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Archive for June, 2006

Madson and Gillick Deliver

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, June 30, 2006 01:29 PM Comments: 0

As most of you already know Pat Gillick sought inject some positive life into the club by trading for left handed reliever, Fabio Castro.  This pictogram about sums him up:

fabio12.JPG + castro.bmp = fabiocastro.jpg

Seriously though, Castro has gone 0-0 in four games (8 and 1/3 innings) with Texas this year while recording a 4.32 ERA, 7 BBs, 5 Ks, and an opposition batting average of .200.  Heading to the Lone Star State will be the Phillies young starting pitching prospect, Daniel Haigwood who was acquired in the Jim Thome deal.  Castro is slated to join the roster now which mean someone from the current squad will be dropped.  Clay Condrey seems like a likely candidate since the Phils have been forced to keep their young starters in the rotation and probably won’t retain 14 pitchers.  This move would normally signal a "we’re trying to win now" attitude, which leaves most of us scratching our heads.  Haigwood certainly had potential and as many commenters believe, Pat Gillick is more focused on the future (which is what the Daily News and NY Post think as well).  But apparently the Phils have had their eye on this guy and feel he can make an immediate impact…or rather cushion the blow of a dramatically falling club.

One parachute that did open last night was the one pulled by Ryan Madson who pitched 26 outs of shutout baseball before turning the game over to Tom Gordon.  It was an encouraging outing by Madson who ordinarily would seem pleased on the night; however The Inquirer reported:

Madson declined to comment, telling Phillies media-relations manager Greg Casterioto that he didn’t want to talk to reporters until he put together back-to-back strong outings.

"He’s been up and down and he doesn’t want to talk until he does it two times in a row; he didn’t do the star-of-the-game show, either," Casterioto said.  

I find that a bit strange and even more annoying.  What’s so hard about discussing the game after an excellent outing?  This is exactly what I’m talking about with the club not being open enough.  I realize Madson doesn’t want to hear the questions surrounding his inconsistency, but come’on grow up and at least chat for 10 minutes – I mean you did improve to 8-5 which makes you the de facto ace of the staff.

Tonight in Toronto, the Phillies send Adam Bernero to the mound for his first start since 2004.  In Scranton, Bernero complied a 1.57 ERA in three starts of 23 total innings.  On his career, Bernero has seen stops in Detroit, Colorado and Atlanta he has 34 starts in his 146 appearances.  The righty is 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA in three career games, including two starts, against the Blue Jays.  He last pitched in the Major Leagues on July 9, 2005 for Atlanta.  Fortunately, the Blue Jays are also sending out a rookie who is 0-3 in his last three starts.  Meanwhile, it looks as if Ryan Franklin will likely get the nod for the Phillies on Sunday.

Finally to take you into the weekend, have a gander at Bill Conlin’s latest article which is a nice complement to my rant yesterday.  Go Phils!

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From Bad to Completely Horrible

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, June 29, 2006 02:47 PM Comments: 0

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, I was on a quick tour of Dublin and Scotland.  I left for the trip as the Phillies were in the midst of being swept by the Red Sox and the Brett Myers situation was unraveling.  Returning today, I have found that our Philadelphia Phillies have spun even further along the downward spiral.  That motion - accompanied by a distinct flushing sound - is taking with it, the Phils’ 2006 season.  The news surrounding the club is almost all negative and will be near impossible to overcome to play playoff baseball.  The Phillies have dropped 15 out of their last 18, their best pitcher was arrested and is out for at least two weeks, injuries abound (Lieber, Wolf2, Lieberthal, Santana), the starting rotation has been cobbled together with underdeveloped youngsters (Hamels, Mathieson, Brito, Floyd, Bernero, Madson), they are the worst hitting team in the NL, clutch hitting is non-existent, they are looking up in the standings at a 12-game Mets lead, the manager is overwhelmed to say the least, and the executives are too incompetent to fix anything.  It is a disaster.  It is also a shame because there are some generally good stories that undoubtedly get lost in the shuffle, like Ryan Howard leading the majors in homeruns, Chase Utley’s first of many All-Star games, Tom Gordon’s excellent return to closing, and even proof Bobby Abreu is one of the best right fielders in the league.

Faced with one of the most embarrassing months in franchise history, the Phillies  – in the words of Al Morganti – have become a punching bag for the national media:

…Myers has become a secondary issue to the organizational mess that has become the Philadelphia Phillies. It has become an organization incapable of admitting errors, and that problem is exemplified by Montgomery’s statement

Most of all, the fans have known all along that unless a major change is made in the way the Philadelphia Phillies are run from the top, they will always be headed toward the bottom of the standings.

Furthermore, Stan Hochman yesterday published some choice Dallas Green quotes including, "the Phillies are afraid of the truth" and "are scared to death of the media."  We all know this is completely true:  the Phillies are devoid of organizational transparency.  The business world, of which the Phillies are increasingly less a part of, demands constant information by an organization in order that both shareholders (investors) and stakeholders (consumers) can make adequate judgments as to the health and prospects of the organization.  Too often decisions are made behind closed doors and fail to take into account how it will be received, let alone if it was the correct one.  Only when cries of disapproval are heard do the decision-makers occasionally change their mind – witness not only the Brett Myers fiasco, but the failed attempt to limit Harry Kalas’ time television prior to the season.  Still, some close-minded decisions, despite pleas from every angle, remain steadfastly supported, like Ed Wade’s overstayed welcome or Charlie Manuel’s tenure.  Of course, a company is entitled to make their own decisions, but when the wrong ones are consistently made and the fallout is mismanaged, someone has to wake up and recognize failure.  Therefore despite my allegiance to David Montgomery as a fellow Penn alum, I can no longer support his leadership of the Phillies.  You see flamboyant owners like Mark Cuban and George Steinbrenner and despite for all their micromanaging, you never have to guess where they stand on an issue.  Until Montgomery and the ownership group start to open up to the media and the fans  and demonstrate a concerted effort to make changes (an effort requiring more than hiring a former newscaster as a media relations puppet); I feel the Phillies will be a self-destructive organization.

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Phillies Add Reliever

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, June 24, 2006 05:58 AM Comments: 0

The Phillies claimed 37-year old reliever Rick White off waivers yesterday from the Reds.  On the season, White has gone 1-0 with one save and a 6.26 ERA in 26 games.  He was designated for assignment on Monday but was grabbed by the Phils for use in middle relief.  The Phils already have one of the best bullpens in the league so the addition of the righty is an odd choice.  For instance, last night despite being scheduled for a start next Wednesday, Scott Mathieson came on in relief of the beleaguered Ryan Madson to pitch 4 2/3 solid innings before leaving with a cramp.  To make room for White, the Phillies optioned Chris Roberson to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. 

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Brett Myers Arrested

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, June 23, 2006 01:45 PM Comments: 0

Brett Myers was arrested in Boston last night for allegedly striking his wife.  The couple were walking back to their hotel from a bar when a dispute broke out just blocks from Fenway Park.  The incident occurred just after midnight and appears pretty gruesome.  Here are the details from the Boston Globe:

Myers’ wife, told police she believed her husband hit her twice in the face with a closed fist. Witnesses told police Myers dragged his wife by the hair and slapped her across the face. Procopio said it is unclear if Myers punched his wife or slapped her, but he did strike her in the face.

Courtney Knight, 26, who witnessed the alleged attack, said in an interview today that Myers was out of control.

"It was disgusting," Knight said. "He was dragging her by the hair and slapping her across the face. She was yelling, ‘I’m not going to let you do this to me anymore.’ "

Knight said the 6-foot-4 ballplayer dwarfs his wife, who she estimated to be 5 foot 2 and 100 pounds.

"She’s a real small girl," Knight said. "It was awful."

Myers allegedly told Knight and her friends to leave and resisted when they tried to pull him off of his wife, prompting Knight to call police.

She said Myers was undeterred by the presence of her group of friends.

"He had her on the ground. He was trying to get her to go, and she was resisting," Knight said. "She curled up and sat on the ground. He was pulling her, her shirt up was around her neck….He could have cared less that we were there."

Knight said the player appeared to be fighting with his wife because he wanted to return to their hotel and she did not.

Myers is slated to pitch tomorrow opposite Curt Schilling in a nationally televised game.  Now of course, the Phillies have no direct responsibility to punish Myers but they should certainly consider some action.  There has yet to be any word from the organization and as of now Myers - out on bail posted by his wife - is still pitching.  Although he has been by far the team’s best pitcher, I think the Phillies should consider a suspension because wife-beating is a pretty intolerable offense.  When Jason Michaels was arrested last year for punching a cop, the Phillies did not immediately react but he was traded this off-season.  Pat Gillick also traded Vicente Padilla because he felt Padilla didn’t really fit in with the organization.  Might he consider this incident similarly?

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A Night With Sal’s Pals

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, June 22, 2006 06:24 AM Comments: 0

In conjunction with Sal’s Pals, the premier fan group of Sal Fasano, Phillies Nation is proud to present:

 A Night With Sal’s Pals
July 6th, 2006
Citizens Bank Park

Festivities begin with a pregame party in the parking lot with food, drinks and activities with Sal’s Pals.  Once thoroughly lucid, we will move to section 307 and set up the official Sal’s Pals camp. 

Also on the night, we will be hosting a contest for "Best Sal’s Pals Costume" - obviously the more hair, the better.  The winner will receive a nifty Phillies hat, a Phil and Phyillis bobblehead from the Final Innings of 2003 and an Official Phillies stickball bat and ball.  If you’d like more information contact Phillies Nation through our Contact Us form, our myspace page or email:  robcowie@philliesnation.com

NOTE: This game was chosen by Comcast SportsNet as an "Are You Fan Enough" game.  So if you think you’re fan enough, come out and prove it!

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Ryan Howard Fails to Deliver

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, June 21, 2006 06:23 AM Comments: 0

Down two runs with two runners on and two outs and the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Howard dug in to face Mariano Rivera.  Howard approached the plate fully expecting to see a splitter from Rivera and he got it on the first pitch.  The trouble was he couldn’t do anything about it except dribble it to the Yankees second basemen to record the final out.  Howard tried to defend himself by saying, "The cutter is absolutely filthy. Everybody looks for it, but you still can’t hit it."  Nonetheless, it was a very unclutch at bat.  If the Phils can’t rely on one of their best hitters to win a game for them, what chance do they have?

Oh, of course, I’m joking.  Ryan Howard is an offensive juggernaut and the only reason the Phillies had a chance to win last night’s game, even if they didn’t.  He finished the night 3-4 including a triple and 2 HRs, 7 RBIs, and a walk.  He now leads the Majors in RBIs and is tied with Pujols in HRs.  Still this was not enough and starter Cory Lidle said of Howard’s last at bat, "That would have been nice for him to get 10 ribbies and a walk-off home run."  Yea, it would have been nice, but you know what would have been nicer?  If the Phillies pitching staff wasn’t wholly unclutch the entire game.  They not only surrendered nine runs to the Yankees on the night, they also coughed up all three leads Ryan Howard provided them.  This included an Arthur Rhodes four-run meltdown in the eighth inning after pitching a perfect eighth one night prior.  Games like this are hard to lose, both in that they are tough to deal with mentally afterwards as well as physically difficult to blow so many leads.  But as always, the Phils found a way.  Tough break, Ryan.

In other news, ESPN today is singing the praises of Aaron Roward.  Have you heard about his face plant catch last month against the Mets?  Oh you have?  Well, both Jayson Stark and Jerry Crasnick are still giving props.  Stark named Rowand a starter on his "All-Run-Through-A-Wall-Team" and held a reserve spot for Chase Utley.  Crasnick meanwhile devoted an entire MLB Insider article to the Phillies hard-nosed centerfielder.  In it, we learn that one of Aaron’s baseball idols growing up was another tough Phillies centerfielder, good ole Nails, Lenny Dykstra.  Rowand’s cousin and Tampa Bay pitcher, James Shield, took the Phillies comparisons a step further by saying, "He’s like Pete Rose, man. He’s one of the toughest guys I know in baseball."  The most compelling quote though came from White Sox GM, Kenny Williams, he said:

"There’s a way to play the track and play the wall.  Just because you run into a lot of walls doesn’t mean you’re any more of an outfielder than a guy who doesn’t.  It just means you didn’t take to the lessons of how to play balls at the wall, or you chose to disregard it.  In Aaron’s case, he chose to disregard it.  The one thing I’ve learned about people is, you are what you are."

By this logic, Williams is indirectly suggesting that Rowand is no more an outfielder than Bobby Abreu.  While that’s surely open to debate what Williams may not have realized is that Aaron was built with - as Crasnick says - "an industrial-strength noggin."  After the world famous catch Rowand told of his mother’s reaction.  "My mom thought I might have hurt my body," he said. "When she saw it was my face and head, she didn’t worry anymore."

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Phils top Yankees & New Pictures

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, June 20, 2006 01:00 PM Comments: 0

Amidst all the negativity surrounding the club, the Fightin’ Phils fought off a tough New York Yankees team to earn a 4-2 win last night.  The Phillies relied heavily on Brett Myers, who came in with a line of 5 2/3 IP, 16 H, 12 R (11 ER), 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K in his last two states, and received some defensive help from Jimmy Rollins and Abraham Nuñez.  Myers rebounded with an ace-like performance similar to his ten-straight quality starts before those two big losses and allowed 2 runs off 6 hits, 6 walks and 11 strikeouts.  Both the strikeouts and walks were season highs for Myers.  He got into some trouble in his final inning and left with the bases loaded after throwing 124 pitches.  This kind of exit concerns me as it has all year.  Of course Myers is a quality pitcher and has the capacity to throw a complete game, but I don’t think Charlie Manuel should simply let him pitch until he gets into trouble.  As the game wears on, it becomes increasing less likely that Myers will be able to pitch himself out of a jam – two of his walks came in his final inning.  Manuel and Rich Dubee need to predict Myers’ stamina out there as to not allow a great outing to go to waste.  Only JRoll’s diving grab prevented the Yankees from tying the game in the seventh.  Luckily though, things worked in the Phillies favor and allowed the game to be turned over to Rhodes and Gordon who shut down the Yankees in order in the final two frames.

With lefty Randy Johnson on the mound last night, Bobby Abreu and Ryan Howard had the night off.  Although Nuñez went 0-3 (he played second and Utley was at first) his key defensive play in the fifth validated his playing time.  New York skipper Joe Torre said, "That was the play of the game."  Playing right field for Abreu was Shane Victorino who continued to impress by going 2-3 with 2 runs scored. 

The Phils will likely go back to their regular lineup as Mike Mussina takes to the hill tonight against Cory Lidle (winless in his last five starts).  Moose, who despite sporting a 8-3 record and a 3.14 ERA, has been struggling as of late; with the Yankees recent slump (losing 8 of their last 11), Mussina has lost his last two starts.  However, in his career he pitches well close to his home town of Williamsport, PA.  He is 4-0 in Philly with a 2.13 ERA in five starts.

Finally, I wanted to draw your attention some nice work being done by the Phillies in support of the men and women in our armed forces.  Besides donating equipment to the troops in Afghanistan, they honored all service men and women last week before one of the Mets games.  I was proud to have my cousin, Lt. Jared Goodwin, USN as part of the festivities.  Here are a few pictures:

Click for slideshow

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Change is Constant, Except in Philadelphia

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, June 19, 2006 11:54 AM Comments: 0

The latest talk coming out of this weekend’s series loss to the perennial cellar-dwelling Tampa Bay Devil Rays concerns the potential replacement of some key Phillies personnel.  First, there is the looming suspicion that a trade involving Bobby Abreu or Pat Burrell could be in the works, especially involving the Phillies current opponents, the New York Yankees.  Although both names regularly appear in the New York papers, they are mentioned among several other possbilities (Alfonso Soriano and Reggie Sanders to name two) and are based purely on conjecture.  As Jayson Stark reiterated in his latest Rumblings and Grumblings, the Phillies are unlikely to move players mid-season unless they fall out of Wild Card contention.  They are currently three games and seven teams back in that race.

The other news splashed over Philly papers is the continuing saga of Charlie Manuel.  Pat Gillick deflected calls for his firing by blaming poor pitching rather than the manager’s game plan.  While it can hardly be questioned that the Phillies starting 5 (or anywhere from 4 to 8 depending on the week) has been terrible as of late, this do not exclude the possibility that Manuel shares some blame in his own right.  Buried in the middle of Phil Sheridan’s article on why the Pat Gillick shouldn’t fire Manuel is this little nugget:

In a few weeks, if Jon Lieber is pitching well and Randy Wolf is able to return to something like his usual form and if Gillick can find another proven big-league starter somewhere, the Phillies’ rotation should be settled. It might even be OK.

Whoa, that are some Ryan Howard-sized "ifs" there, Phil.  There is no way all three (let alone one or two) of those season-saving scenarios have a chance of happening.  That kind of luck does not happen for these Phillies teams.  Maybe in 1993, when the team was already riding high and a rookie shortstop by the name of Kevin Stocker turned out to be a helpful mid-season move. 

Though Salisbury was woefully off base with that prediction, he does make an excellent point later on related to Manuel’s job security.  "If your job is on the line, and it most assuredly is, then make sure to fire every bullet you have.  Do things your way, without worrying about some veteran player’s feelings or some rookie’s long-term development."  His suggestions are possibly to start Nuñez, Victorino and Fasano, but could also include moving Bobby Abreu into the leadoff spot, using Tom Gordon more, or giving Dellucci some starts.  But alas, if you know Charlie Manuel – and we all do – you know ‘dynamic’ is not in his vocabulary.  It is more likely, at aged 62, Charlie is much more keen to ride into the managerial sunset at a straight but leisurely gallop.  It has been proven time and time again that "his way" will always worry about veteran’s feelings; and for that, and several other reasons, Manuel is incapable of leading the Phillies to the next level.  Though this is clear, to the extent that this is Gillick’s fault for keeping him around surely is open to debate.

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Phils Swept by Mets, Call Up Mathieson

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, June 16, 2006 08:09 AM Comments: 0

Just realized the site has been experiencing some downtime over the past 24 hours, my apologies.  We moved Phillies Nation to a new server and there were some issues.  As you can tell, we’re back in business and the you’ll be happy to know the comment error has finally been resolved.  Enjoy!

So the Mets completed their sweep of our beloved Phils yesterday and sent notice to start considering the Wild Card.  In a game where Endy Chavez was awarded with Comcast’s Bud Light Player of the Game award, the Phillies made another valiant comeback but fell short.  Despite being down by just one run, any chance of winning the game was pretty much negated by failing to have a baserunner after the fifth inning and having the last 12 Phillies batters retired.  Charlie Manuel also bungled his job by using Shane Victorino as a pinch hitter in the seventh when he clearly should have sent Dellucci up though it might not have matter by that point.  The only positive was Pat Burrell hitting two home runs but with rest of the lineup only mustering 4 hits, there wasn’t much chance of beating the Mets. 

On the recent Phillies woes, Burrell commented, "We have virtually the same guys out there that we had last year.  We’re just not playing to our potential."  To which Marcus Hayes replied, "Maybe they are."  I would have to disagree; the Phillies can be a much better team than this as evident by the 13-1 run last month and the occasional sweep of a team like Arizona.  But while I believe their potential is higher than their recent performance, it may also be endemic that this squad will never consistently play to their full potential.  That is the real story here and the one that we have been grappling with the past handful of seasons.  The club shows signs of brilliance but then ultimately falls flat on their face when it counts.  The Mets meanwhile this year have shown game in and game out that they want to win, know how to win and then go out and achieve victory.

It will be tough for the Phillies to get to that point, but there is a sense in the clubhouse that things need to change.  "We’ve got to do something different," Lidle said after allowing 5 runs over 6 innings with four coming in the first.  Sal Fasano responsed to yesterday’s game more belligerently, "I’m pissed off.  I’m mad.  I’m sick and tired of losing. We have too good a team to have this. Good teams overcome.  We have to overcome."  Halleluiah!  Well, Sal, there is plenty to overcome:  losing 6 of 7, a 9.5 game deficit in the division, a starting rotation that spots leads in the first inning. 

The last point has a chance at redemption this Saturday when the Phillies send Reading ace Scott Mathieson to the mound against Tampa Bay.  The 22-year old right-hander has gone 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 13 starts for Reading.  Picked in the same draft as the Phillies other youthful savior, Cole Hamels, Mathieson has similar stuff including a fastball that tops out at 95 mph which he uses to dominate batters.  He also features an effective a slider.  Although he will face a weak Tampa Bay team, his opponent on the mound will be another 2002 draft phenom, Scott Kazmir.  Maybe a series against the Rays is just what the Phillies need.  But the "changes" that were suggested by Lidle, Fasano and others will have to be implemented soon because after Tampa, the Phils face the rest of the AL East - all of whom are currently closer to first place than the Phillies.

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Armed Forces Night – Citizen’s Bank Park

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, June 14, 2006 09:49 PM Comments: 0

Click for slideshow

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