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Archive for April, 2007

Frustrating Phillies

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, April 05, 2007 08:14 AM Comments: 0

Wow, was that not terrible last night?  I mean, seriously, was that for real?  The Phillies managed to hand another division game over to the Braves like they were held at gunpoint.  What a shame too because Cole Hamels pitched masterfully - no runs and 8 Ks over seven innings.  So the starting pitching held up just like on Opening Day and just as we expected coming into the season, but the offensive did not impress.  The Philllies bats have failed to score more than three runs in each other the first two games.  The timeliness of key hits has been also absent as the Phillies have failed to nurture leads and rack up insurance runs.  The baserunning last night was also a bit troubling. In the bottom of the seventh the Phils looked to be on the verge of busting the game wide open but ran into some trouble on the basepaths.  Shane Victornio was thrown out unwisely stealing third with Ryan Howard at the plate.  Then Howard himself was gunned down at the plate when he should have been safely parked at third.  But the real sad part is that this isn’t even why the Fightin’ lost last night.  As feared, the bullpen melted down like a chocolate bunny in the Sahara.

Now tell me, fans, entering the season, we all knew the bullpen was going to be the question mark but did we think it would start so soon and with Tom Gordon and Ryan Madson.  I figured at least these two guys could anchor the pen.  Madson was quoted in the Inky after his Opening Day loss as saying, "I just feel bad for my teammates for letting them down. Hopefully, it’s the last time I do it this season."  Oh Ryan, if you only knew… But seriously, Madson is a good pitcher - we all know that - I just hope these two outings don’t completely shatter his confidence.  Not many pitchers in baseball history have wound up with an 0-2 record after just two games.

And then there’s Tom Gordon, our closer turned opener as of late.  Last night, he gave up a two run homer in the ninth.  Of it, he said, "You throw your best pitch in those situations, and I felt my curveball was my best pitch. He hit a good pitch."  What ever happened to the fastball being a closer’s best pitch?  If Tom can’t throw his fastball by batters anymore, then this is going to be a really long season.

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Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, April 03, 2007 02:22 PM Comments: 0

Before I get to the obvious from yesterday’s home opener there were some very good things that I saw and that are worth mentioning.  Let’s try to focus on the good after the first game.  Jimmy Rollins did have the ice breaking home run of the year (but 3 K’s is not acceptable for a leadoff batter).  Rowand and Howard, at least for this day, seem to have gotten over slow springs.  Brett Myers looked as good as advertised except for maybe two or three pitches.  The Phils will win more games then they lose this year if their starters go 8 and give up only 3 runs. 

As much as I liked a lot about opening day though you cant help but feel as if these are the same old Phillies.  Obviously Madson giving up the game winning homer after Renteria was trying to give himself up with a bunt is bad…almost as bad as Myers giving up the tying homer to Renteria with an 0-2 count, but there were other ugly parts of the game as well.  The Phillies still stranded too many runners in scoring position for a team that has such a “vaunted” offense. 

In the bottom of the seventh, after a walk to Myers to lead off the inning and a double by Rollins the Phillies had men on second and third with nobody out and could not score a run or two to ice the game.  A man on second and third, nobody out and numbers 2-3-4 in your lineup coming to bat is not acceptable.

Then of course there was the bottom of the ninth with two out Victorino doubled to left (where was that in the seventh inning Shane?) and Howard was intentionally walked.  Utley pops out in foul ground to end the inning instead of hitting a walk off single.  This goes to show that it does not matter who bats behind Howard teams are still going to walk him in crucial situations and deal with whoever is batting next for the Phils.  That is how a feared MVP is treated.  Did I like the move of batting Howard 3rd and Utley 4th?  Actually I did, but I do believe it is only for the short term. 

On the one hand it does allow Utley to utilize his speed more b/c he never wanted to steal with Howard at the plate, but it also takes RBI opportunities away from Ryan b/c Utley gets on base so much.  It really is a point that could be argued all season long, but its not worth it b/c I believe that the lineup will return at some point to Utley batting three and Howard batting 4.

In the end there were signs to like and signs that some of our preseason fears are something to really and truly be concerned about, but remember this is a marathon and not a sprint.  Even though the Phils are 0-1 and in last place one game out of first, I still believe they have a chance and making the playoffs, what about you? 

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Happy Opening Day!

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, April 02, 2007 08:43 AM Comments: 0

The moment we have been waiting for for six months is finally upon us: Opening Day 2007, the first day of what could be the most memorable Philadelphia Phillies season to date.  For those of you lucky enough to be in attendance this afternoon at Citizen’s Bank Park, I can guarantee you are in for a great day weather-wise.  Last year the rains fell and so did the Phillies by the hands of the World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals by a count of 13-5.  This year the sun is shining and the Phils are playing the despised Atlanta Braves.  Things will be different.

I’ll have to be honest though, the Phillies have not impressed me much this Spring, Saturday’s game was no different.  Although they were not intimidated by Dice-K’s wacky windup, there was still plenty of rust on the hometown nine.  But again, that all changes today.  A win today would be a huge relief and I’m thinking an infusion of young blood might help them get it.  Unlike last year’s Opening Day bench which featured the likes of David Dellucci Alex Gonzalez, and Sal Fasano, the Phils this year have Michael Bourn, Greg Dobbs, Carlos Ruiz, and Jayson Werth.  The 2007 bullpen is younger too with Zack Segovia (who may get a few starts) and Matt Smith. The final roster spot, which will be announced any minute now, is likely to go to 24-year old righty Joe Bisenius.  I don’t know, maybe these new guys won’t pan out, but I am definitely excited to watch them.  And I’m excited about today.  Go Phils!

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