Archive for June, 2008

Offense Wastes Another Quality Start, Phils Lose 6th Straight

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, June 25, 2008 09:26 AM Comments: 29

It’s difficult to keep coming up with fresh verbs to describe the offense, so I’ll just say the offense sucks. They yet again couldn’t score enough runs to suffice in a 5-2 loss to the Athletics. It was the Phillies’ sixth straight loss, yet somehow they’re still in first place in the National League East.

Jamie Moyer pitched splendid for the first six innings, striking out nine while taking advantage of a large strike zone and eager A’s hitters. Then in the seventh, a couple men got on base ahead of Emil Brown. The .246 hitter of course launched the winning homer. The Phils couldn’t match the A’s three runs, and Oakland tacked on two for good measure.

Two big moments defined the ineptitude of the offense. In the first inning Shane Victorino singled and Chase Utley walked. The song remained the same: Ryan Howard grounded into a fielder’s choice and Pat Burrell struck out. Why can’t they get one single? Just one?

Then in the seventh the Phils loaded the bases with one out. Carlos Ruiz, of course, hit into the most surefire double play I’ve ever seen. Now at .222, Ruiz is no longer an offensive option for this team. I now dislike seeing his name in the lineup card.

Not a big fan of Geoff Jenkins, either, who struck out three times (looking badly on all of them) and lowering his average to .244. Utley went hitless — he’s in a 1-for-29 or something — and is now at .289. Seriously, Utley’s at .289. What the hell is wrong with this team?

In my most emotional of moments last night I wondered if the Phils would ever win another game. That’s silly. But no longer is this just a troubling matter — this team really looks lost. It’s as if they have forgotten how to hit a baseball. The closer to the abyss we get the more I want to strangle these guys for looking so heartless. I know they’re better — they have to be, right?

Associated Press photo


Gamenight: Phillies (42-35) At Athletics (41-34)

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, June 24, 2008 09:27 PM Comments: 93

After the most disappointing stretch of Phillies baseball in a few years, the first-place (hangin’ by a thread) good guys will open a three-game set at McAfee Colesium, a cavern of basebally weirdness home to the Oakland Athletics. The A’s were the other Philadelphia team for a long, long time, so consider this a meaningful rivalry, or something.

Jimmy Rollins returns home to Oakland, where he has a homer and two ribbies (three games). Phils starter Jamie Moyer has an approachable 4.19 ERA in his 25 starts at the Mac. Or the Fee. Whatever. We’ll just call it the Internet Virus Protection Colesium, or the IVPC. Against Oakland, Moyer has a 4.46 ERA, but it’s not like he’s faced these same guys. Most of the A’s are guys in their mid-to-late 20s, and are guys you haven’t much seen: Kurt Suzuki, Mark Ellis, Bobby Crosby, Jack Hannahan, Daric Barton, Ryan Sweeney, Travis Buck. Billyball: Feel the experience!

The Phils face Joe Blanton, who has struggled so far this year. He’s one of the players rumored as a future Phillie. Two things: The A’s won’t be giving up anything if they remain this good; a guy with a 4.81 ERA is actually an improvement over most of the rotation.

Geoff Jenkins is your designated hitter; Jayson Werth gets the start in right field. This should be par for the course over these next six. By the way, it’s the first late game of the year. I love late games! I also love drinking Starbucks Iced Doubleshots at 8:10 a.m.!

Phillies: Jamie Moyer (7-4) 4.09 ERA
Athletics: Joe Blanton (3-10) 4.81 ERA

Gametime: 10:05 p.m. EST
Weather: 65, sunny
Lineup: Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Burrell, Werth, Jenkins, Feliz, Ruiz

MLB Gameday Audio
MLB Gameday

Your gamenight beer: Ladies and gentleman: The ultimate girl beer. Stella Artois — I’ve had it once. Okay, my ex-girlfriend ordered it and I took a hearty sip. It was okay. Pretty average, actually. (Like her. Zing!) But it’s usually on tap at most bars, kind of a cousin to Heineken, which markets itself to men. So tonight that’s the beer — average, just like the Phils have been lately. Okay, below average. Have some sushi with Stella tonight — chicken is more appropriate, but I had sushi tonight, so you will too.

Go Phillies!


All-Star Ballots: Utley Breaks 2 Million Mark

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, June 24, 2008 02:43 PM Comments: 3

Chase Utley still leads all votegetters in this year’s All-Star balloting with about a week left to vote. He has over 2 million votes, more than twice what second-place candidate Mark DeRosa is getting.

So Utley will start at second base again for the NL All-Stars.

Ryan Howard remains stuck in fifth place among first basemen, while Jimmy Rollins is behind the troika of Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Tejada and Ryan Theriot at shortstop.

Pat Burrell is sixth among outfielders.

Here’s the updated team. Pretty similar:

Geovany Soto/Lance Berkman/Chase Utley/Chipper Jones/Hanley Ramirez/Alfonso Soriano/Ken Griffey Jr/Kosuke Fukudome

Vote for Burrell, Utley and the rest here.


Commentary: It’s Time To Promote Carrasco

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, June 24, 2008 11:48 AM Comments: 20

With all this talk about searching for a starting pitcher, the most important move the Phillies could make is to bring up Carlos Carrasco. Team officials are saying the 21-year-old righty is almost ready to hit the Major Leagues.

I say bring him up now.

Carrasco has evened out with a 3.46 ERA in his 94 innings at AA Reading. His 89/35 K/BB ratio is impressive, and in his last 10 starts he’s thrown at least six innings nine times. While he hasn’t been dominant in Reading, he’s been stable and solid enough to show he’s mastered that level. There’s no need to waste him in AAA Lehigh Valley.

Between now and the All-Star break, it could be a good opportunity to slide Carrasco into the starting rotation. The Phils could go with a six-man rotation, with 19 games in the next 20 days leading to the break. Giving Carrasco three starts would be a nice test, and could be a good tryout for potential teams in the trading market.

If the Phils would rather go with a five-man rotation, it’s possible they could move Brett Myers back to the bullpen as a setup man. But there’s no real great scenario otherwise — Adam Eaton hasn’t been bad enough to send him to the bullpen, nor has Kyle Kendrick.

My biggest reason for bringing up Carrasco now is to get him running for a stretch run opportunity. It’s very possible he could run off a bunch of big starts, as no Major League team has seen him yet. He could be the kind of back-end rotation cog that would get the wheel rolling. I’m reminded of his dominant performance against the Yankees in Spring Training. While July and August baseball is nowhere near the ho-humedry of Clearwater, it’s possible Carrasco would be the type of baffling pitcher the Phils could really hang their hats on toward the finish.

It’s worth it now to bring Carrasco up to the Majors. Let him show us what he’s got.


Phils Looking At Fuentes; Is Castro Included?

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, June 23, 2008 03:58 PM Comments: 28

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (thanks, 700 Level), the Phillies are pursuing Brian Fuentes. The Rockies reliever has 13 saves and a 2.05 ERA this season.

Sherman writes the Phils indicated sending pitcher Fabio Castro in a deal for Fuentes, but he says Castro is a 22-year-old right-hander. He is neither 22, nor a righty. Top prospect Carlos Carrasco, however, is a righty, but 21.


Should Schilling Wear A Phillies Cap In The Hall?

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, June 23, 2008 02:24 PM Comments: 24

With his career all but finished, everyone is debating the Hall of Fame prospects of Curt Schilling. I feel he’ll make the Hall, very slightly and toward the back end of this era’s line.

His numbers show he’s right there among most Hall candidates, and his reputation and legacy probably cement his candidacy. But the question I ask is — if he gets in the Hall, does he go in as a Phillie?

Most people would right away say no, he’s wearing a Red Sox cap. But not so fast — do you automatically give the Sox Schilling because of two world championships?

Here are some comparatives:

Schilling w/ Phils: 101-78, 1554 K in 8.5 years
Schilling w/ D-Backs: 58-28, 875 K in 3.5 years
Schilling w/ Sox: 53-29, 574 K in 4 years

Schilling hit the prime of his career with the Phillies (his 319 K season of 1997), and that prime lasted until 2002, when he went 23-7 with the D-Backs. With Arizona and Boston he benefited from being on good teams, which is why he won so many games (three 20+ win seasons).

The 2004 championship (and “bloody sock” game) raised his star to legend status, and last year’s championship may have cemented his Hall of Fame candidacy. But I say Schilling’s real Hall of Fame resume comes mostly from his time in Philadelphia, winning a lot of games for bad teams and dominating the National League with Pedro Martinez.

In my view, Schill is a Phillie Hall of Famer.


The Day After: It’s Only June

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, June 23, 2008 10:50 AM Comments: 22

The Phillies finished the homestand 1-5, are 3-9 in their last 12 games and are suddenly hanging on for dear life to first place in the National League East.

So how do you feel?

Bill Conlin today wrote a meandering (when is he not meandering?) reassurance that this team isn’t completely doomed. But it sure didn’t read like it — 87 wins, here they come, he wrote.

It doesn’t look as if the Phillies are that 100-win team Jimmy Rollins predicted before the season began. Truth is, teams don’t win 100 games anymore. There’s too much parody in baseball. The fifth starter, injuries and ballparks make it difficult for teams to break into 90-win land. The Phils can still win 90 games.

Are the Phils the best team in the NL East? Well, yes. Obviously the Marlins aren’t going away. Obviously the Mets have a lot of juice in them. Obviously the Braves will fight as well. It’s June. It’s very early, still. But so far the Phils have been the best team.

The 1-5 homestand was a real kick to the collective jewels of we fans. I stated the Phils had to go 4-2 to send a message to the rest of baseball. Instead the message was “we ain’t so hot after all.” Face it: The Phils faced baseball’s best teams, they lost — not miserably, though. The holes were exposed.

And those holes:

  • They can’t hit the breaking ball. Like Pedro Cerrano, this team feasts on No. 1 and No. 1 only. And if guys aren’t quite picking up the fastball, well, good luck.
  • They need at least a No. 3 starter. Brett Myers pitched well, but not well enough to go eight innings against Los Angeles. Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton aren’t going to beat the best teams. They need a guy who can beat the best teams.
  • They need to manufacture runs. The Rollins/Dobbs double steal yesterday was phenomenal. All Ryan Howard had to do was hit one in the air; heck, ground one to the right side. He couldn’t. When things aren’t going your way you have to do little things that’ll get the job done.
  • The biggest warning sign of all, however, is the inability of the C-class players to step up sometimes. Those players: Pedro Feliz, Geoff Jenkins, Carlos Ruiz. I’m always thinking, “now they’ll get a big hit.” But they don’t. So far Jenkins hasn’t been that good. Ruiz has been horrendous. Feliz? He’s worth exactly what he’s worth, but when the guys around him are struggling, he looks worse. Bottom line: With the middle guys in a slump, these three have to perform better. They haven’t.

So now the Phils travel to Oakland, then to Arlington, to face two teams who are probably as good as the Cardinals club they dropped two games to last weekend. Oakland will throw good pitching at the Phils — likely shutting down the offense while Moyer/Kendrick/Eaton give up a couple runs and the games, while the Rangers will try and bash Myers and Moyer into oblivion. I could forsee a 2-4 trip. But that’s with the way things are going now. All we know, they could go 5-1.

If they do, I won’t get my hopes too high. As we all know, it’s only June.


Angels Sweep Phils Off Top Deck; Reality Sets In

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sun, June 22, 2008 10:07 PM Comments: 29

A fitting end to an underwhelming homestand, the Phillies lost to the Angels, 3-2. They were swept by Los Angeles, left at seven-games over .500 and just one game ahead of the Marlins in first place, with the Mets gaining steam. The Phils will now travel to Oakland for a mid-week series, lost, needing repair.

Yet again it was a horrible effort by the Phils offense. Chase Utley finally collected a hit, breaking an 0-for-24 slump, but it doesn’t matter when you leave men in scoring position. In a potential exorcism first inning, Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell failed to bring home Jimmy Rollins and Greg Dobbs, taking Angels starter Jered Weaver off the hook and setting a drab tone for the rest of the contest. Utley couldn’t get runs home later in the game, and Burrell also left a bunch of men on in key spots.

When you slice it naturally, the middle of the order’s ineptitude sank the Phils’ ship this homestand. Utley has the right to go into a funk, but he wasn’t very accommodating in helping the team in other ways. Howard couldn’t get his bat on the ball when it mattered most. Burrell just looked lost during these six games. It’s as if the back-to-back-to-back barrage against Saint Louis spelled the trio. They need to get going again, and fast.

They wasted a nice effort by Cole Hamels, aside from a second inning that saw Casey Kotchman of all people score a two-run home run. He went seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out four and walking none. You could say Hamels should’ve shut the door on the Angels, but that’s completely ridiculous: This offense stinks right now.

Charlie Manuel tried to spice things up by pushing Shane Victorino to the six-hole while placing Greg Dobbs in the second spot. Think about this: With two outs in the ninth and the tying run 180 feet away, it could’ve been Victorino at the plate. Instead, thanks to Manuel’s late-game maneuvering, it was So Taguchi popping up weakly.

Right now this team needs a shake. Hopefully Charlie had his annual, patented chew-out after today’s game. In one week we’ve gone from wild hope to weary nervousness. Something needs to be done.

Associated Press photo


Gameday: Angels (45-30) At Phillies (42-34)

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sun, June 22, 2008 12:33 PM Comments: 72

No game recap today; it’s pretty self-explanatory.

The Phillies are now in the midst of a four-game losing streak, and they’re losing their grip on the NL East lead, now just one game ahead of the Florida Marlins. Today proves to be a huge day, with Cole Hamels on the hill to try and put a stop to this — and this is probably not the appropriate word — mess.

Hamels is coming off a fine performance against the Red Sox, which was the last Phils win. He pitched seven innings and gave up two runs, back-to-back homers by Dustin Pedroia and JD Drew. The Phils offense will face Jered Weaver, who stormed out of the gates with an amazing second half in 2006, but since has been roughed up a lot more. The Mets pounced on him Monday night.

The Phils are just 10-13 in day games this season. Hamels, as we all know, can put on a scary face when he’s pitching with the sun out. But this season he’s been pretty good in day games (2-0, 3.81 ERA). Whatever the case, the Phils need a big performance by the ace today.

Chase Utley is back in the starting lineup. And Charlie Manuel is shaking things up, putting Greg Dobbs in the 2-hole and Shane Victorino in the 6-hole.

Phillies: Cole Hamels (7-4) 3.23 ERA
Angels: Jered Weaver (6-7) 4.73 ERA

Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EST
Weather: 82, possible thunderstorms
Lineup: Rollins, Dobbs, Utley, Howard, Burrell, Victorino, Jenkins, Ruiz, Hamels

MLB Gameday Audio
MLB Gameday

Your gameday beer: Today it’s Rapscallion Premier. Rapscallion means one who is mischievous or playful, and the word “scally” is derived from it (so is “scallion”). I’m a fan of the term “scally wag,” which I guess means someone who is playful to the extent of being a problem. And they’re only found on pirate ships. You never hear of a scally wag out in public. That’s kind of sad. While drinking, eat a light sandwich — maybe turkey and sprouts on whole wheat. Hey, we’re healthy here sometimes.

Go Phillies!


Gamenight: Angels (44-30) At Phillies (42-33)

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, June 21, 2008 05:50 PM Comments: 49


We’re all waiting for the bats to explode again, for starting pitching to be dominant, for a win, a couple wins, a streak. Of course, when your team is in first place and a bunch of games over .500 you tend to get restless when little hiccups occur. The good thing is it’s June, and there’s plenty, plenty of time for the Phils to take off and separate from the division. I’m confident they will, so does it start tonight?

Let’s put eagerness aside and hope Brett Myers patches together a solid start. Fantasy gurus say he’s a smart second-half play, since he’s throwing good pitches but just getting raked. Jim Salisbury called him out earlier this week, saying he’s the real key to the Phils future success. Everyone has an opinion of the guy, but the problem is — nobody knows why he’s been so bad. We just have to sit back and hope it comes together.

Myers will face the Angels’ Joe Saunders. Yes, they don’t let up. The lefty Saunders is 10-3 with a 3.06 ERA; the former Phils draft pick (he elected to go to college and thus became a first-round pick) has been fantastic this season. He has a brutal sinker to go along with his mid-90s fastball.

This could be the night Charlie Manuel finally sits Chase Utley; however, he did hit the ball hard yesterday. I might wait until tomorrow to sit Utley, as it’s a day game, Cole Hamels is on the hill and Utley can hit lefties relatively well.

Phillies: Brett Myers (3-8) 5.58 ERA
Angels: Joe Saunders (10-3) 3.06 ERA

Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EST
Weather: 83, partly cloudy
Lineup: Rollins, Victorino, Burrell, Howard, Werth, Coste, Feliz, Bruntlett, Myers

MLB Gameday Audio
MLB Gameday

Your gamenight beer: Moorehouse Brewery is deep in the heart of England, and they make Black Cat, a dark mild ale that is long on taste and soft on alcohol. Black Cat is a rich, very supple-tasting beer. But I’m recommending it tonight because it seems there’s been a black cat lurking around the Phils clubhouse, making the hitters struggle and the pitchers look diseased. We need to get that cat outta’ here and start winning ballgames.

Go Phillies!

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