Archive for September, 2009

Closing Soap Opera Doesn’t Have An Answer

Posted by Amanda Orr, Fri, September 25, 2009 08:25 AM Comments: 50

On Wednesday night, Brad Lidge blew his league leading eleventh save of the year. Should Brad Lidge continue to close? Most of us can agree that the answer is no. The question remains: who should fill his role? There is no answer; at least I don’t have one.

Lidge can not continue to close games, but he will.  Charlie insists on “sticking to his guy.”  Many believe that Lidge will be left off the postseason roster, but I do not see it happening. He deserves to be, but if Manuel is letting him close this late in the season, I doubt Lidge will be excluded during the playoffs.

Ryan Madson has struggled in the closer’s role, blowing six saves. He was not much better when he filled in for Lidge. He is like LaTroy Hawkins.  He can’t close, but is a decent set-up man.

Brett Myers is hurt, as well as J.C Romero and Chan Ho Park.  As Pat Gallen said yesterday, the Phillies don’t envision Tyler Walker, Chad Durbin or Sergio Escalona as closers.

Pat also mentioned that J.A Happ could close. It would be worth a shot and it is a strong possibility. At this point, anybody is better than Lidge, but no thank you.  I think it could work out for the short term, but not for the long term. He doesn’t have a go-to strikeout pitch like Lidge’s slider (when it’s good).  I was never a fan of  Happ relieving from the beginning.  I’d rather get 6+ scoreless innings from Happ than one.

The closing situation is a big issue. It will be impossible for the Phillies to go deep into the postseason with this reoccurring nightmare. The bullpen is a problem, but answers are scarce.


Happ, Offense Look Strong in Win

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Thu, September 24, 2009 11:45 PM Comments: 17

Losses like the one the Phillies suffered last night against the Marlins can be demoralizing for a team and can be a catalyst for what becomes a downward spiral. Losses like that can also be a wake-up call for a ball-club and a signal to everyone in the clubhouse that the time to get serious, is now.

Thankfully, the Phillies decided to heed the wake-up call, in game one of this four-game series against the Brewers.

In what was another fine display of timely hitting, the Phillies bats exploded against Brewers starter Jeff Suppan. Suppan who had come into the game 3-6 with a plus-six ERA against the Phillies in his career, continued his futility against Philadelphia.

In 4.1 innings, the Phillies offense touched Suppan up for eight runs, seven earned on 12 hits.

The Phillies got the scoring started early when  Chase Utley came home on a Ryan Howard single in the first. After the Brewers tied the game in the bottom of the third, the Phillies regained the lead in the top half of the fourth when Ben Francisco scored on a Pedro Feliz double.

Jayson Werth started the hit-parade in the fifth when he reached base on a one-out throwing error. Following the error, the Phillies scored three runs on  four straight singles, including an R.B.I. single from pitcher J.A. Happ. Jimmy Rollins capped off the inning with a three-run shot to give the Phillies the commanding 8-1 lead.

With the six run inning, the Phillies tied the Brewers for the most innings with five or more runs scored at 23.

Starter J.A. Happ looked dominant after lasting just three innings in his last outing due to a tweak of his oblique. Although he lasted just 5.2 innings, he pitched well, allowing two earned on just six hits. He finished with seven strike-outs. With the win, Happ moves on to 11-4 on the season with a 2.79 ERA.

With the Marlins and Braves both idle tonight, the Phillies magic number now drops to four games.


Gameday: Phillies (88-63) at Brewers (75-77)

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, September 24, 2009 07:20 PM Comments: 177

Marlins Philadelphia Phillies (88-63) at Milwaukee Brewers (75-77)

J.A. Happ (10-4, 2.77) vs. Jeff Suppan, RHP (7-10, 4.76)

Time: 8:05 p.m. at Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI
Weather: Cloudy, 67
TV: MyPHL 17
Twitter: Phillies Nation

What happened again yesterday?  It’s important we all forget about that one.

To help us do that, J.A. Happ takes another stab at a comeback from his strained oblique muscle tonight in Milwaukee.  In his last outing (Sept. 18), Happ lasted just three innings against Atlanta, throwing 51 pitches.  Charlie Manuel took him out of the game early for “precautionary reasons,” although it appeared that Happ had been favoring his sore side.  The Brewers are an unfamiliar team to Happ, as he’s seen them just once in a relief appearance.  In that game, he allowed three earned over 1 1/3 innings.  The injury is certainly something to keep an eye on.

Jeff Suppan faces the Phils for the 13th time in his long major league career. The results haven’t been pretty, either. Suppan is 3-6 with a 6.13 ERA against the Fightin’s, which currently includes a five-game losing streak that goes back to April 2005 when he was a Cardinal.  The 2006 NLCS MVP gets killed by a bevy of Phils.  Chase Utley is hitting .474 in his career against Suppan.  Jimmy Rollins; .300 with a homer.  Ryan Howard has hit two homers in just 10 at bats.

So the starting pitching and offense look good for tonight.  The bullpen? Not so sure.  The main question is; should a save situation occur, who gets the ball?  Only Charlie Manuel knows, and this burning question is rattling fans from Wildwood to West Chester.  See the beer below?  Drink a few during the game, just in case.

Milwaukee Premium Brewing Company Classic IceYour Gameday Beer – Milwaukee Premium Brewing Company Classic Ice
Some might consider this a step up from Natty Light, and you might even be able to find it at cheaper price ($10 30-pack!). That should tell you all you need to know about this brew. It tastes like beer and it’s 6% ABV. Eat as many wings as you can alongside this one. – By Brian


Should Happ be the Closer?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, September 24, 2009 01:00 PM Comments: 67

Philadelphia Phillies' J.A. Happ pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning of the baseball game in Pittsburgh,  Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)J.A. Happ to the closers role? It’s probably more intriguing than watching Brad Lidge in the ninth.  Definitely reduces the risk of heart attack as well.

On top of that, Ryan Madson hasn’t been able to close out games with regularity and Brett Myers is an unknown because of his shoulder and hip ailments. So who can be trusted?

Clay Condrey is coming back from his own injuries and really isn’t thought of as a ninth inning pitcher.  Sergio Escalona?  No thanks.  J.C. Romero is still fighting off a sore elbow, so his involvement in the postseason is a concern at this point.  Scott Eyre is a specialist, cross him off the list. Tyler Walker is a former closer with decent returns from the spot, but the Phillies like using him in a seventh inning role, it would appear.

Chan Ho Park, if he were not laid up with a hamstring pull, would probably have a chance to succeed in that role.  But his availability is also in question.

A very thought-provoking scenario could include Pedro Martinez as your anchor.  He’s never done it, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t shine.  Pedro clearly has the tools, the mental makeup, and the cojones to flourish in that situation. With neck issues clouding the picture, it seems more a fantasy than a reality. Besides, he would work better as a fourth starter because of his postseason credentials.

That leaves us with James Anthony Happ.  It’s not as crazy as it might sound.  Happ has worked out of the pen this year, and the results are there.  And while his stuff is not overpowering or heat seeking, his command is pinpoint, and his attitude and fortitude give him a leg up.

He has dominated in his position as the Phillies fourth starter this year, but with desperate times come desperate measures.  The kid is a gamer, so with the remaining two weeks in the season, see if it works.  If Charlie is going to put him in the pen anyway, why not use him when it counts the most.

A similar move occurred a few years ago when the St. Louis Cardinals tabbed a young righty Adam Wainwright to be their closer for the playoffs.  Of course, this hinges on the health of Happ, who is still dealing with that sore oblique.

Looking at the entire scope of things, I really can’t find a negative with moving Happ.  Of course, he would look better in the rotation, that we can all agree on. But with four very capable starters already in the rotation, this can work.  Do you like or dislike this possibility?

Hey, it couldn’t get any worse, right?


Last Chance to Answer This Week’s Trivia Question

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, September 24, 2009 11:22 AM Comments: 0

The winner receives a free Phillies keychain.

Who is the only Phillie to win more than one batting title since 1900?


Marlins Erase Three Run Deficit as Lidge Loses Another

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, September 23, 2009 11:27 PM Comments: 128

And that just happened.  Again.  Forget about burying the opponent for good.  Forget about having your once-dominant closer regain his confidence.  Forget about this loss, quickly.

In what as become a broken record, Brad Lidge blew his 11th save of the season, allowing the Florida Marlins to come back from three runs down to win 7-6.

Lost in yet another late-inning meltdown by Lidge, and his compadre Ryan Madson, the Phillies offense gave this team more than enough of a cushion to finish this series off victoriously.

The Phils got two runs in the third, two more in the sixth, and then two again in the seventh.  Raul Ibanez cracked his 33rd homer of the year off of Rick Vandenhurk in the sixth, and Ryan Howard followed him up with a two-run shot in the seventh inning, his 42nd.  Howard and his four RBI would go for naught on this night.

Cole Hamels started the game and looked good doing so.  He breezed through the first three innings before allowing a run in the fourth.  In the fifth, Cody Ross homered to begin the inning, and Chris Coughlan singled home a run to take a 3-2 lead.  Another run came in the seventh on a Gaby Sanchez home run. The big bats from the Phillies offense would back Hamels, who completed seven innings, allowing those four earned.  But it did not translate into a win.

Ryan Madson started the blowup with a shaky eighth inning.  He did get Dan Uggla to ground into a double play, but Cody Ross again hurt the Phils, this time with an RBI single to score Jorge Cantu.

Enter Lidge.  Exit win.  Ross Gload doubled right out of the gate in the ninth and was moved to third on a flyout.  After a Hanley Ramirez walk, Gload would score on a Cantu base knock, his fourth hit of the evening.  Brett Carroll would provide the dagger with a single to score Ramirez.

This must be the end for Brad Lidge.  There’s obviously no clear-cut replacement, but this horror show hosted by Lidge is becoming all too common.  The Phillies cannot field a championship winning team when their anchor is missing.  Someone needs to step forward.

Charlie Manuel needs to take the blame on this.  He once again allowed Lidge to fail in a situation where the results have been consistently dreadful.  The manager no longer has a choice to make on Lidge;  it has already been made for him.  Pull the plug, because there is no pulse.

The Phillies now head to Milwaukee for a long weekend against the Brewers. All they can do forget, and they’d better do so quickly.


Gameday: Phillies (88-62) at Marlins (81-71)

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, September 23, 2009 06:15 PM Comments: 275

Marlins Philadelphia Phillies (88-62) at Florida Marlins (81-71)

Cole Hamels (10-9, 4.07) vs. Rick Vandenhurk, RHP (2-2, 4.24)

Time: 7:10 p.m. at Land Shark Stadium in Miami
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 83
Twitter: Phillies Nation

With three games in two days, the onus is on the Phillies to brave the swelter of South Florida and fight through the fatigue that comes with 150-plus games.  Yesterday, in splitting a double header, they kept the Marlins at arms length.

Tonight, Cole Hamels looks to continue his upward trend moving toward the postseason.  Overall, it hasn’t been the kind of year that was expected from Hamels, but lately he is changing that. He goes for win number 11 tonight, coming off of an eight inning, 10-strikeout performance against the Nats on September 17.  His lifetime numbers against the Marlins do not stand out (2-5, 4.19 ERA), however, he has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his five career starts at Land Shark Stadium.  This start could go a long way toward being the number one starter when the playoffs come around.

Henricus “Rick” Vandenhurk will oppose Hamels.  The 6-foot-5 righty hails from the Netherlands, and is just 24 years old.  In nine starts this year he’s been average, but the Phillies cannot sleep on him.  He’s given up nine homers in those starts, so if the Phillies can get the longball working once again, this could be over quickly.  With the game time temperature in the 80′s, along with the humidity, hopefully the Phils can wear him out with some early damage.

This evening, keep an eye on Cody Ross.  The Marlins centerfielder has smashed three home runs against Hamels in his career, including the game winner on August 8th when it appeared Hamels would be victorious.  Hanley Ramirez has also been a pain, hitting .310 against the lefty.

Good news today out of the bullpen as Scott Eyre has been deemed ready to pitch once again, according to Rich Dubee. J.C. Romero is getting close as well after yesterday’s 50-pitch bullpen session.  He will face live hitters tomorrow in an instructional league assigment.

Old MilwaukeeYour Gameday Beer – Old Milwaukee
Old Milwaukee, believe it or not, is brewed by Blue Ribbon winner Pabst’s which is based out of Illinois. Don’t worry though, it’s still an authentic mid-west macrobrew that is best served ice cold. The flavor is light, kinda grainy, kinda corny, but not too bitter – overall drinkable. Grill some flavored chicken sausages to with it. – By Brian


Prospect Rankings No. 6: Trevor May

Posted by Ben Seal, Wed, September 23, 2009 12:37 PM Comments: 2

Trevor May, RHPmay

Born: 9/23/1989 in Kelso, Washington

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 215

Perhaps the most difficult prospect to give up in the Cliff Lee trade was Jason Knapp, a teenage fireballer with great strikeout potential and room to grow into a frontline starter. But while the Phillies will likely miss Knapp’s services down the road, Trevor May is ready to step into his spot and become the next young gun for the organization and fans to anticipate. With a large, durable frame, three good pitches and some gaudy numbers, May made the biggest rise in the Phillies system this year, turning himself into a Top Ten prospect with plenty of room for improvement.

The Phillies drafted May in the 4th round (136 overall) in 2008 and convinced him to sign rather than head to the University of Washington to play college ball. The decision seems to have paid off so far for May, who had an excellent season at single-A Lakewood. After pitching 12 decent innings last season in the Gulf Coast League after being drafted, May skipped short-season ball and headed right for Lakewood as a 19-year-old. He missed all of spring training and a portion of the season with a back injury, but it clearly didn’t affect him once he made it back to the mound.

May is very young, but has already developed three effective pitches that will only improve as he fills out physically and gains some strength. His fastball is a heavy one, hitting between 92-94 on the gun and topping out at 95. He complements that with an overhand hammer curve that has 12-6 motion, and a changeup that is reportedly good but still needs some work to catch up to his other pitches. May’s broad shoulders and large frame make him look like a durable, work-horse type pitcher, and he was just that for Lakewood this season on the run to the South Atlantic League Championship, taking the ball every time his turn in the rotation came up and posting great results. He struck out at least one batter per inning in all but two of his starts with Lakewood, despite it being his first time pitching above rookie ball.

The numbers really say it all for May: 15 starts with Lakewood, during which he threw to a 2.56 ERA while striking out 95 batters in 77.1 innings and allowing only 58 hits. He pitched well in two postseason starts and finished the year without allowing a run in his last 21 innings, and just three in his final 37 innings. It was a dominant season, one that will make for some high expectations next year when May is likely to start in Clearwater. If he can repeat the success he displayed this year, and with Kyle Drabek possibly on his way to Philadelphia late in the 2010 season, May could be the Phillies top pitching prospect by this time next year.


Year   Level   W   L   ERA   IP    H   ER   BB   K   K/9

2008   ROOK   1   1   3.75  12.0  11   5   7   11   8.2

2009   A        4   1   2.56  77.1  58  22  43   95   11.1

RankingsAll previous prospect profiles can be found here, which is also on the left sidebar for easy viewing

6.   Trevor May, RHP
7.   Joe Savery, LHP
8.   Vance Worley, RHP
9.   Sebastian Valle, C
10.  Mike Stutes, RHP
11.  Antonio Bastardo, LHP
12.  Anthony Gose, OF
13.  Colby Shreve, RHP
14.  Anthony Hewitt, 3B
15.  Justin De Fratus, RHP
16.  Sergio Escalona, LHP
17.  Yohan Flande, LHP
18.  Julian Sampson, RHP
19.  John Mayberry, Jr., OF
20.  Mike Cisco, RHP
21.  Freddy Galvis, SS
22.  Jonathan Pettibone, RHP
23.  Domingo Santana, OF
24.  Jonathan Singleton, 1B
25.  Drew Naylor, RHP


Phillies Split Double Header with Marlins

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, September 22, 2009 10:47 PM Comments: 48

Joe BlantonThe Phillies and Marlins each won a game in today’s twin bill.  Fortunately for the Phillies, another day in the books represents another day closer to clinching a playoff spot.

It was a tale of two pitchers for the Marlins, both of whom ignored the scouting reports from the pregame post.  The Phillies roughed up Josh Johnson from the start of game one, while Anabel Sanchez looked like the no-hitter pitcher of 2006.

Don’t let the 9-3 score in favor of the Phillies fool you, Johnson and the Marlins pitchers show glimpses of mastery over Rollins, Utley and Ibanez, racking up 8 strikeouts between them and 16 overall in game one.  The Phils were able to piece together some offense with two RBI fielder choices by Ryan Howard and Miguel Cairo who got the start at third-base.  In the fifth inning, Jayson Werth came through with a 2-out single to drive in Victorino and Utley.  Raul Ibanez kicked off a 5-run eighth inning with a homer to right field before more RBIs by JRoll and Ryan Howard put the game away.

All the offense in the eighth was gravy, as Joe Blanton cruised through seven innings allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks.  He struck out nine Marlins, including Cody Ross three times.  Things got a little uncomfortable when Sergio Escalona coughed up 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth but Tyler Walker ended the threat and Clay Condrey came on to finish the game 1-2-3.

Unfortunately the Phillies bats went quiet in game two, as Anabel Sanchez scattered 2 hits over eight innings.  Jayson Werth struck out three times; and the rest of the Phillies long ball hitters could only muster up enough strength to reach the warning track several times throughout the nightcap.  Cody Ross and Dan Uggla – both big supporters of the Moyer Foundation – took the Phillies starter deep for two of the Marlins’ three runs.

The Marlins left-fielder Chris Coghlan continued his case for Rookie of the Year honors going 4-for-8 on Tuesday.  J.A. Happ’s injury certainly isn’t helping his chances.  However, Jamie Moyer despite taking the loss had a quality start giving up three earned runs in seven innings.  You can’t ask for much more from the man looking to earn a playoff start.

All-in-all, today was a good day.  The magic number is 5.


Gameday: Phillies (87-61) at Marlins (80-70)

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, September 22, 2009 04:18 PM Comments: 262

Marlins Philadelphia Phillies (87-61) at Florida Marlins (80-70)

Game 1: Joe Blanton (10-7, 3.97) vs. Josh Johnson, RHP (15-4, 3.01)

Game 2: Jamie Moyer (12-9, 5.05) vs. Anibal Sanchez, RHP (2-7, 4.50)

Time: Game 1, 4:10 p.m. and Game 2, 7:35 p.m at Land Shark Stadium in Miami
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 83
Twitter: Phillies Nation

It is hard to overstate the importance of this series against the Marlins, beginning with tonight’s doubleheader. Only a Marlins sweep would give the Phils a reason to be concerned heading into the penultimate weekend of the regular season. On the flip side, a Phillies sweep or series win would put Charlie Manuel in a better position to rest his team that lately has been pretty banged up.

The numbers are on the Phillies side with a 6-0 record in Miami this year. They also have the best road record in the Majors. In two starts against the Fish this season, Joe Blanton is 1-1 with a paltry 1.98 ERA, 3-1 against them in his career. The Marlins do have a team average of .299 against him, lead by Nick Johnson with seven hits in 13 ABs.

Josh Johnson will take to the hill for the Marlins. Talk about Phillie-killer – the righty was nasty in two starts against the Phils this season, going 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 13 innings. In his career versus the Phillies, he is 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA in seven starts. Pedro Feliz has struck out seven times against him in 14 ABs. He throws mostly fastballs and sliders and opposing batters are just 30-for-150 (.200) veruss Johnson with runners in scoring position this season. It might be a go long or go home game for the twi-night part of this doubleheader.

On paper, the Phillies are in for a much less intimidating pitcher in Anibal Sanchez with his 2-7 record. Although his ERA is lower than Jamie Moyer’s, who would you rather have pitching? It’s been a month since Sanchez’s last win despite having a decent performance in his last start against Cincinnati.

Since Jamie Moyer was officially demoted to the bullpen, he has made three appearances in relief and tonight will be his third consecutive appearance starting. As Dipsy implied earlier today, there might be a case brewing for Jamie Moyer to be a playoff starter.

Jimmy Rollins is one stolen base away from his sixth straight season with 30 or more steals. Chone Figgins is the only other active player with a streak as long.

Troegenator Double BockYour Gameday Beer – Troegenator Double Bock
Troegenators…mount up! This doppelbock by our friends at Troegs has a cool brown-red color that foretells its flavors. The taste is sweet, like maple syrup, with toffee and caramel – no real hops presence. There’s alcohol, though, and plenty of it at 8.2% ABV. Have it with some gamey meat like venison or bison as steaks or burgers.


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