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Archive for August, 2005

Trivia

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, August 30, 2005 08:53 PM Comments: 0

The Cubs have been busy traders lately.  When was the last Phillies trade with the Cubs and who was involved?

Answer Posted

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Are You Surprised by the 2005 Phils So Far?

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, August 30, 2005 08:22 PM Comments: 0

I was talking with Matt over at the opponent dujour’s blog, Metsblog.com.  And in typical Mets fan fashion, he mentioned how he was surprised to see the Phillies still around in the playoff hunt.  I responded with a resounding no.  The Phils are hovering at 10 games above .500, that is basically what I’ve expected since Spring Training.  The fact that they are still in the playoff hunt – nay, ahead in the playoff hunt! – is a testament to the rest of the NL teams’ inability to breakaway.  That is somewhat of a surprise.  The Marlins and Astros have not been able to pull it together and thus the Mets and Nats are hanging around as well. 


Now, Ed Wade, as we all know, likes to characterize the squad as a playoff caliber team.  Lucky for him, that’s all relative.  So that may have been a calculated statement.  Hmmm….


There’s still a good chance the Phils can make the playoffs without being a great team.  We’ll see, I doubt the Phils will run away with the Wild Card or, dare I say, division.  But I do feel they will be in it til the end.  Even with all the division play, it seems no one team will emerge.  This obviously plays to the advantage of the Astros who are out of the division.


So, are you surprised the Phils are where they are now?


At this exact moment, they are 4-1 up on the Mets and Charlie Manuel has already hit his showers or at least one of those shower seats.  Kenny Lofton was nailed at home on a close play but it seems his foot was hovering above the base.  I would love to ask him if 5 years ago he would have been safe standing up.  Or if he would not have misplayed that ball in center and let Victor Diaz stroll into 3rd.  This road trip has certainly exposed Lofton as a defensive liability.


UPDATE: At this exact moment, the Phils just lost the game.  Uggie served up a three run homer in the eight and the Phils lose a game they had in hand.  I want to puke.  Is it me or did the Mets seem to want it more?  I hope not.

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Phils Get Rocked on Sunday Night

Posted by Brian Michael, Sun, August 28, 2005 11:46 PM Comments: 0

I had nothing to do today but watch baseball.  Hot off Hawaii’s comeback win in the Little League World Series, I was already drunk for the big Sunday night showdown.  But boy what a letdown for the night cap.  Padilla only pitched 3 innings, gave up a salami and Cormier let a three run shot fly.  Meanwhile the offense banged out a meager tally of 4 solo home runs.  Then there was the issue of 3 errors for the best fielding team in the league.  How miserable! D’back fans at the AZ Snake Pit were shocked they took a series against a team like the Phillies.  I barely batted an eye.


The Phillies stretch run, as dummy Joe Morgan reminded us, becomes much more difficult after Arizona.  That part starts with a series versus the Mets, whom the Phillies are 4-8 against this season.  Glavine and Pedro are on the docket as well. 


To add insult to injury tonight, Sportscenter compared Hawaii’s walk off home run to Joe Carter’s dagger in ’93.


Update: Cory Lidle is placed on the 15-day DL.  Eudo Brito is still penciled in for Saturday’s start and possibly a few more.

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Phillies Trade for Bench Depth

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, August 27, 2005 09:35 PM Comments: 0

Today the Phillies traded for outfielder/left-handed-bat-off-the-bench Michael Tucker. They must have liked what they saw in his 0-1 performance earlier this week while in San Francisco. On the year he’s hitting .241 with five home runs, 33 RBIs and an OBP of .317 in 249 at-bats. He can play any position in the outfield, but most importantly bolsters the bench for the stretch run. Ramon Martinez has been hitting well, but Tomas Perez has not been as clutch as last year. Tucker will definitely be an asset here and has veteran experience.


Going to the Giants in the deal is 19-year-old right-handed pitching prospect Kelvin Pichardo who was playing for Clearwater. 


Obviously it is too early to completely assess the trade but I like that it was intended to help the Phillies now.  By taking a 2-0 loss today in Arizona the Phils lead is down to a half game in the Wild Card.  There is a magic number counter over at Balls Sticks and Stuff if you’re interested, but I’m not going to look at it until at least after Labor Day. 


I had planned on posting some pictures from Veteran’s Stadium’s final days, but we had to literally “Stop the Presses!” at the announcement of this blockbuster deal.  Look for some treasured memories in the next day or so.  


Don’t forget the Phils are on ESPN’s game of the week Sunday night.  A big win could go a long way in showing a lot of people that this team is legitimate playoff contender.  It could also instill some confidence as the Fightins’ turn the corner on this long road trip.  Go Phils!

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Uncle Charlie Dislikes the Nickname

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, August 25, 2005 11:28 AM Comments: 0

In a rare show of fire - only slightly reminiscent of Larry Bowa – Charlie Manuel lashed out the other day in what I think was a positive way.  He wants to make it known that he’s no old time rocking chair manager, he’s ready for the playoff push.


“I’m not here to hurt anybody’s feelings, but at the same time, we’re trying to get to the playoffs.  I don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings. People call me ‘Uncle Charlie’ and ‘Good Time Charlie’ and ‘Happy-Go-Lucky Charlie’ and all that BS. You can take that to ram it up your [butt]. I’m here to win games.”

Oh yea, Charlie, that’s what I’m talking about! This is no doubt in response to his blossoming platoon system at catcher and first base.  This would of course complement the Lofton-Michaels platoon which has worked effectively in center.  Now, we here at PhilliesNation have been a proponent a three platoons roster ever since the days of the ’93 Phillies.  Ironically enough I said hello to Jim Fregosi the other night at the game.  That Benedict Arnold is now a senior scout for the Braves.


Manuel will, however, have some trouble in the less publicized platoon of starting pitching now that Lidle hurt himself.  He swung through a pitch last night and strained his left oblique – directly contributing to an inning-ending out as he hobbled down the line to beat out a grounder.  His replacement in the following inning, Robinson Tejeda, will most likely take Lidle’s upcoming start on Tuesday in New York. 


Billy Wagner continued his dominance last night as he converted his 31st save in 33 tries.  Apparently all the contract talk has not gotten to him.  Now that the Phils are still in the playoff hunt, I think we might see Wagner retreat from his hard-line stance on the August 31st contract extension deadline.  Though the Cubs and Red Sox are beating down his door, Wagner’s agent claims the deadline is not set in stone.  The Phils have shown good faith by keeping negotiations open and they have been progressing.  Wagner is a veteran with playoff experience, I have a feeling contract talk may linger a bit as he bears down these final weeks. 


In that same vein, I would like to see Wagner use this opportunity to take on a leadership role in the clubhouse.  Always vocal and direct, Wagner understands how you can’t just limp into the playoffs.  Between the youth of this team and lack of playoff experience in the organization general, someone like Wags needs to step up.  This would certainly make his 3 year, $24 million asking price worth it.  The Phils need to get hot and this flamethrower should be the guy to ignite them. 

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Lieber Smushed by Giants

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, August 22, 2005 11:02 PM Comments: 0

The Phils lost last night 5-0 to open their 12 game road trip.  Jon Lieber, like in so many other recent starts, experienced a one inning meltdown and gave up 4 runs.  To his credit, he was missing his spots all game, really rendering David Bell’s fielding positioning useless.  Two weeks ago he gave up 9 runs in an inning, which was as much Manuel’s fault as his.  His pitching is approaching ridiculous.  Maybe they need to dump Lieber in the bullpen for a while and keep Brito starting every fifth day or even Aquilino Lopez, the new callup in place of playboy Geoff Geary


On the flip side, the Phils bats were equally as ineffective.  The strikeout bug is spreading up and down the lineup.  There are just way too many by this lineup.  Even Chase Utley and Bobby Abreu are having trouble hitting with two strikes. 


The Phils are a long way from home.

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Double Trouble

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, August 19, 2005 03:22 AM Comments: 0

As soon as I heard it was Gay Day at Citizens Bank Ballpark yesterday, I knew it was a game I must attend.  The drive from and to DC seemed daunting but well worth it.  But man, was I disappointed when we got there.  First and foremost the Phils squandered a one run lead in the eighth.  Uggie came in to pitch for the second time in four hours and did not look sharp.  This was a bad decision.  It would have been a good time for recent call up Eude Brito, but it seems he’s penciled in to make his MLB debut Sunday against Pittsburgh. He’ll take Lidle’s place who pitched as good as can be expected the despite that 3 run inning. It could be that Brito will take Gavin Floyd’s spot in the Phils future rotation.  Floyd would make nice trade bait packaged with Jim Thome. 


The second Gay Day let down was all the protesting.  There were quite a few anti-gay fans in attendance which prompted Phils security to cordon off the sections.  What a waste of quality tickets and coarse emotion.  I think all virulence and heckling should be directed towards the field in play at all times.  Opponents, umps and Phils only should get to hear Philadelphia’s wrath, at least when in the ballpark.  Hassling the gays wasn’t cool, they were just there to cut David Bell’s hair.


UPDATE – 8/26 – “Comments” posted to the Daily News

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Will This Season Be Different?

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, August 15, 2005 07:30 PM Comments: 0


So we all watched in enjoyment as the Phils polished off a 5-1 road trip in California.  Mike Lieberthal went 6-12 in his home state and there was some solid starting pitching.  We’ll have pictures from the single loss in LA posted soon thanks to our scout, JMike.  Early reports mention a Phanatic sighting in Beverly Hills and the return of Burrell’s swing.  We probably won’t have any pitchers of called strikes for Rheal Cormier.  Did anyone else notice Jim Wolf, supposedly our ump in the pocket, pinching Cormier in the eight inning of Sunday’s game?  I wonder if there is a little reverse discrimination going on here or some over compensation.  Or better yet, maybe Randy Wolf is bent on sabotaging the Phils season from beyond the DL.


But back to Philadelphia and back to reality.  Philinator’s comment reminded us all of last year’s 1-9 home stand following the 5-1 west coast swing.  The Phils were five games above .500 then knocked themselves out of playoff contention.  But even if they stave off such a repeat they have to do more than just keep winning series and hanging around the top of the Wild Card standings.  If the Wild Card race comes down to the last week I am not positive the Phils can win when they have to.  A nice winning streak to regain the Wild Card lead is the only chance the Fightins got to win make the playoffs. 


Hmm, great segue for an unimpressive game tonight as the Phils pitching staff (with the help of Phils fans) coughed up 4 home runs to the Nationals.  The Nats’ ace out-dueled the Brett Myers, our de facto ace, and the game only once again proved that when the Phils can’t hit homers, they can’t win games.

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Phillies vs. Dodgers – Dodger Stadium

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, August 11, 2005 10:06 PM Comments: 2

Click for slideshow

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Hollywood Nights

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, August 10, 2005 01:02 AM Comments: 0

Did anyone else see David Bell call off Mike Lieberthal in the batters box to catch a popup last night?  Seriously, it’s like these two guys fight for highlights on a nightly basis – neither of them wants the Jeltzie.  Although, Liebs did outshine his bottom-of-the-lineup buddy by going 2-4 with an RBI. 


If you’re watching the game late tonight, stop on by Dodger Thoughts, and leave some Phillies thoughts.  They had a fun game thread last night and its heart warming to listen to other fans complain about their team.  Tonight is sure to have some interesting fodder as Brett Myers takes on Derek Lowe.  You’ll recall, 3 weeks ago, same matchup in Philadelphia, Myers pitched 6 innings and gave up 3 runs, including a leadoff homer, in a no decision.  Ryan Howard served up a GW 2 run home run to win that one for the Phils in the 10th. 


Quick question, is it me, or has Jason Michaels’ playing time been reduced as of late?  I know he platoons with Lofton depending on who’s pitching, and has been occupied with a few court appearances, but it seems Lofton has been getting some more starts lately.  Michaels does have better numbers but really can’t fill that hole in the top of the lineup.

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