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Archive for December, 2008

The 2008 Phandom 25: The Sweep That Started It

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, December 31, 2008 05:00 PM Comments: 9

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

23. Milwaukee’s best
Date: September 14, 2008

Backs against the wall, the Phillies needed some prayers answered on September 11. They were three games in back of the first-place Mets in the East, and four in back of the Wild Card-leading Brewers. Playoffs? It seemed unlikely. The Brewers came to town for a four-game set; at the time, we stressed a three-to-one series win. Who knew that the Phils would turn it on so well?

They won the Thursday game 6-3, then fell victim to a rainout Friday. No worries. They won Saturday 7-3, then turned their attentions to a Sunday doubleheader. Teams never sweep doubleheaders, let alone four-game sets. Right?

Game one was tight, with Joe Blanton giving the Brewers an early 2-0 lead. The Phils would cut the lead in half with a Pat Burrell RBI double play — a usual Phillie run in 2008. But the Brewers would grab another run off Blanton, turning hopes to the Phils offense. They wouldn’t let him down.

In the sixth, still 3-1, Ryan Howard — Mr. September — strode to the plate with Chase Utley at first. Three pitches in, he slammed a Dave Bush pitch the opposite way, tying the game. And in the eighth, the Phils deposited four, thanks mostly to a Shane Victorino homer. They’d take the game going away, 7-3.

Game two was much easier. Brett Myers sparkled, throwing a complete game and allowing the offense to do their damage on their own terms. After a Chase Utley RBI double play (see what I mean?), the Phils opened it up thanks to … guess who? Myers. The pitcher preluded his postseason magic with an RBI single. Jimmy Rollins followed that with a two-run single — with Myers showing a great slide — putting the game away at 4-0.

Pat Burrell added a barely-fair homer as the Phils took it, 6-1. With the sweep, the Phils jumped back into the playoff race. The four-gamer started a ridiculous stretch where the Phillies finished 24-6, taking … well, you know.

The video: Howard ties it up in the early game.

From the comments:

SJ Mike: Can the Brewers say “deflating?”

christopher: what a win! hot damn, i was skeptical about that one with all the problems they were having with bush. but a brilliant 8th inning, forcing shouse to throw to righties for fear of bringing in gagne, and then ROCKING him. oh and for all the trash people were talking about blanton in the other post, it looks like my last comment was the most accurate: “phillies in blanton starts are 6-4 whether you like him or not. he’s been a positive addition to the team and i think he’ll come up with one of his best performances of the season today.”

bring it home for the sweep tonight!

Whisky Priest: Listen to that crowd though: everyone is into it. Cheering for individual pitches, going nuts for every hit, booing meetings at the mound. Shit I love this city!

  • 9 Comments
 

100 Greatest Phillies: 86 – Clay Dalrymple

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, December 31, 2008 02:00 PM Comments: 12

Clay Dalrymple
Catcher
1960-1968

Career w/Phillies: .233 AVG / 50 HR / 312 RBI / 3 SB

The catcher for the 1964 Phillies, Dalrymple led the National League in sacrifice flies that season. Really, though, Dalrymple was an ace defensive player. He led National League catchers in assists three times, threw out 49 percent of baserunners for his career and set a league-record 99-game errorless streak between 1966 and ’67. After nine seasons as the Phils’ primary pitching handler, Dalrymple helped the Orioles become a stout pitching team from 1969 to ’71. A simple player with astute defensive skills, he sort of reminds one of a current Phillie backstop.

Comment: Highly underrated in Phils’ history, Dalrymple was one of the main reasons that ’64 team was so good — he handled that pitching staff to a 3.36 ERA. Sure he wasn’t a big-time offensive player, but catchers have to be position players first, and he certainly was a good one.

  • 12 Comments
 

Counter Offer For Lowe? Sit On It

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, December 31, 2008 08:00 AM Comments: 100

The Mets have reportedly offered Derek Lowe a three-year, $36 million contract.

Lowe and agent Scott Boras seem to want something closer to a five-year, $70 million deal for the right-handed starter. It was reported that the Phillies made an offer to Lowe during the Winter Meetings, but that offer was questioned later, and a Phillies official denied it (at least, an official denied a three-year offer).

It’s obvious Lowe won’t get the five years he seeks. But he’ll get better offers than the one the Mets threw up there. So should the Phillies throw their chips onto the table? I don’t think so. It’s pretty evident the Phils don’t want to take on Lowe’s demands anymore, especially with a slew of arbitration-eligible players slobbering over their 2009 paychecks. They’re fooling nobody at this point.

The Mets are poised to sign Lowe, maybe not for three years and $36 million, but for something agreeable for both sides. It’s very likely the Phils will be staring at this rotation in 2009: Johan Santana/Derek Lowe/John Maine/Mike Pelfrey/Jon Niese. Is that so bad? The Phils defeated Lowe twice in a week back in October. They also handled Pelfrey for a 4.24 ERA. Maine has fared well against the Phillies during his career, but he’s still hittable.

Basically, the Phillies don’t have the required cash to sign Lowe. Not after Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth receive raises. Not after Raul Ibanez signed. The Mets, meanwhile, are willing to spend the money to seize Lowe. It raises the eternal question: Should the Phils break the bank? Should any team break the bank?

Recent world champions demonstrate that spending a generous amount of money on player payroll helps the cause. Last year’s Phillies broke the $100 million mark and finished with the gold ring. Before that, the big-spending Red Sox took home the crown. And before that, the Cardinals — a somewhat frugal, but always ready spender — found triumph. The list goes on. Yes, you almost have to spend some money to win the title. But you also have to be wise.

Loading up on free agents during the offseason isn’t always the satisfying idea. Sure it’s tempting to grab all the foods at the buffet line immediately, but when your plate is half finished and your stomach is bloated, you know you made a mistake. Are the Yankees guaranteed a championship with CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and AJ Burnett on board? Absolutely not. Nobody thought the Phillies could win a title with the soft additions of Geoff Jenkins, Pedro Feliz, Chad Durbin and Brad Lidge. But once he sorted out the details and discovered the holes, Pat Gillick found his plugs: left-handed specialist Scott Eyre, big-hitting bench player Matt Stairs, stopgap starter Joe Blanton. Hell, he found great plugs in his own system: All-world athlete Jayson Werth and resurgent starter Brett Myers, for two.

The Phillies won because they constructed a complete team by the end of 2008. Right now, they have a somewhat incomplete troupe, with small potential weaknesses in the rotation, the early part of the bullpen and the bench. Nothing to panic about. And nothing worth the trouble of a damaging contract like Derek Lowe’s. Let the Mets worry about that one — let them gamble with an albatross by June 2010. There’s no reason the Phils need to play coy: They’re fooling nobody.

  • 100 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: The All-World Pinch Hitter

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, December 30, 2008 05:00 PM Comments: 6

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

24. Dobbsie delivers amidst sinking ship
Date: May 20, 2008

As the Phillies offense started to falter, wins became adventures. Hold dearly onto every run, and hope the bullpen can stave off the rallies. On a night Cole Hamels pitched magnificently against the poor-hitting Nationals, he was given no insurance. The score remained 0-0 as the Phils and Nats entered the late innings. In the seventh, Shane Victorino came to the dish with the bases juiced and two outs, but only flied out. It looked impossible.

But in the ninth, Pedro Feliz doubled. Then came Greg Dobbs, all-world pinch hitter, who drove home pinch runner Eric Bruntlett with a game-winning single. A Victorino hit looked like it could score Dobbs, but he was expertly blocked from scoring a second run. No worries, however, as Brad Lidge shut the door — as always — to secure the 1-0 win. Ugly, ugly, ugly. But a win.

It was their first run in 18 innings.

The video: Dobbs beats the Nats.

From the comments:

Geoff: great outing by hamels, 11k’s. is bergmann really that good? no. this lineup needs to be shaken up to shock them into reality. trading shane would shake things up nicely i think. start hitting there with RISP guys.

Mike T: Embarrassing display of offense – but after watching the last three games, yeah, I’ll take it.

  • 6 Comments
 

100 Greatest Phillies: 87 – Tony Taylor

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, December 30, 2008 02:00 PM Comments: 19

Tony Taylor
Infielder
1960-1971, 1974-1976

Career w/Phillies: .260 AVG / 51 HR / 461 RBI / 169 SB

For 15 seasons, Taylor suited up for the Phils. He wore pinstripes and powder blues. Amassing 100 hits 10 times as a Phillie, Taylor finished his career with 1,511 hits for the home team. However, Taylor only reached .280 three times in his Phillie career. A noted base stealer, he stole 20 or more bases four times as a Phil, and also hit his share of doubles and triples. The regular second baseman during the 1960s, Taylor left for Detroit, before returning in 1974 as a utility man.

Comment: A lot like Granny Hamner, Taylor was a mediocre-hitting middle infielder who seems to get a lot of respected love today. He played for a couple lousy teams in the 1960s at a bunch of different positions. A fixture in Phillie lore.

  • 19 Comments
 

Penny Could’ve Been Perfect Low-Risk, High-Reward Move

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, December 30, 2008 12:44 PM Comments: 19

The Red Sox recently signed right-handed pitcher Brad Penny to a one-year, $5M deal. The deal includes an additional $3M in performance incentives.

Some of you may remember me spreading the idea that Penny would be a fantastic signing for the Phillies. For $5 million and one year, he’s a steal. Originally, I thought Penny would require $7M-$8M at the least, and potentially a two-year deal, but the Sox are really getting a coup here.

Penny has a career 4.06 ERA, and is coming off a 2007 that was his best season yet. While his 2008 was horrible statistically, it mostly came from a ton of injuries. Now healthy, Penny may not reel off the same ace-worthy season that he produced in 2007, but it could be very close.

Of course, I’ve been wrong. I stated Bartolo Colon would be a coup in 2008. The Red Sox signed him too, and he started OK (4-2, 3.92 ERA) but suffered an injury (against the Phils, no less) that ended his campaign. Hey, it worked for a while.

But Penny is one of those low-risk, high-reward moves that a top team like the Phils are known to bank from. The Sox might very well have that luck in 2009. I do wish the shot was taken.

  • 19 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: Sweet Lou!

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, December 29, 2008 11:46 PM Comments: 20

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

25. Welcome to the show, Lou Marson!
Date: September 28, 2008

We at Phillies Nation suggest Lou Marson is the Phillies catcher of the future. In fact, we’re already getting in line for Marson’s 2030 Hall of Fame induction. And when that occurs, we can always look back to Marson’s fourth major-league at bat. Already 1-for-3 with a single, Marson faced down Nationals pitcher Marco Estrada, and tattooed him with a big fly into the left field seats. Returning to the dugout, Marson high-fived the air as a response to the first home run silent treatment. Before long, Geoff Jenkins, Jimmy Rollins and friends were congratulating the youngster. With the Phillies clinching a postseason berth the day before, this game was more of a relaxing, tension-free event. Marson’s homer capped the feel-good atmosphere, and the Phils finished off the Nationals for a 92-70 regular season, their best since 1993.

And yes, that day was even better because of the accompanying Mets choke-job.

 

From the comments:

CT: NICE FIRST HOMER FOR MARSON!

Chase Mutley: Home Run Wes Helms!!! Makes up for all the times you didn’t come through in the clutch for the Phillies.

  • 20 Comments
 

Report: Phils Still In Mix For Lowe

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, December 29, 2008 04:13 PM Comments: 55

Don’t rule out Derek Lowe, evidently.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe still mentions the Phils as suitors of the right-hander:

Derek Lowe, RHP, free agent – Agent Scott Boras seemed to think Lowe would be the next free agent pitcher to sign. The Mets appear to be the front-runners, but the interest is not necessarily limited to them. The Phillies also appear to be interested in coaxing Lowe to the East, and don’t eliminate the Red Sox, who now have more money to devote to pitching with Teixeira out of the picture.

The Mets seemed extremely close to finalizing a deal for Lowe, but right now things seem somewhat stalled. In fact, Mets General Manager Omar Minaya said nothing was close yet.

  • 55 Comments
 

100 Greatest Phillies: 88 – Tommy Greene

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, December 29, 2008 02:00 PM Comments: 8

Tommy Greene
Starting Pitcher
1990-1995

Career w/Phillies:
580.1 IP / 36-22 / 4.01 ERA / 429 K

The player to be named later in the 1990 Dale Murphy trade, Greene had two spectacular seasons with the Phillies, amongst a few other mostly-hurt seasons. He arrived in 1990 and performed okay, but came alive in an inspired 1991, going 13-7 with a 3.38 ERA, throwing a no-hitter in Montreal. After a injury-hampered 1992, Greene returned to lead the 1993 staff with a 16-4 record and 3.42 ERA, finishing sixth in Cy Young voting. Sadly, he never lived up to his 1993 form again because of injuries, and retired in 1997 at age 30.

Comment: Should Greene be on the list? I say so, because he anchored the 1993 rotation while really having a nice career with the Phils. Sure, he got hurt a lot, but when he pitched, he was pretty good.

  • 8 Comments
 

Williams To Join MLB Network

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, December 29, 2008 10:58 AM Comments: 9

The MLB Network announced the hiring of Phillies Postgame Live analyst Mitch Williams. He will be the analyst for the 24-hour network’s signature show, “MLB Tonight,” which will compete with ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.”

Joining Williams will be host Greg Amsinger and insider Jon Heyman of SI.com. They will also team up for “Hot Stove,” a nightly offseason show.

I would assume that means Williams is off the Comcast SportsNet roster. He was one of the better analysts I’ve seen in baseball, a guy who shoots straight and understands many facets of the game. Easily likable, he’ll translate well on the new network as its high-profile studio analyst. A great coup for the guy, and I wish him luck.

  • 9 Comments
 
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