The Phightin Phils
Today's Philies T-shirt of the day is more of an anti-Rockies shirt, but hey, we're feeling a little anti after last night's 49584739820-hour game, even if the ol' Phils did pull it out in the end.
The Ruck Focktober T-shirt, seen briefly on-screen during last night's this morning's telecast, is available in Phillies red/white, Dodgers blue/white and Giants orange/black (aw, remember when the Giants had playoff hopes?), and has its own Facebook page. (Rocktober, of course, is the annoying Rockies' October baseball motto.) This is, of course, one of those shirts with a very limited relevance window, and given that the eBay site where this is being sold offers Priority Mail as its fastest delivery option, you'd really need to hate the Rockies and really, why wouldn't you, I guess to order this given that the series will almost definitely be over by tomorrow (rain, snow, sleet, hail notwithstanding).
Speaking of lousy game conditions, how much of last night's game did you tough it out for?
Today's Phillies T-shirt of the day is an oldie but goodie: The Birdland/Fightins.com Matt Stairs Moon Shot shirt (submitted by friend of the Clog/CP contributor Matt Hotz) that's an appreciation of the take-and-rake slugger's mammoth home run and subsequent ass-hammering in last year's League Championship Series vs. the Dodgers.
However, we're making special notice of the available Moon Shot hoodie, given that the whole team could probably use one or four of these tomorrow night in Denver where the high temperature is predicted to be 34, the low 28 and, oh yeah, there's snow in the forecast.
All of which makes this armchair analyst a little suspicious of Charlie Manuel's burning potential game-3 starters Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ in yesterday's loss, meaning that the guy they're now more likely to start (unless Manuel pulls another trick from up his sleeve) is Pedro Martinez, a frail, aging hurler who hasn't thrown more than four innings in a start since tossing 119 and 130 pitches in back-to-back starts Sept. 8 and 13.
Granted, that would seem to make Kyle Kendrick Pedro's caddy should the great one get bumped early (or should his arm, say, freeze, drop off his body and shatter), and given Kendrick's ground-ball tendencies, that might actually be the decent Plan B for (given that yesterday, original plans A and B limped off the field and threw 19 pitches respectively). Though, now that we think of it, pitching at Coors is probably Kendrick's main role on this roster.
Anyway, back to shirts: Let me add that I've always appreciated the clever way the people at Birdland/Fightins get around the licensed team logo issue by just popping the player's uniform number on the front panel of the hat/helmet.
Got a nomination for a Phillies T-shirt of the day? e-mail it to bhoward (at) citypaper (dot) net.
And don't forget, Phils play again Saturday at freaking 9:37 on TBS (unless, y'know, it's snowing).
Let's try to do this every day of the Phillies playoff run:
Today's Phillies T-Shirt of the day comes from woot.shirt.com Todd Marrone, was submitted by CP's own Drew Lazor and depicts Big Phoot, the Phillie Phanatic's wild cousin:
|Todd Marrone | woot.shirt.com|
Got a nomination for a Phillies T-shirt of the day? e-mail it to bhoward (at) citypaper (dot) net.
And don't forget, Phils play again this afternoon at 2:37.
The Phillies are playing things close to the chest with regards to their playoff rotation in that they've not yet announced it. In fact, all they've announced is that they're not announcing it.
So we'd like you, dear readers of the clogosphere, to pick the rotation for them.
Of the pitchers on the Phillies roster who've started games in September (not including Jamie Moyer who's out for the season), what 4 pitchers should be in the rotation? And what should that rotation be, which is to say, who should start Wednesday's 2:37 p.m. Division Series opener and so forth?
|Am I scary now?
Last night the Phils got a solid start out of J.A. Happ, incredibly timely hitting off the bats of Pedro Feliz and Jayson Werth, and, perhaps most importantly, a big INCREDIBLY HUGE two-inning save from Ryan Madson. I can't seem to find footage of it (and if you have it, please share), but Madson's ninth inning looks to be the key to the rest of the Phils' season if it continues past this weekend.
Madson had already thrown a dominating 8th and the crowd could see Brad Lidge warming in the bullpen. As the Phils took the field for the top of the ninth inning, I think the entire crowd's ears were perked up, trying to hear if Lidge's intro music would pour out of the stadium speakers. But then Madson's lanky frame emerged from the dugout and the crowd erupted in applause half in appreciation and half in relief.
Madson allowed two of the first three batters in the ninth reach base. With one out and Kaz Matsui and Lance Berkman on second and first, Madson, after a meeting at the mound with pitching coach Rich Dubee, reached down for a little something extra to strike out the always-dangerous Carlos Lee.
Which brought Phillie killer Hunter Pence to the plate.
Madson got two quick strikes on Pence and then and this is why I'd like to see the replay channelled Dickie Noles circa 1980 and knocked Pence on his ass with a pitch thrown, as it appeared from my seat on the first base line, high and tight. We'll probably never know if Madson did this on purpose, but Madson's next pitch froze Pence and he was called out on strikes to end the game.
Did Ryan Madson just discover the nastiness he seemed to be lacking in the closer's role?
|Chase Utley and Cole Hamels|
While the hometown nine's play of late has certainly been cause for concern, let's all remember that last year, with 6 games left to play, the Phillies held just a 1.5 game lead on the Mets (remember them?) and had been in first place all of five days since falling a half game behind them on Sept. 19, 2008.
And please recall 2007 when the Phillies were actually 2 games out of first place with six games left to play (which I guess serves as much as a cautionary tale as inspiration).
All of which is to say that while you shouldn't stop worrying about the bullpen, and Charlie Manuel's predilection for blowing out his starters to avoid using it, you should also remember that it's better to be four games up than up 1.5 or down 2. And that it's much better to have a magic number than to be focusing on someone else's
And for those wondering about 1964, well, consider that the Phillies had already fallen into third by this point in that magical season, and that of current Phillies, only Jamie Moyer was even alive then.
(All figures courtesy of The Baseball Race.)
|Click for video|
Not quite sure how to put into words how bizarre this is, but there's a news segment on tv-tokyo.co.jp that appears to be about the recession's effects on the wealthy in the U.S.: There are shots of empty stores for lease on Rodeo Drive, a behind-the-scenes report on how pawn shops work, and then, 3:00 in, out of the blue, you see Lenny Frakking Dykstra, looking like some kind of high-class hobo, pawning his World Series and All Star rings.
Dykstra and the Telly Savalas-looking pawn shop guy's conversation is drowned out by the Japanese overdub, making it impossible to hear what they're saying. Dykstra, whose financial problems are well known and myriad, almost certainly appears caught unawares.
Any Japanese speakers out there able to translate what exactly is being said in this segment? Please share in the comments section.
Please enjoy the babelfish translation of the text that appears below the video:
American prominent high-class residential town [bibarihiruzu]. The wave of recession had done wealthy layer direct bomb hit. The high-class clock and the treasure ornament item pledge were done in the pawnbroker which continues 30 year coming business. Recently it means that the enterprise manager increases. Furthermore the Motohiro league member it appeared while collecting materials with the token of self active age.
|Illustration | Evan Lopez|
Yesterday's double-header sweep of the Mutts which officially, if anticlimactically, eliminated New York's junior team from playoff contention putting an end to a season which for all intents and purposes ended two months ago was a perfect microcosm of all that is right and wrong in the Phillies universe.
Game one saw the return to starterdom of one Kyle Kendrick, 2007 sensation, 2008 afterthought, 2009 headcase. Kendrick pitched into the 8th, allowed just two runs and left with a two run lead. Tyler Walker by some metrics the Phils most effective reliever this season was given a rare chance to pitch in a high-leverage situation and finished off the Mets' half of the 8th. The Phils tacked on an insurance run in their half of the 8th and then turned the ball over to Brad Lidge, who needed every bit of his three-run cushion to close out the win, "earning" his 29th save with a 1-inning, 2-earned run, 3-hit, 2-strikeout performance during which the beleaguered reliever threw 28 pitches and saw his ERA and WHIP rise to 7.18 and 1.82 respectively.
Pluses: Kendrick seems to have found his old ground-ball mojo, and having that kind of starting pitching depth like that helps a lot. The offense put up some runs, and two didn't even come via the long ball (a Ryan Howard double and an Andy Tracy single). Charlie Manuel finally saw fit to use Walker, a pitcher who has been a (middle of the road) closer in his career, in a higher-leverage situation (12 of Walker's last 14 appearances, and 18 of his total 23 in 2009, have been in losses).
Minuses: Brad "That Boy Ain't Right" Lidge is fumbling around in the ninth like a teenager making out for the first time.
Game two saw the Phils (albeit momentarily) solve the riddle of Tim Redding, putting a quick run on the board in a first inning that would be the site of all of the game's scoring and two thirds of the Phils hits for the contest. Pedro Martinez, likely rejoicing in the fact that if he could shut down the players wearing the same uniform he did last year (to call this rag-tag bunch of minor leaguers his former teammates would be stretching things), they would be officially eliminated from post-season play. And did Pedro ever shut the Mets down, throwing 8 innings of no-run baseball during which he allowed just 6 hits and 2 walks and struck out 7. He threw 130 pitches, which has to a concern going forward as the last time Pedro threw more than 130 pitches was May 1 in wait for it the year TWO THOUSAND AND ONE. Good thing they've got all that starting pitching depth. Ryan Madson finished the game off with his eighth save, inspiring confidence only in that he was less shaky than Lidge earlier in the day. Madson gave up a single in a ninth in which he was bailed out by an acrobatic play by Ryan Howard (and his own nice cover of first) and a lineout to Pedro Feliz.
Pluses: Pedro cowboyed up. Madson got it done. The Phils played some great defense, especially Carlos Ruiz, whose handling of a ball in the dirt and subsequent nailing of boneheaded Daniel Murphy trying to advance to third ended an eighth inning threat.
Minuses: The Phils scored just one run, and off a guy who remains a major league pitcher ONLY because of his bizarre ability to shut down the Phils. Manuel's sudden and warranted lack of confidence in his bullpen would be comical if it didn't result in him pushing an historically frail pitcher farther than he's been pushed since before the war on terror. Also, it's unfortunate that Manuel's lack of confidence in Lidge and Madson seems to have manifest itself in his ONLY using them, overlooking the likes of Chan Ho Park and the aforementioned Walker, both guys who could actually help fix this mess.
So what the hell do you make of this team, one with so many cylinders, none of which seem to be firing at the right time? Are they getting all the kinks out now? Or are they limping into the post-season where they'll be be completely exposed to a team with a hot hand or, y'know, a closer?
To commemorate yesterday's trip-9s 9/9/09 Major League Baseball is running a series of polls they're calling The All-Time 9 wherein fans are encouraged to choose their team's all-time best lineup from the best individual seasons at each position in the team's history.
It's sort of a wonky exercise, foremost because no one player can be represented by more than one season i.e. Mike Schmidt probably has 10 seasons better than Dave Hollins' 1993, but Schmidt only gets one slot on the ballot, though that does reduce the risk of, say, Schmidt splitting the vote among himself, but I digress. It's also a little wonky because you're choosing a pitcher based on his hitting stats. But wonky and fun are not mutually exclusive. So let's jump in.
|Vote for your All-Time 9 here.|
This one's tough for a number of reasons, but most notably because it's really tough to compare numbers from different eras. Von Hayes' 1986 line would look a lot different had he been playing in a different era a few more points of batting average, about 10 more home runs as per Baseball Prospectus' translated stats. The biggest jump here is Deron Johnson's 1971 line, which jumps to .267/46/114 when adjusted for context. Ryan Howard's 2006 MVP campaign takes a slight dip when cntextualized, but not nearly enough to unseat it as the greatest offensive 1B season in Phillies history. (Baseball Prospectus' translated stats attempt to normalize all statistics are a tool used in an attempt to accurately compare players who performed in eras with drastically different offensive conditions.)
Vote: Ryan Howard
The pickings are a little slimmer at the keystone, but so far this poll puts into context just how lucky Phillies fans are to be watching the greatest ever at their respective positions. Samuel's 1987 looks quite a bit better when adjusted for era context, .265/33/102, but the numbers they don't show you here, namely Utley's on-base skills, make this a no-brainer.
Vote: Chase Utley
More competitive than you'd have thought, as Allen's '66 season looks pretty good stacked up against Schmidt's 1980 campaign. Complicating matters, Allen put up his numbers in just 141 games. Further blurring things is that even though 1980 was not a particularly fecund offensive era, 1966 was a wasteland. The translated stats suggest that Allen's 1966 season indeed bests Schmidt's 1980 effort. Translated, Allen's line .325/52/126 with a .419/.730 OBP/SLG to Schmidt's .279/63/128, .386/.695. Everyone else here is chaff. Remember that we're talking purely offense here, and there's no other conclusion. This is surprising to me, but â¦
Vote: Dick Allen
Rest of the lineup after the jump...
Slim pickings here, as the Phils have a long history of all-glove, no-stick shortstops. I do think a case could be made for including Dickie Thon's 1989 season, as it's better than both Bowa's and Hamners, but there's not a lot of room for debate here: Jimmy Rollins is the Phillies' best offensive shortstop, and his 2007 MVP season is easily his best line.
Vote: Jimmy Rollins
A tough one here, as the Phils have had a lot of guys put up decent numbers behind the plate, with none of them sticking out as "the guy." When it comes down to it, it's a three-horse race between Darren Daulton (though Dutch's 1992 is easily better than the 1993 campaign listed here), Andy Seminick and Stan Lopata (with apologies to Mike Lieberthal). And really, adjusted for context, it's still a toss-up. All three mix power and excellent on-base skills. If Daulton's 1992 campaign were in the mix rather than his 1993, he'd win by a nose, so my vote goes to him.
Vote: Darren Daulton
This one's tough, and right about now my analytical patience is running a tad thin, so let's set some quick rules: There should be a CF, and two corner OF represented, which makes things a little less muddled. At CF, you've got juice enthusiast Lenny Dykstra squaring off against Richie Ashburn's excellent 1951 campaign and Cy Williams' excellent 1923. Not considering defense, I think you have to go with Williams, whose 41 home runs are impossible to ignore. At the corners, Chuck Klein's .386/40/170 season cannot be matched, but picking a second corner is a bit tougher. Ed Delahanty is a hall of famer, but most of his best seasons came before the turn of the century, which seems to be the cut-off point for this poll, and translating his 1901 line results in a big uptick in HR and a drop-off in batting average. Lefty O'Doul's near .400 campaign is largely the product of an insane offensive era, and I have a problem putting such a flash in the pan on my all-time team. I'm gonna go on a limb here and make Bobby Abreu's 2004 campaign my second corner OF, as his combination of power, speed and insane on-base abilities will look nice anywhere in this order.
Votes: Cy Williams, Chuck Klein, Bobby Abreu
This one's tough because pitchers have such small at-bat totals in any given season. Lefty's got rep as a pitcher with a good stick, and it was deserved. Randy Wolf was also good with the bat in his time here. But since we're dealing with such paltry sample sizes, I think it's fair to focus in on individual game performances and give the nod to Rick Wise for the June 23 no-hitter he threw, during which he hit 2 home runs, marking perhaps the best single-game performance by a pitcher ever (note, not the best pitching peformance, which likely goes to Harvey Haddix). Besides, Wise deserves a little recognition for a lifetime spent as the answer to the trivia question: Who did the Cardinals get in return for Steve Carlton.
Vote: Rick Wise
So that's my lineup, and here's how I'd bat them:
To paraphrase the Minutemen, what makes a team stop hitting?
The Phillies mighty offense has, in the last week, gone ice cold. During that stretch, the starting pitching has gone a bit haywire and the already-fraying bullpen has come further unravelled.
The bullpen problems we're all aware of and will hopefully be ameliorated once the Phils get some of their injured guys back, healthy and in rhythm.
The starting pitching is what it is: Capable of amazing stretches, but also capable even Cliff Lee as it turns out of nights where the pitches all look like beach balls. (J.A. Happ's oblique strain is looking particularly bad-omen-y, I'll admit.)
But what the deuce is up with the offense? Yes, the Phils offense, even as recently as last season, was prone to extended dry spells, only to bounce back with a 10-run frame. But this season the engine even despite Jimmy Rollins' early struggles and Raul Ibanez' more recently seemed to be humming like a well-oiled machine.
It's often said that facing a really tough pitcher a Randy Johnson circa 2001, say can disrupt a lineup for weeks. Is it possible that the Giants Jonathan Sanchez and/or Tim Lincecum completely threw the entire lineup's mojo out of whack?
What do you think is wrong with the Phils?
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