Friday, April 09, 2004

 

Milton vs. Pavano

The Florida Marlins erased any hopes of the Phillies making it to the playoffs in the final two weeks of last year's season, and eventually they would crush the Yankees' hopes of claiming yet another World Series ring. Today Team Bowa has a chance to begin it's season long revenge against the Fish down in Florida for a three game weekend series. More than that, if the Phillies end up losing this series, Bowa could be in big trouble.

Game One Matchups:

Eric Milton has only faced three Marlins that potentially he will face in this series, Damon Easley, Will Cordero, and Jeff Conine. There's nothing to really talk about here, Easley and Cordero have almost no success against Eric, except Conine. Conine, who I consider the modern Phillie killer, is 5 for 6 with 2 Hr against Milton. If there's anything I want to see this series, besides at least two wins, is Jeff Conine having no meaningful at-bats. He is almost single handedly the reason the Phillies blew a series against the Marlins and lost control of the Wild Card last year.

Carl Pavano (1-4, 6.29 ERA) has run into some problems with the Phillies lineup, mainly Byrd, Abreu, Lieberthal, and Rollins, who combined have hit him for .386 Avg., 8 2B, 3 Hr, 12 BB, 11 K in 96 AB's. Thome (5 K in 10 AB) and Burrell (3 for 16) haven't hit him well, but Pavano isn't exactly attacking them, as he as issued the two nine bases on balls. Pavano overall versus this lineup is: .321 Avg., 8 2B, 22 BB, 3 Hr, 18 K's (146 AB's)

I would like to post either series matchups or game-by-game, so far I am leaning towards the format I am using now (game-by-game). After posting my Pirates preview, I thought that was of little help, and I thought exploring individual matchups would be better. If it is useful to anyone I would like to continue this form of posting, if not I will discontinue it. That's why I would like some feedback as to what you would think would work best. Personally, I thought this would be better than just seeing basic boxscore matchups that you see in your daily papers or online, and hopefully be a little bit more informative than what you would see in such write-ups. If I were continue this, obviously Milton will receive little print, in the way of matchups, until he has faced everyone once or twice.

Also, if there is any other content you would like to see, I would be more than willing to consider it for this site. This blog is intended to provide you with the best possible coverage of the Phillies possible, and your ideas and opinions are welcomed and encouraged. I will try and link up with all other Phillie blogs that have content that I feel is useful (if you feel you have a different slant towards the Phils, start your own blog...please), if you have your own ideas upon a particular subject, email me and I will post it. Thanks, Brian. Citizensreport@yahoo.com


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Wooten at third?

I don't think Shawn Wooten was the answer we were all looking for, or is he? The Phils website has an article profiling Woot's (at the exhibition game people gave him the "Wooot" chant, I guess everyone just misses Duece) start as nothing more than a rest day for David Bell. Let me say that again, a REST for David Bell. David Bell has played exactly TWO games, and besides that, only had twenty at-bats during spring training, and he needs a rest. Oh, and if he needed a rest so bad, why wasn't Bell to happy about it? Help me out, am I missing something?

Like I said, maybe I am missing something, but this "rest" seems awfully out of place. I think that Bell is either already in too much pain to continue on an everyday basis, or Bowa is already prepared to cut and run on Bell who has looked absolutely awful in the first two games. If indeed Bowa has Bell on a short leash, I will give him more credit than I have been accustumed to doing over the past two years. But if not, than having Wooten start games at third takes away alot of his value of coming of the bench in the first place, his flexibility. In game two vs. the Pirates, Bowa was able to remove Liebethal from the game for a pinch runner when most teams would be hesitant to put their second catcher in the game so early, but Bowa had Wooten.

Sure, Tomas Perez has been rumored to be able to handle the catching responsibilites as well, but at what cost. Part of the reason the Phillies have such a good bench (besides it's excellent hitting last year) is it's flexibility, Ledee and Micheals can handle all the OF positions, Perez all the infield positions, Wooten the corners and catching, and Glanville...well. he handles all the paper quotes.

I don't fault Bowa at all, at replacing Bell with Wooten, just think about it; Wooten can handle only three positions (C, 1B, 3B) and Perez has played them all (minus catcher, witch it is said he does as well), so keeping Perez on the bench maintains a degree of flexibility that you need from your only IF bench player. I fault Bowa and Wade (who I think escapes alot of the criticism because so many people have it in for Bowa) for placing an unhealthy, or uneffective, Bell on the roster in the first place. In other news, that is completely, unobtrusivley, in no way shape or form related, Chase Utley was 1 for 3 tonite in Scranton...but rumor has it, tomorrow he's do for a rest. And if your wondering, yes, I do have it out for Bell.


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Thursday, April 08, 2004

 

Hamels hurt...

Wow. Talk about your bad news, Cole Hamels will miss a month with soreness in his throwing elbow (left). This couldn't be the result of bad managing could it...nah. I'll be sending my "Get Well" card first thing in the morning.

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The first of many...

hopefully. The Phillies won 5-4 tonite against Kris Benson and the Pirates, but again failed to capitalize on RISP. I don't necessarily see the failed conversion with RISP as such a bad omen as others might think, it's early, and at least they are getting people on base. We are witnessing traditional slow starts by Thome and Abreu, and I tend to believe that the runs will come with time. So far, surprisingly or not, it has been Burrell who has been making the most of his situations collecting 3 RBI's in the two games.

A couple of points from tonites game:

Thome made a bad play on his attempt to tag out Kendall who mistakenly took too much of a turn while rounding second. It wasn't so much as Kendall stepping out of the basepath as it was Thome taking an inside an angle off second base to get Kendall who had little problem avoiding the tag.

I thought Wolf had a good outing today. He allowed 6 hits, one walk, and struck out four in 5 1/3 innings. He left the game with a runner on first with one out in sixth inning, after C. Wilson hit his routine 6th inning homerun, enter Rheal Cormier. A passed ball by Lieberthal allowed JJ Davis to take second, and then a double by J. Wilson brought him home. That of course was an unearned run; but what wasn't was Thome's missed tag at second on Kendall in the 3rd, which would of been the third out, preventing two subsequent runs.

Cormier "allowed" a runner to score from first with one out, which was as much as his fault as it was Lieberthal's, but the point I want to make is that you can't expect a season Cormier put up last year. He never did it before, not even remotely, so I hope Bowa remember's this when he tries to stick Cormier in every game to stop the bleeding.

David Bell, we are watching you, and it doesn't look good. Bell's only "good" at-bat came against Boehringer, who incidentally is one of, if not the first, recipient of the ERA of infinity tag this season. Bell is now 0 for 6 with 3 K's and 2 BB; and he was charged with an error tonite on a sharply hit ball that simply ate him up at third. His at-bats tonite were awful against Benson, as he swung on sliders down and away out of the zone repeatedly. As the promotions go, "The time is NOW", but the time may soon be Utley's.

The relay between Burrell and Rollins was simply text-book as they nailed Raul Mondesi attempting to go to third. It's importantance became more apparent as Craig Wilson singled in the following at-bat; who by the way has been the biggest problem for Phils pitching this series.

Polanco and Burrell continued to hit, and Burrell seemingly is the only one who can knock anyone in. Bill Liming has pondered Polanco as an All-Star canidate this year, but I find that highly unlikely. At second you have Marcus Giles, Jeff Kent, Luis Castillo, and Jose Vidro who all have name recognition over Polanco, and when one of them is voted in (my guess is Kent or Castillo) another probably will probably be faring better statistically (my bets are Kent and Giles). Also, you may run into a numbers problem if the Phillies land a few All-Stars via voting (which is a probability with the new stadium), and a few others are certainly deserving who miss the vote (i.e. pitchers). That said, there is no question that Polanco is an All-Star caliber second baseman; and who knows, maybe he'll make it...playing third.

It's only two games, but Bowa seemingly is more bark than bite over his insistence of small ball. So far, an attempted Rollins bunt is the only thing we have seen this season that would resemble his singles only talk during spring training. I don't know about you, but I was just waiting for a bunt from Rollins when Glanville came in to pinch run for Lieberthal. As it turns out, Rollins doubled into right field, a nice piece of hitting on Rollins' part.

If your at home and it's convent for you, log on to Baseball Primer's Game Chatter during the course of the game to express your opinions of the game or just get into a general discourse about almost anything amongst the various posters. The last two days I have enjoyed the pre-game rants by "A different Terry". You'll probably never see me on there, I work 3pm-11pm, with the exception of Wednesdays, and every other weekend (isn't work fun?).

I am certainly not one to say "I told you so", but, I told you so. The Phillies won 5-4 which was the score I predicted on my Pirates preview, but I won't be predicting games past this series, unless the Phillies win 7-1 tomorrow. j/k


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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

 

More on Schmidt

Courier Post article on Schmidt managing.

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Crazy things...

Bill Conlin returns with an article title "Billy Wagner and the Hall of Flame"

Rollins and the reasons he bats seventh, even after he did everything Bowa told him to do, in order to bat second. Not batting Rollins second is Bowa's first good call of the season...could you imagine?

Edward de la Fuente of the Courier Post declares Burrell's troubles a thing of the past after one game.

Kevin Roberts tries his damndest to show the Phils have the top rotation in the National League.


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Michael Jack is Back

Baseball America takes a peek at Schmidt's return to baseball (full-time). (subscribers only) It will be interesting to see what Mike does with his managerial career, it begins this Thursday.

Schmidt who was a special consultant to the Phillies over the past two years has assumed the managerial position of the Clearwater Threshers, of the Florida State League. Helping out with the Phils during spring training the last two years helped Schmidt realise that he still had a place in today's game:

"A lot of people, including myself, had thought the game and the way the players are today might have passed me by," Schmidt said. "But after I got in there and worked with the Thomes, the Burrells, the Lieberthals, I found out that wasn't the case at all. If anything, I knew then that I had the bedside manner to deal with them."

On Larry Bowa's role in his decision to coach:

"Larry really was the first person that was telling me I should do it," Schmidt said. "And it really was just the best situation I could have asked for. It's a good league. The players coming in have at least two years experience for the most part . . . and then the new stadium. What's neater than opening a new park right here in Clearwater?"

On player's today:

"I'll tell you one thing, these guys eat a lot better than we did," Schmidt said. "They have a full breakfast every morning. We were lucky to get a box of doughnuts and a pot of coffee. The facilities are a lot better. And there's an attention to each individual like I've never seen before."

He says he is not using any previous manager of his as a "template", instead is using his player experience and the advice of his fellow assistants:

"All of these coaches and managers have dedicated their lives to teaching this game," he said. "I was a little lost when I retired, but now that I'm here, I really feel the fire burning inside me again. I have no idea where that'll take me, but we'll find out this season. I'm basically signed up through September. Maybe it'll go a long way. Hopefully this will go well and I'll live until I'm 80 or 90 so I can look back and say I've had a full baseball life."


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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

 

PECOTA picks Phils

Nate Silver returns with the PECOTA preview for the upcoming year, and it has the Phillies winning the division by 14 games. Not only that, it would place them atop the National League in wins. I think that this is the second projection system that has the Phillies winning the division by ten plus games, I forget what other source I am thinking of so don't quote me on that.


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Opening Day loss

Some things never change, the Phillies failed to convert with men on base and fell to the Pirates 2-1. It's only one game, so you really can't look into anything too much here. But with Kip Wells' pitch count at approximately 50 pitches after the second inning, the Phillies came out swinging in the third, which helped him settle down after two very shaky innings. Also, in the sixth inning with two men on, both Rollins and Bell had two bad at-bats ending the inning; Rollins struck out on a high fastball and early in the count Bell failed to check on a bouncing breaking ball. The offense overall had a miserable day at the plate, similar to last year, unable to knock in any RISP.

Burrell, Millwood, and Hernandez all had good outings yesterday, and the game was given some extra excitement at the end with Mesa seemingly loading up on full counts in the top of the ninth. It was a disappointing game, but then again it's only one game.

What are the chances that Randal Simon strikes out in the last two games? The over/under is set at 1, place your bets...I'll take the under.


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TiVo

I was at work for the opener, as I will for most games, so I won't see many games live. But thank God for Tivo...I'll post my comments on the game in the morning when I get up, as I will throughout the season.

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Pirates Preview

I had written this over the weekend, intended for publishing on Monday morning, and obviously that didn't happen. So instead I edited out the Millwood/Wells matchup; essentially I said Wells is the best shot the Pirates have, but still thought the Phils could win it.

There is unlikely a better scenario that the Phillies could of expected to open the season, than against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Besides Jason Kendall and Kip Wells, everything positive you could say about the Bucs from last year is gone...Giles, Sanders, Lofton, and Ramirez have all left for greener pastures. In their place are Raul Mondesi, Tike Redman, Craig Wilson, and Chris Stynes, a group of cheap veterans who will battle the Brew Crew for last place in the National League Central.

Projected Lineup:

Tike Redman CF

Jason Kendall C

Raul Mondesi LF

Randall Simon 1B

Craig Wilson RF

Bobby Hill 2B

Chris Stynes 3B

Jack Wilson SS

This lineup lacks any semblance of power, and if Mondesi falls through this season, you may have a lineup in which noone hits even 20 Hr's. The Phils will have to keep Redman and Kendall off the bases in order to shut down an already handicapped offense. If they do get on base, look for Simon, rather than Mondesi, to collect a couple of RBI's. Simon has this uncanny knack of making contact with everything, and it could be troublesome with men on base. Craig Wilson beats up on lefties .308/.432/.692, so he'll probably give Randy Wolf problems, but he has his share of issues facing righties, batting only .238/.320/.416. Bobby Hill and Chris Stynes are playing off of potential more so than production; Stynes' 2000 is but a distant memory, while Hill hits fairly well from the right side of the plate (.321/.408 in only 56 AB's facing lefties), all his power is from the left (and by power I mean about one every thirty at-bats). Jack Wilson has been their starting shortstop for a couple of years, and has finally reached his "peak years. I don't think he did all that bad last year(.256/.303/.353), and he may improve to be a decent enough shortstop for the Pirates.

Projected Rotation

Kris Benson R

Jason Fogg R

Closer:

Jose Mesa

Benson hasn't lived up to the hype, and it doubtful he ever will. On second thought, he won't, he's probably replacement level at this point and the future doesn't look to bright. Not to say he couldn't hang on with the Pirates for a couple of years however. PECOTA has him coming out with an ERA of 5.00, if he doesn't watch out he could become a version of last years....Jason Fogg. Fogg had a good 2002, in this writes humble opinion, but it all unraveled last year and there's no reason to think that it will get better. He has let up tons of homers in his two years (28 in 2002, 22 in 2003) and lefties bat over .300 against him. In the bullpen they have...well...hmmm...hey at least we might get to see Jose Mesa again.

The Pirates aren't going to show much offense this series, and most of it will probably come against Wolf in game 2. Mondesi has a good track record against him (5-7 with a couple of doubles), Craig Wilson will probably put on his best showing of the week, and Benson lifetime against the Phillies is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA. Game 3 won't be so promising for the Pirates as they have their share of issues against righties and Padilla has absolutely been on all through spring training (for what that's worth), hopefully Thome can jump start his traditional slow April against Fogg.

I'm not going to get into a habit of predicting each and every game, but for this series I'll give it a shot...

Game One: Phils 5-3 (yes I know)

Game Two: Phils 5-4

Game Three: Phils 7-1


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Just another day at the park...

12:30 This is when my girlfriend and I leave for the game, it was much later than I had anticipated. First, losing an hour hurt, I totally forgot about it and was reminded while I was in the shower, to my dismay. Second, it didn't help that I was at Mcfadden's (Callowhill) the night before and didn't get in 'til late.

1:10 It's raining and it's windy as I enter the gates of Citizens Bank Park, and I'm instantly confused at the notion that I have to insert my ticket into the turnstile so that it can be scanned instead of giving it to an attendant. The attendant says, "You're supposed to say, WOW". Thanks mister...wow.

1:15 The sightlines are just beautiful here...you can see the field from pretty much everywhere you are in the stadium. When you walk around there are plenty of platforms, which I assume are for wheelchairs, in which you can step out on and check everything out without being in someone's way. The first thing I notice is the field, Kentucky Blue Grass, who would of thought.

Before I go on, a few words about my girlfriend: She has no interest in baseball, none, and has made the trip completely in order to complete her baseball viewing quota for the season...before the season actually begins. I try my best to build her interest in the Phillies, it seldom works, but so far she is being a good sport considering the weather.

1:20 The rain delay is beneficiary to the fact that I was too hungover to get to the game early, and now I have ample time to explore everything. First stop, Brewerytown. I'm amazed that the beer prices have remained exactly the same, sadly the Budweiser doesn't taste any better.

1:27 Ashburn Alley. Bull's BBQ is tucked in the back, oddly devoid of anything else near it. It's supposed to be a picnic area, but I guess they just haven't put any of the tables in yet. The Rooftop Bleacher seats are above the concessions here, compared to everything else, they are quite a distance from the field (everyone who sits there is given a coupon for a free meal at Bull's, nice).

When you walk to the edge of the concourse you are 20ft directly above the Phillies bullpen. And if you walk down Memory Lane you find yourself right behind the pitchers mound, and you get an excellent view of the player's bench in the bullpen. At this point I think that only Jose Mesa could be happier that this stadium wasn't built last year. I was rambling about how great it was to be so close to the bullpen to my girlfriend, when she replied, "They keep bulls here?". I begin to ponder bachelorhood.

Memory Lane provides an illustrated look at the Phillies historic past from it's inception to present day, it's very nicely done. I didn't read everything there, there was a line after all, and there will be a nicer day to spend the time on it. Here you also see the bronze plaques of all the Phillie greats, and I am instantly amused upon seeing Greg Luzinski enshrined here. Maybe it's just me, I certainly never have entertained the thought, but I never think of him as being great. Dick Allen is here too...he was great, and you can write that in the dirt.

The "fan-o-vision" in leftfield is huge, and the screen has excellent clarity, exactly like the one in Lincoln Financial Field. Also here is Harry the K's restaurant, with two levels of seating. The line was very long here and didn't seem to be moving, and I didn't exactly foresee people dying to come back out into the rain. But my girlfriend wanted to "check it out" and grab a bite to eat here, I interpreted this as a move to get out of the wind and rain. Unfortunately for her I remember her dad is a Yankee fan, I use this against her and we stay outside.

1:35 I do follow up on her request to grab a bite to eat, so we head to Bull's. The Bull himself is propped up on a stool at the entrance greeting people and signing autograph's, I get an autograph and a pork sandwich, which was a little thin on pork but otherwise good. The autograph from Bull is probably the 20th or so that I have gotten from him, I went to a baseball camp he ran and he signed everything for everyone (my favorite is the Philadelphia Inquirer picture of him from the 1980 WS that he signed). The Bull is a great guy, but I still wonder if he is a great Phillie. I try and think of all the "great" Phillie leftfielders offhand, and in the process I get a headache.

1:40 In line at Geno's I wonder why Tony Luke's is the other cheesesteak concession and not Pat's. A thousand conspiracy theories rush through my head.

2:20 By this time I have completely circled the stadium and haven't found much to complain about. If anything, there are too many portable concessions, but the corridors are wide enough so this is barely an issue.

The game hasn't started yet and I doubt it will, my belief is that they will just keep the stadium open until most of the people file out. A few Phillies have periodically come out onto the field to throw the ball around, but I figure they just do it for the sake of the fans.

2:41 I finally succumb to my girlfriend's plea to go to somewhere warm, so we head into Mcfadden's. They scan your tickets going in and out at the door so people off the street can't catch a free game. This causes a problem for me, Luzinski autographed my ticket, specifically the bar code on my ticket and now it's rendered unscannable. After a five minute delay they let me in anyhow. It's bigger than I thought it would be, and they have TV screens everywhere showing the usual rain delay footage. We were having a beer when it was suddenly announced that the game would begin in a few minutes. The Tribe can't be too happy about this, and I can't blame them.

3:15 All the TV's in the place are useless, I assumed they would put the game on when it started. You know what they say about assuming things.

3:25 Finally reach the doors for the Hall of Fame Club, which I think is the 200 level (I scored the tickets from my dentist actually). Inside it is carpeted with flat screen plasma TV's, big chairs, buffet tables, fully loaded bars, and apparently a heater; this is all just in the hallway. I can't believe it, and neither can my girlfriend who hates me for keeping her outside for two hours.

I was wearing my college football jacket (it's rain resistant), when the attendant notes that he had reff'd a couple of our games. He adds that he made all the good calls, and it was his brother who was to blame for all the bad ones. This proves my point that all umpires and refs are untrustworthy.

3:45 There really isn't much of crowd left after the wait, and who's to blame them. The game itself is going pretty slow, I have pretty much rendered myself to watching Glanville, Burrell, and Bell play at this point. Rollins was the recipient of runner interference, and without a replay on the big screen (why?) it's hard to tell how close it was. Nevertheless, the call brings the boobirds out of their slumber.

4:20 I finish my cheese fries when I realize how incredibly friendly every single attendant at the game has been extremely friendly. I'm not to say that they weren't friendly at the Vet, but if they were, I never noticed. So far the park is eerily perfect.

5:00 It's the 6th inning and I have had enough for today...well almost. My last stop is to the "Phil a Phanatic" stand, which if you know anything about Build a Bears, you take a half stuffed Phantic doll, pick a heart, do a dance, place it inside the phanatic doll, and he is fully stuffed. This is great for the kids, thankfully I don't have any, so it's even better for me. For twenty bucks, and a little embarrassment (the silly little dance they make youd do), I thought this was overall pretty reasonable.

Following this I left the stadium, cold, wet, and tired, but I had a great time. The park is simply amazing, and I really couldn't ask for anything more. The Phillies organization truly has a winner here, the park is geared entirely towards being fan friendly, and with a good product on the field they can't go wrong this season. When I asked my girlfriend, who had enough by the end of the first hour of the rain delay, what she thought of the stadium, she replied, "As long as your happy, I'm happy". She is just trying to be nice, but just in case, she has been dropped to ref/ump status in my book and can no longer be trusted.


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Monday, April 05, 2004

 

Techincal Difficulties

My internet is down for some reason, so I am typing this from a friend's computer. Hopefully, by tonite, it will be up again where I will post a ton of stuff.

In the meantime, check out Phillies-Fan, where Bill answers ten questions about the upcoming season. I must say I agree with him on almost all his answers.

Go Phils...the time is NOW


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