, is also a singer-songwriter who has released an album.  You can check it out here.


November 27 2007

This mailbag from the Phillies web site says that Snelling is nothing more than a bat off the bench for the Phils and the team would replace Rowand with a bigger name than Snelling if the Phils lost Rowand.  A bigger name than Chris Snelling?!!  Dare we dream?  That's actually great news if it's true, but I think Snelling is likely to have a bigger role than that as long as he's ambulatory.  Snelling may not be a big name, but I do think he's going to hit when healthy, enough to play regularly.  The bad news is that it seems close to a sure thing that that won't be long.  A healthy Snelling platooning in right with Werth wouldn't be the end of the world -- it's not going to happen, though, and if it does it's not going to happen for long.  If Snelling and Werth in right is Plan A, whatever Plan B turns out to be is going to be important, cause Werth shouldn't be getting all the starts in right against righties. 

This mailbag from the Astros' web site suggests that Houston got Ed Wade in part to help rebuild the minor league system.  I can confirm that any rumors you've heard that Houston will bring in The Bad News Bears' Rudi Stein and task him with rebuilding the pitching staff are a flat out lie.

Interview with Bill Giles here.

This article says that the Mariners are strong favorites to land Hiroki Kuroda, but that the Phils continue to have serious talks with Randy Wolf.


November 26 2007

Phillies' pitchers issued 558 walks this year, the most they have allowed in the past five seasons.  The pen was miserable for most of the way, so it's not a surprise that it was the relievers to blame.  The starting pitchers actually walked hitters at a lower rate this season than they did last.  In 938 1/3 innings they issued 309 walks, about 2.96 per nine inning.  In '06, Phils starters walked 308 in 921 1/3 innings, about 3.01 per nine innings.  This season the relievers walked 249 in 520 innings (4.31 per nine) after walking 204 in 539 innings a year ago (3.41).

The 4.31 walks per nine innings for the Phillies' relievers was the worst in the league.  The Marlins were the only team that saw their relievers walk more than the 249 that Phillies' relievers walked -- they walked 266 in 586 2/3 innings (4.08 per nine).  The Cubs' pen was even a little closer, they walked 228 in 491 innings (4.18).

Here's a look at how many walks per inning were issued by Phillies' pitchers that threw at least 30 innings this season:

 

Pitcher BB/9
Moyer 2.98
Lohse 2.66
Hamels 2.11
Eaton 3.95
Kendrick 1.86
Lieber 2.54
Myers 3.54
Geary 3.34
Durbin 5.10
F Garcia 2.95
Madson 3.70
Condrey 2.88
Alfonseca 4.89
Gordon 2.93
Mesa 4.38
Romero 6.19

Kendrick and Hamels were the stars of the show for the Phils. 

Working as a closer for the first time, Myers predictably struck out batters at the highest rate of his career, but his walks were also up significantly.  After walking 3.17 batters per nine innings in 2004, Myers posted a 2.84 in '05 and a 2.86 in '06.  His walk rate this season is oddly similar to his numbers as a young starter -- in 2003 he walked 76 of the 848 hitters he faced, about 8.96%.  This year he walked 27 of the 293 batters he faced, about 9.21%, after walking 68 of 905 (about 7.51%) in '05 and 63 of 833 (about 7.56) in '06.

Madson is the other guy that is curious.  Despite having good numbers out of the pen overall for the Phils, his walk rate was the highest of his career.  Even in his miserable 2006 season he started in the rotation and ended with a 5.69 ERA, Madson walked 50 of the 620 hitters he faced (about 8.06%).  This season he walked 23 of 237 (9.7%).

This article lists six teams that have contacted Matt Clement's agent.  The Phillies are not among them.  Other teams aren't among them, too, but you'd have to check their blogs for complete not-in-the-list details.


November 24 2007

The Phillies signed RHP Ron Chiavacci, RHP Matt Childers, RHP Kris Wilson, 1B Andy Tracy, OF Michael Restovich and OF Brandon Watson.  Whether you believe Chris Snelling makes the team or not, spots are short on the 25-man roster for next season.  If one of those guys winds up on the team in April it's a really bad sign. 

Ron Chiavacci is 30 and still looking for his first major league action.  The Scranton native appeared in 26 games for the Tigers last season at Triple-A, going 12-6 with a 3.93 ERA and a 1.26 ratio.

Childers turns 29 next month and has been hit hard in 11 appearances with the Brewers and the Braves.  He threw to a 5.17 ERA at Ottawa for the Phillies in '07.

Kris Wilson is 31 and has a 5.44 ERA in 95 career appearances, 90 of which came with the Royals and five of which came with the Yankees.

Andy Tracy is 34 and has 223 career at-bats with the Expos and Rockies in which he's posted a 224/302/418 line.  He had good numbers for the Mets in the PCL last year.  He hit 271/387/472 with 23 home runs in 472 at-bats. 

Restovich is a former second round pick of the Twins and has a 239/319/377 line in 268 at-bats as a corner outfielder with the Twins, Pirates, Cubs, Nats and Rockies.  He has a name you're familiar with, but despite having the best shot of the guys in this group, his chances to make the Phillies this year if nobody gets hurt are slim.   He did slug .503 with 20 home runs in 356 at-bats in the International League in '07.  His .503 slugging percentage was second in the league.  He's 28.

Brandon Watson is just 26 and has a 198/250/279 line in 86 at-bats with the Nats and the Reds.  He can play center field, but he just hasn't been able to hit at the major league level despite a career .305 average in the minors.  He's had a tiny number of at-bats, but even if he gets his average up he has a career slugging percentage of .360 in the minors and that makes him very hard to use.  I've been kind of down on him since at least April 12 of 2006.

Remember CJ Henry?  Acquired as part of the Abreu deal, he's back with the Yankees after being released by the Phils.

The Angels signed Torri Hunter.  Hunter was one of the premier center fielders available along with Rowand.

Pat Burrell is headed to the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame.

This article suggests the Mets may be interested in Freddy Garcia.


November 21 2007

Jimmy Rollins nipped Matt Holliday to win the NL MVP.  Ryan Howard finished fifth and Utley eighth.  Rowand got one eighth-place vote and finished tied for 22nd.

With all due respect to everyone's WARP, VORP, FORP and DORP, the voters got it right.  Whether or not you agree depends a lot on what you think of Jimmy Rollins' defense and his statement that the Phils were the team to beat in the division and the way he backed it up.  Both were pretty impressive.

The award is subjective.  If it wasn't there wouldn't need to be a vote.  We could just look at everyone's numbers and multiply them by the square root of 17 or whatever and we'd all know who won about six hours after the season was over.  If you think it should go to the player you would pick first if you were playing a baseball sim where everyone gets their '07 numbers, I agree that there are a bunch of guys who just got screwed.  The question of who is the most outstanding player is something a little different, though.  And what Rollins did for the Phillies this season was one of the more outstanding things I've seen in a while.

After you've looked at all the numbers, you have to ask how much weight to give to the fact that Rollins declared that the Phillies were the team to beat in the division and that they became exactly that.  If you think it shouldn't impact the voting at all, I don't agree.  In the same way, if you think it's the only thing that's important, that if Rollins said it and then it happened that he deserved to win the award regardless of how he played, I also don't agree.  And that leaves us in the gray middle.

Just about everything in baseball can be quantified.  Not quite, though.  Some of it's just untouchable.  Even for the hardest of the hard-core fans it's either what you like about the game or what you hate about it.  Naming J-Roll the MVP of the league is about as close as you can get to capturing the part that you can see but doesn't fit into a formula or have a button on your calculator.  He was the right choice for the award not just because of his numbers, but also in spite of them.

That said, Rollins was tied for 60th in on-base percentage among the 109 NL players that had at least 400 plate appearances this season. He fell just short of teammate Shane Victorino's .347 mark.

Since 1911, three other offensive players in the National League have won the award presented to the outstanding player of the year in a season they posted an on-base percentage of .344 or lower (Marty Marion ('44), Steve Garvey ('74), Andre Dawson ('87)).

It's the seventh time that a Phillie has won the award.  Howard won it last year, Schmidt won it in 1980, '81 and 86, Jim Constanty won it in 1950 and Chuck Klein in 1932.

Holliday handled the disappointment of finishing second in a close vote with as much class as you can ask of anyone, saying in a statement through that Rockies that "It's Jimmy Rollins' day, and I don't want to step on his day."  Not everyone in Colorado seems to share the sentiment.  This article, for example, calls Rollins "a nice little player" and compares him winning the award over Holliday to "a parking valet being named driver of the year over NASCARís Jimmie Johnson."  I don't agree.  In their games away from home this season, Holliday posted an .860 OPS, one point higher than the .859 OPS that Rollins put up.  One of those guys is a slick-fielding shortstop and the other isn't.

The Phillies acquired Chris Snelling from the Devil Rays for cash.  Snelling is left-handed hitting outfielder who turns 26 next month.  He's played with the Mariners, Nationals and A's, hitting 240/357/380 in 221 at-bats.  He's primarily been a corner outfielder but appeared in six games at center, including five last year for the A's.  Snelling posted a monster 311/395/472 line in over 1,800 at-bats in the minor leagues.  He's nearly a sure thing to hit with the Phillies if he can just stay healthy.  For now he's the fourth outfielder along with Burrell, Victorino and Werth.  If the season started tomorrow he'd presumably be looking at a whole lot of at-bats in right field while sharing the job with Werth. 

He really gets hurt a lot.  He broke his hand in 2000.  His ankle in 2001.  In 2002 he tore his ACL.  He missed all of 2004 after hand surgery.  In 2005 he tore his ACL.  In 2006 he was on the DL with a shoulder problem.  Last year he played 24 games with the Nats and hit a meager 204/361/327 before Washington traded him to the A's for Ryan Langerhans on May 2.  He played in six games with the A's, going 7-for-20, before he injured his left knee.  Devil Dogs claimed him off of waivers in October.

If he's able to walk, I'd be surprised if he didn't make the team to start the season.  It's a nice pickup for the Phils.  He can hit.  What he can't do is stay healthy, but it's worth a shot and it didn't cost the Phillies a player to add him. 

The Phillies added Jason Jaramillo and Brad Harman to their 40-man roster.  The middle infielder Harman hit 281/341/449 in 448 at-bats at Single-A Clearwater last season and turned 22 on Monday.  Maybe he and Snelling can put a couple shrimp on the barbie together.

The Mets traded Guillermo Mota for catcher Johnny Estrada.


November 20 2007

If most of the guys who saw time in the Arizona Fall League aren't likely to be a factor for the Phils for a while, Jason Jaramillo and Josh Outman, who played for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, should be arriving soon. 

Outman appeared in five games in the AFL, playing for both the Saguaros with Team USA in World Cup tune-ups.  In three games with the Sags he threw 7 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs while walking two and striking out eight.  In two games with Team USA against AFL teams, he threw six innings over two games and allowed one earned run on a walk and five strikeouts.

Between his AFL appearances with the Saguaros and Team USA, Outman threw 13 2/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on 16 hits and three walks. He struck out 13. That's a 3.95 ERA and a 1.39 ratio.

In the Baseball World Cup he pitched in two games.  He allowed three runs on five hits and two walks against Italy, but all of the runs were unearned.  Against Chinese Taipei, Outman allowed two earned runs in five innings on three hits.  He also was charged with an unearned run.  He struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.

Between the two appearances in the Baseball World Cup, Outman threw eight innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and two walks.  He struck out ten.  Only two of the six runs were earned, which would give him a 2.25 ERA with a 1.50 ratio.  Some sources of information suggest that only one of the six runs was earned.  I'm going to level with you -- I wasn't there.  Either way he pitched well against Chinese Taipei and not well against Italy, but the Italy outing didn't hurt his ERA due to unearned runs.

Jaramillo went 3-for-12 with a home run, a double and three RBI in AFL tune-ups with Team USA, posting a 250/333/500 line in five games.

He went 6-for-19 in 22 plate appearances in the Baseball World Cup.  The tournament took a non-traditional approach to stats, but by my calculations, which were almost literally done on the back on an envelope, I think he hit 316/364/368 with a double, two walks and two RBI.  The 25-year-old looks sure to get a chance at some point with the Phils next season and appears to be  the first option if Coste or Ruiz struggle or go down with injury, .361 slugging percentage at Triple-A last year or not.

The NL MVP will be announced today.


November 19 2007

Joe Savery was the star of the show for the Phils in the Arizona Fall League this year, but not the only story.  Here's a look at what the Phils' hitters did in the AFL this year:

 

Player AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Golson 109 266 311 431 742
Gosewisch 48 250 280 354 634

Golson also played at Single-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading this season.  In the three stops, his highest on-base percentage was .322, which came in his 418 at-bats at Clearwater.  Between Clearwater, Reading and the AFL, he got 680 at-bats in which he struck out 196 times and walked 31 times.  There's not a whole lot of good news, but what there is starts with the fact that he just turned 22.  He's going to get a chance at some point, but it's going to be a while.

Gosewisch is 24 and looks like he's going to have to hit a whole lot more if he's ever going to have a chance.  He posted a .647 OPS in 339 at-bats at Clearwater in '07 and it's just not enough, no matter what he can do with the glove.

And here are the pitchers, not including Outman who pitched in the AFL but then moved on to play for the US team in the Baseball World Cup. 

 

Player IP ERA H BB SO Ratio
Overholt 20.2 5.23 18 3 11 1.02
Savery 14.0 0.64 4 11 5 1.07
Anderson 10.0 4.50 10 4 8 1.40
Bisenius 10.0 6.30 13 4 12 1.70

Not much about Pat Overholt's AFL performance makes the decision to convert him from a reliever to a starter look a lot better.  His 5.23 ERA isn't impressive, but his walks were way down and the 1.02 ratio is hard to ignore.  Between Reading and Clearwater, Overholt walked 73 hitters in 152 1/3 innings this season.

Joe Savery's numbers were just fantastic.  Opponents hit .091 against him.  He did walk a lot of hitters, which he also did in his brief time with in the New York-Penn league this season.  I'd be surprised to see him pitching with the Phils next season in anything other than a September call-up. 

Jason Anderson wasn't particularly impressive.  Given his age, 28, and the fact that he has major league experience, I would tend to think he's the guy of the four most likely to help the Phillies on the field in 2008.  The problem with that is that if the Phillies want to give him a chance to pitch out of their pen there isn't ever going to be bigger need than they had last year and last year Anderson did his pitching for the Phils at Double-A and Triple-A.

Joe Bisenius had a miserable year in 2007 and it didn't get any better in the AFL.  He struck a lot of guys out, 41 in 46 innings at Ottawa, but walked a ton (31) as well.  In the 56 innings he threw between Triple-A and the AFL combined he threw to a 5.63 ERA.  He got a chance to throw a couple of innings for the Phils this season, but after his strong '06 his injury-slowed 2007 has been a disappointment.

Team USA beat Cuba 6-3 in the finals of the Baseball World Cup.  Jason Jaramillo was in the middle of things, he went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. 

Yorvit Torrealba to the Mets doesn't look like such a sure thing anymore.  This article says the Mets agreed to a deal with Luis Castillo that is contingent upon him passing a physical. 

The Braves agreed to a deal with Glavine. 


November 17 2007

In the Baseball World Cup, Team USA beat Korea 3-1 to advance to the semi-finals against the Netherlands.  Jaramillo caught and went 1-for-2 with a single and a walk. 

With Jaramillo on the bench in the semis, Team USA got four runs in the bottom of the eighth and went on to win 5-0.  The Royals' Matt Wright got the start and threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out six.  Cuba beat Japan 5-3, so the US Team will be facing Cuba in the finals. 

Jon Lieber's agent thinks there's a chance Lieber could pitch for the Phillies next year.  Me?  Not so much.

The Braves traded reliever Oscar Villarreal to the Astros for outfielder Josh Anderson.  Villarreal has been a big part of the Braves staff the last two years, throwing to a 4.24 ERA in 76 1/3 relief innings in 2007.  In '06 he pitched in 58 games, four of which were starts, and went 9-1 with a 3.61 ERA in 92 1/3 innings.  Anderson hit 273/325/341 in 513 at-bats in the PCL last season.  He stole 40 bases, but slugging .341 in the PCL is a truly miserable sign.  I don't think that's a good trade for the Braves --  it does look like a nice move by Ed Wade, who has all the speedy center fielders who won't hit for power he needs with the addition of Bourn.

The Braves may be close to signing Glavine.


November 16 2007

Jake Peavy won the NL Cy Young award, getting all 32 first-place votes.  Hamels finished sixth.

The Peoria Saguaros played their final game of the AFL season, losing 6-5 to the Javelinas.  They finish at 10-22.  Golson was 1-for-5 with a single to finish at .266.  Gosewisch went 1-for-4 to finish at .250.

This article says that Mike Lowell has a three-year offer from the Red Sox and a four-year offer from the Yankees.  I would be flabbergasted if he wound up with the Phils.

Yorvit Torrealba appears to be headed to the Mets.

I have added a page where I will track my best guess about who will be on the 2008 Phillies.


November 15 2007

Yes, I know that if you have to explain the joke it's not funny.  But I'm gonna explain it anyway, and after I have I think we'll all agree it wasn't that funny to start with.  Charlie Manuel often uses the word "good" where some would expect to hear the word "well."  For example, Chris Wheeler might say something like, "Joe Shlabotnik has hit 11 home runs over the past four games.  Is that the kind of thing that can really help a team?" And Manuel might say something like, "Yeah.  He's hittin' the ball good."  Get it?

Arizona's Bob Melvin was named NL Manager of the Year.  Charlie Manuel finished second, getting seven first-place votes to Melvin's 19.  That's a little disappointing, but it's hard to argue with the choice of Melvin given the performance of the Diamondbacks this season.  Manuel made some miserable decisions on the field this season, but no manager in baseball could have gotten more out of the '07 Phillies.

Team USA improved to 6-1 in the Baseball World Cup with a 10-7 win over Chinese Taipei.  Coming off a weak performance against Italy, Josh Outman got the start for the US team and bounced back nicely.  He struck out eight in five innings while allowing three runs on three hits.  Only one of the runs was earned and he did not walk a batter.  Jaramillo, who was 0-for-4 in the South Africa game, was on the bench as Bryan Anderson caught Outman.  The US team finishes atop Group A and will face Korea in the quarter-finals.  Korea was 4-3 in Group B play, finishing fourth.

No surprises in the AFL as the Saguaros fell again, losing to the Surprise Rafters 6-5 in ten innings to drop to 10-21.  Pat Overholt got the start and had a nice outing.  He allowed a run on just one hit over four innings to drop his ERA to 5.23.  Jason Anderson went two innings, allowing a run in the ninth to blow the save and giving up what proved to be the game-winning home run in the top of the tenth.  His AFL ERA is 4.50.  Golson continued to be hot at the plate.  He was 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBI.  He is 8-for-his-last-15 and hitting .269.

This article suggests the Phillies might be interested in left-handed hitting outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.  Stats here, article here.   I'd be pretty surprised to see him on the Phillies.  Lots of guesses about how much money he might make and not many of them are under $10 million a year. 


November 14 2007

Of the five teams in the NL East, three, the Phils, Mets and Marlins allowed more runs in 2007 than they did in 2006.

The Braves and Nationals allowed fewer.  Here ya go:

 

Team RA '06 RA '07 Diff
ATL 805 733 -72
NYM 731 750 19
PHI 812 821 9
FLA 772 891 119
WAS 872 783 -89

The Braves allowed significantly fewer runs this than they did in '06.  Their starters, led by Tim Hudson and John Smoltz were slightly better.  Hudson and Smoltz combined to make 66 starts in which they went 30-18 with a 3.22 ERA.  Smoltz was a little better than he was in '06, but Hudson was significantly better.  Hudson went 16-10 with a 3.33 ERA after going 13-12 with a 4.86 ERA in '06.  But if the starting rotation was a little better, the relievers were significantly better.  In 2006, Atlanta relievers threw to a 4.39 ERA, 11th best in the NL.  In 2007 they were stabilized by 90 innings from Peter Moylan in which he threw to a 1.80 ERA and another 72 from Rafael Soriano, who threw to a 3.00 ERA.  As a group, Atlanta relievers dropped their ERA to 3.54, which was second-best in the NL behind only the Padres.

Overall, of the five teams in the division Atlanta is the team that improved the most from 2006 to 2007.  They scored fewer runs, but they more than made up for it by allowing significantly fewer.  After finishing 18 games out in 2006 they were just five behind the division-leading Phils this season.

If they Braves are nipping at the heels of the clubs at the top of the division, the other team in the NL that saw a dramatic improvement in their pitching last season is not.  The Nationals were even better than the Braves at preventing runs compared to their '06 incarnation. But if they don't figure out a way to score a whole lot more runs they don't have much of a chance to finish above fourth in the division.

In 2006 the Nats' starters were the worst in the league.  In '07 they were a little better. After throwing to an NL-worst 5.37 ERA in '06, Washington starters threw to a 5.11 ERA in '07, which was 15th of the 16 NL teams.  Their relievers were much better, however.  They posted a 3.81 ERA, fourth best in the NL, coming off of a year when they threw to a 4.49 ERA (12th). Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, Saul Rivera and Jesus Colome all had solid years out of the pen.  All four of them threw at least 65 innings with an ERA below 3.85.  Three of that group, Cordero, Rauch and Rivera, also did it they year before.  Jason Bergmann, Felix Rodriguez and Chris Schroder did a lot of the damage to the Nats' pen in '06.  In 2007, Bergmann pitched as a starter, Rodriguez didn't pitch at all and Schroder pitched out of the bullpen again but posted a 3.18 ERA in 45 1/3 innings after throwing to 6.35 ERA in 28 1/3 innings in '06.

That leaves us with the three teams that allowed more runs in '07 than they did in '06.  Of those three, the Mets and Phillies allowed just about the same number of runs and the Marlins allowed many, many more.

The Phillies' starters were slightly better in '07, but their bullpen was miserable.

In 2006, the Mets bullpen threw to the lowest ERA in the NL, 3.25. They were off that mark in '07, eighth-best in the league at 3.99.  Their starters picked up the slack, though, posting a fifth-best 4.40 ERA after throwing to an eighth-best 4.67 in '06. Oliver Perez and Orlando Hernadez carried a lot of the load there, combing to throw to a 3.63 ERA in 324 2/3 innings all except 3 2/3 of which were as starters.  In '06 they combined to pitch to a 4.64 ERA in 153 1/3 innings.

And then there's the Marlins, who went from allowing a sixth-best in the NL 772 runs in 2006 to allowing a league-worst 891 in 2007.  That's the kind of thing you need a bunch of guys to get together to pull off, and the Fish did it.  Fantastically, the relievers actually got a little better, improving from a 4.67 ERA (14th-best in the NL) in '06 to a 4.02 in '07 (10th).  The starters were just hide-your-eyes bad, though, throwing to a ridiculous, league-worst 5.58 ERA in what has traditionally been a pitchers park.  That's the worst ERA for a group of starting pitchers for a season since the 2003 Cincinnati Reds, who may look back now and feel that 20 was just too many starts to give to Ryan Dempster if he was going to throw to a 6.54 ERA.  For this year's Marlins, Dontrelle Willis, Scott Olsen, Byung-Hyun Kim and Rick Vanderhurk all made at least 17 starts and threw to an ERA of 5.17 or worse.  Of the 162 games the Marlins played, 129 of the starts went to pitchers who would end the year having thrown to an ERA over 5.00 with the team.  They got zero starts from a pitcher who ended the year with an ERA better than 4.65 with the team.

In the Arizona Fall League, the Saguaros are 10-20 after falling to the Javelinas 17-5.  Golson had two more hits, he was 2-for-5 to raise his average to .263.  Gosewisch was 1-for-4 with a single and is hitting .250.

This article talks about candidates to manage the Triple-A team next year after the departure of Russell.

I've got no place for this so I'm just going with right here -- two things I've heard over and over about the Phils of late that I'm just not buying.  1) The Lidge trade was brilliant cause it lets the Phils put Brett Myers back in the bullpen.  Huh?  Nobody wrote anywhere that the Phillies needed to turn Brett Myers into a closer in the first place.  It worked.  The Phils won the division so there's not much to complain about, but nobody said you have to take your 26-year-old starter who is the second best pitcher in your organization and make him a reliever.  How 'bout just getting a relief pitcher so you don't have to pitch Jose Mesa and Antonio Alfonseca and their ilk every day like it's their job?  Even without Lidge, the Phillies needed to put Myers back in the rotation.  Moving Myers to the pen temporarily to stabilize it while they found a solution made sense.  Putting him there permanently is just a bad decision.  Gillick has made some moves while with the Phillies that deserve to be called brilliant, but calling the Lidge trade one of them because it allows Myers to return to the rotation isn't among them.  And 2) the Phillies won't try to improve at third this off-season.  With a right-hander on the mound, Greg Dobbs can't play both third and right.  Seriously.  Too far.  I think there's a rule, too.  Even if there's not, if he tries to run back and forth there's nearly no way he can get from right field to third base in time to field a ground ball unless it's really softly hit.  On the other hand, it probably couldn't make him a much less effective defender at third.  If there's no Rowand, the Phils need either a left-handed outfielder to share right with Werth or they make Dobbs that guy and get someone else to play third with Helms and Bruntlett.


November 13 2007

Ryan Braun was named the NL Rookie of the Year, just beating out Troy Tulowitski.  Kendrick finished fifth and got one second place place vote.  He was the only player besides Braun or Tulowitski to get a second-place vote.  The Astos' Hunter Pence and the Diamondbacks' Chris Young finished third and fourth.

Kendrick didn't deserve to win the award, but the Phillies wouldn't have had a chance to win the NL East this season without him after Garcia and Eaton struggled terribly in the starting rotation.  Kudos to the Phillies for calling Kendrick's number when the situation got desperate, but it's hard to believe there weren't a lot of people in the organization surprised he pitched so well this season.

Team USA is guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals after being South Africa 4-2 in the Baseball World Cup.  They are 5-1 and face Chinese Taipei next in their final game before the quarterfinals -- the two teams are tied atop Group A and will be playing for the top seed in the elimination rounds.

The Saguaros dropped to 10-19 in the AFL with an 11-7 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions.  Golson was 4-for-5 with two triples and a stolen base.  He's hitting .255.  The Sags have three games left.

This mailbag from the Mariners web site reviews the Jamie Moyer trade and what Andrews Barb and Baldwin did in the minors last year.

This article reviews the Phillies' payroll situation and suggests that neither Lohse or Rowand is expected to return.


November 12 2007

Jimmy Rollins is going to do just fine when it comes to post-season hardware if he just wins the awards he deserves.  It was great to see him win a Gold Glove and I'll be disappointed if he isn't named NL MVP.  But Hanley Ramirez should have won the NL's Silver Slugger at short this season.

Here's a look at the numbers for the two overall this year:

 

Player AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Rollins 716 296 344 531 875
Ramirez 639 332 386 562 948

Ramirez was just better overall, hitting for a better average and getting on base significantly more often.  Ramirez posted a better slugging percentage than Rollins did despite the fact that J-Roll had more extra base hits than Ramirez did.  Rollins had 88, Ramirez 83.

Rollins made 527 outs, though, more than any other player in baseball.  He got 778 plate appearances.  Ramirez made 459 outs in 706 plate appearances.  So in 72 more plate appearances, Rollins made 68 more outs.  Ramirez walked 52 times in his 706 plate appearances, Rollins 49 times in his 778.  So again, in 72 more plate appearances, Rollins walked three times fewer than Ramirez.

Rollins also played in a better hitters' park than Ramirez did, although it looks like the park factors for Dolphin Stadium will be less dramatic for '07 than they have been in previous years.

Here's what Rollins and Ramirez did at home and away this season:

 

Home
Player AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Rollins 347 300 336 556 892
Ramirez 322 345 395 578 973

 

Away
Player AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Rollins 369 293 352 507 859
Ramirez 317 319 377 546 923

Using OPS as the measure, Ramirez was better at home than he was away from home. 

He was also better both away from home and at home than Rollins was at Citizens Bank Park this season.

This article says that the Mets were interested in Lidge but wouldn't give up a package headed by Carlos Gomez or Fernando Martinez. 

Team USA hammered Spain, 12-2, to improve to 4-1 in the Baseball World Cup.  Bryan Anderson, who Jaramillo is competing with for playing time at catcher, went 4-for-4 with a home run. 

The US team plays 0-5 South Africa next.


November 10 2007

Or Christmas, maybe.  This article says that the Phillies and JC Romero have agreed to a multi-year deal.  That's fantastic news for the Phils.  And they didn't even have to give up a 24-year-old who hit 27 home runs last year to get him.

Utley and Rollins won Silver Slugger awards.  First for Rollins and second for Utley.  J-Roll deserves a ton of recognition for what he did this season, but Hanley Ramirez was the better offensive player at short last year.

This article says that more than 600 women tried out to be Phillies' ballgirls.

The numbers on Outman's outing against Italy in the Baseball World Cup were bad, but he got some bad defense behind him.  He got the start and allowed three runs on five hits and two walks in three innings, but none of the runs were earned.  Jaramillo was 0-for-3.

Most recently, Team USA beat Japan 5-1 to improve to 3-1 in the World Cup.  Delwyn Young hit a three-run homer in the first to put the US team up early.  Jaramillo was 1-for-2.

Spain is next for the US.  After Spain it's South Africa and then Chinese Taipei.

In the AFL, the Sags are 10-18 after losing to the Phoenix Desert Dogs today 5-2.  Joe Savery had yet another good outing.  Savery allowed a hit and two walks in three scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 0.64.  In 14 innings he's allowed four hits.  Jason Anderson also pitched, allowing a run on two hits in an inning to raise his AFL ERA to 3.38.  Golson was 1-for-3 with an RBI, he's at 225/283/360 in 89 at-bats.

On Friday the Saguaros lost 10-3 to the Scottsdale Scorpions.  Golson was 1-for-4 with a walk, a double and two strikeouts.  He stole his seventh base.  Gosewisch was 0-for-4.  He has posted a 250/286/375 in 40 at-bats.


November 9 2007

With a day to reflect, I still don't feel quite as sold on the Lidge deal as everyone else seems to be.  I definitely love the damn the torpedoes approach from Gillick and don't mind trading away the guys in the minor leagues.  But I'm higher on Costanzo than most and a little more worried about Lidge.

Lidge has put up numbers that were solid in four the five years of his career in which he threw at least ten innings.  He has always struck people out.  Even during his miserable 2006 season he struck out 104 hitters in 75 innings.  And one thing I'm sure of is that giving up a home run to Albert Pujols in 2005 didn't ruin his career.  But his numbers have been off over the last two seasons.  Here's a look at his career numbers for ERA, OPS posted against him by right and left-handed batters and his walks per nine innings in seasons where he threw at least ten innings:

 

Year ERA Opp OPS Right Opp OPS left BB/9
2007 3.36 766 658 4.03
2006 5.28 631 868 4.32
2005 2.29 599 634 2.93
2004 1.90 541 546 2.85
2003 3.60 558 720 4.45
2002 Only pitched eight innings
         
Career 3.30 621 691 3.82

A couple of things stand out.  One is that over the last two years his walks are way too high and up a lot over the two previous seasons.  To put his 4.03 walks per nine innings this season  in Phillies' perspective, that would put him in between Eaton (who walked 3.95 batters per nine innings last season) and Mesa (who walked 4.38 per nine). 

In 2006 he got mauled by lefties.  How mauled?  A lot mauled.  Of the 165 pitchers that threw at least 20 innings against lefties, his .868 OPS was 136th best.  In 2007 he got things back under control against southpaws, but righties hit him a lot harder than they had over his career altogether.

Here's a list of some of the Phillies pitchers who held right-handed hitters to an OPS lower than .766 last season:

 

Pitcher Opp OPS right
Romero 488
Gordon 601
Kendrick 632
Hamels 681
Madson 721
Lieber 741
Alfonseca 759

And before you say it, yes, Alfonseca must have been truly miserable against lefties.  And he was.  They posted a .971 OPS against him.

Team USA improved to 2-0 in the Baseball World Cup with a 7-0 win against Panama.  Team USA scored four times in the first two innings and held Panama to four hits in the game.  The Dodgers' Andy LaRoche went 3-for-4 with four RBI.  Jaramillo did not play as St Louis' Bryan Anderson started behind the plate.

Things were looking good for Team USA before they were stunned by Italy, losing 6-2.  Josh Outman pitched and got roughed up.  I can't find a box score yet, you should be able access it here at some point.

Japan next.

In the AFL the Saguaros improved to 10-16 with a 9-1 win over the Surprise Rafters.  Pat Overholt got the start for the Sags and had his best AFL outing so far.  He went four scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three.  His ERA dropped to 5.94.  Golson was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer, his second.  He also stole a base, his sixth.  He's hitting .220. 

This article says that the Phillies think that Rowand "might command a four-year, $52 million contract."  I don't think he's going to get that from the Phillies.


November 8 2007

The Phillies' current and former general managers got together last night and put together a deal.  When it was over the Phils had a closer, had Brett Myers back in the starting rotation and had a virtual guarantee that you will never, ever see Michael Bourn pinch-run for Pat Burrell in the sixth-inning of a one-run game again.

Sounds pretty good.  But it cost a lot.

The Phillies traded Geoff Geary, Michael Bourn and third base prospect Mike Costanzo to the Houston Astros for right-handed closer Brad Lidge and utility player Eric Bruntlett.

Lidge turns 31 next month and went 5-3 with 19 saves and a 3.36 ERA for the Astros last season.  In 67 innings he allowed 54 hits and 30 walks and struck out 88.  As the article linked above mentions, Lidge had surgery on his right knee last month.  The Phillies expect him to be at a 100 percent when the season starts.

Bruntlett is 29 and bats right-handed.  He has a career line of 250/323/364 in 472 at-bats over five seasons, all with the Astros.  During his five years with the Astros he appeared at every infield and outfield position, playing shortstop and second base most frequently.  Presumably for the Phils he can back up at short, second and third and help Werth backup Victorino in center if Rowand does not return.  His addition ensures that Nunez won't be back for the Phils.

The contrast between the two general managers is just fascinating.  Wade gets back three guys he drafted while with the Phillies and Gillick gets the guy in Lidge that he thinks he needs right now.  If Ed Wade wants to load up on Phillies' minor leaguers as part of some conscious or unconscious effort to prove what a great job he did of building the system, well, insert your own Greg Golson joke right here.  I'm signed off on right now for the Phillies.  They've been miserable for too long, if they want to trade away the few chips they have in the minor leagues to try to get it done this season it's okay by me. 

They just did. 

Even on board with the right now strategy, though, that one hurts.  Cause even if you're okay with trading away the few prospects in a minor league system that's already been miserable for a while, you probably weren't counting on them being used to bring back Eric Bruntlett.  Whether you like the deal or not depends a lot on what you think of Mike Costanzo.  I think he's going to be good at a position where the Phillies gave Abraham Nunez 212 at-bats last year.

The Phils aren't going to miss Costanzo or Bourn much on the field this season.  The same isn't true of Geary, who was a key member of the Phils' pen down the stretch last year.  The Phillies did add a closer in the deal, but they poked another hole in the bullpen as well. 

Lidge's knee injury also has to scare you to death, given how badly the Phillies have been burned by injuries over the past couple of years.

Lidge is a huge piece for the Phils and an exciting addition.  The Phils are going to need some more quality pitchers, though, and if they can't get them they risk firing off all their big guns and coming up short.  Cause even with a healthy Lidge their pitching still isn't good enough and they just gave up a lot to get where they are.

Team USA won its first game in the Baseball World Cup, topping Mexico 3-0.  The US team entered the fifth in a scoreless tie, still looking for their first hit.  It came off the bat of the Phils' own Jason Jaramillo, a two-out single.  Jaramillo came around to score as part of a three-run frame.  He ended the day 2-for-4.

Team USA plays Panama next.

In the Arizona Fall League, the Sags beat the Javelinas 6-2 to improve to 9-16.  Jason Anderson walked one and struck out one in a scoreless frame, dropping his AFL ERA to 2.57.  Golson was 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts, he's hitting .208.  The former Phil Costanzo was 0-for-2 with two walks, dropping his average to a miserable .169. 

The Phillies may have interest in right-handed starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.  Kuroda went 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan's Central League last season.

This piece suggests that the White Sox shouldn't fail to acquire Rowand cause they haven't been the same since he left.

New Astros' GM Ed Wade may be interested in signing Jon Lieber.  There but for the grace of God go we.

This article speculates the Phils probably couldn't afford Miguel Tejada.


November 7 2007

There are a lot of reasons that Brett Myers should move back to the rotation for 2008.  Here's one:

 

Player IP with Phils, 2007
Brett Myers 68.2
JD Durbin 64.2

And yes, not all innings are created equal.  I'm not saying they are.  I'm just saying.

Here's how many batters some of the Phillies' pitchers that threw the most innings faced this season in situations where the score was tied or the Phils were either up or down one run:

 

Player Batters Faced tied or up/down one run
Moyer 485
Hamels 417
Eaton 436
Kendrick 259
Lieber 209
Myers 143
F Garcia 140

Of that group, Eaton had an ERA over six and Garcia an ERA near six.  Moyer was just over five and Lieber a little bit under.  And yes, not all batters faced with the score tied or your team up or down a run are created equal.  Up 5-4 in the ninth is more important than tied at 2-2 in the fourth.  I'm not arguing that.  But Myers, who has demonstrated that he can be a successful starter, simply wasn't on the field enough for the Phillies last year given the overall weakness of the Phillies' pitching and the alternatives for the starting rotation.  And while there is a ways to go before April, the prospects for next season aren't looking a whole lot better.

Moyer and Eaton averaged 460 batters faced with the score tied or the Phils up or down a run, more than three times as many as Myers.

Putting Myers in the rotation would create a huge hole for the Phils next season at the back of their bullpen.  But it wouldn't be as big as the hole they seem to have no way to fill in the rotation.  The issue isn't just how much Myers pitches, it's also who faces all those batters as a starter if he's not in the starting rotation. 

Baseball Reference tracks splits for pitchers based on the score of the game.  Here, for example, is Brett Myers' page from last year.

Gillick says that the Phils don't want to move Myers out of the pen next season in this article.  In the same article he says that the Phils may go with Dobbs and Helms at third next season and try to concentrate on adding pitching.

The Nats need a center fielder and have been in touch with Aaron Rowand.  I find it close to impossible to imagine Rowand playing for the Nationals next season.

Jimmy Rollins and Aaron Rowand won Gold Gloves.  For both players it was their first time winning the award.  Some associated with the Rockies apparently feel that a great injustice has been done to Troy Tulowitski.

It's just ugly in the Arizona Fall League, where the Saguaros dropped to 8-16 with a 3-2 loss to the Javelinas.  Costanzo was 1-for-3 with a walk to raise his average to .174.  Golson was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base.  He's hitting .219 with four stolen bases.

The first day of the Baseball World Cup was a soggy one, but they finally played some games.  Baseball America breaks down the field.  And here's the site for the International Baseball Federation, the organization that sanctions the tournament.


November 6 2007

The folks at Braves Nation have launched a monthly online magazine called Between the Foul Poles for which I was asked to make the case for Jimmy Rollins as MVP of the National League.  You can access the first issue here -- it also includes an in-depth look at Braves' prospects on the off-chance that your interest in what I think about Jimmy Rollins is rivaled only by your interest in the wedding of Heidi and Spencer from The Hills.

Joe Savery was finally scored upon in his impressive run in the Arizona Fall League.  Savery went three innings against the Surprise Rafters yesterday, allowing a run on a hit and four walks.  It raised his ERA to 0.82.  The Saguaros won the game 4-1 to improve to 8-15.  Golson was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .217.  Costanzo is hitting .167 after going 0-for-4 yesterday.  Gosewisch was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, raising his average to .278.

The Baseball World Cup starts today.  Team USA plays their first game tomorrow against Mexico in Taichung.  When tomorrow is turns out to be kind of relative -- Taiwan is 13 hours ahead of Philadelphia.  You can follow the US Team at USAbaseball.com.  According to Wikipedia, the US team last won the Baseball World Cup in 1974 and Cuba has won nine times in a row and 12 out of the last 13.

The Padres may be interested in left-handed hitting corner outfielder Geoff Jenkins (at least Jenkins' agent thinks so).  The Phils may need a left-handed corner outfielder if Rowand does not return.

Jayson Werth's sister is apparently the real deal when it comes to volleyball.  I hear she hits from everywhere.  She shouldn't be discounted as a possible platoon partner with Jayson in right if anyone thinks she can slug better than .389 against righties.  I just don't know a lot about how high school girls volleyball numbers translate, though.  Baseball Prospectus probably has it somewhere.


November 5 2007

Here's a look at six Phillies' starters from this season, how many batters they faced and walked overall and how many they faced and walked after they got behind 1-0 or ahead 0-1:

 

  Total  After 1-0 After 0-1
Player BF BB % BF BB % BF BB %
Moyer 867 66 7.6 368 52 14.1 391 14 3.6
Eaton 734 71 9.7 307 58 18.9 324 13 4.0
Hamels 743 43 5.8 295 33 11.2 364 10 2.7
Kendrick 499 25 5.0 194 21 10.8 227 4 1.8
Lohse 829 57 6.9 312 42 13.5 403 15 3.7
Durbin 305 37 12.1 128 28 21.9 131 9 6.9

Durbin's numbers are hard to ignore, he simply walked way too many hitters.  Carlos Zambrano led the NL in walks this season.  He walked 101 of the 925 batters he faced, which is about 10.9 percent.  Even after he got ahead of hitters 0-1, Durbin still walked about the same percentage of batters that Lohse walked overall and more than Hamels or Kendrick.

Lohse also didn't fare especially well at preventing walks when he got ahead 0-1 compared to the rate he allowed walks overall.

Kendrick walked almost, but not quite, nobody this year after he got ahead in the count 0-1.

The Saguaros did not play on Sunday.

Article about Greg Dobbs here.

John Russell, former Ottawa Lynx manager, is expected to be named the manager of the Pirates. 


November 3 2007

The Big Cacti are 7-15 in the Arizona Fall League after falling to the Surprise Rafters today, 6-5.  Jason Anderson struck out two while allowing a hit in a scoreless ninth, dropping his ERA to 3.00.  Costanzo was 0-for-4 and is hitting .177. 

On Friday, the Saguaros beat the Javelinas 11-5.  Pat Overholt got the start and allowed three runs on four hits over three innings.  He has thrown to a 7.82 ERA in the AFL.  Gosewisch was 1-for-4 with a walk and a double.  Golson 1-for-5 with an RBI, he's hitting .234.


November 2 2007

Earlier this week we looked at some numbers that suggest a couple of Phils' hurlers are getting killed by the home run on the first pitch of at-bats.  They say the best pitch in baseball is strike one.  I'm sure they're right, but I'd also guess that just how bestist it is depends a lot on the pitcher.

Here's a look at six Phillies' starters from this season, the OPS of opposing hitters this year and for their career after the pitcher has gotten behind 1-0 and after they've gotten ahead 0-1.  The column on the far right lists the difference between their career OPS allowed in plate appearances after they get ahead 0-1 and their career OPS allowed in plate appearances after they get behind 1-0.

 

  After 1-0 After 0-1  
  2007 Career 2007 Career Career 1-0 OPS - 0-1 OPS
Moyer 830 803 689 638 165
Hamels 734 747 571 584 163
Eaton 953 854 810 675 179
Kendrick 918 918 672 672 246
Durbin 912 915 790 789 126
Lohse 964 905 671 683 222

Score one for the strike one people.  For those guys at least, it sure looks like it matters.

If you take the difference between the OPS that opposing hitters posted after they got ahead 0-1 and after they got behind 1-0, Kendrick and Lohse are the guys of that group that benefited the most from getting a strike on the first pitch.

Curiously, though, despite the fact that of that group they benefited the most when they got ahead, Lohse and Kendrick had fantastic numbers on at-bats that ended in one pitch compared to Moyer, Hamels and Eaton.

Here's a look at opponent OPS in plate appearances that ended on the first pitch:

 

  OPS
Moyer 1.303
Hamels 1.021
Eaton 1.010
Kendrick 732
Lohse 728

Kendrick and Lohse get pounded if they get behind 1-0.  But last season they managed not to get hurt on the first pitch.  Moyer, Hamels and Eaton don't see the same level of dropoff when they get behind, but they just get shelled in at-bats that end on the first pitch.

A plate appearance can (almost) only end on one pitch if the batter makes contact.  The numbers above are pretty dramatic and they're either a coincidence or they aren't.  If they aren't, you have to believe that some of those guys are doing a better job at throwing to contact on the first pitch than others, and that those guys also are the same ones that benefit the most when they get ahead in the count.

Also, something just has to be said about the .571 OPS opponents posted against Hamels after he got ahead in the count 0-1.  I'll go with this: that's good.  In 2007, 364 of the of the 743 hitters that Hamels faced got behind 0-1.  As a group, those 364 hit .217 and
struck out 117 times.  They hit eight home runs and walked ten times, on-basing .240 and slugging .331.  By comparison, 84 of the 743 hitters had their at-bat end after a single pitch and they hit seven home runs.

Baseball-Reference tracks pitcher splits by count.  Here's Cole Hamels' page, for example.

Here's another article for count-lovers.  Among other things, it raises buyer-beware flags about stats about hitters' batting averages with two strikes (cause you can only end your at-bat with a strikeout on a pitch when you have two strikes, you see).

Perhaps just trying to be considerate, the Saguaros and Team USA played each other in AFL action yesterday, reducing the number of AFL-related paragraphs I have to write by one.  Team USA won 3-0.  Josh Outman threw four scoreless innings for Team USA, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out three.  Jaramillo was 1-for-2 with an RBI.  For the Saguaros, Costanzo was 0-for-4 to drop his average to .190.  Golson had another hit, he was 1-for-2 with a walk.  He's hitting .237.

Some of those Canadian folk do love Pat Gillick.  Golly.  I hope he at least sends Joe Carter a Christmas card or something.


November 1 2007

Big day for decimal point lovers everywhere.  The Elias Sports Bureau has released its NL Rankings, which are used to determine what draft picks are given as compensation for free agents.  If you had 80.449 for Rowand in your office pool, you're a winner!

This article says that Rowand's agent says that Rowand won't sign with the Phils before he hears from other teams.

The Saguaros are 6-13 after falling to the Phoenix Desert Dogs 4-3.  The Phils' Jason Anderson took the loss, going 1 2/3 innings and allowing a run in the bottom of the ninth.  He allowed two hits and walked one.  His ERA in the AFL is 3.60 after four outings.  Greg Golson was 2-for-4 with a walk, a double and two stolen bases.  He's hitting .228 after going 3-for-his-last-6 with a double, a home run and three walks.  Costanzo was 1-for-4 with a single to raise his average to .204.  Gosewisch hit his first AFL homer, he was 1-for-4 and is hitting .250.

Team USA is 3-2 after beating the Surprise Rafters 5-3.  Neither Outman or Jaramillo saw any action.


October 31 2007

Adam Eaton got hit hard early in the count and on the first pitch in particular last season, but he had some company among the Phillies' starters.  Here's a look at how many batters some key Phillies' starters faced this year, and how many of those batters homered on the first pitch they saw (Lohse's numbers include his time with the Phils and the Reds):

 

Player BF 1st pitch HR %
Moyer 867 11 1.27
Hamels 743 7 0.94
Eaton 734 6 0.82
Kendrick 499 2 0.40
Lieber 342 2 0.58
Durbin 305 1 0.33
Lohse 829 2 0.24
Garcia 264 2 0.76

Hamels and Moyer both allowed more home runs on the first pitch than Eaton.  All three had a big problem, but Moyer's was just ridiculous.  In 2006, Moyer allowed three first pitch home runs in 894 plate appearances (0.34 % of the batters he faced).  Coming into this season he had faced 14,235 batters and 59 had homered on the first pitch (0.41%).

Here's the ten NL pitchers not on the Phillies that allowed the most home runs this year, how many batters they faced and how many first-pitch homers they allowed on the season:

 

Player BF 1st pitch HR %
W Williams 833 5 0.60
L Hernandez 913 7 0.77
C James 691 2 0.29
D Willis 942 5 0.53
S Olsen 826 7 0.85
T Lilly 847 2 0.24
B Arroyo 921 6 0.65
A Harang 948 9 0.95
D Bush 810 5 0.62
R Hill 812 4 0.49

Those are the guys allowing the most home runs in the league.  Moyer allowed first-pitch home runs more at a higher rate than any of them, Hamels at a higher rate than all but Harang and Eaton at a higher rate than everyone but Harang and Olsen.

Moyer and Eaton each allowed 30 home runs on the season.  If they had appeared on the list above the would have been between James, who allowed 32, and Willis, who allowed 29.

If you were wondering what it was going to take to get the Saguaros going, apparently the answer was Team China.  The Sags pounded them yesterday, 15-2, as Team China gets ready for the Baseball World Cup.  The game was called after seven innings.  Joe Savery got the start and the win, going three scoreless innings.  He walked three and didn't allow a hit.  He has now allowed two hits in eight scoreless innings in the AFL.  Golson was 1-for-2 with two walks and a three-run homer, his first.  He's hitting .208.  The Saguaros improved to 6-12.

Team USA is 2-2 in AFL tune-ups after beating the Mesa Solar Sox 10-2.  Jaramillo was 1-for-4 with a walk and a two-run homer.  He's 2-for-10 after four games.

Article about Josh Outman here.

Here's a list from last night of the players who have filed for free agency.


October 30 2007

In the Arizona Fall League, the Saguaros took a 12-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth but allowed the Mesa Solar Sox to score seven runs in that frame.  The Sags lost 13-12 to drop to drop to a miserable 5-12.  Joe Bisenius pitched 1 1/3 innings and was charged with two runs on three hits and a walk, puffing his ERA to 6.30.  Costanzo was 1-for-4 with a walk, his average is up to .200.  Gosewisch was 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts, he's hitting .250.

The Saguaros scored five runs in the top of the ninth to extend their lead to 12-6, but the Tigers' Jeff Gerbe was charged with seven runs in the bottom of the ninth.

Team USA is 1-2 in AFL action after falling 8-6 to the Scottsdale Scorpions.  Jaramillo was 1-for-2 with a single, raising his average to .167 after six at-bats.

Aaron Rowand filed for free agency.  The Phillies have a 15-day window where they are the only team that can negotiate with him, which ends November 12.  There's close to zero chance the Phillies and Rowand would reach a deal before November 12.

The Braves traded Edgar Renteria to the Tigers for pitcher Jair Jurrjens and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez.  Jurrjens should be a big boost to the Atlanta rotation and it seems sure we'll be seeing a lot more of Yunel Escobar at short for the Braves.  That's a nice trade for Atlanta, Jurrjens is going to be really good someday.  Hopefully not next year.


October 29 2007

Whether his 2006 finger injury was a factor or not, Adam Eaton struck out batters at the lowest rate of his career in 2007.  Time and again this season the Phillies announcers pointed out that one of the biggest problems Eaton was having was that he just couldn't put hitters away. 

Forgetting Eaton's injury-shortened '06 season with the Rangers, here's how often Eaton got a strikeout when the count was 0-2, 1-2 or 2-2 this season compared to his year with the Padres in 2005:

 

Year Count PA K % K Opp hitter OPS
2007 0-2 55 17 31.0 441
2005 0-2 50 16 32.0 480
           
2007 1-2 89 37 41.6 497
2005 1-2 79 34 43.0 450
           
2007 2-2 85 24 28.2 919
2005 2-2 78 30 38.5 677
           
2007 3-2 96 19 19.8 1.094
2005 3-2 79 20 25.3 927

Eaton was definitely worse this season than in his last year with San Diego, but the difference isn't staggering.  He had a lot more luck at 2-2 in '05, but a lot of the numbers are similar for other counts.

He could have, of course, had somewhat similar numbers in those situations in 2007 and 2005 and been bad in both years.  But he was much more successful overall in '05, throwing to a 4.27 ERA in a much better park for pitchers in San Diego.  And he did strike out more hitters when the count was 0-2, 1-2, 2-2 or 3-2 overall, about 35% in 2005 compared to about 30% last season. 

The point that Eaton couldn't throw the ball past people was still critical.  But I think it hurt his numbers as much early in the count when he tried to get ahead of people as when he tried to put them away.

Here's what Eaton did on the first pitch of at-bats, when the count was 0-1 and when the count was 1-0 last year and in '05.

 

Year Count PA HR Opp hitter OPS
2007 0-0 103 6 1.010
2005 0-0 48 3 993
         
2007 1-0 48 7 1.208
2005 1-0 45 1 891
         
2007 0-1 72 3 888
2005 0-1 53 0 885

Eaton gave up a ton of home runs early in the count as he tried to get ahead of hitters.  He allowed 16 home runs on either the first pitch of the at-bat or when the count was 0-1 or 1-0.  He allowed 30 on the season, 16 of 30 is 53.3%.  Eaton came into the year having allowed 112 career home runs, 45 (40.2%) of which were hit on the first pitch, an 0-1 pitch or a 1-0 pitch.

The Saguaros fell 3-0 to the Scottsdale Scorpions on Saturday, dropping their record in the AFL to 5-11.  Pat Overholt got the start and went two innings, holding Scottsdale to a run on a single hit, a solo home run by Toronto's Sergio Santos.  Overholt's AFL ERA dropped to 7.45.  Costanzo was 2-for-3 with two singles and a walk, he has his average up to .196.  Golson was 1-for-5 with a double, he's also hitting .196.  Gosewisch caught and went 2-for-4 with two singles, he's hitting .250. 

Team USA beat the Phoenix Desert Dogs 3-2 to improve to 1-1 in the AFL as they prepare for the World Cup.  Josh Outman threw two innings and was charged with a run on two hits while striking out two.  His AFL ERA is at 5.59.  Jaramillo was 0-for-2 with a walk and is 0-for-4 after two games.

This article suggests that Coco Crisp may be a possibility for the White Sox in center next season.

This article recalls the trade that sent Taylor Buchholz, on the Rockies' World Series roster, to the Astros.

Boston completed its four-game sweep of Rockies in the World Series with a 4-3 win last night.

Jon Lester gave the Red Sox 5 2/3 scoreless innings, holding the Rockies to three hits and three walks, and left with a 2-0 lead.  Brad Hawpe hit a solo home run off of Manny Delcarmen in the seventh, getting Colorado back within two at 3-1.  Bobby Kielty hit a solo shot in the eighth off of Brian Fuentes to extend the Boston lead to 4-1.  Garrett Atkins hit a two-run bomb off of Hideki Okajima in the bottom of the eighth to make it 4-3, but Jonathan Papelbon came on and gave the Red Sox 1 2/3 perfect inning and earn his third save of the set.

The Red Sox won game three of the World Series on Saturday night, beating the Rockies 10-5.

Boston jumped all over Colorado starter Josh Fogg. Fogg was charged with six runs on ten hits and two walks over 2 2/3 innings. Matsuzaka was solid for the Red Sox, he took a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth and ended the game charged with two runs on three hits and three walks over 5 1/3. He struck out five and delivered a two-run single as part of a six-run third inning for the Sox.

Colorado cut the Boston lead to 6-2 in the sixth and Matt Holliday hit a three-run blast in the seventh that made the score 6-5. The Red Sox scored four times in their last two times at bat, hitting Matt Herges up for three runs in the eighth, and rolled to a five-run win to put them ahead three games to none in the series.


October 27 2007

Game three of the World Series is tonight in Colorado.  The Rockies, down two games to none, send righty Josh Fogg (10-9, 4.94) to the mound against righty Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-12, 4.40). 

The Saguaros were off last night as the AFL played its Rising Stars Showcase.  Mike Costanzo started at third for the West team, which lost 3-2 in ten innings.  Costanzo was 0-for-2 with a strikeout.  Joe Savery pitched an inning for the West team, striking out one in a scoreless third inning.  Including his time with the Saguaros, that's six scoreless innings for Savery in the AFL.

This article calls the decision to keep or trade Jim Thome the biggest of the decade for the Phillies.


October 26 2007

Nearly all fans would agree that the Phillies made some bad decisions this season when evaluating the health of pitchers.  The question is how many.  It's hard to see the signing of Freddy Garcia to a one-year, $10 million deal as anything but a mistake.  Garcia threw to a 5.90 in 11 starts for the Phils.  Coming into the season, Garcia had spent his career in the DH-loving American League and his career-high in ERA was 4.53.  He made his last start for the Phillies on June 8 and hit the DL on June 9 with shoulder problems.  He had surgery for a torn labrum at the end of August and may be back for someone around the All-Star break next season.

After that, things get a little bit more open to interpretation.

Joe Borowski didn't become a Phillie due to a failed physical.  He caught on with the Indians and threw to a 5.07 ERA with 45 saves.  A 5.07 ERA going to do much for anyone, even in the AL, but he was simply better than Condrey, Mesa or Alfonseca.  Those three hurlers combined to throw 138 2/3 innings for the Phils last year.  In the Phillies' defense, the second year was a big issue with Borowski and we still haven't seen what he did in the second year.

And then there's Adam Eaton.  Garcia's unfortunate deal was one-year.  Not having Borowski this season didn't cost the Phils a whole lot.  But Eaton, or at least his three-year, $24-plus million contract, is going to be around for a while.  In year one the Phils got 30 starts with a 6.29 ERA.  He was among the worst pitchers in all of baseball.  His contract is looking like a big case of bad judgment that's going to linger.

The question is whether the bad judgment was evaluating Eaton's skills and how they would translate to Citizens Bank Park, or another case of a critical injury that the Phillies misinterpreted.  And before you go any further, I promise you that I don't know.  But I do keep going back to that article that quotes the Rangers' doctor calling Eaton's finger injury unique (okay, "extremely" unique, but if you go around writing things like that people are gonna wonder if their time couldn't be better spent catching up on their YouTubing) in all of baseball (or maybe I should say, in extremely all of baseball).

The thing about a 6.29 ERA is you don't have to go too deep into the numbers to see what an awful season the pitcher had.  Here's what Eaton has done over his career in terms of hits, home runs and strikeouts per nine innings, remembering that Eaton was with the Padres through 2005, the Rangers in '06 and the Phils in '07.

 

Year IP K/9 H/9 HR/9
2000 135.0 6.00 8.93 0.93
2001 116.2 8.41 8.33 1.54
2002 33.1 6.75 7.56 1.35
2003 183.0 7.18 8.51 0.98
2004 199.1 6.91 9.21 1.26
2005 128.2 6.99 9.79 0.98
2006 65.0 5.95 10.80 1.52
2007 161.2 5.40 10.69 1.67

In 2007, Eaton posted the worst rates of his career for strikeouts per inning and home runs per inning, and the second-worst for hits per nine innings.  The home runs were particularly ridiculous.  Only four pitchers in all of baseball allowed more home runs than the 30 that Eaton gave up.  But he always gave up a ton of home runs.  He allowed 28 for in 2004, pitching for the Padres in vacuous Petco Park.  He may just not be a good fit at Citizens Bank Park, regardless of whether he's healthy or not.  After the ERA I'd worry about the strikeout rate, though, cause while it's easy to understand how his new yard could be contributing to all the home runs it doesn't go nearly as far in explaining why he would be striking out so many fewer hitters.

The Saguaros are 5-10 after falling 8-2 to the Phoenix Desert Dogs.  Costanzo was 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI, he's hitting .163.  Golson was 0-for-4 to drop his average to .196.  Tuffy Gosewisch DH'ed and went 1-for-3 with a single to raise his average to .188.

Team USA is playing tune-ups for the World Cup in the AFL.  They are 0-1 after falling to the Javelinas yesterday, 8-6.  Jason Jaramillo was 0-for-2.  Read all about Team USA here.

The Red Sox lead the World Series two games to none after beating the Rockies last night in Boston, 2-1. 

Mike Lowell broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI-double in the bottom of the fifth, which was the only extra-base hit of the game for either team.  Curt Schilling was better than Ubaldo Jimenez.  Schilling went 5 1/3 innings, holding Colorado to a run on four singles and two walks.  Jimenez went 4 2/3, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks.  Okajima and Papelbon backed Schilling up brilliantly out of the Boston pen, they combined to strike out six in 3 2/3 scoreless innings.

Matt Holliday was 4-for-4 with four singles for Colorado.  He had four of the five Rockies' hits in the game.

Game three is tomorrow night in Colorado.

It seems likely that there will be a big market for free-agent JC Romero, given the way he pitched for the Phillies down the stretch at the end of the season.  This article suggests that no deal with the Phils is imminent.

The Phillies hired former Devil Rays GM Chuck LaMar as a director of professional scouting.


October 25 2007

Dominating performances by Josh Beckett and the Boston offense were the story of game one of the World Series as the Red Sox rolled the Rockies, 13-1.  Beckett struck out nine while holding Colorado to a run on six hits and a walk over seven innings. 

The Red Sox scored 13 runs in the first five innings.  They pounded Colorado starter Jeff Francis, who was charged with six runs on ten hits and three walks over four innings.  The Phillies couldn't figure out Franklin Morales, but it didn't take Boston long.  The rookie  started the fifth for the Rockies and was charged with seven runs on six hits and a walk -- he got just two outs.

The Red Sox pounded out 17 hits in the game.  Five different players, Pedroia, Ortiz, Ramirez, Varitek and Drew, had two RBI.  Pedroia led off the first with a home run off of Francis, the only long ball of the game for either team. 

Righty Ubaldo Jimenez (4-4, 4.28) faces righty Curt Schilling (9-8, 3.87) tonight in Boston in game two.

The Saguaros beat the Surprise Rafters yesterday, winning 11-9 to improve to 5-9 in the Arizona Fall League.  Marlins prospect Jai Miller drove in six runs for the Saguaros.  Costanzo was 1-for-4 with a single and an RBI, he's hitting .175.  Pat Overholt got the win, but allowed a run on two hits and a walk in an inning.  He's been charged with runs in four of his five AFL appearances.

Free agent Cliff Floyd is considering retirement, but would like to play for the Marlins.  If Rowand doesn't return you have to believe the Phils will be looking for a left-handed corner outfielder.

This article seems to suggest the Phillies' love of something called "Patriot Bermudagrass" knows no bounds.

A piece about the future of Ruben Amaro Jr here.


October 24 2007

The World Series starts tonight in Boston.  Lefty Jeff Francis (17-9, 4.22) goes for the Rockies against righty Josh Beckett (20-7, 3.27).

In the AFL, the Saguaros snapped their six-game losing streak with a 9-3 win over the Mesa Solar Sox.  Joe Bisenius allowed a run in 1 2/3 innings on a solo home run, raising his AFL ERA to 5.19.  Jason Anderson, who the Phillies signed to a minor league contract in May of this year, struck out two in a scoreless 1 1/3 innings.  His outing lowered his ERA in the AFL to 3.86 after two appearances.  Golson was 2-for-5 with two singles, he's hitting .214. 

The Phillies signed Anderson, a 28-year-old righty, to a minor league contract in May of this year.  He pitched at Reading and Ottawa this season, appearing in 37 games, 35 as a reliever.  Between the two levels he threw to a 4.59 ERA in 64 2/3 innings, allowing 70 hits and just 15 walks while striking out 51.  Anderson has appeared in 32 games in the major leagues with the Yankees, Indians and Mets.  In 38 innings he's thrown to a 6.39 ERA with a 1.79 ratio. 

Josh Outman has left the Saguaros and joined Team USA, which will be playing in the 2007 World Cup in Taiwan.  Phils catching prospect Jason Jaramillo is also on the Team USA roster.  The linked roster shows second baseman Michael Hollimon as a Phil as well, but I think he's a Detroit Tiger.

This article, demonstrating questionable judgment, has the audacity to remind all of who Pat Gillick and the Blue Jays took (and didn't take) in the first round of the 1983 draft.


October 23 2007

Here is the list of the Phillies that threw to an ERA over 5.00 as a reliever in 2006:

 

2006

Player IP ERA
A Rhodes 45 2/3 5.32
B Sanches 21 1/3 5.91
J Santana 8 1/3 7.56

Three players, combining to throw 75 1/3 innings.


Madson and Brito were both awful for the Phils in '06, and both pitched in relief.  Each of them were better as a reliever than as a starter, though.  Madson threw to a 4.50 ERA in 44 innings as a reliever, Brito to a 4.66 ERA in 9 2/3 innings out of the pen.

And here's the list of Phillies that threw to an ERA over 5.00 as a reliever in 2007:

 

2007

Player IP ERA
C Condrey 50 5.04
A Alfonseca 49 2/3 5.44
J Mesa 39 5.54
F Rosario 26 1/3 5.47
M Zagurski 21 1/3 5.91
JD Durbin 17 6.35
Y Hernandez 15 1/3 5.28
B Sanches 14 2/3 5.52
K Davis 11 1/3 5.56
F Castro 7 9.00
M Smith 4 11.25
J Ennis 3 2/3 14.73
J Lieber 2 1/3 11.57
A Garcia 2/3 13.50

Fourteen players, combining to throw 262 1/3 innings.  And that's with as desperate a move as you can make -- taking your opening day starter and putting him in the bullpen.

There were 28 different players that pitched for the Phillies.  Seven of the 28, Moyer, Eaton, Hamels, Kendrick, Garcia, Happ and Segovia, appeared only as starters.  That leaves 21 pitchers that appeared either solely in relief or in relief in addition to starting at least one game.  Of those 21, 14 threw to an ERA over 5.00 as a reliever for the Phils this season.

Of the seven that pitched in relief but aren't on the '07 list above, Madson, Myers and Romero were just good.  Bisenius and Lohse combined to throw 5 1/3 innings as relievers. Gordon was huge for the Phils at the end of the season, finishing the year with a 4.73 ERA, but had a 6.49 ERA after pitching against the Braves on September 5.  Likewise, Geary finished very strong and ended the year with an ERA of 4.41.  But a team-high 11 of the 44 runs he allowed on the season were unearned -- had those 11 runs been earned rather than unearned his ERA would have been 5.88.

The magnitude of the problem the Phillies have in their bullpen is just outstanding.  Put [insert the name of whoever you think is the best reliever in baseball] on the Phillies team last season and they still would have had about 200 innings pitched out of the pen by guys with an ERA over 5.00.

Alfonseca, Mesa and Condrey were clearly a massive part of the problem.  That trio combined to throw to a 5.33 ERA in 138 2/3 innings.  But overall, the bullpen isn't a problem that the Phils can solve by bringing in one guy or even two to help stabilize the siutation.  There's about zero chance it's going to happen, but say they got Rivera and brought back Romero.  Their pen is still awful.  The Phillies have been trying to fix it since the end of 2006, they just can't.  The sheer numbers of players it's going to take to get it done at this point is staggering -- they don't need two guys, they need at least three, maybe more.  There's also close to zero chance they're going to add four guys to the pen this off-season, so if the Phils are going to get this problem solved for 2008 it's going to take a lot of help from the pitchers inside their organization already.

This piece from the Phillies web site says that Mesa will probably not be back next season but Alfonseca might.  That would be a really bad sign.

In the AFL, the Sags are 3-9 after being stung by the Scottsdale Scorpions, 10-1, for their sixth straight loss.  Josh Outman got the start for the Saguaros and was hit hard.  He allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk over 2 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 5.87 after three appearances.  Golson was 0-for-3 with a strikeout, he's hitting .189.  Costanzo was 0-for-4 and is at .167.  Gosewisch caught and went 0-for-3 to drop his average to .154.

Curt Schilling isn't exactly firing off the quotes of a guy who wants people to think he might want come to Philadelphia.  Mike Lowell is.

The Phils' tentative 2008 schedule is available at their web site.


October 22 2007

If the fact that the Phillies scored more runs this season than they did last was surprising, the Phils completed the unlikely sweep when their pitchers allowed more runs than they had in 2006.

 

Year Runs allowed NL Rank
2007 821 12
2006 812 T-12

Their starters, as a group, were a little better:

 

Year IP ERA NL Rank ERA
2007 938.1 4.91 12
2006 921.1 5.08 14

And their relievers were  a lot worse:

 

Year IP ERA NL Rank ERA
2007 520.0 4.41 13
2006 539.0 3.79 3

Nearly everyone expected the bullpen to take a nosedive, and it did.  The surprise, of course, was with the starting pitchers that were ticketed to give the rotation the boost it needed to carry the pitching staff.  The Phillies started the season with what they thought would be six solid options for the rotation in Myers, Hamels, Garcia, Lieber, Moyer and Eaton.

Pitchers other than the six starters the Phils began the season with made 45 of the 162 starts on the year (about 28%). 

Myers, Garcia and Lieber combined to make 24 starts in which they went 4-11 with a 5.56 ERA.  Myers was sent to the bullpen to try and save a relief corps that looked hopeless.  Garcia and Lieber both had their seasons end early due to injuries.  Eaton stayed healthy enough to make 30 starts, but threw to a 6.29 ERA for the season.  

It was a disaster.  It would have been worse if the starters hadn't been bailed out by two guys that nobody had expected to ever throw a pitch for the Phillies this season, Kyles Kendrick and Lohse.  Kendrick and Lohse combined to pitch in 33 games, going 13-4 with a 4.15 ERA.

The good news for the Phillies is that there are a whole lot of different ways they can improve their pitching staff and they won their division this season.

On Saturday, the Saguaros fell 5-4 to the Javelinas to drop to 3-8 in the Arizona Fall League.  Joe Bisenius threw a scoreless eighth inning, allowing one hit, a single, and striking out two.  After four appearances in the AFL he has throw to a 5.14 ERA.  Golson was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts, he's hitting .206.  Costanzo was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run, his second.  He has his average up to .188. 

This article points out that Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera are close friends.  I would be stunned to see Rivera come to Philadelphia.


October 20 2007

Solar Sox 2, Big Cacti 0 in the Arizona Fall League.   The Sags sag to 3-7.  Joe Savery threw three more scoreless innings, allowing a single and a walk in three frames.   Pat Overholt also pitched and was charged with a run on a hit over two innings, dropping his AFL ERA to 8.10.   Golson was 1-for-4 with a single.   Costanzo has his average up to .143 with two singles on a 2-for-4 day.

The Phillies took Savery out of Rice with the 19th pick in the first round of this year's draft.  The 21-year-old lefty was sent to Williamsport in the New York-Penn League and pitched to a 2.73 ERA in 26 1/3 innings, making seven starts.  He allowed 22 hits and 13 walks while striking out 22.  It's a tiny number of innings, but 13 is a lot of walks in 26 1/3 innings.  He didn't allow a home run and opposing hitters hit .214 against him.

This article talks about why Eric Wedge works for the Indians and not the Phillies.


October 19 2007

Here's what the Phillies did as a team this year and over the previous two years against right and left-handed pitching:

 

Year OPS vs LHP NL Rank OPS vs RHP NL Rank
2007 834 2 802 1
2006 777 6 801 2
2005 784 4 767 3

Everything's looking pretty fine for the Phils' offense.  For the second straight year, the Phillies scored more runs this season than they had the year before.  In 2004 the Phils scored 840 runs in their first year playing in Citizens Bank Park.  They were down to 807 in '05, but scored 865 in '06 and 892 this season.

The Brewers were the best team in the NL against lefties this season, led by this silly season of Ryan Braun.  In 111 at-bats against left-handed pitching this year, Braun hit 450/516/964.  His 1.480 OPS against lefties was the highest in either league among players with 100 plate appearances against lefties.  Troy Glaus was second and he posted a 1.235 OPS.  The last time anyone in baseball posted a higher OPS against lefties in a year they got at least 100 plate appearances against southpaws was Barry Bonds, who posted a 1.532 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2002.  Corey Hart was also great against lefties this season, helping the Brewers lead the league in OPS against them.  Hart was 13th in the NL in OPS against lefties among players with 100 plate appearances against left-handed pitching with a 1.032 mark.

The Saguaros are 3-6 after falling 10-3 to Surprise yesterday.  Costanzo was 1-for-4 with a single to raise his average to .083.  Golson 0-for-3 with a walk, he's hitting .222.

The Phillies signed two pitchers from the Slippery Rock Sliders of the Frontier League, righty Jared Simon and lefty Dan Schwartz.  They also signed lefty Charles Merricks out of the Golden Baseball League.  As far as I know, nobody was signed out of a local slow-pitch softball league, but check back often.  I would like to see them give one of those guys in the unlimited arc leagues who pitches like 30 feet in the air get a shot.  I don't think he could possibly walk more people than Fabio Castro.


October 18 2007

Here are the Phils that fared the best against righties this season, using OPS as the measure for players that got at least 100 plate appearances against right-handed pitching:

 

Player AB OPS
Howard 320 1.072
Utley 338 1.004
Burrell 331 881
Rowand 428 876
Rollins 504 857

Four of the fives names are the same as yesterday's lists of the guys who had the most success against lefties.  Howard is the new addition, he replaces Werth at the top of the list.  Howard's 1.072 OPS against right-handed pitchers was fourth-best in the NL this season, behind Chipper, Prince Fielder and Bonds.  Last year Howard led the NL with a 1.164 OPS against righties.

Howard's numbers against righties weren't off much compared to his '06 pace, but he struggled against lefties in '07.  After hitting 279/364/558 against lefties in '06, Howard hit just 225/333/493 against them this season.  He actually had a couple more extra-base hits against lefties this year than last, 24 to 22, but hitting just .225 against southpaws took a toll on his overall numbers.  He was 55-for-197 against lefties in '06 and 47-for-207 against them this year.

Utley hammered righties this year, his numbers against them were the best of his short career.  He slugged .604 against righties this season, 45 points better than his .559 slugging percentage against righties in '06, despite hitting ten fewer home runs against right-handed pitching.  Utley hit .340 against righties, cranking out 28 doubles and five triples a year after hitting .312 against them with 26 doubles and one triple.

Burrell had the best numbers of his careers against righties, better than his 2002 season when he hit 37 home runs.  Burrell hit 274/347/513 against righties in '02 and 257/391/489 against them this season.

Rowand raised his OPS against righties over 100 points.  In 2006 he posted a .745 OPS against righties compared to an .876 this season.

Rollins on-based just .331 against righties, raising his career on-base percentage against them to .327.  His slugging percentage carried him to a new career high against righties as he stroked 61 extra-base hits against righties, 22 doubles, 18 triples and 21 home runs.

Dobbs is absent from the list.  The lefty hit 277/335/473 in his 296 at-bats against righties.  Everything's good there except the on-base percentage. 

Just so you'd remember they were affiliated in some way with the Phillies, the Saguaros took a 5-1 lead into the sixth yesterday but fell to the Surprise Rafters 10-5.  Peoria is 3-5 after eight games.  Not a good day for Joe Bisenius, who allowed six runs, four of them earned, on six hits and two walks over two innings.   Gosewisch 0-for-4.  Costanzo 0-for-3 with a walk, he's hitting .050. 

Some scouting perspective on a recent Pat Overholt outing with the Saguaros here.

Michael Bourn for Jon Garland would be a swell deal for the Phils.  Wouldn't hold my breath on that one.  The linked article also suggests that White Sox fans forget about Rowand because he's too old and expensive.  Don't so much agree with that advice, either.


October 17 2007

Here's a look at the Phils that fared the best against left-handed pitchers this season, using OPS as the measure for players that got at-least 100 plate appearances against lefties:

 

Player AB OPS
Werth 88 1.058
Burrell 141 950
Utley 192 927
Rowand 184 918
Rollins 212 917

Werth just hammered lefties, hitting 375/467/591 against them.  His 1.058 OPS was ninth in the NL among players who got at least 100 plate appearances against lefties.  He hit 257/371/389 against righties and will need to put up a higher slugging percentage against righties if he's going to be an everyday player as a corner outfielder.  Werth certainly gets a pass this season after missing a year with a huge injury, but over his career he's hit just 249/342/408 against righties. 

Burrell kills lefties every year and was actually down this season after posting a 1.012 OPS against left-handed pitching in '06.  He improved his overall numbers on the season a bit this year because he was better against righties.  After hitting 244/365/472 against righties in '06, Burrell hit 257/391/489 against them this season. 

The lefty Utley is third on the list, which is surprising given that he hit .219 against lefties in 2005.  He had great numbers against lefties in '06, hitting 301/394/463, and was even better this year, posting a 318/427/500 line against southpaws.

Rowand's numbers against lefties weren't that much better than his numbers against righties in his monster season.  He hit 315/374/543 against lefties and 306/374/502 against righties.

Rollins has better numbers over his career against lefties than righties, but not by a whole lot.  He got on base more last season against lefties than against righties, he on-based .374 against lefties and .331 against righties.

Desert Dogs 3, Big Cacti 2 in the AFL.  Saguaros drop to 3-4.  Josh Outman struck out three in two scoreless innings, allowing two hits.  Second appearance for Outman, he's allowed two earned runs in five innings (3.60 ERA) on four hits and a walk while striking out five.  Overholt was hit hard again, charged with three runs in two innings.  Golson was 1-for-4 with a single, he's 6-for-24 (.250).

This article harkens back to when Terry Francona and Paul Byrd were Phillies.  It were a simpler time.


October 16 2007

Baseball Reference has posted batting orders for every team for every game.  Not including the pitcher's slot, the Phils used 87 different batting orders this season.  Here's the one they used most often:

 

  Player Pos
1 Rollins SS
2 Utley 2B
3 Burrell LF
4 Howard 1B
5 Rowand CF
6 Dobbs 3B
7 Werth RF
8 Ruiz C

That was the lineup for nine of the 162 games for the Phils.  Looking back to opening day, the Phils had Victorino hitting second and in right field, Howard third and Utley fourth.  By game three Howard was hitting cleanup. 

The Phillies used seven different players to hit leadoff.  Rollins, Victorino, Rowand, Bourn, Roberson, Werth and Dobbs.  After Rollins, Rowand got the most time in the leadoff spot for the Phils, hitting first in 11 games.  He on-based .289 in his 41 at-bats at the top of the order. 

After getting 27 at-bats out of the leadoff spot in 2005 and 2006 combined, Rollins got 94 at-bats this year, all hitting third.  His numbers were way off his 296/344/531 line for the season, he hit 266/311/383 in his 94 at-bats as a three hitter.  Rollins hit all 30 of his home runs out of the leadoff spot, only Alfonso Soriano hit more in either league.  Soriano hit 33 home runs as a #1 hitter this year.

The Saguaros beat the Phoenix Desert Dogs 3-2 to improve to 3-3 on the season in the AFL.  Not a good day for the Phillies' hitters.  Golson was 0-for-4 with a strikeout.  Costanzo 0-for-2 with a walk and two more strikeouts, dropping his AFL average to .059.  Detroit super prospect Cameron Maybin drove in two of the three Peoria runs with a pair of solo homers.

Chase Utley and Aaron Rowand were named to The Sporting News' NL All-Star team.  Hanley Ramirez at short and Prince Fielder at first.  Manuel finished behind Melvin for NL Manager of the Year.

The article linked above also lets you know what to do if you want to be a Phillies' ballgirl next year.  I know something should go here, but let's call it make-your-own-joke-day at Philliesflow.


October 15 2007

There's a good chance we'll be seeing more of Dobbs at third next season, so here's one for the I-hope-this-is-a-coincidence file, using stats from the '07 season:

 
  AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Greg Dobbs as 3B 190 232 293 347 641
Dobbs overall 324 272 330 451 780

The .641 OPS Dobbs posted as a third baseman was last among the 18 NL players who got at least 200 plate appearances as a third baseman.  Including the American League it was 33rd of 34 (Nick Punto posted a .600 OPS in 332 at-bats as a third baseman).  Nunez was 32nd, so the Phils had two of the three worst offensive players in baseball to get 200 plate appearances at third.  Dobbs was just 44-for-190 while playing third and 44-for-134 (.328) away from third base.  He was fantastic as a pinch-hitter, hitting 277/375/489 in 47 at-bats.

Nunez was better than Dobbs with the bat while playing third this year:

 
  AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Nunez as 3B 212 255 342 311 653

The Phils were awful at third this season.  But they would have been even worse without Helms, who put up the best numbers on the squad at the position:

 
  AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Helms as 3B 207 275 323 430 753

If Phillies' third baseman had combined to post the .753 OPS that Helms did while playing third last year, as a group they would have been 12th in the NL rather than last.

It's a curious position for the Phils, who hopefully have only another year or so before Mike Costanzo gets a chance to be the guy at third.  We'll see if they're willing to invest at third in the short term, which looks like it's one of the few places they can improve their offense this off-season or try and offset the potential loss of Rowand in center.

The Saguaros are 2-3 after losing 4-0 to the Mesa Solar Sox on Saturday.  Joe Savery made his AFL debut, allowing an unearned run in two innings on a hit and a walk.  He struck out two.  Joe Bisenius followed Savery and pitched two scoreless innings.  Costanzo was 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts, dropping his average in the early going to .067.

Costanzo is a 24-year-old left-handed hitter that seems sure to get a chance with the Phils sometime soon given the team's options at third base.  The Phillies took him in the second round of the '05 draft.  After hitting 258/364/411 in 504 at-bats at Clearwater in 2006, Costanzo spent this season at Double-A Reading and put up huge numbers.  He hit 27 home runs in 508 at-bats while posting a 270/368/490 line.  He was second in the Eastern League in home runs and tied for fifth in walks.  He struck out a ton as well, his 157 strikeouts led the league and he was one of only two players in the league that struck out more than 127 times.  Along with Adrian Cardenas, he's one of very few prospects the Phillies have that aren't pitchers.

Charlie Manuel's entire coaching staff is expected to return next season.

This article suggests the Cardinals may be interested in Rowand.


October 13 2007

This article says that Rowand wants a six-year, $84 million dollar contract, which is exactly the same contract I want.  It's ironic.  I think we both have about the same chance of getting it from the Phillies.

The Big Cacti couldn't bring home the bacon in AFL action, falling to 2-2 with an 8-3 loss to the Javelinas.  Golson 1-for-5.  Costanzo 0-for-4 with a walk, he's hitting .083 with a home run after four games.  Tuffy Gosewisch was 2-for-4 with an RBI.  Pat Overholt threw 1 2/3 innings and was charged with two runs on four hits and a walk. 

Overholt is a 23-year-old righty.  The Phillies took him in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft.  In 2006 he pitched at Lakewood and Clearwater, appearing in 44 games altogether, all as a reliever.  In 72 innings he struck out 93.  He started 27 of the 28 games he appeared in this season.  He went 4-6 with 3.82 ERA in Clearwater.  In 15 starts at Reading he was hit hard, throwing to a 5.90 ERA with a 1.70 ratio.  His strikeouts were way down, 110 in 152 1/3 innings this year after huge numbers last year.  Better competition at Double-A is no doubt part of it, but working mostly as a starter at Clearwater this season his strikeouts were also way down.  After striking out 46 in 21 1/3 innings at Clearwater in '06 he struck out 56 in 73 innings at Clearwater this year.

This article says that Gillick says that Outman, Carlos Carrasco and Andrew Carpenter won't be ready before 2009.  I would be surprised if we don't see at least one of them pitch for the Phils next year.


October 12 2007

The NL East features three of the best offenses in the National League.  In 2006, the Phils, Braves and Mets finished 1-2-3 in the league in runs scored.  This year the Phils led the NL again, the Braves were third and the Mets fourth.  With a big offensive push, the Marlins finished sixth in the league in runs scored.  The Nats were last.

Two teams in the NL East scored more runs than they did in '06, three scored less.

 

Team '06 Runs '07 Runs Difference
ATL 849 810 -39
NYM 834 804 -30
PHI 865 892 27
FLA 758 790 32
WAS 746 673 -73

I wrote earlier this week about some of the ways the Phillies created more runs as a team this season.  The Marlins were the other team in the division that scored more runs in '07 than they did in '06.  Florida got nearly nothing out of right field in '06, but this year Jeremy Hermida was solid and saw most of his time in right, hitting 296/369/501 with 18 home runs in over 400 at-bats.  Hanley Ramirez was among the best players in the National League, hitting .332 with 29 home runs.  Cabrera is still a monster, in the top five in the league this year in home runs, RBI and total bases.  Uggla and Willingham combined to hit 52 home runs and drive in 177 runs.

The Mets and Braves both stayed in the top five in the league in runs scored despite dropping off their '06 pace.  Despite a monster year from Chipper, the Braves saw McCann, 270/332/452 in '07 and 333/388/572 in '06, and Andruw Jones (222/311/413 in '07 after a 262/363/531 '06) slow.  They also lost Adam LaRoche, who hit .285 with 32 home runs for them in '06.  Mark Teixeira rode in late in the year, but Scott Thorman still got most of the time at first base on the year and hit .216 with a .258 on-base percentage.

Off years by Lo Duca and Delgado hurt the Mets.  Lo Duca hit 272/311/378 in '07 after hitting 318/355/428 in '06.  Delgado hit 258/333/448 after a 265/361/548 '06.

The Nats had a huge offensive drop off, playing the '07 season without their two best hitters from '06, Nick Johnson and Alfonso Soriano.  This year's Nationals had eight players to get over 200 at-bats and five of them, Zimmerman, Belliard, Lopez, Logan and Schneider, on-based .332 or lower.  Zimmerman was slightly off his '06 pace, hitting 266/330/458 after hitting 287/351/471 last year.  He was the only player on the team to hit more than 16 home runs.

Undefeated no more are the Saguaros.  They fell to the Peoria Javelinas 14-2 to drop to 2-1 in the AFL.  Golson 0-for-4.  Costanzo got his first hit, a solo home run.  He was 1-for-4.  Phils hurlers wisely avoided the mound in the one-sided affair.

This article suggests that Brett Myers will remain in the bullpen next season and it's Ruiz and Coste behind the plate next year.  Ugh on Myers.  Ruiz and Coste didn't put up great numbers this season, but the Phils still got more offense behind the plate than most of the teams in the league.

This article says that the Phillies bought out the contracts of Barajas and Nunez and designated Kane Davis for assignment.  Nunez is the big news here, and it's good.  It leaves the Phils without a backup middle infielder and probably forced to look for one outside of the organization.  I do fear the chances the Phils will consider bringing Nunez back under a new contract are more than "slight."


October 11 2007

The Arizona Diamondbacks can go to the NLCS all they want, I'm still gonna think that run differential is important.

Of the five NL East teams, three, the Phillies, Braves and Nationals, won more games in '07 than they did in '06.  The Marlins and the Mets both won fewer.  Here's a look at the runs scored and allowed for the five teams over the past two seasons (the column on the far right shows how much the team's run differential changed this season compared to last year):

 

 

2006

2007

 
Team R RA R-RA R RA R-RA '07 vs '06
ATL 849 805 44 810 733 77 33
NYM 834 731 103 804 750 54 -49
PHI 865 812 53 892 821 71 18
FLA 758 772 -14 790 891 -101 -87
WAS 746 872 -126 673 783 -110 16

Take that, Augie Ojeda.  At least in the NL East, the teams that had their run differential get worse this season compared to last, the Mets and the Marlins, are also the teams that won fewer games.

The Braves are the team of the five that saw their run differential improve the most this year.  They're also the team that saw their wins increase the most in '07 over '06.  The Braves won five more games than they did last season, the Phils four more and the Nats two more.  

In the AFL, the Saguaros improved to 2-0 with a 5-4 win over the Scottsdale Scorpions.  Josh Outman got the start for Peoria and allowed two runs over two innings on two hits and a walk.  Stud Devil Rays prospect Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer off of him in the first.  Joe Bisenius went two scoreless innings, striking out three while allowing a hit and a walk.  Pat Overholt threw a perfect inning.  Golson played right and had another big game, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI.  He also stole a base.  He's 4-for-7 with three doubles in the first two games.

Josh Outman is one of the Phillies' top pitching prospects.  The 23-year-old lefty was taken by the Phils in the tenth round of the 2005 draft.  After going 14-6 with a 2.95 ERA in 27 starts at Single-A Lakewood in 2006, Outman was solid at Clearwater this season.  In 117 1/3 innings he threw to a 2.45 ERA and struck out 117.  He made seven starts at Double-A Reading, going 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA and holding opponents to 38 hits in 42 innings.  Just about everything looks good you have to believe there's a chance Outman will make an appearance with the Phils in '08.  If you want to worry about something, I'd go with the walks.  Between Clearwater and Reading this season, Outman walked 77 in 159 1/3 innings.  He didn't throw many innings at Reading, but he allowed five home runs in 42 innings after allowing 13 in his first 302 innings at lower levels.

This article says that "the organization prefers to keep Myers at closer."  It would be disappointing if Myers started the season at closer for the Phils next year.


October 10 2007

In the National League this season there were 14 players that got at least 500 plate appearances, on-based at least .380 and slugged at least .500.  Three of them, Utley, Howard and Burrell, played for the Phillies.  Here's a look at the 14, and the number of times in the last three seasons each of them has posted those numbers (500 PA, .380 OBP, .500 slugging):

 

Player Times in last 3 yrs
A Pujols 3
C Jones 1
D Wright 3
C Utley 1
M Holliday 2
M Cabrera 3
D Lee 2
P Burrell 3
P Fielder 1
R Howard 2
B Hawpe 2
L Berkman 3
A Dunn 2
H Ramirez 1

The five players in the NL who have done it three years in a row are Burrell, Pujols, Wright, Cabrera and Berkman.

If I've done anything to suggest I follow the daily workings of the Houston Astros, I apologize, but I'm guessing that Burrell is the only one of that group who gets regularly pinch-run for in the sixth.

Speaking of which, Charlie Manuel got a two-year contract extension with a club option for 2010.  It's not going to be popular with everyone, but I think it's a good decision.  Manuel got as much out of the Phillies this season as you could have asked of anyone.

The Saguaros kicked off their season in AFL action last night with a 4-3 win over the Scottsdale Scorpions.  Greg Golson started in center and Mike Costanzo at third.  Costanzo was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, but Golson got off to a great start.  He was 1-for-3 with two RBI.  His eighth-inning double tied the game at 3-3 and he came around to score what would be the winning run later that inning.  Tuffy Gosewisch was 0-for-2.

Golson turned 22 last month and was the Phils' first round draft pick in 2004.  Things have gone downhill from there.  Speed never slumps, but sometimes it just can't get on base.  After on-basing a miserable .257 in 388 at-bats at Lakewood in 2006, the speedy righty had no place to go but up this season.  In 418 at-bats at Clearwater he hit 285/322/450 with 12 home runs and 25 stolen bases.  At Double-A Reading he hit 242/255/359 with three home runs in 153 at-bats.  He has over 1,600 minor league at-bats, all except the 153 this year at Reading that were below Double-A, and a career minor-league on-base percentage of .304.  At Reading this year he walked twice in 153 at-bats overall and posted a 186/205/209 line in his 43 at-bats against lefties.  The Phils took Golson with the 21st pick in the '04 draft.  The Yankees had the 23rd pick and took some guy named Philip Hughes.  The Rangers took Eric Hurley at 30.  I'm just saying.  At least we can cling to the moral victory that the Phillies didn't take a high school pitcher. 


October 9 2007

There were a lot of surprises with the Phillies this season, but none was bigger than the fact that the Phils scored more runs in 2007 than they did in 2006. The Phils led the NL with 892 runs this year after leading the league with 865 runs in '06.

But how?

Here's a look at the offense the Phillies got by position this year and in 2006, using OPS as the measure:

 

  2006  2007  
POS OPS NL Rank OPS NL Rank 07 minus 06
C 793 5 725 5 -68
1B 1.063 1 930 3 -133
2B 888 1 935 1 47
3B 684 15 688 16 4
SS 804 4 875 2 71
LF 896 5 904 3 8
CF 756 5 884 1 128
RF 816 6 791 8 -25

First of all, the Phillies' second basemen posted a higher OPS than their first basemen this year?  Yup.  Howard got one more at-bat than Utley (and 35 more plate appearances) and they both posted an OPS of .976.  They both missed time with injuries and in his time at second base, but Tad Iguchi outproduced the Phils who saw the time at first when Howard wasn't in the lineup, mostly Helms and Dobbs.

Utley slowed a little at the end of the year and his season may be overlooked by some because he hit just 22 home runs.  But he was just awesome, hitting 332/410/566 for the year.  Along with Howard, he was one of two Phillies in the top ten in the NL in slugging (he was seventh).  He was third in batting average and sixth in on-base percentage.

Back to the issue at hand, though, using OPS as the measure, the Phils got at least slightly more offense this year at second base, short, center field, third base and left field.  They got at least slightly less at first, in right and at catcher.

The biggest dropoffs for the Phils were at first and at catcher.  Howard hit 47 home runs this season after hitting 58 last year and his average dropped from .313 to .268.  At catcher, Chris Coste saw both his at-bats and production go down.  After 198 at-bats in '06 where he hit 328/376/505, he hit 279/311/419 in 129 at-bats this season.  Carlos Ruiz emerged as the Phillies' primary option behind the plate and hit 259/340/396 in 374 at-bats.  Rod Barajas (230/352/393) got on base more than Ruiz and slugged about the same, but was given up on early and got just 122 at-bats this year.  Mike Lieberthal got 209 at-bats for the Phils in '06 and slugged .469 -- this year's Phils couldn't come up with a way to replace Liebrthal and Coste's offense from '06.

The Phillies got a little worse in right, but the surprise there is how little.  This year's tandem of Victorino, who hit 281/347/423, and Jayson Werth (298/404/459) came a lot closer to matching the '06 production the Phillies got out of right field in '06, when Bobby Abreu and David Dellucci did much of the work.  The surprising work by Victorino and Werth was good enough to keep the Phils in the middle of the pack at the position compared to other teams in the league. They also didn't get outstanding production in right in '06, despite the presence of Abreu.

Where the Phillies really picked things up was at shortstop and in center field.  Jimmy Rollins posted career highs in batting average and slugging this season, hitting 296/344/531 after posting a 277/334/478 line in '06.  Aaron Rowand also decisively outplayed his '06 self, hitting 309/374/515 in '07 after a 262/321/425 '06.

Utley was also better at second this year than he was last, and Burrell slightly better while getting much of the time in left.  Burrell also got 31 more plate appearances in '07, which means they didn't go to other players likely to bring down the offensive numbers at the position.

Third base remains a disaster for the Phillies.  Despite a minor improvement in '07, they got less offensive production out of the position than any other team in the national league.  Helms was a flop and Nunez hit under .240 for the eighth time in his career.

The other factor that helped the Phillies score runs this year was the improved use of the stolen base.  In 2006, the Phils were one of the more effective teams in the league at stealing bases, they stole 92 and were caught just 25 times.  They turned that up a notch in 2007, stealing 138 while being caught just 19 times.  They added 46 stolen bases and decreased the caught stealings by six.  That's fantastic.

This article reviews the money committed to the Phillies payroll for next year, pointing out that the Phils have to pay about $64 million for Burrell, Myers, Eaton, Utley, Rollins, Moyer, Gordon and Helms.  Ryan Howard will surely get a big raise in his first year of salary arbitration.  Madson, Werth and Geary are also eligible for salary arbitration.

This article suggests that the Phils keep Moyer at closer for next season.  I don't agree.  The Phillies desperately need to return Myers to the rotation.

In the AFL, the Saguaros start their season tonight against the Scottsdale Scorpions.


October 8 2007

Arizona Fall League play begins tomorrow.  The league has six teams, each made up of representatives from five MLB teams. The Phillies send their players to the Peoria Saguaros.  A saguaro is a big cactus.

This season, the Phils are sending pitchers Joe Bisenius, Joe Savery, Josh Outman, Pat Overholt, outfielder Greg Golson, third baseman Mike Costanzo and catcher Tuffy Gosewisch.

The Saguaros will play a 32-game regular season schedule in October and November.

Scott Mathieson was expected to participate, but had arm surgery at the end of September.

JA Happ will also not participate.  He has a left elbow strain.

Tuffy Gosewisch was taken by the Phillies in the 11th round of the 2005 draft out of Arizona State.  He turned 24 in August and is right-handed.  He played at Clearwater in 2006, hitting 249/315/384 with nine home runs in 305 at-bats.  This season with Lakewood he hit 224/296/351 with five home runs in 339 at-bats.

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington says he would be a fool not to want Aaron Rowand in this article.


October 7 2007

With a 2-1 loss to the Rockies last night the Phillies' season is over and the blame can now be put where it belongs:  squarely on the shoulders of Trevor Hoffman.  The Phillies never found the loose strand that would unravel the high-flying Rockies' ball of yarn -- Colorado beat them in nearly every facet of the game to sweep the Phils in three games.  The Rockies have won 17 of the last 18 games they have played.

Jamie Moyer came up huge again last night for the Phillies, ending the year with his fourth fantastic start in his last five times out.  After allowing a single run in 5 1/3 innings on the last day of the regular season, Moyer silenced the big bats of the Rockies last night, holding them to a run over six innings.  The run he allowed the last day of the regular season was unearned.  The one he allowed last night scored with the help of a misplayed line drive in left.

The Rockies put up a run in the bottom of the fifth to take a 1-0 lead.  Shane Victorino knotted the game up with solo home run in the top of the seventh.  In the bottom of the eighth, the magic finally ran out on the brilliant run by JC Romero.  With two outs and nobody on, Romero allowed three straight singles that left him charged with his first run since August 30 and put Colorado on top to stay at 2-1. 

Ubaldo Jimenez shut down the Phillies last night as Colorado pitchers had all series long.  The Phils scored just eight runs in the three-game set.  Last night they had three hits in the game, two singles and a solo home run.  The Phils pitched a lot better than many would have expected, but their offense just couldn't break through. 

The Phillies lost to the Colorado Rockies last night, falling 2-1.  The Rockies sweep the series in three games.  The Phillies end their post-season without a win at 0-3. 

Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing a run on five hits.  Only one of the hits went for extra-bases, a triple by Kaz Matsui.  He walked two and struck out two.

The Rockies' lineup against Moyer went (1) Kaz Matsui (2B/Switch) (2) Troy Tulowitski (SS/R) (3) Matt Holliday (LF/R) (4) Todd Helton (1B/L) (5) Garrett Atkins (3B/R) (6) Brad Hawpe (RF/L) (7) Ryan Spilborghs (CF/R) (8) Yorvit Torrealba (C/R). Same lineup for the Rockies as the other two games of the series.

Matsui led off the first and grounded to second on an 0-1 pitch for the first out.  Tulowitski grounded softly to first in the first pitch of his at-bat.  Holliday got ahead 2-1 and hit a high fly ball to shallow center for the third out.  Seven pitches for Moyer.

Helton flew to left for the first out in the second.  Atkins worked the count full and hammered a ball to left that the wind knocked down.  Burrell took it at the warning track for the second out.  Hawpe looped a 2-2 pitch in front of Victorino for a single, the first base runner of the game for Colorado.  Spilborghs dumped the first pitch he saw in front of Rowand for another hit.  Hawpe moved to second.  Torrealba walked on a 3-2 pitch up and away, bringing up the pitcher Jimenez with the bases loaded.  Jimenez swung at the first pitch and hit a slow roller to third.  Nunez charged, barehanded and made a strong throw to first to end the inning.  Dobbs probably doesn't make that play.  Moyer needed 24 pitches to get through the second and had thrown 31 through two innings.

Matsui led off the third and hit a 2-2 pitch in the hole between short and third.  Rollins gloved and threw to first, but had no chance to get Matsui, who was safe with a single.  Moyer went into his slowdown mode, throwing to first four times before delivering his first pitch to Tulowitski, which was high and outside for a ball.  Tulowitski hit a 2-2 pitch back up the middle.  Rollins moved to his left and fielded on a hop and flipped to Utley, forcing Matsui for the first out.  Utley's relay to first wasn't in time to get Tulowitski at first.  Moyer got ahead of Holliday 0-2, but Holliday worked the count full.  Tulowitski took off with the pitch and Holliday struck out weakly for the second out.  Ruiz threw to Utley at second and Tulowitski was caught stealing to end the inning.   Nice of the Rockies to help out Moyer, who threw 21 pitches and six pickoff attempts to first in the frame.  52 pitches through three for Moyer. 

Helton start the fourth and hit a hard ground ball between first and second.  Howard made a nice diving stop and tossed to Moyer for the first out.  Atkins hit an 0-1 pitch hard to first and Howard made another nice play, tossing to Moyer again for the second out.  Hawpe hit a 1-0 pitch to right for the third out.  Great inning for Howard, helping Moyer to get out with just six pitches.  58 through four.

Moyer got ahead of Spilborghs 0-2 to start the fifth.  Spilborghs worked the count 3-2 before chopping a ball to third.  Nunez charge, fielded and threw to first in the dirt.  Howard scooped to nip Spilborghs for the first out.  Great play by Nunez, good play by Howard.  Second big defensive play of the game for Nunez.  Torrealba singled to left on the first pitch of his at-bat and Jimenez bunted him to second.   Matsui lined a 2-1 pitch to left and Burrell came in too far, dove and missed.  Matsui had a triple and Torrealba scored to put Colorado up 1-0.  Burrell misplayed the ball, but even if he hadn't it may have been a hit (but not a triple).  Tulowitski hit a 1-2 pitch hard to short, but Rollins fielded and threw to first to end the inning.  75 through five.

Holliday flew to right center on the first pitch of the sixth.  Moyer walked Helton on a 3-1 pitch down and away.  Atkins popped a 1-1 pitch to shallow right for the second out.  Moyer struck Hawpe out swinging at an inside 1-2 pitch to end the inning.  88.

Gordon started the seventh with the score tied at 1-1 and the righties Spilborghs, Torrealba and a pinch-hitter for Herges coming to the plate.  He struck Spilborghs out swinging at a high 1-2 fastball for the first out.  Torrealba hit a 1-0 pitch back up the middle for a single.  Lefty Seth Smith hit for Herges and got ahead 2-0 before he hit a 3-2 pitch slowly to second.  Utley threw to first for the second out as Torrealba moved to second.  It brought up Matsui with two down and Torrealba on second.  Gordon walked the hot switch-hitting Matsui, who had killed the Phils in the series, to pitch to the righty Tulowitski.  Gordon threw a 1-2 fastball past Tulowitski to end the inning.

Gordon came back to start the eighth against Holliday.  Holliday flew to right on a 1-2 pitch.  Romero came in to pitch to the lefty Helton, entering on a double-switch that put Werth in left and Burrell on the bench.  Helton got behind 0-1 and flew to right.  Atkins dumped a 2-0 pitch in front of Werth in left for a single.  Third hit against Romero since September 14.  Not including this game, Romero had pitched in 14 games since September 14.  Hawpe singled off the end of the glove of a diving Utley and Atkins went to third.  With two outs and men on first and third, Jeff Baker hit for Fuentes.  Manuel left the lefty Romero in to pitch to the righty Baker after Romero had allowed back-to-back hits with Myers available in the pen.  Baker hit a 1-0 pitch into right for a single.  Atkins scored to make it 2-1 and Hawpe went to second.  Myers replaced Romero.  Too late.  Myers got Torrealba to ground a 2-2 pitch back to the mound to end the inning.  Hopefully that ends Myers' career as a reliever for the next six years or so.  It's got to be Myers into the game in the eighth, there, even if Romero gets Baker it's a bad call.  Colorado didn't have a lefty to hit for Baker if Myers came into the game -- Smith had already pinch-hit in the seventh and Cory Sullivan entered defensively in the top of the eighth.  Manuel explains why he left Romero in here.  Would have been a nice time to get your best available pitcher into the game, though, especially since the other choice was lefty-right with a guy on the mound who had just given up back-to-back hits.

Romero had an absolutely fantastic run with the Phillies this year.  Manuel gets a pass, too, as far as I'm concerned, given how well the Phils played down the stretch and that they won the NL East with a gaping wound where their pitching staff ought to be.

Mastui does it again for the Rockies.  He was 5-for-12 with four extra-base hits and six RBI in the series.  Torrealba was 5-for-10 with a double and three RBI.  Holliiday 3-for-13 with two home runs. 

Helton just 1-for-12.  Tulowitski 2-for-12. 

The Phillies' lineup against righty Ubaldo Jimenez went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Burrell (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Victorino (7) Ruiz (8) Nunez.  Victorino back in right and hitting sixth after hitting second against the lefty Francis in the first game of the series.  Victorino was significantly better against lefties than righties this season.  Of the Phils primary options in right, Werth and Victorino, Victorino slugged .394 against righties this year and Werth .389.  Burrell hits third against the righty.  Nunez plays third with Moyer on the mound as he did for most of the season.  Dobbs started the final game of the year with Moyer on the mound but made an error.

Rollins led off the first and got ahead 2-0 before striking out swinging at a 3-2 pitch that was way high.  Jimenez walked Utley and it brought Burrell up with one down.  Burrell struck out looking at a 2-2 breaking ball for the second out.  Howard looped the first pitch of his at-bat into right for a single and Utley went to third.  Rowand struck out on three pitches, swinging at an 0-2 pitch outside and in the dirt for the third out.  The two lefties the Phils sent to the plate reached base -- the two righties and a switch-hitter they sent to the play struck out and looked bad doing it.  Jimenez threw 21 pitches in the first inning.

Victorino took Jimenez's first pitch for a ball before the lights went off.  After a delay of about 15 minutes, Victorino popped the first pitch from Jimenez into center field for the first out.   Ruiz got behind 1-2 and flew to left for the second out.  Nunez got ahead 3-0 and grounded to second on a 3-1 pitch.  Easy inning for Jimenez, who needed just 12 pitches. 

Moyer dribbled out in front of the plate for the first out in the third.  Rollins grounded to second on a 1-1 pitch for the second.  Utley got ahead 2-1 and grounded to second to set the Phils down.  Nine pitch inning for Jimenez, who had thrown 42 through three innings and set down seven in a row.

Burrell flew to right on a 1-1 pitch to start the fourth.  Howard got ahead 0-2 and was called out looking at a 3-2 slider.  Rowand struck out swinging at an 0-2 pitch that was outside.  He was 0-for-2 in the game with two strikeouts and had seen six pitches.  Ten in a row for Jimenez, who had thrown 55 pitches through four.

Victorino started the fifth and grounded to second on 2-1 pitch for the first out.  Ruiz drew a one out walk, the first non-lefty to reach base for the Phils.  Nunez grounded into a double-play to second to end the frame.  66 pitches for Jimenez through five.

Moyer got ahead 3-0 to start the sixth before he grounded out to first on a 3-2 pitch for the first out.  Rollins drew a walk on an inside 3-2 pitch.  Rollins stole second as the count went 1-0 on Utley.  Utley drew a walk and it put men on first and second with one down for Burrell, who had just misplayed Matsui's line drive to left in the bottom of the fifth.  Burrell hit the first pitch of his at-bat to left for the second out.  Howard grounded to second on a 1-2 pitch for the third out.  Nothing for the Phils out of first and second with one out for their three and four hitters.  88 through six for Jimenez.

Rowand grounded to third to start the seventh.  Victorino got behind 0-2 and smoked a ball high to right that cleared the fence and tied the game at 1-1.  First extra-base hit of the game for the Phils.  Ruiz was next and singled into left.  Dobbs hit for Nunez and Jimenez was done after 95 pitches.  The righty Matt Herges came in to pitch to Dobbs.  Dobbs got behind 1-2 and hit one to third on an inside-out swing.  Atkins threw Dobbs out at first as Ruiz went to second.  Iguchi hit for Moyer with Ruiz in scoring position and popped up a 3-1 pitch to Tulowitski to end the frame.  Don't really understand why the righty Herges and not one of the lefties in the Colorado pen, Affeldt or Fuentes, came on to pitch to Dobbs, but it worked.  Helms probably would have hit for Dobbs, but I think I would have done it anyway to shorten the Phils' bench if I was the Rockies.  Nunez could have tried to bunt Ruiz to second and Dobbs hit for Moyer, but I think it would have been a mistake to give away an out even though the Phils got nothing and lost Nunez's glove.

Fuentes started the eighth.  Rollins struck out swinging on three pitches.  Utley flew to left.  Fuentes stayed in to pitch to Burrell.  Burrell hit the 2-1 pitch out but foul and Fuentes threw the 2-2 past him to end the frame.

Manny Corpas started the ninth for the Rockies, on to protect a one-run lead.  Howard led off the inning and struck out looking at a 2-2 slider.  Rowand hit a dribbler down the first base line and was tagged out for the second out.  Victorino grounded to second on a 1-2 pitch to end the Phillies' season.

Rollins was 0-for-3 with a walk last night.  2-for-11 and led the team with four RBI in the series.

Utley was 0-for-2 and walked twice.  He had a miserable series, 2-for-11 with two singles.

Burrell was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts last night and 2-for-11 with a home run in the series.

Howard was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.  3-for-12 with a home run and seven strikeouts in the series. 

Rowand was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts last night.  1-for-12 with a home run in the series.

Victorino was 1-for-4 with a home run last night.  2-for-9 in the series.

Ruiz was 1-for-2 with a walk.  He led the team with three hits in the series.  3-for-9 with a double.

Nunez 0-for-2 last night and in the series.  Dobbs 0-for-3 in the series.  Helms 0-for-2.

Assuming it's not inconvenient and he can work it out with his shirt, Cole Hamels faces TBD in April, 2008.


October 6 2007

Jamie Moyer (14-12, 5.01) faces righty Ubaldo Jimenez (4-4, 4.28) tonight in Colorado. Moyer was great his last time out, holding the Nationals to an unearned run over 5 1/3 innings on the final day of the regular season as the Phils clinched the NL East.  In three of his last four starts he's allowed two or fewer runs.  Moyer has allowed 30 home runs on the season, 24 of which have been hit by righties.  Surprisingly, he was a little better at Citizens Bank Park than he was away from it.  He threw to a 4.72 ERA in 15 home starts and a 5.25 ERA in 18 starts away from Philadelphia.  He faced the Rockies on July 7 and allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings. Ryan Spilborghs was 2-for-2 with a home run against Moyer in that game, Helton 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

Opponents hit just .228 against the 23-year-old Jimenez this year.  Lefties have fared better, they've hit .244 with a 1.56 ratio against him compared to .212 with a 1.06 ratio for righties.  He's gone at least six innings seven of his last ten times out.  Jimenez started against the Phils on September 10 and held them to two runs on four hits over six innings. Ryan Howard homered off of him in that game.  Utley, Victorino and Burrell had the other three hits, all singles.  Who plays third is the big question for the Phils -- it's been Nunez for most of Moyer's starts this season, but Dobbs got the call (and made an error leading to an unearned run) on the last day of the season.  I would play Dobbs, but I don't think the Phillies will.

This article says that neither Hamels nor Lohse will pitch out of the pen tonight and that Nunez will start at third.  Kendrick could pitch in relief.


October 5 2007

Kyle Lohse appeared in relief yesterday, which means if the Phils are going to be around to see game four of their NLDS series with the Rockies they will probably need a nice start from Jamie Moyer tomorrow night in Colorado.  Lohse would pitch game four if needed and Hamels game five.

The early hook for Kendrick may have been a surprise given how effective Kendrick had been this season, and that he worked around a leadoff double the inning before, but it's nothing new for the Phils in the later part of the '07 season.  In the last two months of the season, Phillies' starters faded and saw their collective ERA rise and the number of innings they gave Manuel drop.

Here's a look at what the starting pitchers for the Phils did this season by month:

 

Month Team W-L IP ER IP/Start ERA QS QS %
April 11-14 148.7 79 5.95 4.78 12 48.0
May 15-13 180.7 91 6.45 4.53 16 57.1
June 15-13 157.3 102 5.62 5.84 13 46.4
July 15-10 156.7 76 6.27 4.37 12 48.0
August 16-12 159.3 84 5.69 4.74 12 42.9
Sept 17-11 135.7 80 4.85 5.31 9 32.1

In terms of ERA by the starting pitchers, July was the best month of the year for the Phils. Phils starters threw to a 4.37 ERA. Hamels had his best month of the year, going 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA in his five starts.  Kendrick was 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in his six starts.  The Phils' starters dropped off dramatically after July, though.  In August and September they saw their ERA as a group rise both months and the number of innings they threw also fall dramatically.

September was the best month of the season for the Phils in terms of wins and losses.  It was also, curiously, the month the Phillies' starters threw the fewest innings and made the fewest number of quality starts.  The Phils offense was good in September, but not good enough to overcome that kind of performance from the starters.  The team scored 156 runs in 28 games in September, about 5.57 runs per game.  It was slightly above the 5.50 runs per game they scored over the season, but fewer runs per game than they had scored in August or July, which was their best offensive month of the season.  It was the relievers that carried the load for the Phillies, working 120 2/3 of the 256 1/3 innings the Phils pitched in September, and throwing to 3.73 ERA.  Amazingly, Phillies' relievers threw 47% of the innings the team pitched last month.  I wrote about the percentage of innings that the Phillies' relievers have thrown by month over the last two seasons in August -- 47% of the innings in a month is the most in any month over the last two years for the team.

In the first two games of the series with the Rockies it hasn't been the overworked pen that let the Phillies down.  The Rockies are just pounding the ball against everyone. Colorado has scored 14 earned runs in 18 innings (a 7.00 team ERA for the Phils).  Hamels, Kendrick and Lohse have allowed nine of the earned runs in the 11 2/3 innings they have pitched (6.94 ERA) while the bullpen guys have allowed five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings pitched (7.11 ERA).  And the relievers that got banged around were Mesa and Condrey, who were most certainly not overworked in September.  Mesa and Condrey have allowed four runs in two innings on five hits and two walks in the series. Gordon gave up the big blast to Holliday, if you want to say that he's already given what he's going to give for this year and he was overworked in a fantastic September I'm not going to argue.  Geary isn't even here after a brilliant September in which he threw too many innings, his absence may be the best argument about how the busy September for Geary, Gordon, Romero and Myers hurt the Phils.  Romero and Myers have both been good in the first two games of the set, despite all their work at the end of the season.


October 4 2007

The Phillies have started the post-season like they did the regular season and the regular season before that.  I have no idea why, but figuring it out is something they may want to work into their collective to-do list.

The Phils took a 3-2 lead into the fourth this afternoon before Kaz Matsui erased it with a two-out grand slam.  The Rockies added a four-spot in the eighth and cruised to a 10-5 win.

The pitching was pretty miserable for the Phils today, Lohse, Mesa and Condrey in particular, but Colorado is simply playing inspired baseball.  The Phillies get one more chance to get something going, but it looks like they're going to need to score a ton of runs to do it.

The Phillies lost to the Colorado Rockies today, falling 10-5 in the second game of the NLDS.  The Phils are 0-2 in the post-season and trail the best-of-five series two games to none.

Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks.  Four of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and two home runs.  He struck out two and left up 3-2 with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth.  Matsui changed his line dramatically with a grand slam off of Kyle Lohse.

The Rockies' lineup against Kendrick went (1) Kaz Matsui (2B/Switch) (2) Troy Tulowitski (SS/R) (3) Matt Holliday (LF/R) (4) Todd Helton (1B/L) (5) Garrett Atkins (3B/R) (6) Brad Hawpe (RF/L) (7) Ryan Spilborghs (CF/R) (8) Yorvit Torrealba (C/R). Same lineup as yesterday for Colorado.

Mastui led off the first and hit a slow ground ball to second. Utley charged, gloved and threw him out at first.  Tulowitski hit the first pitch he saw out to center.  The ball bounced back on the field and there was brief confusion about whether it had left the yard or not.  It had.  1-0.  Holliday was next and he hit the first pitch he saw out to left.  2-0.  Helton got behind 0-1 and popped to Ruiz in foul territory for the second out.  Atkins flew to center on a 1-0 pitch to end the inning.

Kendrick started the second down 2-1 and walked Hawpe on a 3-2 pitch.  Spilborghs hit the first pitch of his at-bat back to the pitcher.  Kendrick threw to second to get Hawpe for the first out, but Utley threw the relay to first away and Spilborghs was safe but unable to go to second.  It saved Utley an error, but it wasn't a good throw.  Kendrick got ahead of Torrealba 0-2 before Torreabla flew to center on a 1-2 pitch for the second out.  It brought up the pitcher Franklin Morales.  Kendrick struck him out to end the frame.  The Rockies turn the lineup over with the help of the non-double-play.

Matsui led off the third with a double off the wall in center on a 2-1 pitch.  Kendrick struck Tulowitski out swinging at a 3-2 pitch for the first out of the inning.  Holliday again swung at the first pitch and grounded out to third for the second out with Matsui holding second. Helton flew to right for the third out.  Great job by Kendrick with 2-3-4 in the order after the leadoff double.  He had thrown 45 pitches through three innings.

Atkins led off the fourth with a double.  Hawpe flew to left on a 2-1 pitch for the first out. Kendrick got ahead of Spilborghs 1-2 before Spilborghs popped to first for the second out. Torrealba got ahead of the count 3-1 and the Phils walked Torrealba intentionally with Morales due up next and Josh Fogg warming in the bullpen.  With men on first and second and two outs, lefty Seth Smith, a 25-year-old with just eight career at-bats, hit for Morales. Smith dribbled a 2-1 pitch to third. Helms tried to barehand but couldn't and Smith
was safe with an infield single.  Smith would have been safe regardless of what Helms did. With the bases loaded and two outs, Lohse came in to pitch to Matsui.  Kendrick exited having thrown 66 pitches.  Matsui ripped a 1-1 pitch just foul down the right-field
line and then smoked the 1-2 offering out to right for a grand slam that put the Rockies ahead 6-3. Lohse got Tulowitski on a ground ball to short for the third out.

Lohse returned to start the fifth and got Holliday looking at a 2-2 pitch for the first out. Helton grounded to first for the second out.  Atkins flew to center for the third out.

Mesa started the sixth and walked Hawpe to start the inning.  Spilborghs followed with a walk and Torrealba stroked the first pitch of his at-bat into right for a double that scored both runners and put the Rockies up 8-3.  The pitcher Josh Fogg bunted for the first out.  Clay Condrey came in to pitch to Matsui, who tripled to right, scoring Torrealba.  9-3.  Condrey got Tulowitski looking and looked like he had a chance to get out of the inning, but Holliday singled to center and Matsui scored to make it 10-3.  Condrey struck Helton out on three pitches to end the frame.

Condrey came back for the seventh and got ahead of Atkins 0-2 before Atkins flew to center.  Hawpe and Spilborghs singled back-to-back, putting men on first and second for Torrealba.  Torrealba hit a ball back to Condrey, who threw to second to start a double-play that set Colorado down.

Alfonseca started the eighth and Cory Sullivan grounded to third for the first out.  Matsui flew to center before Tulowitski doubled to left.  Holliday lined to Rollins at short for the third out.

Romero pitched the ninth and set Helton, Atkins and Hawpe down 1-2-3.  After 1 2/3 scoreless innings in the post-season, Romero has now gone 17 1/3 innings since being charged with a run on August 30. 

The top three of the Rockies' order, Matsui, Tulowitski and Holliday, combined to go 7-for-15 with eight RBI today.

The Phils have done well against the Rockies' lefties, thanks largely to Hamels and Romero.  Hawpe and Helton are 2-for-16 in the first two games with the triple by Helton off of Hamels yesterday.

The Phillies' lineup against lefty Franklin Morales went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Burrell (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Werth (7) Helms (8) Ruiz.  Werth in right with Victorino on the bench.  Burrell moves up to third with Victorino out of the two-hole and Utley moving up to
two.  Burrell breaks up the lefties Utley and Howard.  Another start for Helms.

Rollins hit the first pitch he saw out to left-center, cutting the Colorado lead to 2-1. Utley struck out swinging at a 1-2 pitch for the first out, making him 0-for-5 with five strikeouts in the series.  Burrell hammered a 3-1 pitch out to left but foul before walking.  It put a man on first to Howard, who struck out swinging at a 2-2 pitch for the second out (0-for-5 with four strikeouts).  Rowand hit an 0-1 pitch to short for the third out.

Werth struck out swinging at a 1-2 pitch to start the second.  Helms got behind Morales 1-2, but Morales threw him a 3-2 changeup that missed and Helms had a walk.  Ruiz took strike one before Morales put his hand on his mouth and Ruiz was awarded a ball that evened the count at 1-1.  Morales didn't like the call.  Ruiz hit a 3-2 pitch well to center that Spilborghs had a chance to catch but didn't.  Helms had to watch the play develop and couldn't score.  It brought Kendrick up with men on second and third with one out.  Kendrick hit a ground ball to second with the infield in.  Helms held third as Kendrick was thrown out for the second out.  Rollins got ahead 2-0 and then lined a triple into left-center. Both runners scored and the Phils led 3-2 on the huge two-out hit for Rollins.  Utley flew to center on an 0-1 pitch to end the inning with Rollins left stranded.

Burrell popped to second on the first pitch of the third.  Morales hit Howard in the hand with an 0-2 pitch.  Rowand got ahead 2-0 before Howard was picked off of first for the second out.  Just a miserable start to the series for Utley and Howard, at the plate, in
the field and on the bases.  Rowand flew to right for the third out.

Righty Josh Fogg started the fourth for the Rockies and got Werth on a ground ball to short to start the inning.  Dobbs hit for Helms against the righty and hit the first pitch he saw to right for the second out.  Ruiz looped a 3-2 pitch into center, but Spilborghs made a sliding catch to set the Phillies down.

Fogg returned for the fifth and Bourn hit for Lohse to start the second.  Bourn grounded to second on a 2-1 pitch for the first out.  Bourn as a left-handed pinch-hitter is a swell idea, wish we'd seen it more in the regular season.  Rollins grounded out to short on a nice play up the middle by Tulowitski for the second out.  Utley was next and worked the count full before he laced a single into center for his first hit of the series.  Burrell got ahead 3-0 but went down swinging at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Burrell strikeout looked bigger when Howard started the sixth by hitting a 1-0 offering from the new Rockies' pitcher, lefty Jeremy Affeldt, out to left-center.  It cut the Colorado lead to 10-4, but would have looked a lot better as a three-run shot in the fifth that tied the game at 6-6.  Rowand got ahead 2-0 but struck out swinging.  Werth grounded to third and Dobbs struck out swinging.

Ruiz grounded to short for the first out in the seventh against righty Justin Speier.  Victorino hit for Condrey and laced a single into right.  Rollins got behind 0-2 and Victorino took off for second on a pitchout.  Nobody covered second and the ball went into center field and Victorino went to third.  Torrealba took a tough error cause his throw was strong.  Rollins grounded to first for the second out and Victorino scored.  10-5.  Utley flew to left for the third out.

Burrell lined to short for the first out in the eighth.  Lefty Brian Fuentes entered the game and Howard lined a single into right.  Rowand struck out on a wild pitch, allowing Howard to go to second with two outs.  Werth walked on a 3-2 pitch and Iguchi hit for Dobbs against the lefty.  Iguchi walked on a 3-2 pitch, loading the bases for Ruiz.  Righty Manny Corpas came in to pitch to Ruiz.  Ruiz got behind 0-1 and chopped a ball to third to end the inning with the bases loaded.

Corpas poured water on the front of his jersey before the start of the ninth inning, which some people think is a bigger deal than others.  Say what you will about this series, but it does have a lot more people talking about player's shirts than I had anticipated.

Coste hit for Romero to start the ninth against Corpas and flew to center.  Rollins was next and grounded to second for the second out.  Utley and Burrell singled back-to-back, putting men on first and second with two down for Howard.  Howard was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the game.

Rollins was 2-for-5 with a triple and a home run.  He drove in four of the five runs the Phils scored.  He's 2-for-8 in the series.

Utley was 2-for-5 with a strikeout.  2-for-9 with two singles in the series.

Burrell was 1-for-4 with a walk.  2-for-7 with a home run and two walks in the first two.

Howard was 2-for-4 with a home run.  2-for-8 with five strikeouts in the series.

Rowand was 0-for-4 today and is 1-for-8 with a home run in the series.

Werth was 0-for-3 with a walk today.  0-for-3 in the series.  Victorino 1-for-5 in the series after a pinch-hit single today.

Helms walked today and is 0-for-2 with a walk in the series.

Dobbs was 0-for-2 today.  0-for-2 with a walk in the series.

Ruiz 1-for-4 with a double today.  2-for-7.

No game tomorrow.  Game three is Saturday night.


October 4 2007

I have an opinion to share.  Here goes:  If you're ever a professional athlete and believe that the shirt you wore had something to do with the outcome of a playoff game, don't tell anyone.  It just sounds ridiculous.  Even if it's true.  Just lie.

The Rockies have now beaten the Phillies five times in eight games this year.  Yesterday the Phils got four hits and Matt Holliday homered against their pitchers for the sixth time in 32 at-bats.

They remain undefeated against all variety of undergarment.


October 3 2007

Apparently, he especially doesn't like Ryan Howard or Chase Utley touching his stuff.

Two of baseball's finest young pitchers squared off this afternoon in Philadelphia and the Phillies lost their first playoff game since 1993.

Cole Hamels gave the Phils 6 2/3 innings, 5 2/3 of which were fantastic and one that the Phillies couldn't overcome because his counterpart, Jeff Francis, was even better.

The Rockies jumped out to a 3-0 lead with three runs off of Hamels in the second.  The Phils got back-to-back homers from Rowand and Burrell in the fifth to pull them within one at 3-2, but couldn't get any closer.  Matt Holliday slugged one out in the eighth off of Flash, the sixth home run of the year for Holliday against Phillies' pitchers, to put Colorado ahead to stay at 4-2.

Francis held the Phils to two runs on four hits over six innings and struck out eight.  He was especially tough on the Phillies' lefties.  Utley and Howard combined to go 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts in the game. 

For the Rockies it was their 15th win in their last 16th game.  You get the feeling they might fall hard when they finally do.  The question is whether or not the Phillies can help them along.

Entertaining, well-played, well-pitched game.  The Phillies put themselves in a hole by not winning it behind their ace in a short series.  Short series or not, though, if you've watched the Phillies this year you know if the bats didn't show up today there's a real good chance they will tomorrow.

The Phillies lost to the Colorado Rockies today, losing 4-2 in the first game of the NLDS.  They are 0-1 in the post-season and trail the best-of-five series one game to none.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and four walks.  Two of the three hits went for extra-bases, a double and a triple.  He struck out seven. 

The Rockies' lineup against Hamels went (1) Kaz Matsui (2B/Switch) (2) Troy Tulowitski (SS/R) (3) Matt Holliday (LF/R) (4) Todd Helton (1B/L) (5) Garrett Atkins (3B/R) (6) Brad Hawpe (RF/L) (7) Ryan Spilborghs (CF/R) (8) Yorvit Torrealba (C/R).

In the first, Mastui led off and grounded to Rollins for the first out. Hamels struck Tulowitski out swinging at a 3-2 changeup.  Holliday grounded to first to set Colorado down.

Helton hit the first pitch of the second off the wall in center for a triple.  Atkins followed and doubled into left, scoring Helton to put the Rockies up 1-0 .  Hamels struck Hawpe out for the first out.  Spilborghs walked, putting men on first and second for Torrealba.  Torrealba singled into center.  Atkins scored to make it 2-0 and Torrealba went to second.  The pitcher Jeff Francis bunted the runners to second and third.  Hamels got behind Matsui 3-0 before walking him on a 3-2 pitch.  He walked Tulowitski on another 3-2 pitch.  Spilborghs scored and it was 3-0.  Holliday hit the first pitch of his at-bat out of the stadium down the left field line but foul, and Hamels got him swinging at a 2-2 pitch to set the Rockies down.  Hamels had thrown 56 pitches through two innings.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 third.  Helton flew to center for the first out.  Atkins struck out and Hawpe flew to center.

Hamels threw another 1-2-3 frame in the fourth.  Spilborghs led off and struck out looking at a 1-2 pitch.  Torrealba was next and hit it hard, but right back to Hamels.  Francis grounded one back up the middle and off of Hamels' leg, but Hamels threw to first for the third out.

He needed just five pitches to throw a 1-2-3 fifth.  He got Matsui to pop to Ruiz in foul territory, Tulowitski on a ground ball to short and Holliday on a nice play by Helms at third to end the inning.  Ten in a row for Hamels.  Through five he had thrown 88 pitches.

Hamels got behind Helton 3-0 to start the sixth and threw three straight strikes, getting him swinging at a changeup for the first out with the Phils down 3-2.  Atkins flew to center for the second out. Hawpe struck out looking at a 2-2 pitch.  Thirteen in a row for Hamels and 103 pitches through six.

He came back to start the seventh against the bottom of the Rockies' order and walked Spilborghs on a 3-1 pitch.  Torrealba hit a 2-2 pitch into shallow right where Victorino took it for the first out.  Francis hit for himself having thrown 94 pitches and showed bunt but then swung away and chopped a ball to second where Utley fielded and threw to first for the second out.  Francis hit for himself with a man on first and one out, didn't bunt and then didn't pitch in the bottom of the inning.  It brought up Matsui with two down and Spilborghs at second, and Gordon came in to pitch to him.  Hamels was done after 115 pitches.  Gordon struck out Matsui to leave Spilborghs stranded.

Gordon returned for the eighth and struck Tulowitski out swinging for the first out of the inning.  Holliday was next and hit a towering home run out to left center on the first pitch he saw.  It put the Rockies up 4-2.  With the lefty Helton at the plate, Romero came in and got Helton on popup to short for the second out.  Atkins was next and he hit a ground ball to short.  Rollins made a brilliant play, diving for the ball and making a strong throw to first to nip Atkins and end the frame. 

Holliday now has six home runs in 32 at-bats against the Phillies this season.  Need to find a way to get that guy out.

Myers started the ninth with the Phils down by two.  He struck out Hawpe and Spilborghs to start the frame before Torrealba hit a ball slowly to third.  Nunez charged and gloved, but his throw to first was in the dirt.  Howard couldn't scoop it and Torrealba was safe with a single.  Cory Sullivan hit for pitcher Brian Fuentes and lined a 1-1 pitch into center for a single.  Torrealba went to second.  Myers struck Matsui out looking at a 3-2 curve ball for the third out.

The Phillies' lineup against lefty Jeff Francis went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Burrell (7) Helms (8) Ruiz.  Victorino plays right against the lefty with Werth on the bench.  Ruiz something of a surprise start behind the plate as many thought he would be unable to go after being hit on the elbow with a pitch in the last game of the season.  Helms plays third against the lefty.  Helms looks like he's going to be important in the series as the Rockies start another lefty tomorrow.  Sixth is too low for Burrell against a lefty.  Would have started Werth in right instead of Victorino.  Two lefties in a row at 3-4 followed by four righties 5-6-7-8.

Rollins got ahead 3-0 to start the first before he struck out swinging 3-2.  Victorino went down swinging for the second out.  Utley struck out on three pitches. After getting behind Rollins 3-0, Francis struck Rollins out on three pitches, then Victorino on three pitches, then Utley on three pitches.

Howard started the second with the Phils down 3-0 and went down swinging at a 3-2 fastball.  Fourth straight strikeout to start the game for Francis.  Rowand grounded an 0-2 pitch to short for the second out.  Burrell walked on a 3-2 pitch, becoming the Phils' first base runner.  Helms popped to second to leave Burrell stranded.

Ruiz led off the third and struck out looking.  Hamels was next and got the first hit of the game for the Phillies, a single into left.  Rollins was next and bounced a ball to third. The Rockies turned a double-play to end the inning.

Victorino led off the fourth and hit a 1-1 pitch hard to third, where Atkins was playing up to protect against the bunt.  Atkins made the play and threw Victorino out at first for the first out.  Utley struck out swinging at an 0-2 pitch and Howard struck out swinging at a 1-2 pitch.  Seven strikeouts through four innings for Francis. He had thrown 57 pitches.

Rowand led off the fifth and got ahead in the count.  He hit Francis' 2-1 pitch out to right to get the Phils on the board at 3-1.  First post-season home run of his career for Rowand, who came into the game 12-for-45 (.267) with six doubles in his playoff history, all of which was in '05 with the White Sox.  Burrell was next and he hit a 2-1 pitch just out to left.  3-2. First career post-season home run for Burrell, too.  Helms hit a 2-2 pitch well to left-center, but Holliday took it for the first out.  Ruiz singled past a diving Tulowitski and Hamels tried to bunt but couldn't get it down.  Atkins took it in the air for the second out.  Rollins got behind in the count at 1-2 and Ruiz stole second as the count went 2-2.  Rollins worked a walk and it brought up Victorino with men on first and second and two down.  Victorino grounded to second on a 1-1 pitch to end the inning.  83 pitches for Francis through five.

Utley led off the sixth and struck out swinging on three pitches.  He was 0-for-3 on the day with three strikeouts and had seen nine pitches.  Howard flew to right on a 3-2 pitch for the second out.  Rowand flew to left to end the inning.

Righty Latroy Hawkins started the seventh with three righties due to hit a row for the Phils.  Burrell popped the first pitch he saw up to third.  Dobbs hit for Helms and drew a walk in a nice, nine pitch at-bat.  Bourn ran for Dobbs at first.  Ruiz hit into a double-play to end the inning.  The Phils burn Helms, Dobbs and Bourn, who didn't stay in the game, and got nothing.

Lefty Brian Fuentes started the eighth for the Rockies and Tad Iguchi hit for Gordon and drew a walk.  Rollins got ahead in the count and swung at a 3-1 pitch and popped it up.  If the Phils' hitters could have one pitch back in the game, that's the one I'd pick.  Victorino hit a ground ball to short, but not quite hard enough to get a double-play.  Victorino beat the relay to first after Iguchi was forced at second.  Utley saw four pitches this time, but was called out on strikes.  Rollins came up second in the bottom of the eighth after making a fantastic defensive play to end the top of the inning.  How often do you see it (the guy who made the great play to end the inning hitting second when his team comes to bat)?  Well, don't know for sure, but I would guess it's about 11.1% of the time.

Righty Manny Corpas threw a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down the save.  Howard was first and got behind 0-1 before he took a ball that might have been on the outside corner for strike two.  The next pitch looked inside and he was called out.  He wasn't happy.  Strike three was definitely bad, strike two a better pitch.  Rowand grounded to second and Burrell flew to center.  Werth was on-deck to hit for Nunez with Burrell at the plate.  The Phils were out of third basemen, so if it had gone to extra-innings I'm not sure who would have played third.  Coste, probably.

The top four in the Phillies' lineup went 0-for-15 with nine strikeouts. 

Rollins was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Victorino was 0-for-4.  He's 7-for-his-last-40 (.175).  With Werth struggling as well the Phils aren't getting much from right field.  I'd be surprised if it's not Werth tomorrow.

Utley was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

Howard 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.  First time in four games he didn't homer.

Rowand was 1-for-4 with a home run.

Burrell was 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk.

Helms was 0-for-2.  He's 4-for-his-last-23 (.174).

Ruiz 1-for-3 with a strikeout.

Kyle Kendrick (10-4, 3.87) faces lefty Franklin Morales (3-2, 3.43) tomorrow.  Kendrick started twice against the Rockies this season, going 0-1 with a 7.00 ERA. Colorado scored seven runs on 17 hits in nine innings against the 23-year-old. Lefties are hitting .321 against him on the year. Kendrick has allowed 16 home runs on the season, 11 of which were hit by lefties. He's walked just 25 batters in 121 innings. He hasn't walked more than two hitters in a game in his last 12 starts. The Rockies have hit just one home run against him, which came from Holliday. Cory Sullivan is 4-for-4 against him this season with four singles. Tulowitski 2-for-4 with a walk, Hawpe 2-for-4 with a double, Atkins 2-for-5 with a double.  The 21-year-old Morales started eight games for the Rockies this season. He was lights out against lefties, who hit .129 with an 0.60 ratio against him. Righties fared a lot better, hitting .273 with a 1.43 ratio. He's allowed just two home runs in 39 1/3 innings on the season, both of which were hit by batters hitting right-handed (Matt Kemp and Randy Winn, if you must know). One of Morales' eight starts came against the Phils and he held them to three hits in five shutout innings. Burrell, Werth and Helms had the hits against Morales in that game as the Phils went 3-for-18 as a group. Burrell was 1-for-1 with a double and a walk. Helms and Werth were both 1-for-2 with a single.


October 3 2007

Here.

No Jorge Julio was the biggest surprise to me.

Rockies have 12 pitchers to the Phils' ten in a series that features two high-powered offensive teams.


October 3 2007

According to this article, this is the Phillies' roster for their NLDS showdown with the Rockies:

Hitters (15):  Dobbs, Helms, Howard, Iguchi, Nunez, Rollins, Utley, Bourn, Burrell, Rowand, Victorino, Werth, Barajas, Coste, Ruiz

Pitchers (10):  Alfonseca, Condrey, Gordon, Hamels, Kendrick, Lohse, Mesa, Moyer, Myers, Romero

Three catchers for the Phils and Eaton left off the roster, but the biggest surprise is no Geary.  According to the article linked above, Geary has a right elbow problem after feeling something wrong when pitching to Ryan Church on Saturday.

That's a big problem for the Phillies, cause Geary is one of the core guys in the pen, along with Romero, Gordon and Myers, who got them where they are.  The Phils pushed hard on Geary in September.  Before he allowed three runs in his last two outings of the year, Geary had thrown to a 1.17 ERA over 15 1/3 innings in 11 games in September.

The Phils don't really have any way to replace that production.  The team just played big game after big game and if Manuel showed you anything it's that he does not want to use Mesa, Alfonseca or Condrey.  The games just got even bigger and the choices more limited. 

During the regular season, the Phils' bullpen pitched 520 innings in 162 games, more than three innings a game.  Romero, Myers and Gordon can't pitch all of the innings in the pen.

It's a surprise to me that Eaton was left off the roster just because the Phils are going to need somebody to give them innings.  Nearly everyone would be surprised to see Hamels get bounced early this afternoon, but the same just isn't true about Kendrick, Lohse or Moyer. 

In this article, Eaton is quoted as saying he doesn't think that his pitching out of the bullpen would be best for the team.  He also says, "To throw the emotion of the postseason into a situation where you haven't been before, it's a little tough to ask of anybody."  Huh?  I don't agree.  Kyle Lohse looked pretty good pitching in relief in the regular season after starting all year.  It may be tough to do, but it's not tough to ask.  Watch:  Adam, will you pitch out of the bullpen in the post-season?  Didn't even break a sweat.  I think the Phillies should have had him pitching out of the pen against the Rockies. 

Get used to the idea of seeing Alfonseca, Mesa or Condrey on the bump in a big situation in a playoff game.  I don't think the Phillies have any other choice at this point.

The same linked article suggests that Ruiz is unlikely today.  It also suggests that Lohse is available to pitch in relief in games one and two, and if he does Moyer would start game three.

Not really a fan of the Phils' roster.  The Geary injury is just unfortunate, whether it's a result of how hard the Phillies worked him last month or not, but I think the Phillies needed another pitcher on the roster.  They have seven infielders on their roster and three of the four guys in their infield, Utley, Howard and Rollins, aren't coming out of the game unless they're injured.  Dobbs, Helms and Nunez combine to make one third baseman and Iguchi is no doubt limited to pinch-hitting duty barring an injury.  It's another way in which the lack of a solution at third base has hurt the team in recent history -- you shouldn't need to use up three roster spots at third base. 

Here's a look at the guys who look like they could be getting the starts in the series.  For each pitcher it shows their total stats for '07, their stats against the Phils or Rockies and what they've done in their last five starts.  Mark Redman has only made three starts with the Rockies, so the last column shows his last three starts instead of last five.

 

2007  '07 vs COL Last 5 starts
Player IP W-L ERA Ratio IP W-L ERA Ratio IP W-L ERA Ratio
Hamels 183.1 15-5 3.39 1.12 - - - - 29.2 3-0 2.43 1.01
Kendrick 121.0 10-4 3.87 1.27 9.0 0-1 7.00 2.11 26.0 2-1 4.15 1.35
Moyer 199.1 14-12 5.01 1.44 5.2 0-1 7.94 1.94 29.0 2-1 4.34 1.34
Lohse 192.2 9-12 4.62 1.37 12.0 0-1 4.50 1.33 26.2 2-0 5.40 1.69
2007  '07 vs PHI Last 5 starts
Player IP W-L ERA Ratio IP W-L ERA Ratio IP W-L ERA Ratio
Francis 215.1 17-9 4.22 1.38 8.1 0-1 15.12 3.00 32.0 2-3 4.78 1.38
Jimenez 82.0 4-4 4.28 1.30 6.0 1-0 3.00 1.17 25.2 1-1 4.56 1.59
Morales 39.1 3-2 3.43 1.22 5.0 1-0 0.00 0.80 25.0 3-0 2.88 0.88
Fogg 165.2 10-9 4.94 1.53 - - - - 25.2 2-0 4.56 1.75
Redman 41.1 2-4 7.62 1.84 6.2 1-1 4.05 1.50 14.1 1-0 3.77 1.53

Figuring out Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales may be the key for the Phillies in this series.  They haven't had a whole lot of chances yet this season, but the young duo has combined to throw to a 1.64 ERA in their 11 innings against the Phils.

Cole Hamels (15-5, 3.39) faces lefty Jeff Francis (17-9, 4.22) this afternoon. Hamels was brilliant his last time out, throwing eight shutout innings and striking out 13 as he led the Phils to a 6-0 win in a critical game against the Nationals. In just his third start from coming off the DL he threw 116 pitches and hit for himself in the bottom of the seventh with the Phillies ahead by six runs and the bases loaded.  I'd still vote for Manuel for Manager of the Year, but it's more because he got the Phillies to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years and less because he lets Cole Hamels hit for himself with the bases loaded in the seventh with the Phils are up by six runs in his third start since coming off the DL.  Hamels threw to a 1.12 ratio on the season, opponents hit just .237 against him and he walked just 43 in 183 1/3 innings. The way to score against him is to try to be right-handed and hit a home run or two. Hamels allowed 25 on the year, 23 of which were hit by righties. Despite the cozy confines, Hamels was better at home than on the road this season. In 12 starts at home he went 8-2 with a 3.24 ERA, in 16 starts on the road he was 7-3 with a 3.51 ERA. His day/night splits are truly curious. For the second straight year, Hamels was significantly worse during the day than he was at night. In 2007, opponents hit .284 against him during day games and .211 against him at night. In 2006 he threw to a 6.00 ERA in his nine day starts and a 3.09 ERA in his 14 night starts. He has never faced Colorado. Willy Tavares, who missed a lot of time last month with a quad injury and may not be on the Rockies' roster for the NLDS, faced him in 2006 while with the Astros and went 1-for-3 against Hamels.

Francis was hammered in his start in Philadelphia on September 13, the second of two starts he made against the Phillies this season. The Phils pounded him for eight runs in that game and he didn't make it out of the fourth inning. He's been tough on lefties this season, pitching to a 1.16 ratio against them while holding them to a .242 average. Righties have hit .289 against him with a 1.45 ratio. Over his career he's been much better at day than at night, throwing to a 3.88 ERA in 192 2/3 innings during day games and a 5.03 ERA in 442 innings in night games. The 215 1/3 innings he's thrown for the Rockies are a career-high for the 26-year-old, so here's hoping that he's getting a little weary. In his career, Wes Helms is 6-for-9 against Francis with four doubles and a home run. Rowand is 6-for-8 with four doubles and Rollins 5-for-9. I'm guessing it's Werth in right, he's 3-for-10 with three doubles against Francis. Victorino is 1-for-3. Werth would have been my guess against a lefty regardless of the career numbers. Lefty-killer Pat Burrell has been remarkably quiet against Francis, 3-for-8 with three singles. Among the two big left-handed hitters for the Phils, Howard is 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and Utley 2-for-8 with a home run. Ruiz is 1-for-1 in his career against Francis and Coste 1-for-3.  My guess for today is Helms at third, Werth in right and Coste catching.

It will be the first post-season start for both pitchers.


October 2 2007

The Rockies beat the Padres last night, winning 9-8 in 13 innings to advance to the post-season.  They will play the Phillies in a five-game set starting on Wednesday in Philadelphia.

The teams have played seven games this year.  Here's a look back.

The Phillies' first series against the Rockies was in early July in Colorado.  It was the Phils' final series before the All-Star break and one of the few times in the whole season that the team just looked flat.

July 6. The Phils lost 7-6 in 11 innings despite pounding Rockies' starter Jeff Francis for six runs on 12 hits over five innings. Burrell drove in two and raised his average to .209 with a double. Rowand doubled three times off of Francis. Kendrick got the start for the Phils and took a 6-1 lead into the six before he was charged with two runs in that inning. The Rockies chipped away until Brad Hawpe tied the game at 6-6 with a home run off of Alfonseca with two outs in the ninth. Yorvit Torrealba's single off of Durbin in the bottom of the 11th scored Garrett Atkins to give Colorado a win and drop the Phils to 43-43 on the season.

July 7. Phils drop below .500 as they lose 6-3. Again the Phils jumped out early, scoring three times in the top of the first as Rollins and Howard hit home runs off of starter Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez is done for the season after arm surgery in August. Moyer took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth. In the fifth, the Rockies scored three times to put them ahead to stay. Ryan Spilborghs hit a two-run shot in that inning.

July 8 the Phils won 8-4 to go into the All-Star break at 44-44, 4 1/2 games behind the Mets. During a rain delay before the seventh inning, many Phillies players went out on the field help the Rockies' grounds crew get the tarp on the field in high winds. The Rockies jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on Adam Eaton, who went six innings on the day and allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk. The Phillies got a pair of runs in the third and another in the fourth to tie the game at 4-4. Aaron Cook, who has a strained oblique and may be available for the NLCS but won't pitch in the NLDS, started for the Rockies and the Phils scored five runs off of him in six innings. The Phils pulled ahead 5-4 with a run in the sixth and Victorino extended the lead with a two-run homer off of Tom Martin in the seventh. Martin was designated for assignment a few weeks later.

Among the Phillies' starting pitchers who appeared in the series, Eaton is unlikely to start in the NLDS.  Moyer and Kendrick both will likely see action, however.  Moyer was hit pretty hard in his start, allowing five runs in 5 2/3.  Kendrick was better, holding the Rockies to three runs in six innings and taking a 6-1 lead into the sixth.

The second series was a four-game set in Philadelphia in September, which the teams split two games apiece.  The Phils came in six games behind the Mets in the NL East and two behind the Padres for the Wild Card.

September 10. The Phils won 6-5 in eleven innings.  Ubaldo Jimenez held the Phils to two runs in six innings, taking a 3-1 lead into the sixth before a solo home run by Howard got the Phils within one at 3-2.  Holliday stroked a two-run shot off of Mesa in the top of the seventh that put Colorado up 5-2. Burrell hit a three-run homer off of Jorge Julio in the bottom of the seventh that tied the game at 5-5.  Howard doubled off of Taylor Buchholz in the bottom of the tenth to drive in the winning run and give the Phils their third straight win. It improved their record on the season to 76-67 on the year.  Lohse got the start for the Phils and allowed three runs in six innings.  Tulowitski hit a solo shot off of him in the fifth and six of the seven hits he allowed went for extra-bases, five doubles and a home run.  Jimenez held the Phils to two runs on four hits over six innings.

September 11. Phils lose 8-2.  Eaton gave up home runs to Helton, Holliday and Tulowitski and, despite holding the Rockies to two runs over the first five innings, couldn't get out of the sixth.  Franklin Morales got the start for Colorado and threw five shutout innings. The 21-year-old Morales allowed three earned runs in 22 innings in his last four starts of the season for Colorado (1.28 ERA).  Opponents got 11 hits in those 22 innings. The Phils got two runs in the seventh, including a solo shot by Rollins off of Jeremy Affledt, to get them within five at 7-2.

September 12. Phils lose 12-0 to fall to 76-69 on the year. The Phillies turned a first-inning triple-play, but after that things were pretty much just miserable.  Kendrick has to leave in the fourth when he takes a ball off his right knee.  Kendrick didn't pitch well before he left, allowing four runs on seven hits including a three-run bomb by Holliday.  Helton was 3-for-4 with two doubles in the game and drove in three runs.  Cory Sullivan was 3-for-4 with a home run. John Ennis came in to pitch after Kendrick and was charged with five runs in 2/3 of an inning. Denny Bautista got the start for the Rockies and the Phillies loaded the bases against him in the bottom of the first and Howard, Rowand and Dobbs all went down and the Phils didn't score. Bautista went just two innings.  Lefty Mark Redman followed Bautista and shut the Phillies down, throwing five shutout innings in which he allowed just two hits and struck out four.

September 13.  The Phillies bounced back with a 12-4 win. The Rockies scored three times in the first off of JD Durbin, but the Phils got four in the bottom of the inning off of Jeff Francis with the help of a two-run homer by Utley. Geary saved the day for the Phils after Durbin had to leave after getting just three outs -- Geary went three shutout innings, allowing a hit and a walk. The Phils scored four more in the fourth and Francis didn't make it out of the inning. They added three more in the fifth and the rout was on.

Of the starters in that series, Eaton and Durbin are both unlikely to start against the Rockies in the NLDS. Lohse and Kendrick were both hit hard. The Phils pounded Rockies starter Jeff Francis in game four of the set but were less impressive against Jimenez and Morales.  Denny Bautista isn't so much likely to get a post-season start for the Rockies, what with being a reliever and whatnot.

Here's my guess at the Phillies' playoff roster, which is due tomorrow morning:

Hitters (14): Howard, Utley, Rollins, Dobbs, Nunez, Werth, Burrell, Rowand, Victorino, Bourn, Ruiz, Coste, Helms, Iguchi

Pitchers (11): Hamels, Kendrick, Lohse, Moyer, Eaton, Gordon, Myers, Romero, Geary, Condrey, Mesa

Again, just a guess. How hurt Ruiz's elbow is will be critical.  Barajas is the third catcher and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Phillies carry him even if they think Ruiz may be okay.  If Ruiz, Coste and Barajas are all on the roster it looks like there's no room for either Helms or Iguchi if the Phillies carry 11 pitchers.

I think there's a chance the Phils carry Eaton even though he's not going to start. Romero is their only lefty in the pen, Castro is the other option but Manuel hasn't been willing to call on him.  Castro has pitched just 1/3 of an inning since September 12.  Alfonseca was a big piece of the Phils' pen for a while this year, but has thrown 2/3 of inning since September 15.  Alfonseca would be my next guess if Eaton isn't on the roster.  Some tough decisions for the Phils around the catchers, Helms, Iguchi and Alfonseca.


October 1 2007

The schedule for the Phillies' first post-season series has been announced:

 

Game Day Time Where
1 Wed 3:00 PHI
2 Thurs 3:00 PHI
3 Sat 9:30 COL
4 Sun 10:00 COL
5 Tues 6:30 PHI


October 1 2007

The Phillies haven't had a ton of success against either San Diego or Colorado this season, but I don't think there's much question who a Phillies' fan should be rooting for tonight.  Especially given the Padres are forced to start Jake Peavy and the Rockies have won nine of their last ten, here's hoping it's San Diego that shows up in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

The Phils are 3-4 this season against the Rockies and 4-3 against the Padres, but they've scored more runs and allowed far fewer in their seven games with the Padres than they have in their games with the Rockies.

 

vs Record Runs Runs allowed
COL 3-4 37 46
SD 4-3 48 28

The Rockies have four players that have gotten at least 25 plate appearances against the Phils this season and posted an OPS higher than 1.000.  Helton (1.346), Tulowitski (1.208), Holliday (1.165) and Sullivan (1.091) have all hurt the Phillies this year.  As a group, those four players have gone 39-for-103 (.379) with ten home runs and 25 RBI against Phils' hurlers this season.  San Diego really only has one hitter who has monster numbers against the Phils this year -- Milton Bradley was 10-for-27 against the Phils with four home runs and nine RBI.  He posted a 1.396 OPS against the Phils but is out for the season.

The Rockies and Padres have played each other 18 times this season.  Colorado has won ten of the games.

(Note:  This post previously said that the Phils were 3-4 against the Padres this season, which was wrong).


September 30 2007

New York is New York and Philadelphia is Philadelphia, so for nearly all of the baseball world the story of the 2007 season is forever going to be that the Mets collapsed.  They can have it.  But I feel a little sorry for nearly all of the baseball world, cause they missed a spectacular show.  We all got to watch the same thing and I know I got nearly no pleasure watching the Mets fall.  The 2007 Phillies, on the other hand, have thrilled time and time again.

The Phils and the Mets came in the final day of the season locked in a tie at the top of the division.  When the day was done the Phils were headed to the playoffs for the first time since 1993. 

The Marlins pounded out seven runs in the first inning this afternoon and rolled to an 8-1 win against New York.  The Phils took care of their own business, beating the Nats 6-1.

There were plenty of heroes for the Phillies today.  Jamie Moyer got it done with his 43-year-old arm when his team needed it the most.  He held Washington to a single run over 5 1/3 innings.  Jimmy Rollins worked his magic again, giving the Phils an early lead by making a run out of nothing to start the game and driving in a critical run late.  Ryan Howard went 3-for-4 with a long homer and drove in half of the Phillies six runs.

It's been all about the team all year for the Phils.  But as the regular season ends you have to believe that Jimmy Rollins is in the driver's seat for NL MVP after doing so much of the heavy-lifting to make his pre-season prediction that the Phils would win the division come true.  Charlie Manuel might have to fight it out with the Diamondback's Bob Melvin for Manager of the Year, but you sure have to like his chances a whole lot better today than you did a couple of months ago.

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals today, winning 6-1 to end the season at 89-73.  They have won the NL East, finishing one game ahead of the Mets.  The Phils end the season with the same record as the two teams that tied for the Wild Card, the Padres and the Rockies.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went 5 1/3 innings, allowing an unearned run on five hits.  One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double.  He struck out six and didn't walk a batter.

Felipe Lopez led off the first with a bunt back to the mound.  Moyer fielded and made a strong throw to first to nip Lopez.  Ronnie Belliard was next and he ripped a double down the line in right.  Moyer got Ryan Zimmerman on a fly ball to center and Dmitri Young on a ground ball to short to leave Belliard stranded.

Pitching with a 1-0 lead, Moyer struck out Wily Mo Pena and Jesus Flores in a 1-2-3 second.  He followed it up with a 1-2-3 third.

With the Phils up 3-0, Belliard started the fourth with a ball hit to third.  Dobbs fielded, but his throw to first was wide and pulled Howard off the bag for an error.  Zimmerman struck out for the first out before Young moved Belliard to second with a ground out to third.  Austin Kearns was next and singled to left, Belliard scored from second to cut the Phillies lead to 3-1.  Moyer struck out Pena for the third out.

With two outs in the fifth, Nook Logan hit for pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo.  Lopez grounded back to Moyer for the third out.

Belliard started the sixth with a line drive into right just in front of Victorino.  Moyer struck Zimmerman out for the first out before Young moved Belliard with a single to left.  With the righty Austin Kearns at the plate, Gordon came in to pitch.  Kearns hit a ground ball to second.  Utley fielded, tagged Young as he went by with the ball in his throwing hand, and threw to first to complete the double-play.

Great job by Gordon.  Great play by Utley.  Great job by Manuel to bring Gordon in for the sixth inning when the matchup was right for the Phillies.  Gordon usually pitches the eighth and less often the seventh.

The Phils hit for Gordon in the bottom of the sixth and Romero started the seventh, facing the righty Pena with the Phils up 5-1.  Romero struck out Pena for the first out before walking Flores.  He struck out Justin Maxwell for the second out.  Righty Tony Batista hit for pitcher Luis Ayala and flew to left to end the frame.  I was a little surprised the Phillies started the seventh with Romero and not the righty Geary against the righty Pena.  Worked.

Romero came back to pitch the eighth and Lopez led off with a single into center.  Belliard was next and Romero got him to hit a grounder to second.  Utley tossed to Rollins for one and Rollins made a strong throw to first to complete the double-play.  Romero struck out Zimmerman, who struck out three times in the game and had problems with the home plate umpire all day, to set the Nats down. 

Romero was absolutely fantastic for the Phillies in September.  He went two innings today for the first time with the Phils.  He went two innings or more just one other time this season, pitching for the Red Sox on June 1 against the Yankees.  The 32 pitches he threw today was his high for the season.  Romero appeared in 20 games for the Phillies in September, throwing 15 2/3 scoreless innings in which he allowed four hits.

Myers started the ninth with the Phils up 6-1.  He struck out Young as the Mets' score went final on the outfield stadium scoreboard.  He got Kearns on a lazy fly ball to left.  He got ahead of Pena 0-2 before striking him out looking at a 1-2 curve ball and the celebration was on. 

The Phillies' lineup against righty Jason Bergmann went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Burrell (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz.  Dobbs plays third with Moyer on the mound instead of Nunez is the curious thing here.  Victorino in righty with Werth on the bench against the righty.  Burrell back hitting sixth after hitting third against the lefty on Saturday.

Rollins led off the first with a single and stole second before Victorino grounded back to the pitcher for the first out.  Rollins stole third with Utley at the plate.  Utley hit a fly ball to right.  Rollins tagged and came home, scoring easily to put the Phils up 1-0 when the throw from Kearns was up the third base line.  Howard struck out for the third out.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the second.

Ruiz started the third with a double to right.  Moyer tried to bunt him to third but struck out.  Rollins walked on four pitches.  Victorino  swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and fouled it off.  Victorino got behind 0-2 before Bergmann hit him with a 2-2 pitch, loading the bases with one out.  Utley popped to short for the second out.  Howard was next and he hit a screaming liner just over the head of the second baseman Belliard, who was playing way back on the grass in shallow right field.  Ruiz and Rollins scored to put the Phils up 3-0.  Rowand flew to right for the third out. 

Howard's hit was huge.  If the Phils had gotten nothing after Moyer failed to bunt and Utley popped out with the bases loaded and one out it would have been a tremendous disappointment.  Instead, Howard delivered a key two-out hit.

With two outs in the fourth, Ruiz was hit hard on the left elbow with a pitch.  Ruiz stayed in the game to run for himself, but Coste entered the game to catch in the top of the fifth.  Moyer grounded back to the pitcher to end the inning.

If Ruiz was slowed by his elbow in the playoff it would be a big blow for the Phils.  Manuel clearly seems to favor Ruiz over his two other options behind the plate, Coste and Barajas. 

With two outs in the fifth, Utley and Howard singled back-to-back.  Rowand flew to left to end the inning.

Burrell walked to start the sixth and Bourn ran for him at first.  I'm putting together a posse to track down that move.  Coste was hit by a pitch and Bourn went to second.  Nunez, in for defensive purposes in the fifth, put down a pretty bunt for the first out and the runners moved to second and third.  Iguchi hit for Gordon and hit a ball well to center for the second out.  Bourn scored easily from third to put the Phils up 4-1.  Coste went to third.  Rollins was next and smoked a ball to right that bounced up against the wall.  Coste scored to make it 5-1 and Rollins busted it the whole way.  He slid into third with a triple, his 20th of the year.  It made him the fourth player in major league history to tally 20 doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in a season.  That ball was just a double and he willed it into a triple.  Victorino grounded to first for the third out.

Howard hit a long home run to right with one out in the seventh that put the Phils up 6-1.  Rowand and Bourn went down behind him.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the eighth.

Rollins was 2-for-3 with a triple, a walk, an RBI and two stolen bases.   4-for-12 in the series.  296/344/531 to end the season.

Victorino was 0-for-3 today.  1-for-9 in the series.  281/347/423.  Werth was 1-for-3 with a double in the series.  298/404/459 on the year.

Utley was 1-for-3 with an RBI.  4-for-11 with a double in the series.  332/410/566.

Howard was 3-for-4 with his 47th home run and three RBI.  5-for-12 with three home runs in the series.  268/392/584.  He has homered in four straight games, five of six and seven of the last ten games.

Rowand was 0-for-4 and left four men on base.  2-for-12 with a home run in the series.  309/374/515.

Burrell was 0-for-2 with a walk.  1-for-8 with a double in the series.  256/400/502 on the year. 

Dobbs was 0-for-2.  1-for-6 in the series.  272/330/451.  Nunez 0-for-1 today and in the series.   234/318/282.   Helms 0-for-1 today and 0-for-3 in the series.  246/297/368.

Ruiz 1-for-1 with a double today.  2-for-7 in the series.  259/340/396.  Coste was 0-for-1 today and in the series.  279/311/419.

The Phillies' next game is game one of the NLDS on Wednesday.  They will play either the Rockies or the Padres.  San Diego and Colorado play tomorrow night.  Jake Peavy (19-6, 2.36) goes for the Padres, facing Colorado's Josh Fogg (10-9, 4.79). 


September 29 2007

The Phillies sure looked a lot more comfortable as the hunters than the hunted.  Their single day alone atop the NL East wasn't one to remember as they dropped a game they played poorly in to the Nationals, losing 4-2. 

The comparison between what the Phils and the Mets did today in what was the biggest game of the season for both teams is not good.  The Mets got a dominating pitching performance from John Maine and rolled to a 13-0 win.  The Phillies just looked bad.  They couldn't get their offense going against Matt Chico.  All four runs the Nationals scored they scored with the help of a poor defensive play from the Phils.

The good news is that tomorrow brings another day and another biggest game of the season.  The Phils looked hesitant and unsure today, nothing like the guys who knocked down the door to get where they are.  They have one day now to get those guys back.

It's tempting to say that the Phillies couldn't afford to play badly today.  But it's not true.  They could.  They earned that with what they've done on the field.  What they can't afford is to play badly tomorrow.

The Phillies lost to the Washington Nationals this afternoon, falling 4-2 to drop to 88-73 on the year.  The are tied with the Mets atop the NL East.  Both the Mets and the Phillies are one game behind the Padres for the Wild Card.  Colorado plays tonight and a win against Arizona would give the Rockies the same record as the Mets and Phillies.

Adam Eaton got the start for the Phillies and went 2 1/3 innings, allowing a run on five hits and two walks.  One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He didn't strike out anyone and lowered his ERA to 6.29.

Ronnie Belliard singled with one out in the first.  Ryan Zimmerman was next and he doubled down the line in left.  Belliard slowed as he rounded third, but Burrell had trouble picking up the ball.  Belliard scored to put the Nats up 1-0.  Dmitri Young grounded to second for the second out and Zimmerman went to third.  Austin Kearns grounded to second to end the frame.

Brian Schneider walked with two outs in the second on a 3-2 breaking ball.  The pitcher Matt Chico was next and he singled to center, moving Schneider to second.  Felipe Lopez reached on an infield single to load the bases.  Belliard worked the count full, but Eaton got him to pop to Helms at third and leave the bases loaded.

Eaton walked Zimmerman to start the third.  Young was next and lined a ball to left, but Burrell made a shoestring catch for the first out.  Kearns moved Zimmerman to second with a single to right and Eaton got an early hook.  Geary came in to pitch to the lefty Ryan Church and got him to hit into a double-play to end the frame.

Wily Mo Pena and Schneider started the fourth with back-to-back singles off of Geary, putting men on first and second with nobody out for Chico.  Chico bunted the ball high in the air, but it dropped between the mound and home plate.  Ruiz went to second to force Schneider for the first out, but it was the wrong play.  With the ball bunted high, Pena got a slow start and would have been out by a lot if Ruiz had gone to third.  Jose Mesa came in to pitch to Felipe Lopez, and Lopez hit a fly ball to left.  Burrell's throw home was up the line and Pena scored easily to make it 2-0.  Belliard popped to first for the third out.

Pena can't score on the sac fly if Ruiz throws him out at third instead of Schneider at second.

I was surprised to see Geary exit so early for Mesa, but Mesa did a nice job.

Kyle Lohse pitched the fifth.  He gave up a leadoff single to Zimmerman, but got the next three.

Lohse came back to pitch a 1-2-3 sixth.  He started the seventh with the Phils still down 2-0 and gave up a leadoff double to Lopez.  Belliard bunted Lopez to third for the first out.   Lohse walked Zimmerman, putting men on first and third with one out for the switch-hitter Young.  Young has been better against righties this year, so the lefty Romero came in to pitch to him.  Young hit a slow ground ball to first.  Howard thought he had it in his glove, stepped on the base and looked home.  He didn't have the ball.  He picked it up and tagged first, but Young beat it out and was safe on the error.  Lopez scored to make it 3-0 and Zimmerman went to second.  Kearns flew to center for the second out and Zimmerman moved to third.  With Church at the plate, Romero delivered a wild pitch.  Ruiz blocked the ball out in front of him and threw to second to try and get Jason Maxwell, who had run for Young.  The throw went into center field.  Zimmerman scored on the play and Maxwell went to third with the Nats up 4-0.  Church struck out for the third out.

Gordon pitched the eighth and allowed a one out single to Ryan Langerhans, but got Lopez to fly to left for the third out. 

Myers pitched the ninth with the Phils down 4-2.  He walked Zimmerman with one out.  Robert Fick was next and hit a ground ball to third.  Zimmerman was forced at second for the second out.  Kearns moved Fick to second with a single, but Myers struck out pinch-hiiter D'Angelo Jimenez to leave the runners stranded.

The Phils used seven pitchers in the losing effort, including the guys they will surely need tomorrow.  Geary made 11 pitches and is well-rested.  Romero made ten pitches and did not pitch on Friday, although he had pitched three days in a row before that.  Gordon threw 14 pitches today.  He also did not pitch Friday but did pitch three days in a row before Friday.  Myers threw 21 pitches last night.  He didn't pitch Friday but threw two days in a row before Friday.  All four have thrown a ton of innings this month.

The Phillies' lineup against lefty Matt Chico went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Burrell (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Werth (7) Helms (8) Ruiz.  Werth back in right against the lefty.  Helms at third against the lefty.  Burrell moves up to third in the order against the lefty.

Utley singled with one out in the first, but Burrell struck out and Howard popped to short.

Werth doubled down the left field line with one out in the second.  Helms flew to right for the second out and Werth moved to third.  Ruiz walked, but Eaton struck out to end the inning.

Rollins started the third with a single.  Utley flew to center for the first out before Chico picked Rollins off of first for the second.  Burrell grounded to third to set the Phillies down.

Werth walked with two outs in the fourth, but Helms struck out for the third out.

Lohse hit for himself with one out in the fifth and drew a walk, but Rollins hit into a double-play to end the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the sixth.

Rowand started the seventh with a homer to left, cutting the Washington lead to 4-1.  Werth flew to center for the second out.  With the righty Saul Rivera on the mound, Dobbs hit for Helms and drew a walk.  Ruiz moved Dobbs to second with a single.  Victorino hit for Romero and came to the plate as the tying run.  He popped to Zimmerman near the mound for the second out.  Rollins hit it hard to first.  Fick didn't field it cleanly, but recovered in time to get Rollins and end the inning.

Howard homered with two outs in the eighth to make the score 4-2.  Rowand flew to center for the third out.

Werth, Dobbs and Ruiz went in order in the ninth.

Rollins was 1-for-4 and left three men on base.

Utley 1-for-4.  He's 3-for-his-last-15.

Burrell 0-for-4 and struck out twice.

Howard 1-for-4 with his 46th home run.

Rowand 1-for-4 with his 27th home run.

Werth was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.

Helms was 0-for-2.

Ruiz was 1-for-3 with a walk.

Jamie Moyer (13-12, 5.11) faces righty Jason Bergmann (6-5, 4.33) tomorrow.  Two of Moyer's last three starts have been good, but he allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Braves his last time out, which was Tuesday.  He's 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA against the Nationals this season.  He faced them on April 19 and April 24.  It's not a playoff game, but just for giggles, Moyer is 1-2 with a 2.66 ERA in four post-season starts.  The most recent of the four came in 2001.   Bergmann faced the Phils last Thursday and allowed two runs over six innings.  He's 4-0 with a 3.73 ERA in five starts this month.  He's been much better at home than on the road this year.  At home he's 4-2 with a 3.54 ERA in nine starts and on the road he's gone 2-3 with a 5.11 ERA in 11 starts.  He's made four starts against the Phillies in which he's gone 20 2/3 innings and thrown to a 3.48 ERA.  He's held the Phils to a .203 average against him this season and thrown to a 1.06 ratio.  He started against the Phillies on April 18, April 24, July 24 and August 20.  He'll be the fourth player to make five starts against the Phils this season.  The others are Tom Glavine, Tim Hudson and Dontrelle Willis.


September 28 2007

 

Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL Rank) SB CS
WAS 72-87 668 4.20 15 718 (15) 69 23
PHI 87-72 878 5.52 1 813 (1) 135 18

 
Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
WAS 72-87 769 4.84 10 5.12 (15) 3.79 (4)
PHI 87-72 816 5.13 12 4.98 (12) 4.48 (13)

It took 160 games, but Jimmy Rollins' pre-season remark has evolved from scoffed at bravado to inarguable fact.  With two games left in the regular season the Phillies are the team to beat in the NL East.

Rollins did his part again tonight, driving in a pair of runs with a fifth-inning single to break a scoreless tie.  But he would have had to do a whole lot more than that to steal the show from Cole Hamels.  Hamels gave the Phils the dominating performance fans had dared to hope for, throwing eight shutout innings as the Phillies rolled to a 6-0 win.

Two more games to go for the suddenly NL East front-running Phils.  If you want to worry about something you might want to go with momentum being only as good as tomorrow's starting pitcher.  Cause tomorrow's starting pitcher has had some problems since about the middle of 2005.

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals tonight, winning 6-0 to improve to 88-72 on the season.  They are 16 games above .500 for the first time this season.  A win tomorrow would put them 17 games over .500 for the first time since June 1, 2001.  The Mets fell to the Marlins, losing 7-4.  The combination of the Mets' loss and the Phillies' win puts the Phils a game ahead of New York in the division.

Hamels got the start for the Phils and went eight shutout innings in the biggest start of his life.  He gave up six hits and a walk.  One of the hits went for extra-bases, an eighth-inning double.  He struck out 13.  He threw 116 pitches. 

Ronnie Belliard singled to right with one out in the first, but Hamels got the next two.

Wily Mo Pena started the second with a single to right.  Tony Batista flew to center for the first out before Jesus Flores moved Pena to second with an infield single.  Justin Maxwell was next and he singled into center, loading the bases with one out for pitcher Tim Redding.  Redding hit into a double-play to end the frame.

Hamels struck out D'Angleo Jimenez and Ryan Zimmerman in a 1-2-3 third.  He struck out the side in a 1-2-3 fourth, getting Austin Kearns, Pena and Batista.

Maxwell singled with one out in the fifth.  Redding bunted and popped it way up in the air.  Howard took it for the second out.  Hamels struck out Jimenez for the third out.

Through five innings Hamels had thrown 69 pitches and struck out seven.  All seven of his strikeouts had come in the third, fourth or fifth.

Hamels struck out the side in the sixth to give him ten for the game.

He started the seventh having thrown 89 pitches and walked Pena on a low 3-2 fastball.  Batista popped to second for the first out.  Flores was next and he hit a high bloop into center field.  Rowand made a long run, slid and picked it backhanded off the top of the grass for the second out.  Hamels struck out Maxwell for the third out.  Great play by Rowand.

Hamels came back to pitch the eighth having thrown 102 pitches with the Phillies up 6-0.  Nook Logan led off, pinch-hitting for pitcher Chris Schroder.  Jimenez was next and he doubled down the line in left.  Hamels got Belliard to ground to second and struck out Zimmerman to end the frame.

Clay Condrey started the ninth with the Phils still up by six runs.  He hit Kearns to start the inning.  Pena grounded to second for the first out and Kearns moved to second.  Batista popped to short for the second out and Condrey struck out Flores to end the game.

Nice job by Manuel to give Condrey an inning and give the big three in the Phils pen, Romero, Myers and a suddenly shaky Gordon, the night off with a six-run lead.

The Phillies' lineup against righty Tim Redding went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Burrell (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz.  Victorino back in right with Werth on the bench.  Dobbs plays third against the righty. 

Victorino singled up the middle with one out in the first, but Utley and Howard went down behind him.

Burrell walked with one out in the second, but Dobbs and Ruiz struck out behind him.

With two outs in the third, Victorino hit a ground ball to Belliard at second.  Belliard couldn't handle it and Victorino was safe at first on the error.  Victorino was caught stealing with Utley at the plate and ahead of the count to end the inning.   Just the fourth caught stealing on the year for Victorino, but you don't want to run yourself out of the inning with Utley at the plate and the score tied.

Rowand singled with two outs in the fourth, but Burrell flew to right for the third out.

After getting just two hits through four innings, the Phils finally broke through with three runs in the fifth.  Dobbs hit the first pitch of the inning way out to right but foul.  He singled to left.  The 1-0 pitch to Ruiz was way up and in.  Ruiz leaned back to get out of the way and the ball hit him in the right hand.  That can't be good, but he stayed in the game.  Hamels bunted the runners to second and third for the first out.  Rollins singled up the middle, bringing in both runners to put the Phils up 2-0.  Victorino popped to third for the second out.  Utley popped the 1-1 pitch high foul behind home plate.  Flores battled with the railing and had the ball bounce out off the heal of his glove.  Utley got behind 1-2 and Rollins took off for second on a pitchout.  Flores, who had gunned down Victorino to end the third, made another strong throw that beat Rollins easily to the bag, but Jimenez dropped the ball and Rollins was safe.  Utley crushed the next pitch high off the wall in right.  Rollins scored and the Phils were up 3-0.  Howard was walked intentionally, but Rowand flew to left for the third out.

The Nats gave Utley too many chances in that at-bat.  They would have been out of the inning in Flores could hold the foul ball or Jimenez held onto the ball at second.

Burrell started the sixth with a double and Bourn ran for him at second.  Taking Burrell out of the game in the sixth is a terrible idea for all the same reasons it was yesterday.  If you think Bourn's a better player than Burrell, start him.  But you're not going to have a job for long if you do.  The Phillies bullpen is just awful if you're not up on current events, and Bourn can't get you an out when somebody hits the ball into the fifteenth row.  Dobbs struck out for the second out.  Ruiz was next and he hit a hard ground ball to short that went off the heel of Jimenez's glove for an error.  Bourn went to third with Ruiz safe at first.  Hamels hit for himself and showed bunt early in the at-bat but then swung away and hit a double-play ball to second.  Ruiz went into second hard as Jimenez relayed to first.   The throw pulled Batista off the bag and the Nats couldn't get the double-play that would have ended the inning.  Bourn scored to put the Phils up 4-0.  Rollins grounded to short for the third out. 

Three times in two innings Jimenez hurt the Nationals in the field.  Couldn't hold the ball on the Rollins steal in the fifth, and he made an error and then pulled Batista off the bag with his throw in the sixth.

With one out in the seventh, Utley made little effort to get out of the way of a 2-2 curve ball and was hit by the pitch.  Howard smacked one out to left field and the Phils lead 6-0.  Rowand swung at an 0-2 pitch that was way inside and missed, but Flores didn't catch the ball and Rowand took first.  Bourn was next and he moved Rowand to second with a solid single to right.  Nunez followed with a walk that loaded the bases for Ruiz with one down.  Ruiz struck out swinging at a high 1-2 pitch.  Hamels hit for himself with the bases loaded, having thrown 102 pitches in the game ten days after the 23-year-old had come off the DL.  That is just terrible.  He struck out.  Can't blame Hamels for striking out, but it would have been nice to get something from Ruiz with one out and the bases loaded. 

Utley singled to right with two outs in the eighth.  Howard grounded to second to end the inning.

Rollins was 1-for-5 with a big single and two RBI. 

Victorino 1-for-5 with a single and a caught stealing.

Utley 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

Howard 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his 45th of the year.  Third homer in four days for Howard.

Rowand 1-for-4.

Burrell 1-for-2 with a double and a walk.

Dobbs 1-for-3 and struck out twice. 

Ruiz 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and four men left on base.

Adam Eaton (10-9, 6.33) faces lefty Matt Chico (6-9, 4.75) tomorrow.  Eaton has been terrible all season long and has a 6.97 ERA in his four starts in September.  On the season he's allowed 30 home runs in 159 1/3 innings.  In three starts against the Nats this season he's 1-0 with a 5.71 ERA.  He started against Washington on April 18, June 6 and July 26.  Chico has a 5.94 ERA in his last three starts.  He gives up a lot of home runs, he's allowed 25 in 161 innings this year.   Twenty of the home runs have been hit by righties.  He started against the Phils on July 25 in Philly and allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings.


September 28 2007

Three games left for the Phillies. Less than two percent of the season.  Through 159 games you've seen the Phils give just about everything they have to get where they are.  Some might argue that despite it all, where the Phillies are is nowhere.  They haven't won anything yet.  I don't agree, though.  All their hard work has gotten them one weekend of good baseball away from the playoffs.

They're just one weekend away because they figured out a way to beat Tim Hudson and John Smoltz in the last two days after dropping the first game of a three-game set.  The Phils got their second consecutive solid outing from a starting pitcher last night as Kyle Kendrick gave them five shutout innings and took a 6-0 lead into the sixth.  They got out with a 6-4 win that gave them at least a piece of the lead in the NL East for the first time in more than two years.

For the second straight game the Braves made two errors in a frame, opening the door to a big inning for the Phillies.  Last night it was the first, highlighted by John Smoltz throwing one away after fielding a Victorino bunt.  Mark Teixeira added an error on Utley's ground ball and before the inning was over the Phils had jumped to a 4-0 lead.

The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves last night, winning 6-4 to improve to 87-72 on the season.  With a loss by the Mets they move into a tie for first place in the NL East. The last time the Phils were in or tied for first place in the NL East was April 6, 2005. The Phillies trail the Padres by one game for the Wild Card.  The Rockies and the Mets are also one game behind the Padres for the Wild Card.

Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk.  Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both home runs. He struck out two and won his tenth game of the season, improving to 10-4.

Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 first.

Mark Teixeira started the second with a walk, but Brian McCann followed and hit into a double-play. Jeff Francoeur singled to center before Andruw Jones flew to left to end the frame.

Matt Diaz started the third with a single and pitcher John Smoltz bunted him to second. Kendrick got the next two.

He threw a 1-2-3 fourth.

In the fifth, Diaz singled with two outs and the lefty Scott Thorman hit for Smoltz with the Phils up 6-0. Thorman grounded to Utley for the third out.

With one out in the sixth, Edgar Renteria reached on an infield single and Chipper Jones followed with a home run that cut the Phils' lead to 6-2. Mark Teixeira followed with a home run, his third in three days, and the lead was cut to 6-3. Kendrick stayed in the game to pitch to the lefty McCann and got him on a fly ball to center. Francoeur popped to second to end the inning. Surprising to see Kendrick, due to hit fourth in the bottom of the sixth, stay in to pitch to the lefty McCann after giving up back-to-back homers coming off of five shutout innings. But it worked.

Tom Gordon started the seventh up 6-3. Andruw Jones led off with a ball of the wall in left. Bourn, who had just entered after they ran for Burrell in the sixth, got to the ball quickly to hold Jones to a single. Diaz was next and hit a ball to Nunez, who had entered to start the inning defensively at third, and Nunez made a nice play to start a double-play. Willie Harris pinch-hit for the pitcher Joey Devine and doubled. Gordon walked the lefty Kelly Johnson, bringing Edgar Renteria to the plate as the tying run. Renteria flew to center to set Atlanta down.

Two hits and a walk in the inning for Gordon, who didn't inspire a lot of confidence. Manuel's defensive subs come up huge. If Andruw goes to second on his ball off the wall, Nunez can't start his double-play. The sixth is still too early to take Burrell out of the game.

Romero started the eighth. Chipper led off and was safe on a throwing error by Utley, but Romero got the lefty Teixeira to hit into a huge double-play. McCann grounded to short for the third out. Romero has allowed three hits and six walks in 13 scoreless innings over 18 games this month. Manuel picked a great time to use him, too, in the eighth rather than the seventh. Romero got Chipper hitting righty and two lefties in Teixeira and McCann.

Myers started the ninth. Francoeur hit his first pitch out to right to cut the Phillies' lead to 6-4. Andruw grounded to third for the first out before Diaz singled into left past a diving Rollins. Yunel Escobar hit for the pitcher and smashed a line drive to third that Nunez snared for the second out. Diaz went to second on defensive indifference before Myers struck out Kelly Johnson to end the game. Big play by Nunez on a ball that was hit hard by Escobar.

The Phillies' lineup against righty John Smoltz went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Burrell (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz. Victorino returns to the lineup after the big home run in Wednesday night's game and Werth struggling. He hits second, moving Utley down to third. The struggling Burrell stays in the lineup and drops from three to six. Dobbs plays third against the righty.

Rollins started the first with a single up the middle. He started every game in the three-game set with a hit, a triple, a home run and a single. Victorino bunted, Smoltz fielded and sailed the ball to first for an error. Rollins scored to put the Phils up 1-0 and Victorino wound up at third (he was given a single on the play and Smoltz charged with an error on the throw). Utley followed with the infield in and hit a ground ball to first that Teixeira booted. Victorino scored and the Phils lead 2-0. Howard pounded one out to right. 4-0. Rowand, Burrell and Dobbs all went down to end the inning.

Ruiz started the second with a single. Kendrick tried to bunt him to second but struck out. Rollins hit a ground ball to short and Ruiz was forced at second for the second out with Rollins safe at first. Rollins stole second, but Victorino grounded to short to end the inning.

With two outs in the third, Rowand doubled and Burrell followed with a home run to left. 6-0. Dobbs struck out to end the inning.

Ruiz doubled to start the fourth, but again Kendrick couldn't bunt him along and struck out. Second time in two innings Kendrick can't get it done with the bat. Rollins struck out for the second out before Ruiz went to third on a wild pitch. Victorino struck out to end the inning.

Miserable not to be able to put the ball in play after Ruiz starts the inning with a double.

Ron Mahay struck out Utley, Howard and Rowand in the fifth. Six straight strikeouts for the Phillies.

Burrell walked to start the sixth and Chris Roberson ran for him at first.  Dobbs hit a ground ball to second and Roberson was forced at second for the first out with Dobbs safe at first.  Dobbs went to second on a wild pitch before Ruiz walked. With men on first and second and one out, Laforest hit for Kendrick and hit into a double-play to end the inning. Laforest is 1-for-11 with the Phillies.  How 'bout the lefty Bourn as a left-handed bat off the bench and Roberson as the late-inning defensive replacement for Burrell?

The sixth is way too early to pinch-run for Burrell. His run was the run that put the Phillies up by four, so it's not like it's critical.  Using OPS as the measure, Burrell is the 15th best-hitter in the NL this season among players with 500 plate appearances.  It worked great last night for the Phils, but it's just a bad play.  It would be a bad play if the Phillies had a great bullpen or a pitcher's park -- it's worse because they don't have either.

Rollins reached on an error by Kelly Johnson to start the seventh, but Victorino hit into a double-play and Utley struck out to end the inning.

Rowand and Michael Bourn singled with one out in the eighth, putting men on first and second for Nunez. Nunez struck out and Ruiz grounded to short to set the Phillies down.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a single last night. 5-for-12 with a triple and a home run in the series and started each of the three games with a hit. 295/344/531.

Victorino was 1-for-4 with a strikeout. You have to believe his speed contributed to Smoltz throwing the ball away in the first. 2-for-6 with a home run in the series. 284/349/430.

Utley was 0-for-4, struck out twice and made an error. 2-for-11 with a home run in the series. 331/411/568.

Howard was 1-for-4 with his 44th home run. He struck out twice, giving him 197, which is a new major league record. 3-for-9 with two home runs in the series. 265/391/571 on the year.

Rowand was 2-for-4 with a double. 3-for-12 in the series. 312/378/517.

Burrell was 1-for-2 with a walk and his 30th home run. He's 30 stolen bases away from going 30/30 for the first time in his career and 25 stolen bases away from going 30/30 for his career. 1-for-8 with four strikeouts in the series. 259/401/506.

Dobbs was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. 1-for-7 in the series. 274/330/456. Nunez was 0-for-1 last night and 0-for-5 in the series. 235/317/283. He's 12 home runs away from going 30/30 for his career. If I gotta vote, I'd say he has a better chance than Burrell.

Ruiz was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. 3-for-11 with a double. 259/336/395.

Werth didn't bat last night and was 1-for-8 with a home run and four strikeouts in the series. 298/403/456 on the year. Who starts in right field is one of the interesting decisions for Manuel the rest of the way. I'd guess Victorino tonight.

Cole Hamels (14-5, 3.54) faces righty Tim Redding (3-5, 3.53) tonight as the Phils start their final series of the regular season, a three-game set with the Nats. Hamels has made two starts since his return from the DL, allowing four earned runs in eight innings. He faced the Nats on Sunday and held them to a run on two hits over five innings. Hamels' numbers at home and on the road are fairly similar -- he's allowed more home runs at home and, curiously, struck out fewer hitters. He's struck out 61 in 75 1/3 innings at home (7.29 per nine IP) this season and 103 in 100 innings on the road (9.27 per nine IP). He started against them on April 26, July 25, August 16 and September 23.  Redding started against the Phils on Saturday and was very good, holding them to a run on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings.  He struck out seven.  In two starts against the Phillies this season he's 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA.  He started against them on August 15 and September 22.

The Phils need Hamels in a big way tonight, because their starting pitching starts to get shakier after tonight with Eaton and Moyer looking likely to start the final two games of the regular season.

Click here to continue viewing posts in chronological order