Archive for December, 2007

The Top-20 Moments In Phillie Phandom: 11-15

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, December 29, 2007 11:27 AM Comments: 2

As we reach the end of 2007, I thought it would be nice to look back at the year that was, and what made me, you, and everyone in Phillies Nation … well … love the Phillies.

Let’s put it simply: There were a slew of amazing moments. From the NL East clincher to every late-inning rally and last-at-bat win, the Phillies were maybe the most exciting team in baseball in 2007. Hopefully, you’ll have as much fun and enjoyment looking back, reading these snippets, as I did writing them.

15. September 17: Story of the year

After a thrilling sweep of the Mets at Shea Stadium, the Phillies walked into Busch Stadium II hoping to ascend to the top of the NL East. The offense was ready to rock. Kyle Kendrick brought his A-game.

Problem was: The bullpen brought its F-game.

Ryan Howard homered to start the offensive onslaught. Then a five-run fourth, capped off by a three-run Jimmy Rollins homer, put the Phils up 6-0. Then, with a 7-0 lead in the sixth, Howard strode to the plate with the bases juiced. In true Howard fashion, he unjuiced the bases, and the grand slam made it 11-0.

Kendrick would go out in the sixth and give up his signature three runs in the frame, including a Ryan Ludwick homer. But that was expected — Kendrick’s nickname is “3 in 6.”

After the Phils tacked on a sac-fly run to make it 12-3 (which was incredibly important in retrospect), Charlie Manuel brought in mop-up guy Clay Condrey to finish off the game. Good move — this is why they pay Condrey.

Uh oh. Single. Error. Single (by Russell Branyan). Single. Two score. Single.

No outs. 12-5. No need to worry too much — it is a seven-run lead. Now, Manuel can’t use any of his big-game relievers (Myers, Gordon, Romero) because they’ve been overworked in New York. So, in hopes of patching the game up, Manuel brings in the next bad reliever to mop it up — Jose Mesa.

Uh oh. Double by Pujols. Two score. Grounder. One scores. Line out. One scores. All the while, Phans are biting their nails, cursing their televisions, computers and radios, grieving, grieving, grieving. Sure, the Phils had a three-run lead still, at 12-9, but let’s look back:

September 5: Phillies carrying an 8-2 lead in the eighth, when Manuel brings in Tom Gordon. You know, every game is important in September. Run after run. Brett Myers comes in. Then in the ninth, down two, with the bases loaded, Matt Diaz strikes a long fly to the outfield. Uh oh. 8-7. 8-8. 8-9. Game over.

In Saint Louis, up 12-9, Manuel goes another step up, bringing in Antonio Alfonseca for the eighth.

Uh oh. One out. Single. Walk.

Next up: Kane Davis.

Uh oh. Two outs. Passed ball. One scores. Single. One scores. Walk. In steps Ludwick; luckily, he flies out, but on a long shot. 12-11. And still one inning to play.

Good for the Phils, Aaron Rowand leads off the ninth with a homer. Insurance. Yeah, in this game. In the bottom half, Manuel brings in Fabio Castro, who strikes out Rick Ankiel. Then it’s Francisco Rosario time. Walk. Single. Uh oh. No — a pop to first base and a strikeout by Branyan ends the madness. Phils win. Breathe. Phils win. Breathe.

14. June 28: Jimmy thing

In the MVP season that was for Rollins, there were many precious moments that defined his efforts. Maybe the most overlooked came in a game where he took over, snatching a win from the Reds and supplanting himself as team leader.

It began early. Rollins lead off the game with a single, which paid off with a Chase Utley home run. But as with all Adam Eaton starts, the offense would have to do more than necessary to win. Despite the 2-0 lead, Eaton would get it to 4-2 Reds.

No worries. Let’s do it again. This time, Rollins lead off the third with a double. And, since Matt Belisle didn’t learn the first time, Utley killed the ball into centerfield for the second consecutive time, tying the game.

But here comes Eaton again. A Scott Hatterberg single made it 5-4 Reds. The Phils had to respond again, and did so with a two-run Greg Dobbs double. 6-5 Phillies.

Eaton would, of course, see the game tied at 6. And Ryan Madson wouldn’t let it stay that way, giving up a Alex Gonzalez home run to make it 7-6.

Time for Jimmy to do his work yet again.

With two outs in the eighth, a shocking development: Base hit, Abraham Nunez. Rollins came to the plate, and with the first pitch, connected on a liner to right field. Nunez would score. Rollins would truck it into third. Tie game.

Alfonseca and Condrey would give some normalcy to the bullpen, keeping the game tied at 6 and giving Rollins his chance to win it. In the tenth, after a Rod Barajas walk and (surprise) Nunez single, Rollins came up again with a runner (now Jayson Werth) on second.

“Line drive, base hit centerfield! Here comes Werth! The throw to the plate … he’s safe! Phils win!”

Rollins: 4/6, 2 R, 2 RBI — and not a bad moment in the bunch.

13. September 16: Dobbs helps clean the mucky Shea Stadium floors

After taking the first two games of a crucial mid-September set in Shea, the Phillies were on the brink of totally confusing the Mets into a void. The Mets suddenly couldn’t beat the Phillies at anything — if this were “The Seventh Seal,” the chess game would be long finished. So on a Sunday afternoon at the semi-circle, the Mets tried and tried, but didn’t expect Mr. Dobbs would put ‘em to bed.

The Phils took an early lead off the Evil Half of Oliver Perez, taking advantage of errors and plenty of walks. The Mets would chip away at a growing lead, until finally taking the bull by the horns by the body of Mr. Carlos Beltran. The All Star pounded a three-run shot to right-center, tying the game at 5.

Guillermo Mota entered the game for the Mets in the sixth, and immediately continued the Mets baffooning. Pat Burrell walked. Howard reached on a terrible throwing error to strike a double play. Rowand walked. New pitcher — Jorge Sosa. (Just remember, for our Mesa and Alfonseca, they had Mota and Sosa.) Jayson Werth walked. Wes Helms — no, Manuel made the move to bring in pinch hitter Greg Dobbs. Cue the drumroll.

Dobbs reaches out and lines one to far right field. It tails. Tails. Will it get over the Konika sign? … Yes! The Mets fans, at once, are confused, then deflated. Grand slam. 10-5 Phillies. That’s it. The air is out. There will be no comeback.

David Wright would add a home run, bringing some joy to Mudville. But the New York Nine wouldn’t take this one. Instead, the Phils were one more game closer, on the verge of taking the division for good.

12. September 15: Misjudgment leads to elation

No game was thoroughly as entertaining in the mid-September Phillies/Mets series than the Saturday afternoon Fox tilt. Great pitching, timely hitting, good defense and big late plays lead to one of the most exciting games of the year.

The game was billed as the third start of the season for Pedro Martinez, who returned to the Mets after a long season of injuries and rehabilitation. What a start for Pedro, who after giving up an early run via a Rowand single, blew his fastball and sinker by unsuspecting Phillies, piling up nine strikeouts. Phils’ starter Kyle Lohse hung in, somehow getting out of a bases loaded/no out jam with just one run on a hit batsman.

The Mets took a lead off Lohse, however, setting up a memorable comeback. Down 3-1, Tadahito Iguchi pinch hit with a double. A horrible error by first baseman Shawn Green brough Iguchi home, 3-2 Mets.

Pedro Feliciano entered the game in the eighth, and Rowand welcomed him with a shot to left field. Boom. Tie game.

Sosa entered the game from here, and with two outs and a runner on second, Manuel brought in pinch hitter extraordinare Pete LaForest. And in his biggest at bat of the season, LaForest drew a walk, letting Rollins stride to the plate. At this point, after the season he’d have, it wasn’t a question of if he’d get the run home, but how. Would he homer? Triple? Simple base hit?

Rollins took the second pitch and drove one to center field. It had some distance. Not enough. But Beltran didn’t know how much. He came in a step, two steps … then noticed it wasn’t in his line. Back … back … over his head! One run scores! Two runs score! Rollins is in at third easily! 5-3 Phils!

“MVP!” chants are wild throughout Shea Stadium, and now the Phils can count the outs to a huge win. JC Romero retired the side in the eighth, leading to a Myers save opportunity.

It wasn’t easy. Jose Reyes walked. Then stole second. Then Luis Castillo singled on an impossible grounder to Rollins. With one out, it was up to Wright, the Mets MVP. This was his chance. His chance to solidify his case. But Myers had a different plan.

“Struck ‘em out!”

Beltran was next, and couldn’t redeem himself from his early miscue, lining the final out to Werth to end the game. Karma, how devilish.

11. May 16: King Cole … almost … has his day

For Cole Hamels, 2007 was not only a breakout year, but the year he became one of the National League’s premiere pitchers — suddenly, Hamels is on the same level as Peavy and Webb. If he wasn’t hurt and didn’t miss a few starts late, he may have made a heck of a case for Cy Young.

As it stood, May 16 was the kind of start that demostrated the power of King Cole.

The hot-bat Brewers were in town, and on a clear Wednesday night, Hamels had the cure for the big boppers. He started right away, striking out the side in the first. Then he struck out Bill Hall to lead the second. Already he had a 2-0 lead. In the third, another two strikeouts. 5-0 Phillies. The Brewers line read 0-0-1.

The lineup turn had no effect. Retired the side in the fourth. Retired the side in the fifth. Retired the side in the sixth. Hamels’ power was so strong, Nunez even got in on it, singling home a run to make it 6-0. After six: 0-0-2.

In the seventh, Weeks led off for the third time. This time — maybe Hamels was feeling the pressure — a walk. No big deal. No hitter still intact. Then came JJ Hardy. Line drive … gone. No hitter gone. Shutout gone. Hamels angry. 6-2 Phillies.

After giving up a fly ball for an out, Hamels settled in and took out his anger the only way he knew how, striking out Hall and Kevin Mench. Hamels would go eight, finishing with eleven strikeouts and earning a huge standing ovation. For six innings, Hamels took the fans on a magic ride, hoping to show fans exactly what they knew all along — that Cole could throw a perfect game.

He will one day.


The Top-20 Moments In Phillie Phandom: 16-20

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, December 27, 2007 10:28 PM Comments: 1

As we reach the end of 2007, I thought it would be nice to look back at the year that was, and what made me, you, and everyone in Phillies Nation … well … love the Phillies.

Let’s put it simply: There were a slew of amazing moments. From the NL East clincher to every late-inning rally and last-at-bat win, the Phillies were maybe the most exciting team in baseball in 2007. Hopefully, you’ll have as much fun and enjoyment looking back, reading these snippets, as I did writing them.

Here’s my list of the top-20 moments in Phillie Phandom (2007 version). First, the five that just missed out:

25. May 23: Despite losing Myers, Phils beat Marlins in extras.
24. April 23: Rollins’ league leading seventh homer helps Phils pound Astros.
23. June 6: Rollins’ homer ties game; Phils win 4-2 over Mets.
22. April 21: Hamels strikes out 15 and goes complete against Reds.
21. May 15: Carlos Ruiz slams home a win for Phillies.

20. June 19: Welcome to the show, “3 in 6.”

Kyle Kendrick started 2007 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in AA Reading. You know, a pretty good campaign, nothing outstanding, nothing to think he’d be a Top-10 prospect kind of guy.

But a funny thing happened: The Phils prized acquisition of the offseason, Freddy Garcia, mercifully went on the DL for good. The rotation was depleted, with Brett Myers in the bullpen and Jon Lieber on the DL, Kendrick became a necessary option. Nothing about him said he’d be anything more than a 6 IP, 3 ER guy on a good day. But guess what? Kendrick had a good day almost every time out there.

It started against – of all teams – the Cleveland Indians. Kendrick wasn’t pretty, but he got the job done without damage in a 9-6 win. The offense provided enough backing to win the game for young KK, all 22 years of him. And Kendrick was on his way to a solid 10-4 rookie season – one with a slew of good starts (75 percent of the time he went 6 IP with only one game of 5 ER). Welcome aboard, “3 in 6.”

19. May 12: Rain, rain, go away, Greg Dobbs, make ‘em pay.

A soggy day at Citizens Bank Park made a Phillies/Cubs tilt proceed with doubt. But behind a strong start by Garcia (surprise), the Phils held a 5-1 lead going into the seventh inning. (Note: Garcia even had an RBI double in the contest.) Then, the real Freddy Garcia showed up, and began unraveling. Meanwhile, the rain pounded hard from the sky, making fans uncomfortable and players antsy. It showed. The Cubs began slaughtering Garcia and reliever Geoff Geary, putting six on the board to take the lead, 7-5, as the umpires called action and started the rain delay.

With the delay and the blown lead taking a toll on fans, many left.

Bad move.

Once the delay ended, the Phils picked up their whoopin’ sticks. Spotting Chicago two outs, Aaron Rowand singled. Then Chase Utley doubled, scoring Rowand on an error. Then Pat Burrell walked. Then the Great Greg Dobbs struck a triple, scoring two and grabbing the Phils the lead. Then Abraham Nunez singled home Dobbs. Then, finally, came Carlos Ruiz, who slammed a homer, scoring two and putting the Phils way out in front.

When the dust – or condensation – settled, Dobbs was 4-for-4, Ruiz was 3-for-3 and Nunez was 2-for-4. And the rain couldn’t stop the Phils from winning.

18. July 22: “The Real Deal” lives up to his moniker.

For JD Durbin, 2007 wasn’t looking peachy. The journey-boy righthander was Minnesota property until March, when he was placed on waivers. Then Arizona grabbed him. They didn’t like him, so they dropped him back onto waivers, where, a week later, Boston grabbed him. They didn’t like him as well, so they dropped him. Luckily for Durbin, the Phillies don’t have great pitching. A few days later: Welcome aboard, “The Real Deal.”

Durbin was part of the revolving door of No. 5 starters, and for a while, he didn’t seem to hold up well. One day was a solid outing of Kendrick-like proportions; the next start was an atrocious, Eaton-like outing. Who knew what to get with “The Real Deal.”

The Padres certainly didn’t know.

Durbin strode to the mound July 22 and took complete advantage of cavernous PETCO Park. He threw 71 strikes out of 109 pitches, but threw a good amount of fly balls. Luckily, PETCO pushed the flies to harmless pops, and Durbin cruised. The punchless Pads had no answer for JD, and the youngster found himself on the brink of a complete game, shutout.

In the ninth, he allowed a leadoff single to Adrian Gonzalez. A grounder by Mike Cameron looked like a double play, but a rare Utley error made it one out, runner on second. So Durbin did what any good pitcher would do — go with his strengths. He made the next two batters fly balls into the deep outfield, securing his first ever great game. Durbin went crazy on the mound, and why not? Drink it up, “Real Deal,” it may be the best you ever do.

17. April 29: The grizzled veteran has the last laugh.

April wasn’t a great month for the Phillies. At 10-13, the Phils were in fourth place in the NL East and mirroring their great lost Aprils of the past. From the ashes, however, came a guiding light, in the form of a 44-year-old grizzled vet throwing slopballs and turtle-quick changeups.

The Florida Marlins were in town, finishing up a three-game set, and the kiddies were looking to put the Phils away. But they weren’t ready for the grizzled vet, Mr. Jamie Moyer.

With teeth clenched and eyes cast wearily, Old Moyer tossed sloppy fastball after sloppy fastball and crawling changeup after crawling changeup, baffling the Fish into weak fly balls and horrid strikeouts. All the while, the fans grew more excited. Somehow, some way, the grizzled vet was doing something special. With each out, he was getting closer to a no hitter. Could it be? Could it be?

It wasn’t to be. All World Super Hitter Miguel Cabrera ended the charade with a double in the top of the seventh. You’d be crazy if you didn’t think the fans went crazy for Old Moyer at that point. Well, Old Moyer had them all fooled. Leading off the bottom of the seventh, the grizzled vet dug in and grounded a sharp one through the hole in left field. Busting down the line like a man 20 years his junior (how about Cabrera?), Moyer came in with a double. Hey, forget the no hitter, this guy’s a gamer. One hell of a gamer. It was only appropriate he gave the last teeth-clenching performance of the Phils great season, a six-inning maneuver to beat the Nats and win the crown.

Go ahead, Old Moyer, go on and go ahead.

16. August 29: Sorry, Marlon, but you’re out.

Game three of that Great Late-August Series had everything – big plays, great defense, huge hits, runner’s interference …

The Mets took an early lead off Moyer with a David Wright home run. But the Phils came right back, thanks to MVP Rollins and Burrell, each knocking a homer to make it 2-1 Pinstripes. Though the Mets would tie the game at 2, Moyer would pitch well to go six strong.

In the bottom of the fifth, Moyer led off with a key walk. Rollins singled him to second, and Tadahito Iguchi singled him to third. With the bases jammed, Burrell knocked a fly ball to left field – just deep enough to score Moyer and give the Phillies the lead. They’d turn to the bullpen in the seventh.

JC Romero and Tom Gordon did their jobs, and Myers came in for the ninth. After striking out Carlos Delgado, Paul LoDuca rips a single to right field. Marlon Anderson comes into the game with Endy Chavez, the former pinch hitting, the latter pinch running. The latter singles to right, and Werth holds the quick Chavez at third.

That sets up the moment:

Shawn Green dribbles one to shortstop. Myers leaps, thinking, maybe, the game might end here. Rollins has to charge to grab it. He takes it and wings one to Iguchi. There’s no way Green’s getting called out. As Chavez steps on the plate, Iguchi takes Rollins’ throw and is taken out by a suspect slide by Anderson. Iguchi’s throw bounces about after he’s upended, and umpire CB Bucknor wastes no time.

“That’s interference,” notes Chris Wheeler.

He points at Anderson, calls interference, then motions to first, calling Green out.

The game is over.

Anderson is furious, as are the Met players, but it doesn’t matter. The Phillies celebrate the win, another step closer to the Mets. It sets up one of the greatest games of the sports year.

Part two coming tomorrow.


‘Tis the Season

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, December 24, 2007 01:43 PM Comments: 7

From all of us at Phillies Nation to all of you die-hard Phillies fans, Happy Holidays!!

Happy Holidays


Phils Inexplicably Sign Taguchi

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sun, December 23, 2007 05:04 PM Comments: 10

This one comes from left field (literally):  The Phillies today signed So Taguchi to a one-year deal worth about $1MM.  There’s an option for 2009.

My first thought:  This move makes no sense.  My second thought:  This might be a good move.  The Phils had Chris Snelling lined up as the fifth outfielder, and though Taguchi isn’t a bad fifth outfielder option, there are so many other holes necessary to fill.

However, last year, the 37-year-old Taguchi went .290 with 3 HR and 30 RBI in 307 AB for Saint Louis.  He adds some speed and a lot of singles.  While they already had Snelling for this, Taguchi is a solid contingency plan, much like his brother-from-another-mother, Tadahito Iguchi.  Taguchi can play all three outfield positions, so that’s also a plus.


Jenkins’ Addition: How The Outfield Rates

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, December 22, 2007 08:59 PM Comments: 2

This week, the Phils made their second splash (a moderate splash, if we’re thinking in Pat Gillick’s terms), signing free agent outfielder Geoff Jenkins for $13MM over two years.  I have to be at least positive about the deal, since the Phils made up about 60 percent of Rowand’s loss.  The other 40 percent isn’t necessary for this offense, but it would be helpful.

Put it this way — Geoff Jenkins probably won’t have Rowand’s 2007.  Heck, Rowand probably wont have his 2007 again.  That means the 2008 Phillies outfield, sorry to say folks, could be absolutely average.

But that isn’t a bad thing!

I culled through the last 10 Phillies outfields to determine how the 2008 version could stack up.  The most-played five players were considered:

2007 — Pat Burrell/Aaron Rowand/Shane Victorino/Jayson Werth/Michael Bourn
Burrell’s OBP and power numbers were as good as his best years despite a slow start.  Rowand had an All Star season.  Victorino was a tad above average, thanks to speed numbers.  Werth was platoon worthy.  And Bourn was a fine bench player; a consummate speed guy.  Defensively, besides Burrell, a pretty strong group.
TOTAL STATS: .299 AVG / 78 HR / 287 RBI / 332 R / 68 SB
Rating: 8.5 Bobby Abreus

2006 – Pat Burrell/Aaron Rowand/Bobby Abreu/Shane Victorino/David Dellucci
A repeat performance for Burrell, almost frighteningly, but with a bit lower OBP.  Rowand was injured for a good portion of the year, putting up average numbers.  Abreu had a real stinker season for him.  Victorino wasn’t quite ready and barely stole a base.  Dellucci had a fine bench season, probably a little better of a year than Werth in ’07.  Spotty defense all across.
TOTAL STATS: .273 AVG / 68 HR / 292 RBI / 311 R / 35 SB
Rating: 6.5 Ron Gants

2005 – Pat Burrell/Kenny Lofton/Bobby Abreu/Jason Michaels/Endy Chavez

Probably Burrell’s best season, knocking in 117 RBI.  Lofton was a stalwart in a semi-platoon with Michaels, hitting a lot of singles and stealing 22 bags.  This was the year Abreu started like a Man on Fire, but the power dropped out in the second half.  Michaels was a good singles hitter.  Chavez, while a good defender, provided nothing offensively.  Defensively, an average-to-poor group.
TOTAL STATS: .292 AVG / 62 HR / 296 RBI / 320 R / 58 SB
Rating: 7.5 Doug Glanvilles

2004 – Pat Burrell/Marlon Byrd/Bobby Abreu/Jason Michaels/Doug Glanville

Burrell was below average, one year removed from his really crap year.  Byrd was just really crap.  Abreu had his last great season, a 30×40 campaign as team MVP.  Michaels had another fine bench year.  Glanville’s second tour of duty with the pinstripes was close to a zero.  A strong defensive group, as Burrell was still passable and Byrd provided much better arm strength than Lofton in ’05.
TOTAL STATS: .256 AVG / 71 HR / 276 RBI / 297 R / 54 SB
Rating: 5 Jason Michaels

2003 – Pat Burrell/Marlon Byrd/Bobby Abreu/Ricky Ledee/Jason Michaels
Now we’re getting into the good stuff. Burrell was atrocious, a real WTF for all Phillies fans.  Byrd actually had a pretty average season.  Abreu was again fantastic with a .409 OBP.  Ledee packed some real power off the bench.  Michaels, meanwhile, wasn’t quite there yet, though he did come through with some nice hitting.  And it was a pretty average group, defensively.
TOTAL STATS: .271 AVG / 66 HR / 273 RBI / 299 R / 33 SB
Rating: 5.5 Jayson Werths

2002 – Pat Burrell/Doug Glanville/Bobby Abreu/Ricky Ledee/Jason Michaels

This is right there with 2005 as Burrell’s best season, as he hit 37 bombs, knocking in 116 and hitting a very strong 146 OPS+.  Okay, this is his best season.  It wasn’t Glanville’s best season, however, though 19 steals help his cause a little.  Abreu had a fine year, hitting .308 with a .413 OBP. 2002 Ledee wasn’t 2003 Ledee, sadly.  And Michaels was just plain mediocre.  They were average defensively, though Glanville was awesome.
TOTAL STATS: .275 AVG / 73 HR / 264 RBI / 296 R / 53 SB
Rating: 6.5 Ron Gants

2001 – Pat Burrell/Doug Glanville/Bobby Abreu/Brian Hunter/Eric Valent

It was really the starting three, with Hunter pinch hitting and giving little rests.  It was a typical Burrell season (27 HR, .258, 162 K) for his first full year.  Glanville came down a peg from 2000, put put up respectable numbers similar to Vic in ’07.  Abreu had his first 30/30 year, hitting 31 HR and swiping 36 bases, so obviously, it was a good year.  Hunter could’ve been better off the bench, but added 14 stolen bags.  Valent was the most-played of the slew of one-off guys who got a few innings out there (Rob Ducey, Turner Ward, Reggie Taylor), and a .098 AVG means he didn’t make the most of it.  It was Burrell’s best defensive year, as he rifled 18 assists. Abreu added 11; both, however, made countless errors.
TOTAL STATS: .266 AVG / 74 HR / 271 RBI / 287 R / 80 SB
Rating: 7 Gregg Jefferies’

2000 – Ron Gant/Doug Glanville/Bobby Abreu/Kevin Sefcik/Pat Burrell
Burrell was a rookie, but for those keeping score, he split time between first base and left field. I  put him in anyway. Gant improved on his 1999 HR output, notching a respectable 20.  But then he gave us just 38 RBI.  Yes — 38.  Glanville was good, stealing 32 bases, but it wasn’t quite 1999.  Abreu hit .316 while swiping 28, but he wasn’t at star level just yet.  Sefcik was plain poor.  Burrell was limited at left, and had a limited, average season.  Abreu was actually good defensively this year, and overall they were solid enough.
TOTAL STATS: .270 AVG / 71 HR / 258 RBI / 318 R / 68 SB
Rating: 6 Marlon Byrds

1999 – Ron Gant/Doug Glanville/Bobby Abreu/Kevin Sefcik/Rob Ducey
This was Year One of the Ron Gant experiment, which yielded average numbers (17 HR, 77 RBI, .260 AVG).  Glanville, however, was ridiculous, hitting .325 (204 hits!) with 34 steals, 11 homers and 73 ribbies in a career year.  What a leadoff man!  Abreu had a .335 year, not yet reaching his maximum power potential.  Sefcik was nothing to write about.  Then there was Ducey (remember him?), who was a servicable bench man.  Again, a good defensive year for Abreu.  The rest were average.  But offensively, a great season.
TOTAL STATS: .300 AVG / 57 HR / 287 RBI / 383 R / 85 SB
Rating: 8.5 Bobby Abreus

1998 – Gregg Jefferies/Doug Glanville/Bobby Abreu/Kevin Sefcik/Ruben Amaro

Hey, it’s the Jefferies era!  The Phils didn’t pay him big bucks to notch a .331 OBP. A below-average year for big GJ.  Glanville was very good, hinting at his gigantic ’99.  It was Abreu’s first year with the Phils, and he answered with a .317 clip, but struck out a bunch.  Sefcik was a strong singles hitter.  And Mr. Asst. GM showed us why he belonged in the front office (well, that’s debatable too), with a .187 AVG.  But probably the best defense the outfield has had in the last 10 years — strong arms, only one error-prone guy (Abreu).
TOTAL STATS: .289 AVG / 37 HR / 201 RBI / 273 R / 57 SB
Rating: 5 Jason Michaels

Now, I’ll take a predicted gander at the 2008 outfield.

2008 – Pat Burrell/Shane Victorino/Jasyon Werth/Geoff Jenkins/Chris Snelling

I’d guess Burrell may regress slightly from 2006 and 2007, which isn’t too bad.  Victorino should stay close to his 2007 numbers, and hey, maybe he touches the 1999 Glanville marks as a ceiling.  Werth could get better, but I wouldn’t bet on it.  With Jenkins, hopefully, I expect Ron Gant’s 1999 numbers.  And Snelling looks like a Michaels-level player; however, Gillick’s last two waiver-quality outfield pickups (Werth, Dellucci) were winners, so I’m looking optimistically.
Predicted Rating: 7 Gregg Jefferies’

Conclusion: Doug Glanville was pretty damn good for a few years!

Aside from that, last season’s team had probably the best Phillies outfield since easily 1999 and maybe the 1960s.  Most of these outfields were average or slightly above.  If the 2008 outfield is as good as I predict, we have nothing to worry about.  Why?  Because the pre-2007 teams didn’t have three superstar infielders.  That’s why.  The Phils can get away with an average outfield. An above-average outfield is gravy — which is what I expect for this team.

So let’s not worry too much about losing Rowand and gaining Jenkins.  Looking at the past, it’s not such a bad move.


Breaking News: Phillies Sign Geoff Jenkins

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, December 20, 2007 08:32 AM Comments: 13

Just as I figured.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN is reporting the Phils snatched Jenkins to a 2-year/$13MM deal with a third year vesting option. At the moment, it’s a preliminary agreement.

Jenkins is a nice fit for the Phillies, and will make up for about 60-70 percent of Aaron Rowand’s loss. It looks to be about $6MM for the first year and $7MM for year two, which isn’t disastrously high. It’s about what you’d figure for Jenkins. Of course, this means the Phillies arbitrary $10MM to spend this offseason has been reached (and a bit overdrawn). Does it mean the Phils are finished spending? I hope not.

As far as the team’s needs for 2008, they can still use another starter and another back-end reliever. Kris Benson may be the former, but there’s no indication the Phils are strongly looking for the latter. All in all, despite this good pickup, the Phils may be going into 2008 with the same problems as 2007.


Report: Phils Finally Take Hold Of League’s Durbins

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, December 19, 2007 07:45 PM Comments: 2

We have news! The Phillies allegedly signed pitcher …

Chad Durbin.

Don’t know deal details yet, but Durbin is a “journeyman” and “30.” Here are his numbers from 2007:

2007 – 36 G (19 GS) / 8-7 / 4.72 ERA / 1.426 WHIP / 66 K / 49 BB

Career, his 5.75 ERA and 1.426 WHIP means, in Phillies terms, “4 1/3 innings and 4 runs.”

Durbin spent last year (and 2006) with the Tigers. I got to see him pitch one game on TV, and I believe he was rocked quite a bit by the Twins. Basically, folks, this one’s a wash. Not bad numbers altogether, but the words “journeyman” and “30″ never really excite me.

Already prognosticators are penciling him in as the No. 5 starter. I don’t think so. If anything, he’s battling with Eaton and his brother-from-another-mother, J.D. Durbin. Hopefully, this isn’t the only pitching signing left for the Phils.

Strangely, when this news was first reported by a fan with an ear to the grindstone, he said Geoff Jenkins is a done deal too. We’ll keep the ears open.


Gorilla Guys Radio Interview

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, December 19, 2007 09:30 AM Comments: 0

On Sunday, I participated in a fun and enlightening discussion on the Mitchell Report hosted by Gorilla News Radio, a member of the Blog Talk Radio network. I was forced to come to terms with the fact that some of the names in the Report were my heroic boyhood idols – Roger Clemens and Lenny Dykstra, especially. A summary of the show can be read over on the800lbgorilla or you can listen to my part by clicking play below.



19 Non-Roster Players Invited To Spring Training

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, December 18, 2007 02:32 PM Comments: 2

The Phillies have announced 19 non-roster players to join the club in Clearwater for Spring Training.

Who gets the call?

Per the Morning Call, here’s the list:

  • Carlos Carrasco, right-handed pitcher
  • Mike Cervenek, first baseman
  • Ron Chiavacci, right-handed pitcher
  • Vic Darensbourg, left-handed pitcher
  • Jason Donald, shortstop
  • Greg Golson, outfielder
  • Tuffy Gosewisch, catcher
  • Tim Gradoville, catcher
  • Paul Hoover, catcher
  • Brennan King, third baseman
  • Gary Knotts, right-handed pitcher
  • Lou Marson, catcher
  • Brian Mazone, left-handed pitcher
  • Josh Outman, left-handed pitcher
  • Valentino Pascucci, outfielder/first baseman
  • Joe Savery, left-handed pitcher
  • Casey Smith, infielder
  • Andy Tracy, first baseman/third baseman
  • Brandon Watson, outfielder

Of these names, the prospects are Carrasco (Phils No. 1), Donald, Golson, King, Marson, Mazone, Outman and Savery. The most logical choices to make the big leagues out of the gate would have to be Darensbourg and Watson.

The former is a 37-year-old journeyman who went 1-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 22 games for Detroit in 2005. He had a 9/7 SO/BB ratio. Last year for AAA Toledo, he went 6-2 with a 1.72 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 50 games and 52.1 IP. The lefty could definitely see time as the team’s LOOGY, possibly fighting with Shane Youmans for that spot.

The latter, Watson, is a speedster with a nice swing. The 26-year-old centerfielder is going to be the new Michael Bourn. In limited action with the Nationals, he went 5/18 with a double and two ribbies, stealing a base. With the Phils thin outfield corps (for now), Watson looks like a strong option to see some time in Philly this season. At the very least, I’d put him above Roberson on the depth chart.

The most intriguing name on this list is Savery, the Phils 2007 first round pick. Savery has pitched well since signing, especially during his time in the Arizona Fall League. I suspect a stint in Clearwater will determine how the Phils place him for 2008. He could very well stay in Florida and start the year in high-A. If that’s the case, a mid-2009 MLB debut could be in the cards for the former Rice University star.

One final observation is the plethora of non-roster catchers reporting. The big league club has Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste, with AAA-worthy Jason Jaramillo waiting in the wings. (One can’t forget Pete LaForest, but I will.) It’s likely whoever wins out on the catching battle (save for Marson, who will start the year in AA), may be the emergency third/fourth catcher in 2008.


State Of The City: Phillies Must Take Charge

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, December 17, 2007 11:43 AM Comments: 3

Happy Monday everybody. I hope the Eagles win capped off a good weekend filled with Phillies trade rumors, fallout from the Mitchell Report, and managable snowfalls. I am writing in italics today to introduce you to a post by Tim Malcolm, a new contributor to the Phillies Nation. Tim is a Philly-native currently stuck in Connecticut with some real journalism credentials from Boston University. We’re happy to have him on board and look forward to many more quality posts. Take it away, Tim.

First off, I’m excited to be a part of Phillies Nation. For the dozens — yes, dozens — who’ve checked me over at Pheeling Goosebumps, thank you for doing so, and I hope you continue to read my work here. The guys here are doing some fantastic things, and I’m looking forward to sharing my views through the site.

I’ll leave personal introductions for later.

I thought my first post would be a quick statement concerning how the Phillies fit into the Philadelphia fan’s picture. Watching the Eagles defeat the Cowboys yesterday, I was happy, of course, but not completely ecstatic. A Cowboy fan co-worker congratulated me on the win this morning, but I just shrugged it off (hey, we ain’t makin’ the playoffs anyway).

I don’t know if every Philadelphia fan is this jaded with the Birds, but let’s look at what’s happened in 2007:

  • The Eagles magical run under Jeff Garcia came to a crashing end with a heartbreaker in New Orleans. In the game, Andy Reid’s deficient play-calling and the team’s personnel gaffes came back to bite the Birds.
  • The Flyers posted a league-worst, franchise-worst record.
  • The Sixers traded Allen Iverson and, despite a surge that ended close to the playoffs, left little hope for the immediate future.
  • The Eagles offseason was ripe with turmoil, mainly because of Andy Reid’s darling children.

This all before the Phillies started running closer and closer to the Mets, and before the Phils finally caught them. Then, of course, they won the East.
Since then,

  • The Eagles have suffered through close losses, bad coaching, bad quarterbacking and injuries, leaving a window showing one last crack before closing for good.
  • The Flyers have rebounded to be one of the top teams in the East, but their too-often lax play and bully mentality have left us a little conspicuous.
  • The Sixers fired Billy King (finally), but aren’t remotely close to being a contender in the top-heavy NBA.

The Phillies, meanwhile, have coasted since Sept. 30. They traded for Brad Lidge, which sounds great; but, they haven’t upgraded the bullpen any more. They signed a slew of AAA-quality talent, but haven’t made up for losing Aaron Rowand. Add on the holes that remained after last season (third base, starting pitcher, back-end reliever), and the Phils’ method of staying the course has been somewhat of a wash.

We’re all hungry. Listen — the Flyers may go far in the playoffs, but the way they look, they could just as easily fizzle in the first round. The Sixers could jump into the back-end of the East playoffs, but come on, are they winning two games in them? And the Eagles? Ha. Let the Kevin Kolb Era begin.

The Phillies, however, are on the cusp. They are literally one of the top teams in the National League; heck, before Arizona grabbed a second ace over the weekend, they were practically Team 1A in the NL. So now is not the time to rest on laurels. Now is not the time to stay the course, stand Pat, lay down, whatever. Now is the time to move.

The Phils are rumored to be close to signing Geoff Jenkins. That’s a start. There are still pitching holes to solve. They must grab another starter and a back-end reliever. If it takes Carlos Carrasco and Josh Outman, so be it. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins are in their absolute primes. Cole Hamels is a stud. Brett Myers will likely put up good numbers. There’s enough of a supporting cast to carry these guys to 85 wins again, but they need the three pieces left to get them to 95.

Ownership frugality aside, there’s potential for the Phillies to run away with the city’s heart. Now is the time. Front office — you’re the best team in the city. You won. Now go for the jugular.

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