TTB

Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Why the Phantastic Phour may not be enough

There is a team in the National League that looks really good this season.

They have four great pitchers, two of which are Cy Young winners. They have had clutch hitting in the playoffs, and a great closer who has recently locked up a World Series. However, this team is not the Philadelphia Phillies. This team is the San Francisco Giants.

Forget about that team? I can’t point fingers at you. When the Phillies went out and acquired Cliff Lee this off season I too forgot about the defending champions.

I, just like many other baseball fans, automatically put the Phillies in the World Series this year. How couldn’t you? They had three of the games best pitchers last year and now they have four. The Phillies should be a lock to win their second World Series in four years, right? Not so fast.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, you cannot win with just starting pitching, even if your rotation is as prolific as the Phillies. If you don’t believe me, you can ask the Atlanta Braves. From ’91-’05 the Braves won 14 straight division titles, went to five World Series, and had three different pitchers win the Cy Young award from ’91-’96. With all of that said, the Braves only had one championship to show for it. If you want to look even more recently, you can ask the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies.

The problem with the Phillies is they didn’t address any of their weaknesses this offseason. Their bullpen, which faced the fewest innings in the National League last season, was 18th in the majors.

The bullpen doesn’t look much better this season. Most recently the Phillies lost key middle reliever Chad Durbin to the Cleveland Indians. Durbin has played a big role for the Phillies these last few years, eating up a lot of innings when called upon.

The Phillies were able to resign left hander J.C. Romero, but his ERA went up nearly a whole run from 2009 to 2010 and has had control issues. The only other lefty in the bullpen is 25-year-old Antonio Bastardo. Nothing against Bastardo, but let’s just say hitters aren’t shaking in their cleats in fear of facing him.

Another area the Phillies didn’t address in the offseason is hitting. The Phils hitting was very streaky last year, and the loss of Jayson Werth will not help. Not only do the Phillies lose his 27 home runs and 85 RBI’s, but they lose a big right-handed bat which makes their line-up even more left-hand dominant. Perhaps Werth’s biggest asset was the ability to protect Ryan Howard in the line-up. Now opposing pitchers have the luxury of intentionally walking Howard if they don’t feel like striking him out.

Listen, I am a big Phillies fan and I hope I am wrong about everything. However, when I see a team with such high expectations that has so many glaring weaknesses, I see a recipe for disappointment and disaster.

The Phillies will still win the NL East and probably a playoff series too, but the problem I see with the “Phantastic Phour” is it allows us as fans to ignore too many things. We ignore a bullpen with not enough quality lefties, and a batting lineup with too many. We ignore a team that is getting older, and a window of opportunity that is getting smaller. And perhaps worst of all, we have ignored the biggest problem facing the Phillies this season… The San Francisco Giants.

Phillies beat Jays in Doc’s debut

It was the spring debut game of ace #2 for the Phils. After Hamels very strong effort on Saturday, Roy Halladay made his spring debut against his former team in the Phillies 6-3 win today.

Phils starter Roy Halladay makes his spring debut against his former team, the Blue Jays, on Monday. Doc pitched two scoreless innings in the Phils 6-3 win. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

Doc went two innings, allowing a couple hits and a walk while striking out one. Placido Polanco had a pair of hits and two RBIs and Carlos Ruiz hit a two-run double, falling short of a grand slam in the second inning.

Ben Francisco continue his torrid spring, going 1-for-2 with walk, RBI and run. He’s batting .571 so far as he is hoping to gain the lion’s share of right field this season.

Matt Gelb was reporting on former first round pick Matt Anderson earlier on Twitter. Anderson made his spring debut, hitting 95 MPH on the radar gun, a very surprising number. He pitched a clean eighth inning, striking out one.

J.C. Ramirez was also impressive, hitting 94-95 MPH on the gun. He pitched the third and fourth, allowing a hit and walk while striking out four. Ramirez, who was a part of the first Cliff Lee deal, is turning into the most major league-ready prospect in that deal.

David Hale tweeted a great quote from Halladay, who commented on his early career history at Dunedin, where the Blue Jays play their Spring Training games:

“I got sent down four times in that office, the last time was to A-ball. So I’ll be glad to get out of here.”

In a little debate with Kyle Scott of Crossing Broad and Justin Evans of Red pinstripes, we discussed Domonic Brown’s early issues in the Grapefruit League, where he is 0-for-9 with six strike outs and two walks in three games. Charlie Manuel said that Brown is over swinging, therefor causing him to pull out.

It’s too early to get worried over Brown, who is 2-for-39 (stat from Scott) in winter ball and GFL play. He’s still adjusting to the new mechanics taught by Greg Gross and with Manuel most likely stepping in, I’m sure Brown will be fixed once he gets into a rhythm of doing things the right way.

Boxscore.

The BMac Region is closed; Round 2

The BMac Region has ended and enjoyed a major upset with #6 Eric Desjardins defeating #3 David Akers in a tight match-up. We should see some very interesting match-ups with #1 Harry Kalas, the voice of the Phillies, going up against #5 John LeClair, who has won the hearts of Philly fans, well after his tenure here. #2 Brian Westbrook vs. #6 Eric Desjardins will also be interesting but I think Desjardins’ little Cinderella run may come to a close.

1 Harry Kalas – 91%
8 Pat Burrell – 9%

5 John LeClair – 73%
4 Eric Lindros – 27%

6 Eric Desjardins – 55%
3 David Akers – 45%

7 Scott Rolen – 27%
2 Brian Westbrook – 73%

The Real Deal Region has closed

Dan’s region is finally closed as it got a few extra hours of being open. Big upset as #2 Brian Dawkins got ousted by #7 Chase Utley, who in reality made this match-up a lot closer.

In the next round, Broad Street Bullies #1 Bobby Clarke and #4 Bill Barber will battle it out. Both were major contributors to the Flyers back-to-back Cups in the 70’s. #6 Claude Giroux and #7 Chase Utley continue their Cinderella runs as they face each other.

1 Bobby Clarke – 91%
8 Rod Brind’Amour – 9%

5 Charles Barkley – 27%
4 Bill Barber – 73%

6 Claude Giroux – 73%
14 Jim Thome – 27%

7 Chase Utley – 58%
2 Brian Dawkins – 42%

Utley Out Indefinitely

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has been diagnosed with patellar tendonitis in his right knee after an MRI. Utley has yet to appear in any games this spring and the team will now be limiting his playing time throughout the spring.

The injury doesn’t affect Utley at the plate but it does cause him a bit of pain when he moves throughout the infield.

This is an injury that he has dealt with before but this one seems a bit more serious. This is a good course of action for the Phillies. Utley has been a bit of an iron man in past years but has worn down by the time the postseason comes along.

The team has a capable replacement in Wilson Valdez and possibly utility man Pete Orr who is fighting for a roster spot.

This isn’t a cause for concern quite yet as it’s happening in Spring Training but it is certainly something to keep an eye on as the team moves forward during Spring Training.

Werth “hates” Phils

In an article by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, former Phillies Jayson Werth was quoted as hating the Phillies.

Once Werth got back behind the cage, [GM Mike] Rizzo said, “I hate the [expletive] Phillies.” The GM then ran off a list of borderline dirty plays and purpose pitches in recent years by the Nats’ nemesis. “I hate the Phillies, too,” said Werth. Unspoken, but hanging in the air was a new idea for the Nats: So, let’s play more like the Phillies: mean, grimy and a little nasty.

Strong words by Werth, who signed a very lucrative deal this off season to go from a World Series contender to one of the worst teams in baseball.

Phillies fans everywhere were not pleased with the words by Werth, especially on Twitter and Facebook. There is a new group on Facebook called “Cliff Lee needs to bean Jayson Werth” which is over 100 likes already.

One tweeter, David Foley (@PhillyFoley), had this to say earlier today:

Jayson Werth can say what he wants. He’s just bitter because he left a World Series contender for one of the worst teams in the league.

I absolutely agree with Foley. I honestly think Werth is regretting his decision to not take a pay cut to stay in Philly. Instead he’s stuck in Washington, where he sold his soul to the Devil just to get the big, fat paycheck athletes dream of.

So if Werth was expecting to come back to Philly in May to a warm reception, he better think again. Those cheers that once rained down on him in right field will become some of the loudest boos he will ever hear.

Jayson Werth, you are Philly’s new villain.

2011 Phillies March Madness Round 2; Ickey Region

The fourth region of the second round is finally underway. The Real Deal Region will close later today and the BMac Region is also still open for voting.

Match-up of the round: #4 Richie Ashburn vs. #5 Bernie Parent

This is a match-up between a pair of #1’s. Richie Ashburn stole the hearts of the fans not only as a hard-playing center fielder but also as one half of the greatest announcing duo in Philadelphia history with Harry Kalas. Ashburn was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995, two years before his tragic death that shook the Philly work. Bernie Parent has also stolen the hearts of Philadelphia fans for minding the net of the ’73-’74 and ’74-’75 Stanley Cup champion Flyers and also being a visible public figure 30 years after he hung up his skates. Parent is also in the hockey Hall of Fame.

Phils take Yanks in first GFL play

Dane Sardhina (remember him?) proved to be a hero in the Phillies first action against a major league team on Saturday. His two-run single in the top of the eighth gave the Phils the 5-4 come-back win over the Yankees.

Cole Hamels got the start, going two innings and allowing a run on one hit and one walk while striking out two. Bartolo Colon got the start for the Yankees.

Sardhina, Josh Barfield and Ross Glaod (who played the whole game), had two hits apiece. Newly acquired Brian Schlitter got the win.

2B: Orr, Sardhina.

WP: Schlitter (1-0). LP: Wordekemper (0-1). S: Grilli (1).

Boxscore.

The Roose Region has closed, Rd 2

After two days of voting on my Region, it has come to a close as people can vote in the Real Deal Region for one more day and BMac for two.

Not a lot of surprises this round as all the favorites moved on to the Sweet 16. Here are the results.

1 Mike Schmidt – 90%
8 Pete Rose – 10%

5 Moses Malone – 40%
4 Roy Halladay – 60%

11 Jimmy Rollins – 40%
3 Allen Iverson – 60%

7 Robin Roberts – 20%
2 Steve Carlton – 80%

Next round will see Mike Schmidt take on Roy Halladay and Allen Iverson, the only non-Phillie left in this region, take on Steve Carlton.

2011 Phillies March Madness Round 2; BMac Region

With the Roose Region closing and the Real Deal Region a day into voting, the BMac Region is underway.

Match-up of the Region: #4 Eric Lindros vs. #5 John LeClair

2/3 of the Legion of Doom. One of the greatest captains in Flyers history vs quite possibly the greatest American to don the orange and black. LeClair was one of the most balanced players in history, scoring 406 goals and 413 assists. From 1995-1998, LeClair enjoyed three straight seasons with 50+ goals. Lindros was almost the same way, netting 372 goals and 493 assists.

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