The Gold Glove Awards have been announced over the past two days and Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino have won their third and second, respectively. In my last post I stated who I should get the award in each league. Four of my nine American League guesses were right (Erick Aybar was robbed though) and I missed on two of the nine National League spots. I was debating on whether or not to put Freddy Sanchez or Orlando Hudson at second and I chose Sanchez because Hudson lost his job at the end of the season.
But, nice work Vic and Jimmy. These two guys do a really nice job in the field and come up with some spectacular plays here and there but their biggest strength in the field is that neither make mistakes. Victorino was tied for the league lead in least centerfield errors with only one and Rollins lead all National League shortstops in fielding percentage.
And each everyday Phillies starter has a decent glove which is one of the best parts about watching this team. Ryan Howard, perhaps the weakest glove, really stepped it up this season and didn’t commit as many errors (and I think he had the most “web gem” points for a first basemen too). But when you go around the field and look at each guy, there’s really no mystery out there as to whether or not they’ll make a play.
Carlos Ruiz is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. I think he may have had only one passed ball all year long and if it weren’t for the likes of Yadier Molina in the NL, Carlos might be winning these Rawlings awards. Chase Utley is also one of the best at fielding his position and he is one of the most heads up fielders in the league as well. Pedro Feliz has one of the more solid gloves and stronger arms in the league from the hot corner (and I’d like him to be back next year in some ways, just for his glove). Raul Ibanez has a decent arm out in left and if it weren’t for injuries this past season, his range could have been better. Then I think Jayson Werth has one of the most underrated arms in the league and well as good range with those long strides.
Congrats again to all the Gold Glove winners.
AND this is my 100th entry. I’ve been off and on writing on this over the past year and at times I forget that I have this thing. So thanks to the few that may read this junk.
I just saw a segment on Baseball Tonight about the best one-two offensive punches in baseball. So here’s my top ten in order without explanation…
1. Joe Mauer / Justin Morneau MIN
2. Carlos Pena / Evan Longoria TB
3. Chase Utley / Ryan Howard PHI
4. Mark Teixiera / Alex Rodriguez NYY
5. Ryan Zimmerman / Adam Dunn WAS
6. Adam Jones / Nick Markakis BAL
7. Kevin Youkilis / Jason Bay BOS
8. Carlos Beltran / David Wright NYM
9. Michael Young / Josh Hamilton TEX
10. Ryan Braun / Prince Fielder MIL
Wild Card: Todd Helton / Brad Hawpe COL
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.
The slug-it-out festival was held last night at The Park and the Phillies, somehow, came out victorious over the Nats.
They caught me. I admit I gave up on last night’s game on three seperate occasions. In the second inning, the third inning, and once again in the eighth. But that offense never ceases to amaze me. Grandslams by Ryan Howard in the fifth to tie the game up at six and Raul Ibanez in the eighth to take the lead brought amazement to my mind.
When I saw Ibanez was coming to the plate last night in the eighth with the bases loaded, I found myself unconcerned and comfortable with the situation. Well what do you know, he took a first pitch right around the right field foul pole for the grandslam.
He’s just a ballplayer. That’s the best way to describe him. That’s how I heard him described as prior to him coming to the Phillies, and that’s how I hear of him now. That’s how I see him now. He has a great approach at the plate, makes plays in the field (Sunday against Fla.), and overall, he plays to win the game.
This is certainly is a team. They pick eachother up. Right now the pitching is struggling, but the offense picks them up and has carried them. This offensive attack, who leads the National League in runs scored per game, has been lead so far by Ibanez. I heard that a Philly paper this morning read, Raul the Bat. Playing off of Pat Burrell’s former nickname, Pat the Bat. Well we aren’t missing him when we have Raul.
Don’t get me wrong though, Pat Burrell will forever be a hero in this town and what he did for us was amazing and he will always be welcome here.
But Ibanez has been tearing apart the ball thus far, here’s the comparisons:
Ibanez .342 AVG 18 R 5 2B 6 HR 16 RBI 8 BB 3 SB .402 OBP .685 SLG
Burrell .238 AVG 6 R 2 2B 1 HR 8 RBI 13 BB 0 SB .364 OBP .317 SLG
It’s not even close. I’ll trade five more walks for ten more hits. It does sadden me a bit to see Burrell off to a slow start in Tampa Bay because I do want to see him succeed there. But at the same time, bringing in Raul makes Ruben Amaro Jr. look genius.
Hopefully Ibanez, not Burrell, will continue to make Amaro look that way. I want to see Pat start to pick it up.
With the passing of Harry Kalas, the Phillies cancelled their visit today to the White House to be recognized as worold champions there. Coming off the heels of a victory yesterday against the Nationals, the Phillies will use today to remember a great man who was very important to the game.
With heavy hearts, the Phils beat out the Nationals yesterday in an offensive-minded game. In the game, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino launched their first homeruns of the season while Raul Ibanez hit his third of the year. Howard has been using all of the field thus far this season. He has taken the ball into the leftcenter gap numerous times with power this year and yesterday one finally went out. Chase Utley was held hitless for the first time this season and the Phils still put up nine runs.
This offense can even do better though. Jimmy Rollins is hitting .121 so far this season and we all know that once he starts to get on base more and more each game, he will steal and take the extra base and give the middle of the lineup every chance to drive him home.
The pitching on the other hand, is improving but still isn’t doing it’s job. Jamie Moyer had a better outing than his first and what we saw yesterday is probably what we should expect from Moyer this season. Six innings and four runs with a walk or two with some good and bad days in between.
Brad Lidge let up a two-run bomb to Ryan Zimmerman. The second homerun of the year he’s let up. Luckily, an insurance run in the top of the eigth kept Lidge from earning a blown save but he does worry me. Although I shouldn’t really be worried when I take a look at the statistics. He’s only surrendered four hits and a walk in five innings with seven strikeouts (1.00 WHIP). The two homeruns he’s surrendered to Zimmerman and Matt Diaz are the runs he’s let up so hopefully he starts to lower that ERA a bit becuase we won’t have a two or three run lead every game.
KEEPIN’ THE NATS BEATEN
Tomorrow the Phils will look to keep the Nationals without a win on the 2009 season when they send Joe Blanton to the mound. Blanton will attempt to rebound from his rough first start against Atlanta in which he lasted four innings and gave up seven earned runs. He was said to have looked the best coming out of spring training out of all the Phillies pitcher so a return to that would convienient.
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.
First 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.
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.