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Archive for June, 2010

Olney: “Phillies’ Priority Is a Starter”

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, June 28, 2010 06:04 PM Comments: 16

Buster Olney tweeted Monday afternoon that “the Phillies pre-trade deadline priority is a middle-of-the-rotation starter, probably someone higher in caliber than a [Jeremy] Guthrie.”

This is interesting news, because not too many “middle-of-the-rotation” starters on the market would be ideal fits, or suitable enough upgrades to warrant the trading of yet another batch of prospects.

Let’s explore some possibilities, while recognizing that “middle-of-the-rotation” obviously cancels out names such as Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt:

Brett Myers

MLBTradeRumors mentions Myers as a potential name, but it is hard to imagine Ruben Amaro trading for a guy that he willingly let walk. Myers had a controversial few seasons leading up to his departure – both on the field and off – and it seemed like by the time his contract was up, the front office was more than happy to rid themselves of what they perceived to be a headache.

It would not make much sense to trade for Myers, because the Phillies obviously cared so little about having him on the team that they failed to offer more than the one-year/$5M offer Ed Wade dished out in Houston.

Purposely not re-signing one of your own, and then trading a prospect or two to re-acquire that player midway through the season? Don’t count on this happening.

Ted Lilly

Lilly is an intriguing name with a nice track record, but several key factors prevent him from being a fit in Philly. First off, he is making $12M this season, the last of a four-year deal he signed with Cubs.

  • If the Phillies were to trade for him, they would either have to pay him upwards of six million dollars (a hefty price for a team “already over-budget”) or include better prospects in the deal in order to entice the Cubs to eat Lilly’s remaining salary.
  • Second, and probably more importantly, Lilly and Citizens Bank Park would not get along. He is the definition of a “fly ball pitcher,” as more than 50% of his balls in play the last several seasons have been in the air. As his career has developed, his fly ball rates have increased, and we all know how Citizens Bank Park plays.

(It’s a small sample size, but in 16 1/3 innings at CBP, Lilly has allowed four homers and pitched to the tune of a 7.16 ERA. Some of that could be due to the fact that the Phillies themselves have hit Lilly well, but he has pitched considerably better against them away from Citizens Bank Park.)

The pricetag that would comes with Lilly’s name, as well as the uninspiring fit he would be in this stadium, should sway Ruben Amaro from making a deal.

Edwin Jackson

Another name mentioned by MLBTR is Edwin Jackson – he of the eight-walk no-hitter. Jackson is a young pitcher who has shown flashes of brilliance, but he is neither cheap enough nor good enough RIGHT NOW for a contending team to give up a package of young talent.

Jackson makes $4.6M this year, $8.75M next year, and then enters free agency. When you factor in that trading for Jackson would likely cost the Phillies more (in terms of prospects) than any of the aforementioned pitchers, it is once again hard to imagine any deal making enough logical sense to Ruben Amaro.

Too much money and young talent for a wildly overrated pitcher who really only had one good year.

Fausto Carmona

Carmona has some of the ugliest walk and strikeout rates imaginable. Even in 2007, the one year he was good, Carmona struck out fewer than six batters per nine innings.

Since that time, he has had a bad 2008, a bad 2009, and an average-to-slightly-above-average 2010. Carmona is inducing a lot of groundballs and avoiding the home run, but his K/9 is a mere 4.86 and his BB/9 is 3.08, making for an ugly, Kyle Kendrick-ian strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The groundballs would play well at Citizens Bank Park, but once again, how much of an upgrade would Carmona be?

He is owed $5M this season, $6.1M next season, followed by club options in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The money is not a major hurdle because the Phillies would only have to pay about $8.5 million from now until the end of 2011, and could pick up Carmona’s options or set him free based on performance.

Of theses names, Carmona is probably the best fit, but not if the Indians ask for a ton.

Stand Pat?

If the Indians are willing to deal Carmona for a middling package, Amaro should jump on the opportunity. But if they want a significant return, it makes no sense to give up prospects rather than letting it ride with Kyle Kendrick and, hopefully, J.A. Happ.

If injuries pop up, the need for a starting pitcher will become greater, but if things stay the same, there is no reason to make a trade for the sake of making a trade.

  • 16 Comments
 

NL East Outlook

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, June 28, 2010 02:41 PM Comments: 21

As the Phillies sprint toward the All-Star break, the team currently finds itself in third place in the surprisingly competitive NL East, at 40-33.

On Monday night, the Phils will begin a seven-game road trip that takes them to Cincinnati for three, then Pittsburgh for four.

The Phillies lineup has really turned it around following a slumpalicious few weeks from May 18-to-June 12, sporting a 9-4 record and scoring 6.3 runs per game since the latter date. The hitting should continue in the friendly confines of Great American Smallpark.

The Competition

  • While the Phils will travel for seven games in seven days against the NL Central, the Braves begin a six-game homestand Monday night against the Washington Strasburgs. After three with the Nats, Atlanta follows with an off-day, then three more versus the Marlins.
  • The Mets have a full week ahead, as they travel to Puerto Rico for three with the Marlins, then to Washington for four with the Nationals.

(After facing the Pirates, Indians, White Sox, and Royals, Stephen Strasburg will face two division rivals in one week – he’ll do battle with Tim Hudson Monday night, before taking on R.A. Dickey and the Mets on Saturday afternoon.)

The Braves have come back to earth a bit, losing four of six, with one of the two wins – game two vs. Detroit – being given to Atlanta by an admitted mistake from home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom.

Success on the Purview?

The Phillies, a team that should go 5-2 at the very least during this road trip, are only 2 1/2 games behind Atlanta. The teams will meet for a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park from July 5-7, so a return to first place could be on the horizon if the Phils play up to expectations.

The pitching matchups for the next seven days are as follows:

  • Mon: Kyle Kendrick vs. Johnny Cueto
  • Tues: Joe Blanton vs. Mike Leake
  • Wed: Roy Halladay vs. Aaron Harang
  • Thurs: Cole Hamels vs. Daniel McCutchen
  • Fri: Jamie Moyer vs. Ross Ohlendorf
  • Sat: Kyle Kendrick vs. Paul Maholm
  • Sun: Joe Blanton vs. Jeff Karstens

Let’s scout the opposing pitchers:

Cincinnati

  • The last time Cueto faced the Phillies, he allowed nine runs in 2/3 of an inning in a 22-1 Phillies win.
  • Leake, an impressive rookie, does not have the look of a pitcher that will shut the Phils down. He is 5-1 with a 2.92 ERA, but he has allowed plenty of baserunners (1.41 WHIP) and been aided by a high left on base percentage – Leake has stranded over 80% of baserunners while the MLB average is 71% this season. It is not as if Leake possesses some superhuman ability to make hitters strand runners in scoring position, so his return to the norm would come at a welcome time this Tuesday.
  • Harang has been semi-effective of late, but honestly has not been good since 2007. He, too, allows a ton of baserunners and surrenders far too many homers.

Pittsburgh

  • Of the four opposing pitchers, three are #6 starters – pitchers that would not currently be in the rotations of 3/4 of major league teams.
  • The lone lefty, Paul Maholm, has an impressive history vs. the Phillies. In six starts, Maholm is 3-1 with a 3.29 ERA. The Phillies have hit a paltry .245/.313/.384 vs. the southpaw.

At the sake of jinxing things, six of the next seven games look very favorable for the Phillies. The Reds, a JV-version of the Phils, do not match up well with our boys.

And despite the Phillies’ lack of recent success in Pittsburgh, three of the four opposing pitchers, for lack of a better term, blow hammer.

Let’s go Phils!

  • 21 Comments
 

Moyer Greater Than Any Stat

Posted by Corey Seidman, Sun, June 27, 2010 07:48 PM Comments: 34

When it comes to deciphering the reason for Jamie Moyer’s effectiveness, we are long past the point of no return.

It doesn’t make any sense and it hasn’t for several years, but our beloved hometown lefty has been the definition of “Survivor” since 2006 – all he does is suit up every fifth day and outplay, outwit, outlast.

If you frequent Phillies Nation, you know that I am a saber-minded writer who often looks to explain performance and production using fairly new, detailed, true metrics of value. But in relation to Jamie Moyer, I don’t care about FIP, or XFIP, or Wins Above Replacement, and neither should you.

The simple fact of the matter is that WAR, FIP, and per-nine rates do well to project the future of a pitcher, but in Moyer’s case, and for the purpose of this article, we need look no further than the results – which have been staggering.

As a Phillie, Moyer is 51-35 with a 4.50 ERA…in his age 44-through-47 seasons.

This year, an awful start in Boston has skewed what has been an otherwise brilliant (even if it’s been lucky) season. Subtract the one-inning, nine-run stinker at Fenway Park, and Moyer has a 3.49 ERA.

Even including that start, Moyer’s WHIP is an absurdly low 1.05. That is FIFTH best in the National League, behind only Josh Johnson, Mat Latos, Adam Wainwright, and that Ubaldo Jimenez fella’.

Moyer has allowed fewer baserunners per nine than Roy Halladay.

If I told you that, at the end of June, Jamie Moyer would have allowed TWELVE fewer hits than innings pitched, while walking only 1.6-per-nine, would you have believed me?

Better yet, how about if I told you that he would allow two runs or fewer in 8 of his first 15 starts. Would you believe that? Or that he would have six starts of five or more strikeouts?

As Pat Gallen noted earlier this week, we are witnessing something special with Jamie Moyer. And it doesn’t matter that his FIP or XFIP are in the high 4.00′s, what matters is that a 47-year-old pitcher with no business dominating Junior and Senior Circuit teams alike is doing so time and time again.

Think about it: a stat like FIP would never favor Moyer. FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) encompasses strikeout rate, walk rate, and home-run rate, the three true outcomes a pitcher has control over.

Well, Moyer doesn’t strike many batters out and he gives up a lot of home runs, so his FIP will never be pretty. But can you argue with his mind? Or his recognition of the opposition’s weakness? Or his uncanny ability to exploit said weakness by actually MAKING his pitches? At age 47, with an 81mph fastball?

Moyer’s FIP will prevent wise fantasy baseball owners from picking him up off the waiver wire, but it won’t prevent any knowledgeable baseball fan from recognizing that this man works with what he has better than any pitcher in the game.

Look no further than Sunday’s 11-2 victory over Toronto – a game in which Moyer induced NINE flyouts against a team that gears up to hit a homer on every pitch. Jamie knows his opponent. He knows that, with few exceptions, the entire Blue Jays lineup is loading up and swinging as hard as possible.

So he pulled out his bag of tricks and tallied three infield flies and seven strikeouts.

The point of this article is not to place Jamie Moyer on a pedestal. It is not to bombard you with eye-test evaluations or downplay extremely indicative advanced stats.

It is to make sure that we all appreciate the results this man has been able to compile, whether they have been the result of genius, spot-hitting, or luck.

(Ironically, Moyer is putting Phillies management in the same predicament as in 2008, when he pitched very well, but probably was not deserving of a two-year contract.

When it comes to future negotiations, THEN we can look at the peripherals, but for now, don’t you dare let his ratios or advanced stats keep you from enjoying the performances of a once-in-a-lifetime athlete.)

I’m a saber-minded writer who recognizes that I don’t know everything. I find it foolish to form concrete opinions based solely on numbers, because no front office in baseball goes strictly by the numbers, and no rational person thinks that he or she knows everything.

I learn something new every day. And Jamie Moyer teaches us something new every start.

  • 34 Comments
 

Moyer Eclipses HR Record and 4,000 Innings in Phils Win

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, June 27, 2010 06:04 PM Comments: 26

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.” -Robert H. Schuller

It’s a quote that Jamie Moyer seems to live by.  For all of the bad days, weeks, months, or seasons Moyer has had throughout his 24 years in the majors, his resiliency has provided him a way out. Before Spring Training, when everyone thought he was through, Moyer shut everyone up by scoring a spot in the rotation. After an opening month in which his ERA rocketed to nearly six, he fought through it to drop it nearly a run in May. Following an absolutely disastrous outing against Boston on June 11, Moyer has settled in with back to back phenomenal starts.

Today, Moyer blew through the Blue Jays with relative ease in the Phillies 11-2 victory.

This quote also rings true when you think about where this team as a whole was a few weeks ago. Following that one inning, nine run drubbing Moyer was a part of in Boston, the Phillies have gone 9-5 – winning five of the last six – and have turned their season around.

Moyer continues to defy age each time he toes the rubber. His line was again spectacular as he shut down the home team, allowing just six hits over seven innings, with his two earned runs coming on a Vernon Wells home run in the third inning. Moyer fanned seven, his high-water mark for the year, which he’s hit twice (FLA 4/17 and CHC 5/19). Somehow, someway, he is now tied for the team lead in wins with Roy Halladay (9).

Wells’ homer was the 506th of Moyer’s career, making him the record holder in home runs allowed, passing Robin Roberts at the top of the list. Moyer also surpassed 4,000 innings pitched, becoming the 40th pitcher in major league history to do so. He also jumped into sole possession of 35th all-time on the wins list with 267. The numbers continue to pile up.

“First of all, when you say 4,000 innings, that’s amazing,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, chiming in on the record-setting day. “Both times when I would see him pitch [in the minor leagues] I would say ‘this guy might not get back’. Not only did he get back, but he stayed a long time.”

Moyer took it in stride as he normally does, but did offer a modest statement on his impressive afternoon saing “I’m quite proud of being able to pitch 4,000 innings.”

It’s incredible to continue to watch Moyer mature as he progresses this year. Normally, that adjective is reserved for youngsters, however, Jamie is still learning on the go.

For Toronto, Brett Cecil was victimized by the Phillies offense,  the second Blue Jays pitcher to get ripped this weekend. Cecil worked 4 2/3 innings and was pounded for 10 hits and seven runs (five earned). The Phils saw Cecil at a perfect time; just after he was lit up for 11 earned runs over his previous two starts against San Diego and St. Louis.

What really stood out was Toronto’s inability to throw the baseball to each other. They committed four errors by the seventh inning which blew the game wide open for the Phillies. Jason Frasor was on the mound for the despicable display of defense from the guys behind him. He gave up four runs in the seventh, but all were unearned.

Firing on several cylinders (not all, see: Jayson Werth) was an offense that badgered Toronto into 13 runs and a bevy of mistakes. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Ben Francisco all had three hits apiece and Dane Sardinha pitched in with a two-run double of his own that broke the game open in the second inning. With those 13 hits, the Phils have now reached 10 or more in seven of their last 11 games. The win also marked the first time they’ve finished with a winning Interleague record since ’07.

Clearly, the toughest of times are over. It’s now up to this championship-caliber team to once again strike fear into their opponents, something that has been lacking for the better part of the 2010 season. They’re close, for sure, and Jamie Moyer has had something to do with this overall resurgence.

  • 26 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (39-33) at Blue Jays (40-35)

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sun, June 27, 2010 01:57 PM Comments: 29

Philadelphia Phillies (39-33) at Toronto Blue Jays (40-35)

Jamie Moyer, LHP (8-6, 4.43 ERA) vs. Brett Cecil, LHP (7-4, 4.07 ERA)

Time: 1:35, Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Cloudy, 90
TV: WPHL
Twitter: @philliesnation

The story of the day is likely to be the home run. Not only do the Blue Jays, who hit three of them in yesterday’s 5-1 win, lead the major leagues in that category, the next one that goes over the wall off today’s starter, Jamie Moyer, will be one for the record books. Moyer is currently sitting on 505 career homers allowed, tied with Robin Roberts for the highest total of all time. So if you’re in the outfield seats today, don’t toss that one back. It’s special. Also, this isn’t Wrigley Field.

It’s worth noting the startling turnaround of the past couple weeks in some of the Phillies’ offensive numbers. Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard are close to sniffing .300, Shane Victorino’s no longer leading the team in RBI, and Chase Utley’s average is up 20 points from where it was two weeks ago. Good deal.

Schneider and Polanco get the day off, with Valdez manning third and Sardinha catching.

LINEUP: Rollins SS, Utley 2B, Werth RF, Howard 1B, Victorino CF, Francisco LF, Ibanez DH, Valdez 3B, Sardinha C. Moyer P.

Your gameday beer: Go for the King of Beers today. Budweiser gets it done daily, even though it’s not a favorite of mine. Millions around the country drink it, so have at the red 30-pack today.– By Michael

Go Phillies!

  • 29 Comments
 

Blue Jays Beat Phillies 5-1

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, June 26, 2010 11:26 PM Comments: 17

Cole Hamels did not have his stuff today and the Phillies dropped one to the Blue Jays by a score of 5-1.

King Cole lasted just four innings and coughed up five runs on seven hits, including three homeruns. He has allowed 18 dingers this season, second place in the NL alongside former Phillie Randy Wolf. (Come to think of it, how much different would this rotation be with the leader of the Wolf Pack instead of Cole? They have similar numbers on the season, though Wolf makes an extra $2 mil.) The Blue Jays, who despite having the lowest batting average in the American League, lead the majors in homers. No wonder they jumped at the chance to play at the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park.

Jays pitcher Shaun Marcum improved his record to 7-3 as his changeup baffled the Phillies bats through six. His only blemish was a Ryan Howard solo shot, his 15th of the season. Jayson Werth went hitless with three strikeouts; and it seems more and more that Jayson either has a monster night or an ice-cold one.

One bright spot on the evening was the Phillies bullpen. Nelson Figuroa dealt three strikeouts in his two innings of relief and appeared to have a strong command of Blue Jays batters. After a scoreless inning by Danys Baez, Mike Zagurski retired another three in his second appearance of the season.

Chase Utley was burned for this ninth error of the season when he threw a ball away in the fourth. Chase is struggling not just at the plate but in the field as well. It might not be something of immediate concern, but defense has always been a staple of recent Phillies teams – led by The Man.

Jamie Moyer takes to the hill tomorrow afternoon in the rubber match of this road series for the Phillies. It will be the final interleague game of the regular season.

  • 17 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (39-32) at Blue Jays (39-35)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, June 26, 2010 02:42 PM Comments: 38

Philadelphia Phillies (39-32) at Toronto Blue Jays (39-35)

Cole Hamels, LHP (6-5, 3.75ERA) vs. Shaun Marcum, RHP (6-3, 3.24 ERA)

Time: 4:05, Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 86
TV: CSN
Twitter: @philliesnation

The Phillies are back to their old ways of offensive explosions and lights out pitching.  This is the team that Philadelphia fans love to watch.

There was certainly no home field advantage for the Blue Jays, who were given a 9-0 beat down from the Phillies.  The Blue Jays will remain the home team throughout this series, but at Citizens Bank Park, the advantage always goes to the team dressed in red pinstripes (but in this case, the gray road uniforms).

Shaun Marcum, who missed all of 2009 due to an injury, will take the hill for the Jays.  Marcum has been solid in 15 starts this season.  His earned run average sits at 3.24 and he has a decent WHIP of 1.14.  Opponents are batting just .238 against him, however the newly re-surged Phillies offense could give him a surprise.

Cole Hamels continues to look stellar.  In his last outing, he had one rough inning before settling in.  This seems to be a reoccurring theme for Hamels.  Hamels tends to be inconsistent, but lately he’s pitched very well.  Hamels just  needs to avoid that one bad inning, and his ERA will slowly drop, and the wins will pile up.

Your gameday beer: Today we need something hearty and strong. Go with Stovepipe Porter by Otter Creek. It’s hard as hell but fills you up. This team needs to fill up with offense. Weird transition? Sure. Eat some ribs with this. – By Tim

Go Phillies!

  • 38 Comments
 

Doc Beats Old Mates as Phils Win Going Away – at Home

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, June 25, 2010 10:25 PM Comments: 35

Home? Away? Doesn’t matter where the Phillies play, right now they are red-hot in all phases of the game.

The Phillies began their away series with the Blue Jays with a 9-0 win behind seven shutout innings from former Jay Roy Halladay.

Doc tossed 105 pitches and allowed six hits scattered over those seven frames. Jose Contreras and David Herndon would work the eighth and ninth to finish it off. Halladay finally got the run support he desired and won for the first time since June 4.

Offensively, it really wasn’t very fair. Toronto pitching was overmatched from the get-go as Jimmy Rollins walked to lead off the game. J-Roll would walk four times total, the first time he’s ever done that in his career. The impressive numbers continued down the order as Ross Gload knocked in four runs with three coming on a questionable double called by the official scorer. His smash to deep right-center field hit off the heel of Vernon Wells glove, but no matter, it still broke the game wide open.

Every starter had at least one hit except Rollins, who managed to find his way on base anyway. Shane Victorino homered and Jayson Werth finished 2-for-3 with a triple and two walks. All-in-all a fine performance against a team that is much better than the Indians who just left town without a victory.

Blue Jays starting pitcher Jesse Litsch, making just his third start back from Tommy John surgery, lasted only four-plus innings and was tagged by the now-steaming hot Phillies offense. Litsch gave up six runs and walked four batters – he did not record a strikeout.

It certainly looks as though the Phillies offense as a while has broken out of their funk. They’ve also managed four wins in a row and six wins in their last eight games.  With a Mets win and a Braves win, they remain 2.5 out in the NL East.

  • 35 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (38-32) at Blue Jays (39-34)

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, June 25, 2010 05:45 PM Comments: 38

Philadelphia Phillies (38-32) at Toronto Blue Jays (39-34)

Roy Halladay, RHP (8-6, 2.43 ERA) vs. Jesse Litsch, RHP (0-1, 6.75 ERA)

Time: 7:05, Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 86
TV: CSN
Twitter: @philliesnation

Today is opposite day in Philadelphia. Ever wonder what it would be like to see the Phillies play at home with the designated hitter while wearing their road grays? Have we got a game for you!

This is home game No. 82 for the Fightin’ Phills, courtesy of the G20 summit taking place in Toronto. Because of security concerns, this weekend’s series has been moved to Philadelphia, though the teams will play by American League rules, making it the first American League home game to take place in Pennsylvania since the Philadelphia White Elephants packed up for Kansas City in 1954, and the first time ever that Philadelphia hosts a major league game that uses the designated hitter.

But apart from that hoopla, the second-biggest story is the first instance where Roy Halladay faces his former team. Halladay has lost his past three starts, in part because in the past month the Phillies have put up less than two runs of support for him on average. Halladay will be opposed by young righty Jesse Litsch. Litsch was solid in his first two major leagues seasons, winning 13 games in 2008, before injuries sidelined him for almost all of 2009 and the first two months of this season as well. Litsch, who is making just his second start of the year, mixes five pitches and has excellent control, though he doesn’t strike many men out.

Toronto is quietly putting up a nice season, with a record that stands five games over .500. However, in the AL East, that’s only good enough for fourth place. If I were Cito Gaston, I don’t know that I’d bother showing up to work.

LINEUP: Rollins SS, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard DH, Werth RF, Ibanez LF, Victorino CF, Gload 1B, Schnieder C

Konigshoeven Blond Trappist Ale
Your Gameday Beer- Molson Canadian

This is a truly nonspectacular beer, but I had to get my dig in on those silly Canucks somehow. Not particularly tasty, but certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination. Sort of stereotypically Canadian, actually. Á votre santé!

By Michael

Go Phillies!

  • 38 Comments
 

Dom Brown Moving Up to Triple-A

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, June 25, 2010 01:39 PM Comments: 27

He’s one step closer to the majors. Domonic Brown was sent to Triple-A Lehigh Valley today, after cruising through the Eastern League with Double-A Reading. He hit .318 with 15 homers and 47 RBI, so this was the logical move.

With many pining for him to come to Philly, at least for now we know he’s made the transformation from the middle of the minors to its highest ranks.

  • 27 Comments
 
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