Weekend from Hell ….

– PhilliesOutside –

Well maybe not from hell, but a weekend to move on from, one to let settle in the back of your mind till
one day you may need the knowledge to use as some stupid inconsequential pieces
of data. It wasn’t so much that the Phillies had a losing weekend against the
BoSox, obviously a losing weekend is never good, but inter-league play has not
been a National League strong point since it started. Also don’t forget, in
my
post of May 19th
I had gone into details of why ‘it is that time of the
month’
and for those doubters, let it be known that between now and the end of
the month, the Phillies, will lose at least 4 more,
there is 7 games left in May all against division rivals, which means if they
prove me right could put the division lead back into tight contention, which
makes for some excitement as the season goes on.

News broke that the Phillies were scouting for pitchers, because they had
scouts at the ChiSox and Marlins
over the weekend. I am not sure the White Sox have much to look at, it is
possible they were looking at the Marlins, since
we will be meeting them this week. The Phillies
front office did acknowledge the fact that looking is part of the game, and as
any normal person would do the media asked what of Martinez, just because
the Phillies picked him up last year and it
worked out, doesn’t mean they’ll do it again and again. Amaro did
indicate that since Martinez, just casts them money and no talent then
they keep checking in with him, but they haven’t seen him throw or had any face
to face time with him.

Forewarned is forearmed, so Amaro, here is your warning, “You
got lucky last year with Martinez, regardless of how desperate you think you may
be this year, DON’T do it again”
. I know I was not a big fan of
Martinez last year and I stand by that, I believe we would have had the same or
similar results had they not spent the time and money on Martinez. I
believe he had no influence on how things turned out and was at times more of a
distraction than an benefit.

Let’s face it the only real addition we may need is a solid closer, because
no matter what anybody says, if it’s Lidge out there then everyone is going to
be holding their breathe
for every pitch, knowing that this could be the pitch that blows the save. It’s possible
that Contreras could be converted to a closing role, he’s only had 1 save
in his career thus far, but I have to admit I was more comfortable watching him
close than I have been watching Lidge close.

We still need Happ to return from the DL healthy and give us a solid last two
thirds of the season, and then if we could convince Seattle to let us get Lee
back before July 31st, then we would be in good shape. Lets face it, we don’t
have many prospects to trade, but I don’t think Lee will stay in Seattle
after this year and there is a chance the Phillies
could unload 2 or 3 players, like Kendrick, Dobbs, Bastardo, or mix them
up and throw in a couple of minor leaguers, who knows what Seattle
would do, and Lee would probably sign with a 3 year deal where both Lee
and the Phillies would be happy. A dream
maybe, but after the weekend that’s all I have today, a dream.

 

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Phillies take Game 1 at Yankee Stadium

This World Series has been given a few diferent names, as in every year the media look for catchy phrases to brand the series.

The Liberty Series – in reference to the Statue and the Bell

The Amtrak Series – in reference to the short train ride

I even heard it called the I-95 Shoot Out due to the quick Interstate drive

Whatever you want to call it, tonight it was the domination of Cliff Lee and the power of Chase Utley.


lee1-vs-cubs.jpgAs excited as I am at the victory, I am still well aware that it is only game 1 and there is lots of baseball left to play, but it is a win on the road which in reality removes the homefield advantge of the Yankees.

With Pedro Martinez scheduled to pitch game 2 against AJ Burnett, you can be sure the fun is just begining.

Just in case any Yankee fans actually decide to read this a little reminder the score was Phillies 6 Yankees 1

Chase Utley reached base in his 26th consecutive post season game producing a new MLB record and he also joined Babe Ruth as the only 2 left handed hitters to hit 2 home runs off of left handed pitching in a World Series Game.

and tomorrow…

‘it will be who it will be’


Celebrations, Commiserations…

Celebrations are running
wild in Dodgertown following the sweep they imposed upon the St.
Louis Cardinals
, finishing them off on the road in the Red Birds
home park. This has definitely proven to the rest of the post season
teams that the Dodgers are a team on a mission and are prepared
to face all comers to achieve that goal.

Commiserations go out to all
Cardinal fans, without question I had expected this first round
series to be the one that could have gone the full 5 games. To me the
one, two punch of Carpenter and Wainwright was sure to
prove a tough match to win for any team even if they pitched on the
road. Unfortunately for the Red Birds this was not to be the
case, as with the regular season, more often than not teams traveling to
the west coast have had problems with the first couple of games in a
series.

The Phillies and the Rockies
endured an extra days rest due to weather conditions, this was to be
inevitable after Charlie Manuel selected Pedro Martinez as
the starting pitcher…

…Martinez has experience
more games where the weather has interfered with his starts in 2 months
than most pitchers experience in a season. For the Phillies we hope this
latest problem for Martinez’s start is a blessing in disguise.

With the extra day the
Phillies are sending J.A. Happ to the mound, yes he’s a rookie, but he’s
also the best rookie pitcher this year…

 

so tonight, weather permitting
the Rockies will host the Phillies, with the series tied at 1-1, this is
a game for the taking by either team to get the series lead.

The Yankees and the Angels
both on the road attempt to clinch sweeps today and move on, however the
Twins and the Red Sox, respectively stand in their way and
hope that they can produce the beginning of an insurmountable task of
winning 3 games in a row.

Today will definitely be a
day packed full of adventure, especially with the recent events that
have spot lighted umpires more than players.

For this fan I just have 2
things to say…

GO PHILLIES and GO EAGLES…


Cap Tip, Double Take, Spotlight and More…

 

In a week when individual
sports showed how easy it is to lose just because of a temper tantrum
and the NFL got underway with the first week of games. Well done to the
Eagles.

Cap
Tip…

Pedro Martinez has
put in 2 very good performances back to back, I for one am very
surprised. He has come close to self destructing each outing in the
first few innings, but he has got through it and gone on to pitch well,
Sunday night against the Mets especially. Pedro went 8
innings, at least 6 of them were showing a slight resemblance of the 29
year old Martinez, throwing 130 pitches on the night he
struck out 7 and walked 2, he only gave up 6 hits… so well done Pedro…

 

 

Double
Take…

The Phillies played
the Nats last week and the Nats played the spoiler
in 1 game, but the double take was when the Nats
played one of the emerging stars to be from the Washington organization,
a little known short stop named ‘Ian Desmond‘, who has some
pretty big shoes to fill, not because he’s destined to replace a great Nats
player, but because he is being highlighted in likeness, actions and mannerisms
to another short stop in the majors….the player they are a likening
him too reached his own milestone this week…. if you didn’t guess this
one then where have you been this weekend, cause lets face it sports
media has really only talked of one short stop…now you’ve got it…Derek
Jeter
…Who became the new Yankees most hits record
holder… well done Jeter, the Yankees
actually kept a player long enough to achieve this, so well done Yankees
too…but I digress, the look-a-like, act-a-like Nats
upcoming short stop Ian Desmond and Derek Jeter, you
decide….

 

 

The
Spotlight…

The Phillies
starting pitchers do well, they get the glory and the win, the pitchers
from the pen get a hold or a save they get the glory, but what of the
guy behind the plate calling the pitches, or blocking that one in the
dirt, giving the pitchers a target to throw at, or saving a stolen base
with a throw. The catcher, where’s his glory, okay so a catcher has
stats like all players, but mostly if the pitcher throws the ball where
the catcher sets up he doesn’t get smacked around, and in the case of
the Phillies the man behind the mask is Carlos Ruiz. Obviously
not all catchers are equal, some are hitters, but cant throw very well,
some aren’t that good at calling a game and get the signs from the dug
out, some just cant throw very well, and some cant block a really good
slider in the dirt. Ruiz I think is good at all the roles
a catcher plays and yet is in the shadow of the starting rotation or pen
most of the time. So here’s my way of putting the spotlight on one of
the best unsung hero’s the Phillies have on the team and without
question one of the best catchers in the NL…

 

 

and
More…

Streaks… the
only real streak going on this week is that of the Tampa Bay Rays
and unfortunately it’s a losing streak, so my hopes of a repeat of the
2008 World Series clash has been dashed, even if they win every last
game the hopes that the other teams in the Wild Card race would lose
enough to enable them to make it are slim to none.

Spoilers
the O’s have taken a couple from the Yankees… the
Nats
took a couple from the Marlins… the Jays
took a couple from the Tigers… the Braves took 3 from
the Cards… the Padres took a couple from the Rockies
most of the other teams destined for the playoffs only gave up 1 loss to
non-contenders.

Race… the
tightest race is still the NL West, although the Dodgers don’t
seem to be giving any ground and maybe the Rockies peaked
to soon, with the Giants and Rockies getting ready
to play each other, the Dodgers get a chance to extend the
lead by hosting the Pirates…

 

My choices at this time
will put the Angels and the Yankees in the ALCS and
the Cards and the Phillies in the NLCS.

It is September ball and we
all know that can change in a matter of a week….

For the
Phillies it remains the same for this guy…

…make the right choices and
the Phillies can be in the post season shooting for a repeat, the
wrong choices and the season ends October 4th.


September/October… the Final Countdown…

What’s in store for the Phillies
as we enter the final month of baseball, okay so the regular season runs
into October this year, but it’s only 4 days.

33 Games in 33 Days…

So the end of season
schedule is not being kind to a team trying to go back to back World
Series Champions, they have a full month and beyond. During September
they will play 30 games, in fact lets go from here to the regular season
end, 33 days to go, 33 games to play and somewhere they will get 2 days
off and play 2 double headers. Being 7 1/2 games up in the NL East is
certainly an advantage, but with this schedule it will definitely make
it a challenge to maintain. Finishing off the season is going to make
them tired even before post season play begins, at best you can hope for
a strong showing in the first half of September, so they can rest some
of the key players leading up to post season.

Offense and Defense…

 

The same guys that have
been producing the offense, (some days it may not have been much
offense
), are producing stellar defense. These guys are playing
every game like it is October baseball, they are making plays like it is
the last out, they are truly supporting every pitcher that takes the
mound.

The pitching staff seem to
be turning things around, yes your going to have the occasional game
where the opposition hit you around, those days make you more intense
the next time out. 

Starting Pitching…

 

 

Cliff Lee, took
his first loss in a Phillies uniform, which was okay, this way there are
no added strains on him to go perfect to season end. He can now pitch
his game and do what he does best.

Cole Hamels, last
2 games have been more like the Hamels we know from last year, hopefully
he has his game back and we can move forward. His confidence was such
that his game against the Giants this week saw him stealing a base, the
first of his career and he also went a solid 9 shut out innings giving
up just 2 hits in that game.

JA Happ, has
been the rookie with a veteran look, he has been excellent all year,
even when the chips are down, he stays focused and pitches his game. He
is without a doubt prime candidate for ‘Rookie of the Year‘ this
year.

Joe Blanton, the
Hulk‘, the ‘Work Horse‘, when you see him pitch it is
obvious he enjoys what he does and he stays in command and doesn’t get
phased by anything, he’s had good numbers this year and his second half
is as usual, very good.

Pedro Martinez,
the newest member of the starting rotation, who has not yet produced
what you would call a quality start. Facing 2 rain games that lasted 2
and 3 innings for him and 2 other games where he was seemed to be still
trying to find his way back in the majors. We will have to see how he
does this week against the Giants, a team the Phillies don’t produce
much offense against, will Martinez be able to keep it close, we will
see this week.

Jamie Moyer, Although
Moyer is now in the pen, I have included him here, simply because he has
taken the 2 rain delay games from Martinez and been outstanding, he has
also pitched reasonably well all year as a starter, still holding the
most wins as a Phillies starting pitcher this year. With the 2 double
headers the Phillies will be facing I think his role will be very
important, especially as one is against the Marlins, a team he has
dominated.

The Bull Pen seems
to have had some rest of late, although there are some deep issues still
to be resolved, I haven’t included a breakdown for them here, because I
think we need a little more time into September to see if the looming
post season is going to spur them on or if we will continue to see the erratic
side of the pen. I will mention thus far the only two I am comfortable
with are Eyre and Park, but we will continue to watch and see how Lidge
and Madson perform during the next week, along with some notables like
Durbin, Walker and Taschner, now he’s back up.

With the ability to load up
the team with new faces in September, the Phillies have chosen to be a
little more conservative, holding room for some of the DL players to
make an impact in the post season, assuming the Phillies maintain the
current state of play and make the post season of course.

More to come over the
weekend, with a look at bench players and the expected return of DL
players…

 


Rain Man, to the Rescue…

Rain Man, Jamie Moyer
came to the rescue again, following another Pedro Martinez
start. He’s had 4 starts now, 2 of which he never got past the 3 inning
due to rain the other 2 he manage a combined 11 innings giving up 7
runs, that’s an investment any team should be proud to have made.

Martinez, praying
for more rain, or just that he doesn’t have to go back out there?

 

I felt sorry for the Braves
pitcher, Hanson, who is Atlanta’s version of the Phillies JA
Happ
. An excellent young pitcher who would have probably gone
deep into the game, I am sure this kid has a lot of good years ahead of
him.

 

It was 70’s night at CBP
and to add to the flavor of the night they posted images of the players
on the big screen in a 70’s theme, Ryan Howard who managed
to hit 2 "Howard Homers" picking up another 3
RBI’s to help the Phillies on their way to the 4-2 win, was somehow
given the image of what could only be described as a 70’s ‘Pimp
Daddy’
I am sure the guys had plenty of laughs at all the images
shown…

 

Rain Man,
pitched a solid 4 plus innings allowing only 1 run on a fielding
misjudgment by Victorino, which really couldn’t behelped
with the weather conditions…

 

Just in case some people were starting
to think Raul Ibanez was showing his age, he hit a rocket
into center field and raced around the bags for a triple, which is
normally only reserved for the young super fast players at CBP…

The double rain delay put a
damper on seeing how Martinez would perform against a hot rival team,
but the good news was the Phillies got the win and increased there lead
in the NL East to 8 games.

 

 

Tonight the Phillies
continue there hosting at CBP against the Braves, with the unbeaten Lee
in a Phillies uniform going against the Braves, Lowe, this is destined
to be a pitchers duel at its best, if both guys bring there top game
tonight…


Three Close… One Cigar…

This last week, was a trip
across the state for a match-up with the recently revamped Pirates.
On paper this should have been nothing more than a formality, a quick
trip along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, from Philadelphia
to Pittsburgh, an interesting three days and a quick trip
back to Philly with a least 2 wins from a 3 game series. Instead the
Phillies experienced 3 close ball games which were not decided
until the last 2 innings, the biggest disappointment, wasn’t so much the
2 loses that Philadelphia took from the series, it was more that the
interstate rivalry between these two teams is nothing more than a mere whisper,
instead of a big boom. Since the two teams are no longer division rivals
the once interstate rivalry is just a few games a year, Philly fans
probably outnumbered the Pirates fans at all 3 games, probably due to
the fact the Pirates no longer have hope of a post season run this year.

A city that was once a
dominant force in the steel industry, a city that named a bridge after
one of its most famous baseball players, is a city rebuilding it’s
baseball team.

The view….

…the Roberto
Clemente
bridge.

 

All 3 games were closely
contested right to the end of each game.

Game 1 was
the walk off from McCutchen, with the now famous celebratory NBA type
dunk into his fellow team mates…

 

Game 2, gave
us extra innings and a towering ‘Howard Homer’ to break
the deadlock in the 10th inning.

 

Game 3 was just as close,
until the 8th inning, another long ball, this time by the Pirates
outfielder Jones, the Pirates went on to hold that lead and take 2 out
of 3 from Philadelphia.

These weren’t the only things I saw
during this 3 game series, I also got to see what could be the early
days of the career of a future Hall of Famer, okay so it’s way to early
to tell that and I only saw him in 3 games, but I looked at a few others
and the kid has a lot of talent that can only be improved upon. This kid
has the power to become an All Star next year and an MVP in the next 5
years. He obviously needs to keep his head on his shoulders, not get
carried away in the big picture, and definitely not be mislead by any
unscrupulous people found within the world of professional baseball, it
would also help if he stayed away from injuries. Pittsburgh fans should
know all this already and those who have kept a watch on young talent
that has emerged on to the seen in the last couple of months, I say this
kid is worth remembering…..

He looks like he should be
a wide receiver for the Steelers instead of centerfield for the Pirates.
Initially he doesn’t appear cocky or arrogant like some other
young talent that in the past has shot on to the baseball scene, (i.e.
Reyes… yep I here Muts fans booing,)
This kid should be a center
piece during the rebuilding of the Pirates team. If McCutchen
wants to continue to build, what should be a huge career, he needs to
stay away from New York, remember your beginnings.

 

 

Tonight the Phillies are
back at CBP for the weekend, playing host the visiting Atlanta Braves.
Tonight Pedro Martinez goes for the Phillies, we’ll see if he can
produce a quality start for the Phillies. The scoreboard is running, I
said he would not produce 6 good starts of 6 innings
before he is crucified by a team. So far he has 3 starts and 1 of those
contained 6 innings.