Just as things were starting to look down for the Phils, I took a look at the team calender and I saw four games against the Nats on deck. Now, of course, initially I said we need to sweep the Nats and then realized that four game sweeps are rare, even against the worst team in Major League Baseball.
After the Phils lost a heartbreaker to the Dodgers last Thursday (the game I happened to be at), they found themselves back at .500 and finishing up the homestand at 2-6. Ouch. That’s awful. They needed a rebound and the Nationals couldn’t have come at a better point. They are the type of team that the Phils need to take care of. They did.
But break out the brooms. Four games in three days were no problem for the Fightins who took care of business this weekend against Washington. Apparently the heavy load was no problem for Raul Ibanez either.
Here’s Raul’s series:
Friday: 4-6, 2 RBI, 3 R
Saturday (Game 1): 3-5, 4 RBI, 3 R, 2 HR
Saturday (Game 2): 2-3, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR
Sunday: Okay, lets not include today’s game (0-4)
But through the first three games of the series Ibanez was 9-for-14 with nine RBIs, seven runs scored, and three homers. He can flat out hit and he’s an instant hit here in Philly.
I want to touch on two other things.
1) New look lineup?
2) Rotation changes
First, the lineup. With a struggling Shane Victorino, Charlie’s slid him down to the six spot and has put Raul in the three spot. Here’s how the lineup has looked over the past couple of games:
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Ryan Howard
RF Jayson Werth
CF Shane Victorino
3B Pedro Feliz
C Carlos Ruiz
The bolded players are the ones who have been moved around. With the doubleheader and certain players getting some breaks, I have to wonder if this lineup is here to stay for now. Raul is undoubtedly our best hitter right now, which merits the three spot (although I do like Utley in the three spot). Victorino never seems like he’s a two hitter but he certainly has the speed for the top of the lineup. I’m fine with him at six as well though. I like the change, for now.
Pertaining to the rotation, I thought Chan Ho Park really showed us that he’s supposed to be in this rotation in his last two starts (I think 12 IP with 2 ER). But today he gave me another reason to want him out of the rotation. He went an inning and a third surrendering five earned runs while walking four Nats.
Enough of this, I want JA Happ in this rotation. I think that Park will fit our bullpen nicely as he did in LA’s ‘pen last season. A good long relief man not named Jack Taschner (no offense Trashner, the ERA under four is nice, but I’m a nervous wreck everytime you’re in). Here’s how I think the rotation should shape up:
Tuesday at Cincinnati — Jamie Moyer
Wednesday at Cincinnati — Joe Blanton
Thursday at Cincinnati — Cole Hamels
Friday at the Yanks — Brett Myers
Saturday at the Yanks — JA Happ
This is a tough situation because this has Cole Hamels pitching a week after he last pitched but nothings perfect.
Freshman year. Check. Phils win their first game at Citi Field. _____.
The checkbox is blank. With a defense that was tops in the entire league before tonight with a .994 fielding percentage, who knew defense would be the problem in tonight’s 1-0 loss to the New York Muts, I mean, Mets. Three errors later, it was the sole reason to the Phillies loss.
In a great pitcher’s duel, Johan Santana and Chan Ho Park battled until both left the game without giving up any runs. I think Chan Ho Park recognizes the fact that if he doesn’t starting giving them a better chance to win every time he goes out to the mound, he’s going to be sent down or lose his spot in the rotation. Tonight he definately proved that he’s keeping his spot, for now.
The same may go for Joe Blanton, who pitched very nicely Monday night in St. Louis. Each of them know that if they don’t turn it on, they’re losing their rotation spot because ERA’s over seven don’t fly when you get into Mid-May. In another sense, you could say they do fly, fly them right to Lehigh Valley.
But tonight’s game was a rough way to start the summer. I’m home now, and it hasn’t hit me yet, but I’m sure it will. No work hanging over my head so it feels relaxing. I’m so glad to be home and done with school.
Lets hope the Phils can get the series split tomorrow when Jamie Moyer toes the rubber.
Last night, in what appeared to be another offense-less loss, the Phils came back in the ninth down 3-0 as Matt Lindstrom imploded in South Florida. Shane Victorino and Chase Utley capped the top-ninth comeback with a grand slam and solo shot, respectively.
Then tonight, entering the ninth down 4-3, the Phils manufactured the one run they needed to tie it up. They then scored two in the top of the tenth and Brad Lidge earned the save in the bottom-tenth.
So in two consecutive nights, the Phillies entered the ninth down, and two night in a row, they find a way to pull out the win. Well, we’re not the Fightin’ Phils for nothing.
Random Notes on the first two games of the series:
Emilio Bonifacio has fallen back to earth, in this series, he’s gone 0-for-8 with two walks and five strikeouts. Keeping the leadoff man to a .200 OBP definately has played into keeping the Phils in these games thus far.
Brad Lidge still looks shaky yet still gets it done. He claims to have found what caused the blow-up against San Diego, but tonight he struck out the first two, and then loaded up the bases before getting Cody Ross to strike out. He still is having trouble locating his pitches, and its clear.
Shane Victorino is a winner. He’s clutch and comes up big when you need him to. The grand slam the other night was great and then he singled tonight in the tenth to start up the rally to score him as the go ahead run.
Utley just seems to be having some trouble with the breaking ball. Last night against Josh Johnson and tonight against Chris Volstad, he’s whiffed at some breaking pitches.
Chan Ho ‘Outta The’ Park homered tonight to help himself. He also went a rare Chan Ho seven innings. He’s usually good for five or six, rarely seven, so that was reassuring to see. By the way, he pitched well in the seventh.
Sooner or later, Jorge Cantu will have to be put on the DL. Everytime he swings, he cringes because of his wrist. It’s not going to magically get better.
You know it’s bad when Jimmy Rollins goes 1-for-5 and his average rises. Once he gets going, so will the offense. And he will get going, he just needs to find it again.
In two innings this series, Ryan Madson has struck out five. He’s definately worked out his kinks.
It’s awesome to see fans in Florida (even if 1,500 or so are dogs). I think they’ve come near 30,000 each of the past two nights.
Charlie Manuel was ejected tonight, respect the Charlie.
We’re back to .500 now, let’s go for the sweep tomorrow.
By the way, the Sox/Yanks series has been awesome.
THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES SELECT…
Jeremy Maclin? Why? We don’t need a Jeremy Maclin. He’s a great wideout but Brandon Pettigrew was still on the board! Why wouldn’t you take the best tight end in the draft?! Oh well, maybe they got something planned, but who knows. I don’t know too much about LeSean McCoy, but I’ve heard good things. I really wanted Knowshon Moreno, but went way early to Denver around pick 12.
Don’t even start with the Flyers.
In each of the last two games against the Brewers, the Phils have mustered a hefty one run in each game off solo shots. Two days ago, Jayson Werth took a ninth inning pitch long for a homerun to keep the Brewcrew from shutting out the Phillies. Then yesterday, Matt Stairs kept the Phils from getting shutout AND getting no hit, all in one swing, with a shot that went off the foul pole.
The offense has struggled the past two games to manufacture runs and last game, they struggled to even get on base via base hits. Over the past two games the Phils are hitting .164 (10-for-61).
Well, don’t expect much better tonight in Florida as the Phils face up against righthander Josh Johnson. Johnson (2-0) goes for his third win in his fourth start after starting the season dominating his first two starts against Washington and the Mets. His third start, however, wasn’t too impressive when the Nats got a second look at the 2009 Johnson, roughing him up for six runs in six innings.
I’m hoping the Phils can take advantage of a Johnson off a bad start and Johnson, being a righty, may be hit by the lefty-heavy filled Phils lineup. But Johnson, who can strikeout hitters, may take advantage of a free swinging Phils team.
When Cole Hamels went down yesterday off the linedrive back at him from Prince Fielder, I was initially worried. My panic level rose rapidly. Especially when Fielder was the one who hit the ball, one of the hardest hitting hitters in the league. When he swings, he really swings. But last night, I heard that the ball went off the meaty part of his back shoulder and that he may not even miss his next start. I was scared of a DL stint, and apparently, that isn’t going to be happening.
This Marlins series is the Phillies first real test of the season. The Fish, coming off the wrong side of a sweep against the Pirates, are hungry for their first win of the workweek. The Phils, with a struggling offense, look to cut down the Marlins division lead even further.
Here’s my Keys to the Series
-No easy pitches to Phillies hitters
-Take the extra bases
-Look to hit the longball
-Find a way on base
-Continue to play good defense
-Avoid giving up the longball
Tonight Brett Myers takes the ball against Johnson. Tomorrow night, Chan Ho Park starts against young stud righthander Chris Volstad. Then on Sunday, Jamie Moyer will toe the rubber against what was supposed to be Andrew Miller, but now that he’s on the DL, maybe Anibal Sanchez will start.
PHREAKIN’ PHUN WEEKEND
Not only do we have the Phils/Marlins series this weekend, but all four Philadelphia teams are in action this weekend. The Flyers played great last night and Marty Biron had a heck of a game. The Sixers play two at home this weekend against the Magic, coming into the Philly with the series tied–and a nervous Magic team. The Eagles got the draft Saturday, and at pick twenty-one I’m really hoping the Birds get Knowshon Moreno. We got Yanks/Sox this weekend on TV Saturday and Sunday. Tons of playoff basketball and hockey. Not to mention a sick weather weekend, and I’ll be going golfing Saturday morning. Here’s the schedule, not that anyone cares, but I’ll post it anyways:
7pm — Phils at Marlins
8pm — Magic at Sixers
Teeing it up
3pm — Pens at Flyers
4pm — NFL Draft
7pm — Phils at Marlins
12pm — Phils at Marlins
6pm — Magic at Sixers
The Phillies offense did something tonight they hadn’t done all season, hit. Here are three guys I’m glad to see finding their swing:
[4 Games] Before Tonight: 2-for-15, 1 R, 1 RBI
Tonight: 3-for-5, 2 R
Before Tonight: 3-for-16, 2 R, 1 RBI
Tonight: 2-for-4, 1 R, 3 RBI
Before Tonight: 2-for-10
The two-spot through six-spot hitters (Victorino, Chase Utley, Howard, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez) combined to go 10-for-22 with 7 runs scored and 7 RBIs. I was happy to see these guys starting to play. I think that it comes down to getting away from all the “championship buzz.” Whether they accept that or not, I think that’s the true reason they’ve been struggling. They usually get off to a rough start and I’m happy to see that they’re seeing the ball better. It is just one game though, we’ll see how they do the next few games where they’ll be facing Aaron Cook tomorrow in Denver and Daniel Cabrera on Monday while in Washington.
While in DC, they’ll be visiting the President of our country. More reigning champions talk could affect them but I hope it doesn’t. I guess we’ll find out if my theory is correct on their struggles.
PARK TO START FIRST GAME IN RED PINSTRIPES
Tomorrow, Chan Ho Park will start his first game for the Phils. He won the fifth starters spot in spring training over JA Happ and now must show everyone why they picked him. He’s determined to have this job and keep it.
It would also be nice to see a quality start out of Park after our first five games where starting pitchers have allowed 4 ER in 6 IP (Brett Myers), 4 ER in 5 IP (Jamie Moyer), 7 ER in 4 IP (Joe Blanton), 7 ER in 3.2 IP (Cole Hamels), and tonight 4 ER in 7 IP (Myers). The best start of the year has been Myers start tonight but it would be nice to see a starter allowing under four runs in seven (what pitchers are supposed to pitch).
BRING THAT LOU KID UP
Lou Marson has been called up to the big team. I’m glad to hear that our catcher of the future is joining the team. It’s expected that Chris Coste and Marson will share time behind the plate. So Marson will get his at-bats because it’s said that Coste is more effective when he only plays a few times a week. This news comes on the heels of Carlos Ruiz being placed on the 15-Day DL. I don’t want to see chooch on the DL, and he doesn’t want to be on the DL. But I can’t help but saying that maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Maybe Marson will show that he’s ready to play everyday this year and I am hoping that despite how much I love Ruiz behind the dish.
Marson did have a bad, bad spring. In 14 games, he went 1-for-20 with three walks. But I wouldn’t take that small sample and use that to judge the kid. In Double-A Reading last year, Marson batted .314 with a .433 OBP and an .849 OPS.
Season Preview: Philadelphia Phillies
Projected MLB Rank: 3rd — NL Rank: 2nd — NL East Rank: 1st — Record: (95-67)
National League East Champions
The hometown team. Coming off an unbelievable World Series run and one of the most memorable Octobers of my lifetime, I truly believe, as a baseball fan, this team has the chance to do something special.
It starts with their leader and leadoff man, Jimmy Rollins. Having down numbers and an injury last year didn’t help his cause to repeat as MVP but it doesn’t matter because he is the rock on this team. He holds us together at short and gives us every chance to drive him home. Then there’s the fire behind this team, Shane Victorino. He is a winner. He hit .293 last season and stole 36 bases. His play in the outfield is unreal and I once heard a scout say that he gets the best jump on the ball that he’s ever seen when it comes off the bat.
Then comes the middle of the order. Coming off hip surgery, Chase Utley could lead many to believe during the spring that he didn’t have any type of problem with his hip and didn’t have surgery. That’s how quickly he’s rebounded from the surgery. With the injury last season, he hit .292 with 33 homeruns and 104 RBIs. Imagine what he will be able to do healthy. After Utley is the big man. Ryan Howard may whiff a bunch, but the production he puts up cancels it out. He hit 48 homeruns and drove in 146 runs to lead the league last season. In my opinion, he was MVP. There’s a blog about it in my archives if you want to hear my argument.
There’s no longer Pat Burrell, sadly enough. He lead the parade though, how fitting. But Raul Ibanez is an upgrade. He hit .293 last season while driving home 110 runs. Jayson Werth may get a chance to bat fifth in this order to break up all the lefthanded bats. He had a great season last year batting .273 with 24 homeruns while slugging .498. Pedro Feliz, also coming off of surgery, should get back to 20-homer form this season as he should hopefully stay healthy and Carlos Ruiz showed flashes of skill at the plate during the postseason so I’m hoping he doesn’t bat .219 again this year.
The rotation starts with Cole Hamels. NLCS MVP. World Series MVP. He’s got a hot wife. I know you’ve all seen him everywhere this offseason, especially when he had his “injury.” He’s a drama queen, but a drama queen that can pitch better than the rest of them. Expect more than 14 wins this year for Young King Cole because hopefully he doesn’t keep both offenses silent everytime he toes the rubber again.
Brett Myers is a roller coaster. I want nothing more than for this guy to have a great year. But you never know. Last year he was sent down to AAA to rediscover himself after a dreadful start. Then he came back and threw the heck out of the ball. He ended up somewhat salvaging his ERA and record when he came back up to the big leagues. I want the dominating Brett this year. Righthander Joe Blanton came over from the A’s last season and saved his season as well. He started the year as the A’s ace last season, so he’s certainly got the potential (and we saw it in the playoffs).
The ageless wonder. Jamie Moyer. The Souderton product had a career year in 2008 posting a 3.71 ERA and lead the team in wins with 16. Let’s see if he can do it again, I believe in him. Chan Ho Park won the fifth starters spot with an amazing spring. His fastball is up in the midnineties now and he’s striking out hitters at a good rate. If he can keep up what he’s doing in the regular season, he’s one of the best fifth starters in the league.
Then there’s the bullpen. Ryan Madson is a legitimate setup man. He turned his game to the next level last season, even reaching the high nineties with his fastball. Lefty Scott Eyre will certainly get a lot of work in while JC Romero is out under suspension. Eyre did an awesome job coming out of the bullpen after he came over in the trade from the Cubs. They also traded for Jack Taschner, but I’m also hoping JA Happ makes the bullpen as well. The question for me is whether Chad Durbin can recreate his 2.87 ERA and Clay Condrey his 3.26 ERA.
Then there’s Brad Lidge. Lights Out.
Today the Tigers released Gary Sheffield due to the fact that they would like more versatility out of the DH spot. Sheffield didn’t see it coming, and according Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, Sheffield can still hit but he just wasn’t the right fit for Detroit this coming season. So where is the right fit for Gary?
The Current Option
As soon as Sheffield was let go by the Tigers, Geoff Jenkins was cut by the Phils and GM Ruben Amaro reached out to Sheff because the Phils have been looking for a righthanded bat off the bench all offseason. Whether Sheffield is willing to come off the bench is the question. Personally, I don’t want him. He was one of my favorite players while with the Marlins but I just don’t want him on the Phils. They have a good clubhouse chemistry right now and Sheffield has been known to cause a stir in a clubhouse here and there. Considering the fact he wouldn’t be starting, he would probably be cause a problem. I don’t like or want him on the Phillies.
Ray of Sunshine Option
Tampa Bay Rays
Gabe Gross doesn’t exactly turn heads but they did bring in Matt Joyce this offseason as well. I don’t think Sheffield goes here either but there is potential. Tampa Bay seems to be an “end of the career” stop for many future Hall of Famers.
The Unrealistic Option
How cool would it be to see him back in teal to hit his 500th homerun. He hit 122 homeruns while with the Marlins from 1993 to 1998. He just doesn’t really fit there either. The corner outfield spots seem to belong to Cody Ross and Jeremy Hermida. I just think it would be cool to go off as a Marlin, and maybe go into the Hall of Fame a Marlin (he did win a World Series there).
Basically, I don’t see him fitting in anywhere. I’d like to see him in Florida, but we all know that’s not going to happen. He’ll find a team if he doesn’t demand at bats and is willing to come off the bench but whether he faces that fact and finds a team before the season starts is beyond me.
THANKS GEOFF JENKINS
As I mentioned earlier, Jenkins was released by the Phillies today. They owed him 8 million dollars on his contract. As much of a let down he was in Philly (.246 average / 9 homeruns / 29 RBIs), I would still like to thank him for the good attitude he held throughout the season while not starting and for his game five heroics in the World Series.
Jenkins was always on the fence of the dugout cheering on his teammates and was always congratulating guys coming into the dugout. Whenever you look at a picture of the Phillies winning a series in the playoffs, he was on the field celebrating with the regulars before everyone else on the bench (heck I even think he beat Rollins to the mound for the celebration once).
Also, he got the first at-bat in part two of game five in the World Series and crashed a double off the wall to get things going. It was one of the best moments of the playoffs for me because he had struggled all season and lost his platoon job when Werth became the everyday starter. Then he got up to the plate and took full advantage of the situation (I thought it was gone initially).
So honestly Jenkins, Thanks and I wish you luck elsewhere.
CHAN HO EARNS FIFTH STARTER SPOT
Chan Ho Park remains the last one standing. He beat out Carlos Carrasco, Kyle Kendrick, and lastly JA Happ to the fifth spot in the rotation to start the season. Their spring totals:
Park: 2-0 — 2.53 ERA — 25 SO — 2 BB — 21.1 INN
Happ: 0-0 — 3.15 ERA — 14 SO — 6 BB — 20 INN
It was awful close and personally, I wanted Happ to be our fifth starter because he is the future and he showed flashes of reliability last season in eight games. But it’s also hard to argue with 25 strikeouts in about 21 innings and only two walks. Keep up the good work Chan Ho, because in this town, there’s a short leash.