Tagged: charlie manuel

Back to School

I’m back at school and today was the first day of classes. More importantly though, Cliff Lee continues to run the NL. His ERA since being traded to the Phils is a miniscule 0.68, after the two runs he gave up in today’s 6-2 win over the Mets, were unearned.

Utley kind of threw the ball around after dropping a routine popup. But he did sit yesterday and he always wants to be out there competing, I wasn’t providing a scapegoat for him there although it kind of sounded like it. There’s no excuses for that.

How about Eric Bruntlett? Due to the fact that the Phils are playing thirteen straight days, Charlie Manuel is looking for spots to give guys rest. Bruntlett who filled in for Utley yesterday went 3-for-5 while turning an unassisted triple play to end the game (he also made two errors earlier that inning, so he better have gotten all three outs there). Today he was the starter at short while Jimmy Rollins got a break. In today’s game, he was 1-for-4. So over the past two days he went 4-for-9 which isn’t bad for a guy hitting under the mendoza line.

bruntlett.jpgThe main reason he is still on this team is because he plays a million positions. They’re just looking for his bat to start coming around for the hopeful postseason.

Usually the Mets are leading the division right around now and then September rolls around, and then that’s when they implode as a team. Nope, not this year. Apart from K-Rod, every star player they have has gotten hurt (now that Johan may need season ending surgery).

I don’t feel bad, not one bit. The “Melts” always fail.

Short post, I know.

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Cleaning up the Capitol

rainoutpic.jpgJust 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.

Finals Procrastination

It’s finals week here and I find myself studying a bunch, but currently I’m procrastinating. Took the first final early this morning and now I have three more to go. I cannot wait to get back home for the summer. I have tickets to one of the Dodgers/Phils games at The Park next week. I’ll get to see Manny come to town along with that solid Dodgers team. But anyways…

While I’m on my study “break” (I call it a break because I plan on doing this post, and then watching the Sox/Yanks game tonight, so really it’s a four or so hour break), I’ll give you the team of my favorite players that I’ve watched during my lifetime. I’m in the team forming mode so here it goes.

Rules:
– Team consists of a player at each position, five starting pitchers, and two relievers, and a manager
– Each player is my favorite at that position
– Each player will have played since 1990 (my year of birth) but I don’t remember the early 90’s so most likely a little later than that
– No DH (since the Phils are in the NL and pitchers should hit anyways)
– And other rules that I can’t think of right now

THE “MY FAVORITE PLAYERS” TEAM

Catcher Joe Mauer
This guy can catch and hit for average? Sign him up. A career .319 hitter, Mauer has a great approach at the plate and a career OBP over .400 and he’s back from injury now (which is good, he’s on my fantasy team). He beat out Mike Lieberthal and Charles Johnson here.
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Firstbase Jim Thome
In an era where all the players reaching the 500 homerun club are accused of performance-enhancers, we have the players like Thome who are just pure power. My dad was a fan of Thome when he was still with the Tribe, so I followed his liking and then he ended up coming to Philly for three or so years. He’s slugged 545 total homers in his career and keeps on going with the White Sox today. The runner up here is Todd Helton.
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Secondbase Chase Utley
When there are so many great secondbasemen in the game today, Utley is called by many, the best of them all, and I agree. He’s been all the hype since he came up to the big leagues with the Phils in 2003 and hasn’t dissapointed. With the quick swing and a great approach to the plate, I’ll have Utley over any secondbaseman on my team. Luis Castillo and Brian Roberts were also considered–but it was really no contest.
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Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra
He was my second ever “most favorite player” while playing short for the Sox. I’ve followed him as far back as I can remember. With the Red Sox, he hit .323 and was the batting champion twice. He’s the reason my favorite number is five. From ’96 Rookie of the Year to today, Nomar’s the man.
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Thirdbase Cal Ripken Jr.
The only current Hall of Famer on this team, is Ripken. I know he was a shortstop for most of his career, but as far as I can remember, he’s a thirdbaseman. One of my most favorite baseball moments ever is when he hit a homerun in his last All Star Game in 2001. Mike Lowell is the runner-up here.
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Leftfield Jeff Conine
He was my very first “favorite player.” As far as I know, I’ve been a Conine fan since I’ve been a baseball fan. Supposively when I was five or six, my dad took me to a Marlins/Phils game at The Vet and Jeff Conine hit a homerun that game and I decided he was my favorite player. It is only fitting that he was with the Marlins both times they won the World Series. There was no way Pat Burrell would top Conine here, but he’s also up there.
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Centerfield Shane Victorino
I’ll say it over and over and over again, Victorino is a winner. I love the way he plays the outfield. He gets one of the best jumps on the ball in the entire league. He’s also always coming up big when we need him most, he’s clutch. Juan Pierre was also in contention in center.
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Rightfield Brad Hawpe
This former pitcher-turned-outfielder has a cannon from right field. He can hit the ball real well too, its not just the thin air in Denver that carries the ball because he hits just as well on the road as he does at home. Hawpe’s a hitter.
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Starting Pitcher Josh Beckett
My current “favorite major leaguer” is Beckett. He played a huge role in the 2003 Championship in Florida and everytime he was on the mound, I knew the Marlins were going to win. When healthy, he has some of the nastiest stuff in the league and isn’t afraid to knock anyone back with a fastball.
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Starting Pitcher Curt Schilling
Pitched a while for Phils and I got his autograph at a Commerce Bank opening. Then we traded him to Arizona where he went on to win a World Series with the Dbacks. Then he went on to Boston where he was a clutch pitcher in the playoffs, season, bloody sock, bogged by injuries, and so on. He’s a Hall of Famer to me.
schilling02.jpgStarting Pitcher Roy Halladay
This guy is one of my favorite pitchers in baseball. In an age where complete games are far a few between, Halladay goes the distance like its in his contract. I wish I could have been alive during the days where pitchers were expected to throw complete games, because I feel like that’s the way it was supposed to be. I respect Halladay because he pitches the right way.
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Starting Pitcher Randy Wolf
How can you not love Randy Wolf and the Wolf Pack? A Phillie for most of his career, Wolf has become one of those players that I like to always check up on and find out how he’s doing.
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Starting Pitcher Cole Hamels
Young King Cole and his dirty changeup lead the Phils through the playoffs last season. He has great tempo on the mound and has solid mechanics. This year, he has just been the unluckiest pitcher in baseball. I’m looking for him to have a great career (knock on wood).
hamels.jpgOther Starters that were up there are Greg Maddux, Brett Myers, and Josh Johnson.

Relief Pitcher Brad Lidge
After what he did last season, how could he not be my most favorite reliever in the entire game. He was perfect, echoing the Phillies perfect season. When he fell to his knees after striking out Eric Hinske to end the World Series, it instantly became my favorite baseball moment, ever.

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Relief Pitcher Jonathan Papelbon
This guy is such a character. He has the perfect mentality for the closer role. He’s crazy. Sometimes you have to be to be a closer. Papelbonfire.
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Manager Charlie Manuel
Come to me before last postseason and I would have told you Jack McKeon. But Charlie proved to Philly and all its fans that he cares about and loves the fans. He knows a heck of a lot about hitting. Charlie brought a Championship back to the city. Lets do it again!
charlie.jpgThere’s my favorites of my MLB memory.

Comeback Kids

 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.

shanevictorino.jpgThen 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.
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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. 

Patience Pays Off in First Victory

ibanez.jpgFirst of all, congrats to Raul Ibanez for hitting his first homerun as a Philadelphia Phillies player. It’s nice to see a homerun coming off of our bat for once this series.

Heading into the bottom of the seventh, down 10-3, I had lost all hope and figured that the Phillies were going to swept right out of the opening series by the homer-happy Braves. In fact, I was willing to give up on the game once Joe Blanton had a rough third, and even more so ready to throw in the towell when JA Happ gave up the two run shot to Jordan Schafer in the fifth.

Then just as I was about to leave the radio and head off to the gym, Chase Utley blooped a single into center and Ryan Howard was hit by a pitch. I figured that I would stay until the end of the inning. Well, eight runs later I was still sitting at my computer listening to the game.

The Phils bottom of the seventh consisted of five hits, six walks, eight runs, and four Atlanta relievers. The Braves bullpen imploded. They couldn’t find the strikezone and I’m suprised the Phillies aggressive bats let the Braves put that many on. One thing the Phillies didn’t prove to me during the playoffs last season was that they aren’t the team to work the walk. They would swing at ball three or ball four in a 2-2 or 3-1 count. But today, they discovered a patience they never had before and it turned out to be the difference in the ballgame.

In that dreaded seventh inning for the Braves, Eric O’Flaherty, Peter Moylan, Blaine Boyer, and Jorge Campillo surrendered six walks and five singles. All eight runs scored were earned by the Braves pitchers and Moylan and Boyer don’t even have ERA’s.

How clutch did the Eric Bruntlett sac fly turn out to be? In the bottom of the eighth Bruntlett brought home a run as insurance for Brad Lidge. It turned out that it was needed and kept Lidge’s streak alive. Lidge ended up giving up a homerun to Matt Diaz on a slider but no blown save was to be had. Lidge recorded his first save of the year after a slider in the dirt got Garrett Anderson to swing and miss.

“Put this one in the win column for the Fightin’ Phils.”

CHARLIE DOUBLE SWITCHES

Charlie Manuel ended up using the double switch today in that pivotal seventh inning. He sent Matt Stairs up to hit for Carlos Ruiz (maybe a fear factor for the pitcher). Brought Chris Coste in to pinch hit for the pitcher, then sent Coste in to catch and the pitcher spot was now in the eight hole. To anyone that doesn’t know, there was concern that Charlie didn’t know how to use the double switch. Well today he utilized it (even though it wasn’t the usual double-switch situation). I applaud you Uncle Charlie.

RING CEREMONY

Those rings are nice aren’t they? It was awesome to see Pat Burrell back again (I think he got emotional–hence the shades). And yes, we did boo Adam Eaton.

SOUTHPAW SQUAREOFF AT FENWAY

It looks like Scott Kazmir got the best of Jon Lester tonight in Boston. Through four innings, Lester looked great. But then in the fifth, a few flyballs fell in that probably could have been caught. Both flyball “singles” involved Jed Lowrie running backwards and I’m not sure if he got in the way of Jason Bay and Jacoby Ellsbury, but it looked like it. So don’t look at Lester’s five earned and think he got rocked. Although Carlos Pena did rock one pitch on the three run bomb to center.

Jed Lowrie seems to be the goat of the night. There were the flyball situations, and he also struck out twice. Once was with the bases loaded and two outs late in the game. Even if Julio Lugo was healthy, I would stick with Lowrie at short. Who cares about how much he’s getting to sit on the bench? Jed’s the future.

How good does Akinori Iwamura look at the bottom of that lineup? Normally the nine-hole is also called the “second leadoff spot.” Aki, along with Jason Bartlett and Carl Crawford combined for nine hits in fourteen at-bats. That will definately make this lineup go as the season progresses and they may be the key.

I look forward to the rest of these Rays/Sox matchups. 

It’s a Long Season

openingnightlogo.gifIt certainly is a long season, but that’s one of the many reasons why I love the game. The Phils know that after their 4-1 loss to the Braves tonight on national television as defending World Champions. I certainly am a little angry that the bats looked awful against Derek Lowe and I’m a little embarrassed, but there’s 161 more games (162 more games for the Mets to blow the half-game lead they have right now). But regardless, here’s some thoughts on tonight’s game:openingnight.jpg

BRIGHT SPOTS

I didn’t get to see the opening ceremonies but I saw the replay of it and I’ll probably end up watching it again and it seems like they planned it out really well. I love the fact that Charlie was raising the championship banner.

The bullpen had a nice night. Newcomer Jack Taschner, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge combined for three innings, a strikeout each, and no hits or walks surrendered. I was nervous about Taschner because I’ve heard that he can be wild at times but he looked alright tonight.

DARK SPOTS

Let’s start with Brett Myers. I listened to the first four innings or so on the radio so I didn’t see pitch locations and such (I had to drive back to school today). But when they replayed the homeruns he gave up, it’s clear that he missed his spots in each of the pitches. He got the ball way up in the zone to Brian McCann and put the other two pitches right in the wheelhouse of Jeff Francoer and Jordan Schafer (Schafer did look completely silly against Lidge in the ninth). When I started watching Myers for the two innings I saw him, he was keeping the ball down and hitting his spots. That’s what he will need to do in order to be successful this season. He toughed it out for six innings and struck out six and only walked one. Take away those three bad pitches and that’s a solid outing for this early in the year. So maybe this isn’t a dark spot (grey spot?).

We got to find a way to get on base. Usually it’s not a problem. Driving in RISP is the usual problem. I know it’s the first game and all, but until the ninth, the Phils mustered two hits off Lowe.

These players have got to want to be in that position in the ninth inning with the game on the line. Ryan Howard looked nervous and you could tell he didn’t want to be in that situation tonight. He swung at junk from Mike Gonzalez (who looked awful tonight) and then took a fastball right down the pike. Raul Ibanez worked Gonzalez nicely but he did swing at ball four but since he’s the new guy in town, I’ll let him slide for tonight.

On the ball that went off of Myers glove where Utley had to shift directions quickly, he looked like he wasn’t ready to do that quite yet. However he did look pretty good charging some grounders. But it worries me that maybe he’s not 100% yet.

 

All in all, I think Joe Morgan may have said it best at the end of the game, I don’t remember his exact words but they were along the lines of saying that the Phillies know that this is just the first game and that the Phils will fight to the end and that’s why he truly believes that this team has the chance to do something special and repeat this year. And Joe would know. Well, I hope he’s right.
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Hasta La Vista, Eaton!

Adam Eaton is gone! Hallelujah! The Phillies have released him today. He was one of only few bad moves by mastermind GM Pat Gillick. Before the 2007 season, he inked a three-year, $24.5 million deal. It could possibly have been considered some of the worst twenty four and a half mill the Phils ever spent.

There was absolutely no prayer for him to make the rotation this year as the fifth starter while competing among JA Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Chan Ho Park, and darkhorse prospect Carlos Carrasco. Eaton was owed $8.5 million this season.

Here are some of the abysmal stats he collected while in his two year stint with the Fightins:

14-18 // 6.10 ERA // 154 SO and 115 BB in 268.2 IP // 49 starts and 51 total games // a WHIP of over 1.600

As a baseball fan, Mr. Eaton, I hope the best for your future and that you will get back on track sometime. But as a Philly fan — please, never come back!

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“Tough luck kid,” for the last time.

My twenty-sixth place team preview later today possible.