April 25, 2014

Real test starts for Phils as Oswalt heads to DL

As I said in the previous series-thread, the Phillies next 20 games after are against quality opponents: ATL, FLA, ATL, STL, COL, TEX, CIN. So far we have played a whopping 5 games against teams with over .500 records. We are 3-2. We’ll start finding out what we’ve got in this team now.

2011: 21-9
2010: 18-12
2009: 16-14
2008: 17-13
2007: 13-17

The Good News

  • Jimmy Rollins triumphant return to the top of the line-up: 6 for 13, 2 BB, 2 SB. Keep it up, James.
  • Raul Ibanez returns to the land of living. In that 3-game series he increased his OPS by 42%! It’s truly amazing that someone can go from looking absolutely lost on 85mph fastballs down the middle, to hitting upper deck shots and 100mph fastballs. Hopefully he can get on a hot-streak.
  • Even when Roy Halladay isn’t great, he’s great.
  • Placido Polanco leads the majors in hits with 45.
  • Victorino is riding a 8-game hitting streak, and didn’t appear phased moving out of the lead-off spot.

Let’s talk about Cole Hamels briefly. Many picked him to win the Cy Young this year, and then his horrendous opening start killed that thought almost right away. But since that start, he’s pitched as well as anyone in baseball. In his 5 other starts, he’s averaged almost 8 IP, has a 1.42 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and has struck out pretty much a batter an inning while only allowing 24 hits in 38 IP. He’s been our best pitcher over that stretch.

It certainly seemed like 2009 was an eye-opening experience for Hamels. He got caught in the post-World Series MVP celebration and didn’t get fully prepared for the season and that, combined with some bad luck, resulted in a very disappointed season for him. But in retrospect, those struggles may have helped him. He changed up his off-season workout plan, and worked on adding a new pitch, a cutter, to replace his below average curveball.

You could see the results almost right away last year, with his fastball reaching 94mph on a consistent basis, and as he got more comfortable with the cutter, he only improved. In his 34 starts since his rocky start last year, he’s put up the following numbers: 218.2 IP, 2.67 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 7.4 H/9, 8.8 K/9. This year, he’s throwing the cutter with more regularity and it’s getting more effective. In fact, it’s the most effective cutter in the majors so far this year, according to FanGraphs.

If he continues with his conditioning programs, and has an open mind to constantly be improving, I think it’s pretty important we lock him up for the long-term as soon as we can. Corey Seidman over at BrotherlyGlove wrote a great post about what the Phillies should offer. His education number: 5 years, $85 million. Sign me up.

    The Bad News

    • No bad news after a sweep, but I can say this since it’s technically about next series. Losing Oswalt to the DL isn’t the end of the world, but we’d better not keep Kyle Kendrick in his spot over Vance Worley. That would be indescribably stupid. I completely understand not keeping Vance up and in the bullpen, but if a starting spot is open, it better go to him. I think as the season goes on, we will continue to have discussions about Oswalt and whether or not the Phillies should bring him back next year at $14 million, or spend that money elsewhere. If Hamels continues to dominate, Worley stays solid and the offense keeps sputtering, it will be more interesting than I thought it would.

    Series Preview: Atlanta Braves at Phillies

    The look of the series takes a turn with Kyle Kendrick on the mound tomorrow. Sure, he could toss a good game, but I’m not betting on it. The Braves have been playing very well of late, they have won 10 of 13 and 5 in-a-row. I’m sure they see this series as a chance to rocket right back to us, as a sweep would put them 1.5 games out.

    Probable Pitchers

    Friday (7:05): Lee vs. RHP Derek Lowe
    Saturday (7:05): Kendrick vs. RHP Julio Teheran
    Sunday (8:05): Hamels vs. RHP Jair Jurjens

    3 questions for the series

    1. Can Cliff Lee erase the thoughts of his last start vs. Atlanta?
    2. How will Braves super-prospect Julio Teheran look in his first MLB start?
    3. Chase is going to Florida! Will we keep getting good news?

    Series Expectations

    Tough one with Oswalt out. I’m giving them the 2nd game. But I also can’t praise Hamels like I did above and pick against him, so the winner of tonight will take the series. I’ll take the Phils to win 2 out of 3 as we miss their two best starters (Hudson and Hanson) and our offense has found some life again.

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    Comments

    1. Ken Bland says:

      I don’t know that we’d have pushed this, but Ramirez pitching last night killed chances of his being recalled to pitch Saturday.  That’d have been a real interesting 1 game choice.

      Conversely, from a Braves perspective, I like their aggressiveness in calling Tehran up for Saturday.  Circumstances may prove tough at times, but I’d expect to see some flashes of great potential. 

      Glad you offered your opinion on Cole’s next contract.  Was curious what it was.  The 85/5 money’s pretty fair, but from Cole’s angle, I’d like to see him shoot a littlre higher if he’s gonna go through his peak years I’d like to see him closer to the average Cliff and Doc have since they came here after those peak years.  Obviously that’s just chronologically, certainly in Doc’s case, and I’m sure Cliff’s also as the season goes on.  

    2. jjg says:
    3. jjg says:
    4. jjg says:

      (not meant to be)

    5. jkay says:

      Pete: there’s no procedural obstacles to bringing Worley back right? they can just call him up again. Clear someone for the roster spot and that’s it right.

      • Dino says:

        I’m having trouble finding anything about Worley being sent down.  I did finally see that Roy went on the DL retroactively.  Phillies have shown to have fortitude these past few years, so no need to get panicked.

    6. Dude says:

      Good god. 10 k’s thru 5, but we’re down 3-0.

    7. phillyfan says:

      uh oh, what happened to Placido.  

      And I will be fair – Howard looks like he is entering one of his “lost” phases as he does about twice a year.  I think it started in the Nats series.

    8. phillyfan says:

      braves sure do know how to develop relievers.  That display in the 7th inning was downright awesome by O’Flaherty.

      • Pete says:

        yeah – and he’s their 3rd best guy behind Venters and Kimbrel. They have an excellent scouting system – def among the best in that dept.

        • phillyfan says:

          And they have a 20-year old phenom tomorrow.  Not only are they good but they seem to be ready earlier than the phils pitchers and they aren’t afraid to bring them up.

    9. jjg says:

      Braves pride shows.  Nice to see 2 real teams go at it.

      I’m sure it disappointed some, but I’m glad Art still has K record.

      Couple nice plays by kid at 1st.

      Chooch, Utley, Werth – psychological dent. 

    10. jkay says:

      only the Phils can pull off a 2nd and 3rd with no outs and come back empty.
      we usually don’t do well against pitchers we haven’t seen before. hopefully the kid comes out throwing more balls than strikes or someone hits a long ball early. no way Kendrick is going to limit the Braves especially with the lefties they have.
      not looking good so far.
      our biggest loss out of this series will be Polanco, not a possible sweep. hope he’ll be ok.

    11. jjg says:

      Phils have bounced back well so far this season.  Kendrick may put the kabosh on it though.  Throws a strong 6, 1 or 2 of 8 starts.         

      • Pete says:

        Yup – can’t imagine him not giving up 4-5 runs tomorrow. Offense may have to get it done. 

        He does occasionally toss a gem though.

      • phillyfan says:

        Best hope is 6 innings and 4 runs for Kendrick.  For that I would be thankful.

    12. Pete says:

      We will certainly hit a rough patch at some point – all teams do over 162 games – but starting 21-9 helps you manage it.

      • jjg says:

        You’re right.  Most sputtering great start I’ve ever seen.

        • phillyfan says:

          seems like we have been saying that since 2007.  They sputtered all year and then straked at the end.  Last year we were scratching our heads about how they won 97.  Not sure why our expectations are so out of whack.  I guess we don’t just want them to win, but we want them to win a certain way.  I know I fall into that trap – that 2006 – 2008 offense was like a drug.  I thnk we got addicted, it was so much fun.  But perhaps it was a once in a generation thing.

    13. phillyfan says:

      What a wierd game last night. That is the quietist 16 strikeout performance in history?  Getting shut out by a guy with a bad toe?  Is Lee going to have that one bad inning a game – ala Blanton?
      I am not a huge fan of Lee but I can’t really criticize him.  I still think the money would have been better spent elsewhere.  Kinda overkill on the starters when we knew we needed hitting. Do we really need 4 in the playoffs?  I am not saying we should have signed Werth, but I would have rather put the money toward Hamels and a legit left fielder with some pop.  Lee was more of a luxury than a necessity in my mind.  I think he is somewhat overrated.
       

      • jjg says:

        Enjoyed the candor and temper of this post; tend to agree with you on Lee.

        • Ken Bland says:

          Which nonsense do you agree with?  The money for a leftfielder?  Never mind that 10 mil was comitted to Ibanez.  let’s just throw that away.  never mind that Brown hadn’t broken his hand yet, and whether he makes it or not, there’s enough natural talent there that you have to continue to allow him a chance, particularly since he’s very cheap for a while.  Never mind that we hashed a bunch of names around over the winter ranging from the dead (Jermaine Dye) to the untouchable (Upton).  Who was so attractive?  Never mind that a good deal of money’s coming off the books this year.  I’ve spent 550 years rooting for this team to get pitching, and now all of a sudden the amount we have is overkill?  I think not.  And we needed a left fielder because Utley was gonna inevitably have surgery because he was born with 2 knees.

          Or is it the nonsense about Kliff being overrated?  Exactly how is it that he’s rated, and should be rated?  I don’t see him pitching ahead of Halladay in the rotation.  Wanna list in alphabetical order the gurus who picked him to win the CY?  Did he just tag along to the World Series the last 2 years?  He is a DIFFERENCEMAKER.

          You wanna say he’s overappreciated in your view because you don’t like him, fine.  Cain’t nobody tell you how to feel.  But the guy is an excellent pitcher.  Surely you have to agree with that even if you think it’s overdone, which I don’t, but sounds more plausible than this crap from the original opinion about being overrated.

          That’s better than candor.  It’a candor and truth. 

          My 2 cents.

          • Pete says:

            Since 2008, Lee is…

            6th in MLB in IP
            5th in ERA
            3rd in WHIP
            5th in WAR

            and has taken 2 teams to the World Series.

            So despite his “tough” start – he is undeniably one of the best 10 pitchers in baseball.

          • jjg says:

            I disagree by degree.  Excellent – no; sometimes excellent – yes.  Career facts are, Lee’s the 4th best starter on his team’s staff:

            Halladay:  3.30 ERA  137 ERA+
            Oswalt      3.18 ERA  135 ERA+ 
            Hamels     3.50 ERA  124 ERA+
            Lee          3.85 ERA  111 ERA+

            Cliff’s 28-25 in last 3 seasons, ’09-present, which included, of course, his 4-city gold rush.  (Brave’s young Jair Jurrgens, tonight’s arm:  24-16 in same span; career 3.41 & 121)  Lee is also slumping at the plate this year:  0-13, 7 Ks.  :)  

            In my mind, he’s in the top 12-18 range among baseball starter’s at present, depending on whether your list is geared to immediate, short range (next 3 yrs) or longer term (next 6-8) returns. 

            “Overappreciated” is an expression of finesse and some truth as it pertains to the Arkansas traveler.  Am still trying to fathom Phillies’ fans ardor for the guy.         

             

                        
             

            • jjg says:

              Dear reader(s), delete possessive apostrophe in line 10 please.  I thank you in advance for your edit. 

            • jjg says:

              Also, please reposition line 8′s 1st apostrophe to its rightful home after the ‘s’.  Again, thanks.  (I’m alarmed by today’s developments and am considering an ‘apostrophe reconciliation’ summer course.)

            • Ken Bland says:

              I don’t think rating Cliff around 12 is that much of a reach.  To me, off the cuff, it might be a little low, but we’re in the ballpark. I guess I’m comfortable with 5-10, but I do like his presence in a big game, despite what the Giants greeted him with. I mean facts are facts, and he’s not had a great start.  Excellent, very good, whatever, I mean it’s semantics to me.  We’re not all that far apart.  Further apart on if he took his teams to the WS, or they took him, but that’s more a secondary historical point.

              The list of former outfielders has a common denominator.  Athletic types who had decent, but not memorable careers, and as I recall, Johnny Briggs got caught in a trap of needing to play here at 18 because of some rule I forgot about.  Like all those guys, you have to assume Brown will at least get a shot at the majors.  How effective he’ll be, we’ll see.  But tying up money of certainly good size proportions, whatever good size is, in another outfielder, in lieu of a good pitcher isn’t something I could generically endorse.

              You must be like Cliff or Doc when you read my posts.  You’re such a perfectionist with correcting slight errors, like they refuse to walk anybody.  When they watch these ball 4 happy reliever types, they must cringe as you must with my carefree typo here, typos there ”style”. :)

          • jjg says:

            On D. Brown:  I think of Willie Kirkland, Mack Jones, Walt Bond, John Briggs, Mark Whitten.  But he’s got a ways to go to even reach their level.  Lessons to learn yet; Phils shouldn’t home-school him at MLB environment. 

    14. phillyfan says:

      I am still amazed at the pitching we are seeing across the board.  almost every ninth a starter somewhere has a no-hitter after 6 innings.

    15. Ken Bland says:

      Expectations can get you in trouble, well, not trouble, but mislead you, but I’d expect to see some Scott Mathieson tonight.  Being as the Phils no doubt wanna protect their investment in Kendrick’s arm, his not being conditioned to go more than maybe 4 innings, 5 absolute tops should have the pen on early call.  And that this is a come from behind liklihood tonight should further increase the chance of Charlie saving his lead protectors for another night, or another day.

      If I’m not mistaken, and it is a minimum of entirely possible, Mathieson  stands a very plausible chance of being a free agent in the near future.  With Oswalt and Contreras coming back fairly soon, the club will be looking to make cuts.  You assume Blanton replaces Worley.  You assume they don’t want to eat the money for Kendrick and Baez.  And besides the latter 2′s somewhere between occasional and frequent shows of ineptitude, it’s not that Mathieson has proven he’s any better.  He’s just got more backup QB syndrome attached to his name, and a very rootable story to attach to.  Probably the biggest question attached to him is can he throw strikes.

      Yeah, it’s possible that the 2 time TJ surgery Mathieson turns his upper 90s fastball into success.  But frankly, it might not be a longshot, but not the sort of deal you look at with unabounded optimism.

      Let’s assume he doesn’t.  Not to say pitches poorly and contests Kendrick and Baez for please get him outtahere, but not well enough to be an obvious keeper.  I believe he’s at a point in his career where the Phils would have to put him on irrevocable waivers before they could resign him and option him.  Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.  Mathieson has already resigned with the Phils once.  When he was younger, and less healthy.  But he might find a more receptive interest level, and finally get a chance to be a major leaguer that he can parlay this time around.  The process of having to put him on irrevocable waivers is what I could be entirely wrong about, even if that winds up his best option.

      The easiest thing would be for Mathieson to throw strikes, and get hitters out.  At some point, anywhere, that becomes necessity.  Either that, or the next time a Japanes club calls and expresses interest, it may not be as much of an option as it was this past winter.

      I’m pulling for Scott.  Again.  I hope it works out this time.  Starting as early as tonight, he’s gotta grab the chance, and go for the gusto.   

    16. joseaulait says:

      Held my breath through most of the first five innings last night. Kendrick, like Baez pitches then prays. At their “best”, both survive a number of shots to the warning track, and screaming liners right at an outfielder. You saw the former on at least three or four occasions last night.
      A question to those who are much more informed about these things than I am: How does your perception of Worley’s potential now compare to your opinion of Kendrick when he was winning ten games (with a sub 4 ERA) when he first arrived? I remember people had some hope that KK would pan out though they would note his limitations. I am well aware that there are, obviously all sorts of scenarios of course. Just looking to see what the take is on VW.
      We have “can’t miss” types (who often miss), and overachievers who have careers of over-achievement that confound almost everyone except the few who “get it”. Kendrick is obviously neither of these. How do you guys see Worley? Is he a right-handed Happ (struggling in Houston)  or someone with greater potential?

      • Dude says:

        I don’t know about anyone else, but I never saw Kendrick as having potential to be much more than a 5th starter at best. His fastball is average at best, and he always just pretty much relied on getting guys to ground out on his sinker. That first year he got by mostly on just luck, run support, & being new enough that there wasn’t much of a scouting report on him yet.

        I’ve said a couple times that I like Worley, but I don’t know that I’d call him a can’t miss prospect. He hasn’t shown a lot of his secondary stuff yet, but I’ve heard it needs to be polished up a bit. So there’s a potential that he doesn’t pan out in the long run – he has a good fastball, but eventually he’ll need something else to keep guys off of it. My personal impression is that he has 3-4th

        • Dude says:

          (oops, posted before I was done typing. Continued below)

          ….my impression is that Worley has 3rd-4th starter potential. But if it turns out that his secondary stuff ain’t up to par, it’s also certainly possible that he doesnt pan out in the long run. I’m leaning towards saying that at worst he’ll be a major league starter, maybe similar to Blanton, but I need to see him a few more times before I upgrade my leaning to a prediction.

          I haven’t really been paying attention to what happ has been doing this year…

          • Dude says:

            Out of curiosity, I went over & checked out young Mr. Happ’s numbers. With the exception of his start before his last start, where he went 7.2 innings & only let in 1, he’s looking to be the opposite of good for sure. Its gonna be tough to say too much without seeing what his pitches are doing, cause his biggest strength IMO was a fastball that had pretty crisp late break, “jumped” put of his hand well, and that he located well. If it’s not doing those things, he’s just another guy who throws 91ish. His secondary stuff was decent, and good enough if the fastball is working for him, but not good enough if not.

            Having said that, a few things do stand out about his numbers.

            - relying less on the FB this year than when he was here – almost 70% in 2009 v. about 60% this year, but this is basically in line with last year, so you wouldn’t think that’s a big factor per se in his getting hit around.

            -throws his slider about 3% less, and his curve about 3% more than normal each, and the change slightly less.

            - using fangraphs’ stat that ranks wins per pitch type. it looks like his slider is getting crushed – easily his worst pitch this year at at -6. Last year, it was a decent pitch for him at

          • Dude says:

            Out of curiosity, I went over & checked out young Mr. Happ’s numbers. With the exception of his start before his last start, where he went 7.2 innings & only let in 1, he’s looking to be the opposite of good for sure. Its gonna be tough to say too much without seeing what his pitches are doing, cause his biggest strength IMO was a fastball that had pretty crisp late break, “jumped” put of his hand well, and that he located well. If it’s not doing those things, he’s just another guy who throws 91ish. His secondary stuff was decent, and good enough if the fastball is working for him, but not good enough if not.

            Having said that, a few things do stand out about his numbers.

            - relying less on the FB this year than when he was here – almost 70% in 2009 v. about 60% this year, but this is basically in line with last year, so you wouldn’t think that’s a big factor per se in his getting hit around.

            -throws his slider about 3% less, and his curve about 3% more than normal each, and the change slightly less.

            - using fangraphs’ stat that ranks wins per pitch type. it looks like his slider is getting crushed – easily his worst pitch this year at at -5.5. Last year, it was a decent pitch for him at +6. His fastball is looking very average at 1.3 (down from 9.5 last year). His change looks improves from a minus to a plus pitch, but still only just over 1. His curve improved from about a -3 to just about neutral.

            - using other fangraphs stats, no change in walks per game over last year – just under 4. He’s striking almost one less batter per game.

            I’m sure theres more I could look at, but bases on this I’m going to say that it’s pretty clear his fastball and slider aren’t working for him. I’d want to see him in action to get a sense of why, but as I said above if his FB isn’t breaking it’s not a great pitch. Not surpirsing that guys aren’t fooled by his slider if his FB isn’t working. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares as the year unfolds.

            • Dude says:

              One other observation – for some reason he’s abandoned the cutter since going to TX. It was a decent pitch for him(3.3wins), so not really clear why he gave up on it. This could be a factor – a cutter mixed in with a slider would probably induce a lot of weak contact on both pitches, and keep hitters from squaring up the FB as much.

      • Ken Bland says:

        Let’s see how big a play that develops as, Howard not getting doubled.

      • Ken Bland says:

        Kendrick was never a good pitcher.  Even his first year with some stats that seemed good on the surface (10-4, sub 4 ERA), it was the same as his start last night.  Lotsa fly balls, no strikeouts.  He averaged like 4 K’s per 9 that first year, and it hasn’t really grown since..  To be an effective starting pitcher, you don’t have to strike a lot of guys out, but you have to be able to generate one when you need it.  Worley’s shown an ability to do that.  kendrick never has.  Worley’s pretty good.  He’ll probably settle into the bottom of a rotation, and could have a full major league career.  He’s poised, can throw hard when he needs to (94-95), and has shown an ability to strike people ot.

        What I’d like to know is if Ed Wade considered Worley over Happ for Oswalt, and why he chose Happ.   

    17. Ken Bland says:

      I haven’t really followed Happ, but I did check up on Mr. Durbin a few days back.  Good for him for prioritizing winning, and blindly winding up with a winner so far.  But he hasn’t done much to contribute by the numbers I looked at.  ERA 6 plus, WHIP 1.35ish.  A night like tonight might make him remembered a little more fondly than those numbers would be helping us.  No knock on him, but he pitched better here than he has for the Tribe.

      • jkay says:

        Yeah we miss him real bad, was very solid over his 3 years here. 1st and last moreso. Consistency is a perpetually underrated element. I’d be much calmer seeing him than Kendrick or Baez. remember the other Durbin; JD ‘the real thing’
        haha, what times we’ve gone though these years.

    18. Tom T. from Lancaster, NY says:

      Kendrick wins and Lee and Hamels lose to the Braves. WHAT THE HELL IS THE WORLD COMING TO?  You go to Vegas and try to make that bet, they’d laugh you out of town !!!!!!

      • phillyfan says:

        just tells you how important offense is.  You can win with lousy pitching and good hitting.  But you you can’t win with great pitching and lousy offense.  Not that Kendrick was lousy, but you get my point.  YOU HAVE TO SCORE TO WIN.  the best pitchers in the world won’t put crooked numbers on the board.  They only give you a chance to win – they don’t win.

        therein lies part of my consternation about signing Lee when we already had three front of rotation starters (all we really need for the playoffs) and gaping holes in the offense. Lee is great to have, but a luxury as this team was constructed, our needs were elsewhere.

        • Pete says:

          you predicted this team would win 120 games.

          don’t even try to make yourself look like a know-it-all who thought this team had “needs”

          • phillyfan says:

            I don’t think I have backed away from 117 wins, which is where I settled prior to opening day.  that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize the Lee signing.  I just felt it was a bit of a heart over the head signing.  RAJ got all excited because he would sign here for less, without really assessing whether it was right for the team now or in the next 3 years.  Again, it seemed to be driven by this who Cliff-Lee_Love affair thing. 

            I think we are right where were last year.  If we face SF big 3 we would lose 3-2, 3-1, 2-1 ish games.  Cliff, Roy, and friends would be quite good.  But…you gotta score.  20 million in other areas could have secured some offense.

            • Ken Bland says:

              Phillyfan,

              This board is filled with bright, intelligent folks.  I’m the only one stupid enough around here to think that your 117 wins, down from 125, no less, was derived by the type of concise, honest to goodness research as opposed to picking a number of wins that might come across as more believable because it was an odd number, and you could defend it as being between 2 even numbers.  Yes, Virginia, I swear by the blue skies above me that such scientific approach is how this rocket scientist “settled” on 117 wins.  The identical twin logic brother of how Ryan Howard would be hitting .313 on July 1, 2011.  Not .314.  Not .312.  Frankly, the authenticity of the man’s reasearch still has me in shock that this calculated prediction wasn’t reported in 4 digits by the hungered media.

              Feel more than free to present copy that you actually wrote here, there, or anywhere that at the time conveyed a sense of misplacement with the funds going to Lee as opposed to a bat.
              Feel more than free to present a name that made, or makes sense within the framework of reason that the Phils should have pursued.

              Feel equally free to present an explanation of how a team goes from 97 wins to 117, 125, historic, or what have you with the subtraction of Werth if you think Lee is so overrated and overpaid.  There wasn’t any, there isn’t any.   You didn’t jump up and down like many of us because anybody that so much as breathes around Ryan Howard, and effects his status as better than oxygen for the perpetuation of life is bad news.  Otherwise, exactly where is example of you not performing your usual overreaction to anything that happens and thinking it’s permanent.  If you thought we’d win 20 more because the hitting would return, it suggests how little you know, or how you go to great lengths to avoid looking hypocritical.
              Imagine.  A guy thinking the hitting would make up for 20 games, minus Werth, Ibanez a year older, and this is who’s screaming we need another bat?  

              Your continued stabs at thin air are a waste of space.  This one has already surpassed your mid summer effort of a year ago when you decided the Braves, who were dead 2 months before, but that’s another story, were in first place because they had an interleague schedule to that point favorable to the Phils.  Unfortunately, you were called on it by presentation of who the Braves and Phils had actually played, and lo and behold, the Braves had played an even tougher schedule.  You just faded into the woodwork, and came up with your next stab at thin air.  At best, you should do the same thing this time, instead of digging yourself deeper.  At nicest, you should just shut the fuck up.  The comedy portion of the program is very, very old news.   

              This isn’t personal at all.  But on whatever level sharing a message board is, I wouldn’t use a positive term to describe your thoughts.

        • Ken Bland says:

          You can win with lousy pitching and good hitting. But you you can’t win with great pitching and lousy offense.>>

          If Wilbur, or Orville, for that matter, Wright were to read a headline about 119 dead in plane crash, they might never have invented the aeroplane.

          If Henry Ford ran across a headline about 6 dead in freeway crash, he might have thought twice about moidel teeing his way to history.

          If Abner Doubleday read any of your posts, he’d have absolutely stopped trying to create baseball before he even got to first base.

    19. phillyfan says:

      I respect his stats (1.5 ERA), but Jurregins sure doesn’t look like much out there.  Kinda a Livan hernandez-ish, but 15 years younger.  I dont think his fastball was much more than 85-87.  I certainly would feel good about our chances against him if we face him in a big spot again. He must “know how to pitch” which counts for alot, but I bet his ERA is a good bit higher by the all-star break.  Seems to be getting by on smoke and mirrors out there.

    20. Ken Bland says:

      One sigular at bat here or there can, does change the complexity of a game.  Drastically, in fact, potential wise.

      Go back to Opening Day.  The offense was limping along, and then suddenly, managed to string together some ridiculous time frame of like 6 straight singles for a come from behind win.  Included in that rally was an at bat by Wilson Valdez with 1 out and the bases loaded.

      Just reading that last sentence sends fear through the spines of most people familiar with Valdez’s work.

      It was one thing  to ride the Opening Day euphoria and think of it being a new year, and maybe Valdez was different based on his propensity of rally killing with his GIDP routine, and sure enough, it was different that day.

      Reality has a way of unveiling itself in so many situations.  And Valdez has fallen victime to that as well.  Last year, he compiled a batting average of .258 and played pretty good defense at shortstop.  Achievement enough to have at least triggered some conversation as to whether the Phils should move Rollins and let him play.  But .258, among other weak offensive numbers, when you ground into 20 freaking rally killing double plays in 363 official at bats might as well translate to about 40 points lower on the BA because you’ve added extra outs, let alone killed rallies.

      So far this year, Valdez has already GIDP 5 times.  That equates to a proration of about the same 20 as last year.  League leaders typically total out in the upper 20s, maybe 30.  They are full time players.  They are offensive producers that you can at least say take the good with the bad, and still be glad.  Vlad, Albert, Piazza have won this dubious honor.  Miguel Tejada, a good offe3nsive player in his prime,  is a proud member.  But there aren’t any semi regulars like Valdez running in the 20s, so close to league leadership.

      Last night, off this purely awe inspiring history, Valdez stepped up with Howard at 3rd, and Ibanez at first.  For about the third straight time that Valdez stepped up in a potential double play situation, I prayed to the baseball gods that Charlie would try to have him bunt for a base hit.  Scratch that strategy, Jack.  Say hello to still another in the never ending series of GIDP.  Clearly, Valdez needs to watch tape.  He’s 9-13 when he hits line drives.  He hits way too many ground balls.  However he swings, wherever the balls pitched, he needs to copycat that when he steps up in potential double play situations.  Hitting the ball hard is not acceptable.  He’s got to avoid the double plays.  Even lining into a double play would almost be a welcome relief.  Either that, or take a bunt sign, and just make 1 out.

      You   take that one at bat last night, and it’s a different ballgame.  You could say that for a number of at bats last night, on both sides.  But the saving grace is that as recoveries from injuries occur, higher percentage guys return to the lineup.  Better hitters constitute the bottom of the lineup.  In the meantime, it hurts, it angers, and it’s been more than enough.

    21. Ken Bland says:

      I was a bona fide major league prospect in my prime, except for 2 body parts.  One being my left eye, the other my right.  Small details in a prospect.  My less than sterling vision would handicap me from identifying important details from a small picture, such as the photo currently attached to the posts bearing my name, but being the photo editor in charge of said posts, and seeming pretty visible when they are larger in the selection process, they appear to be potentially clear when selected.

      I mention that because the current shot seems pretty unclear, but then again, I assure you that I see worse than anybody else around here, so who knows.  So I figure I’d mention that the 3 men in the shot are Casey Stengel, former Commish Happy Chandler, and Eddie Sawyer.  Eddie was the guy who preceded Gene Mauch.  He quit after Opening Day in 1960, maybe 1961, explaining he was 49, and wanted to live to be 50.  I never researched how positive a statement that was on Phillies ticket sales at that time, but it definitely warrants him a place in my ever evolving photo gallery, and thoughts of Casey Stengel will brighten any Monday to more than a necessary evil to get to the next weekend.

      • jjg says:

        Thanks for clearing that up – I thought it was (R to L) Max Patkin, FDR and Bob Allison.

        Loved those 1st 2 sentences.  A self-deprecating joke is a good counter to Monday’s stern face.  

        • Ken Bland says:

          Now the mention of Bob Allison does bring to mind the one day in my life I actually was a bona fide major league prospect.  I’d read an article in Sport Magazine that morning on Allison and to this day I remember the one batting tip I took from the piece.  He went on and on how when you’re at the plate, you have to HATE the pitcher.  So I proceeded to summer camp, and started banging topes all over the place.  Hate, anger, venom dominated by pleasing personality with every swing. I tell ya, Pete Rose would have been jealous.  People look at Sandy’s work in the last game of the WS against the Twins, and think the pitching line was great.  Compound that by facing the likes of Killebrew, Oliva, Allison, Carew, Jimmy Hall et al (Earl Battey, Zoilo), and then you begin to explore the true greatness of what a masterpiece that was.  Great video is the video clip of Vin, with real red hair (though it was black and white video) at the podium with Sanday saying he felt like he was 101 years old from exhaustion.  From that day forward, I’ve awakened praying to the age gods that I migth feel 101 years old today as I crawl out of bed.

    22. jjg says:

      Somewhere on the wide world of web, I saw footage of that October Minneapolis game recently.  What stood out was the stadium’s quiet decorum and relative modesty of the TV broadcast.

      From “Sandy Koufax” by Edward Gruver [pertaining to Game 7]:

      Pitching and winning on two days’ rest was extraordinary.  But what separated Koufax from the game’s other iron arms was that he was pitching with a painful arthritic left elbow, one that L.A. Times columnist Jim Murray said could end his career in the next 10 pitches or the next 100.

      Despite pitching in pain and with only a fastball remaining in his repertoire, Koufax stood just nine outs away from recording his second shutout in three days, which would make for a modern Series record.  That he was shutting down a Minnesota Twins’ team that had been held scoreless just three times during the entire ’65 season made Koufax’s work through six innings all the more amazing.

      [I won't spoil the ending.]

      ****

      [more]

      The famed L.A. Times columnist compared the Dodger southpaw to a diamond cutter working with cataracts.  Pain and Koufax, he said, were like peas in a pod.  Wrote Murray:

           You shouldn’t have to earn your living at something that makes you scream.  Or cough.  Or   
           bleed.  You shouldn’t have to sign for your paycheck with “ouch!”
          
           Sandy Koufax does … A curve ball is as big a thrill as swallowing iodine.  A fast ball is merely   
           like tightening your arm in a vise by comparison – a down-right relief. 

      [recommended reading]

      p.s.  I trust you got camp MVP and gripped the trophy with a snarl.

        

      • Ken Bland says:

        I checked the boxscore of that Game 7.  The shutout’s amazing, the 3 hits allowed is amazing.  Particularly on 2 days rest.  No less amazing is the 3 walks on that amount of rest.  He might have felt exhausted after it was over, but during the game, his body was hearing none of it.

        They need to invent a stat that measures guts.  It’s depressing when one of these young guys, very knowledgable that they are are asked about Koufax, and he’s so easy to pick apart for career as a whole because of the early struggles, and shortness of the tenure.  To hear knowledgable types like Keith Law and Jonah Keri talk about him in respectful, but not awe inspiring terms tells you something’s missing from his legacy.  26-8 for the year, 2.04 ERA, .85 WHIP, 335 innings, 41 games started, 27 complete games.  And he held out for 110 k the next year, missing most all if not all of sprong training.  Thrill to have been aware of his career, and seen him pitch.

    23. Ken Bland says:

      Meanwhile, back at the ranch, this wouldn’t fly as a winner in too many debates, but a superfulous glance across the majors makes one wonder just how far fetched it is to think about the best 3 teams in the game playing not only in the same League, but same division, as in National League East.  This landscape will change many times between now and post season time, but if you wonder if Cleveland has the pitching, think the Red Sox might not grow up to be the Red Sox, question the Yanks pitching depth and ability to withstand age, and notice the recent slide by the Rockies, it’s not terribly far fetched.  I suppose Tampa Bay and the Giants pitching staff gets a mention in there somewhere, too, let alone my old friends in St. Louis, who’ve dedicated their season to kicking the teeth in of winter prognosticators who dared pick against Cardinal red. The Phillies, despite natural tendencies to worry,  are a really good club, Atlanta has started to play like the bandwagonners of late spring predicted they would, and Florida may bnot have the depth, but what’s depth got to do with the first 40 games?  I only know this for sure.  We got 3 good clubs in this division, and that’s a nice challenge.  I hope.

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