Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Category Archives: Bobby Cox

Phils Lose Final Game

Well Bobby Cox got a win in his final home game of the regular season. Atlanta held on as they nearly blew a six-run lead to win, 8-7, and help their chances in getting a playoff spot.

If you want to know what happened, read a blog bigger than mine.

2B: Francisco (13). HR: Mayberry, Jr. (2), Werth (27).

WP: Hudson (17-9). LP: Baez (3-4). S: Wagner (37).



The “Big Three” Is the Story this Series

By John Russo

Phils lefty Cole Hamels strikes out a career-high 13 batters in the Phils 2-1 win over Florida on Sept. 14. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Charlie Manuel knows what he did just put his team in the best position to win. So does Bobby Cox, who knows what it’s like to have a “Big Three” on his roster.

“It’s unbelievable,” Cox said before Monday’s game. “Oswalt’s been dynamite ever since he got over here. It’s a good situation for him for a change. And just looking at Hamels right now. There’s nothing but zeroes in runs just about. He’s kind of secretly in that Cy Young mix. Halladay is unbelievable. We used to play him in the spring and you can see it.”

The Phillies lined up their rotation for this series, pitching Cole Hamels in last night’s 3-1 win. Hamels allowed a run in eight strong innings of work while striking out six.

Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, the other two pieces to the big three, will pitch tonight and tomorrow respectively. Halladay dominated the Braves in his previous two starts this season, throwing a five-hit complete game shut out in April and a five-hit, one-run complete game in the beginning of July.

Ace Roy Halladay has been a blessing for the Phillies this season. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Cox is throwing Mike Minor and Tommy Hanson against the Phils this series. With Jair Jurrjens’ injury yesterday that forced him to pitch Brandon Beachy, there were questions on whether Cox should have moved everyone up a start to pitch his ace, Tim Hudson, against Oswalt.

“No, we got confidence in our guys running out there,” Cox said. “Minor is a very good pitcher and Tommy Hanson is pretty dominating at times too so we like our chances with good young pitchers.”

In today’s match up. Halladay will be going for his 20th win on the season. If (and assuming when) he gets that next win, he will be the first Phillies pitcher to do so since 1982 when Steve Carlton went 23-11.

Hamels, Halladay, and Oswalt all have ERAs under 3.00, another remarkable feat. Hamels and Oswalts ERAs have been on a steady decline the past two months while Doc’s was always low.

RHP Roy Oswalt dominates the Dodgers on Aug. 10. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Since Oswalt’s first start on July 30, he is 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA and 61 strike outs in 11 starts. Also since that date, Hamels is 5-3 with a 1.91 ERA and 79 strike outs in 10 starts and Halladay is 7-2 with a 3.25 ERA and 61 strike outs in nine starts.

Manuel doesn’t feel there is one “ace” on the staff.

“Whoever pitches good on that night,” Manuel said when asked who he considers the staff ace after Monday’s 3-1 win. “We got some good pitchers and we don’t like to say which ones the ace. I like all three of them – our top ones – and I think (Joe) Blanton and (Kyle) Kendrick have done a good job for us. I like the fact that they do pitch good games at times.”

Cox has had a big three before in his career. From 1993-2002, he had three possible future Hall of Famers in the rotation for him: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. The Braves won their division all nine years that trio was together.

Will this Phillies “Big Three” bring them a World Series like it did Cox in 1995? We sure hope so.

Phillies Notebook 9/20/10

By John Russo

PHILADELPHIA — Jayson Werth doesn’t want to talk much about his recent announcement to sign Scott Boras as his agent.

All Werth has his mind on right now is the first of two crucial series with the Atlanta Braves.

“I’m worried about the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies and winning this division and winning the World Series,” Werth said to reporters before Monday’s game.

The Phillies don’t expect to have the payroll to retain Werth, whose walk-off, two-run homer beat the Washington Nationals, 7-6, on Sunday. But Werth didn’t feel signing with Boras necessarily punched his ticket out of Philadelphia.

“Being in the situation I’m in going into free agency over the past few months, I thought it was time to make a switch,” said Werth. “I don’t think it has anything to do with anything other than wanting the best representation going into free agency.”

Like a lot of people, manager Charlie Manuel would love to hold onto Werth, a free agent after the season who figures to command a five-year contract well in excess of $50 million.

“I’d take it I’d like to keep Jayson Werth but what can I do about it?” Manuel said. “The agent and the money part is none of my business.”

Werth isn’t focused on the offseason yet or even the next game in the series.

“I’m really just taking it one game at a time, one pitch at a time,” Werth said. “I’m trying to have a good at bat my next at-bat. The old cliche thing is, ‘one game at a time,’ and it really holds true and you can’t look too far ahead.

“We have a very big opportunity here and I think everybody’s aware of that. It’s just a matter of going out and continuing to do what we’ve done.”

HAPPY TRAILS — This may very well be Bobby Cox’s last trip to Philadelphia.

That is, pending a trip back in October.

“I’m thinking about this series, but I would love to come back here,” said the Atlanta Braves manager about a hopeful trip in the playoffs.

Cox’s Braves are 86-64 in his final season, trailing the Phillies by three games heading into Monday. They also hold a 2 1/2 game lead on the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card.

A series win would bring them a game closer and a sweep would pull them to a first-place tie.

“It feels like I’m in a race again,” Cox said. “Your stomach gets nervous. I don’t know about the other managers. But you know, every pitch is big and every swing is big.”

Cox is finally hanging up the managerial cleats after 25 years with the Braves and four with the Toronto Blue Jays. But he isn’t ready to look back on his career just yet.

“I don’t think any a manager has until they actually retire, you know,” he mused. “It’s a blur. Baseball careers are a blur. It goes awfully fast.”

NOT OVER YET — Even if the Phillies manage to sweep the Braves in three games, manager Charlie Maneul doesn’t feel that the division is a lock.

“It’s getting there, but it ain’t ever over until it’s over,” said Manuel, channeling Yogi Berra before Monday’s game. “Believe me, the last three or four years Detroit was in first place (late and didn’t make it). And I remember that year in Boston when they painted their (postseason) logo.

“I remember in ’95 when the California Angels sold programs and everything and they had an 11-game lead with 18 to play and they didn’t make it. Now you gotta keep going. You got to play it out.”

And Manuel surely can’t forget 2007 when the Phils closed up a seven-game gap on the  Mets with 17 games to play to win their first division title in 14 years.

Yes We McCann!

Atlanta's Brian McCann rips a three-run double in the seventh. The shot eventually won the game for the NL and McCann was honored as MVP. (Yahoo! Sports)

Brian McCann was the hero. Yes even Philly fans rejoiced in seeing the rival Braves’ catcher rope a three-run double in the right field corner that gave the National League All-Stars a 3-1 lead in the seventh.

They held on to win by the same score, snapping a 13-game winless streak to the American League, ultimately giving the NL squad in the World Series home field advantage for the first time in over a decade.

What’s special about McCann’s hit and the NL’s win is that it could eventually help the Braves, who sit in first place in the NL East by 4.5 games. In Bobby Cox’s final year as manager, the Braves hope to send off the long-time skipper with a memorable season.

McCann won the game’s MVP honors. He went 1-for-2 with a three-run double in the NL’s first win since 1996. The MVP of that All-Star game was also a catcher of a rival team – Mike Piazza of the New York Mets.

David Wright of the Mets had two hits. Robinson Cano of the Yankees drove in Evan Longoria of the Rays in the fifth to give the AL a 1-0 lead.

It was a game dominated by pitching, something that didn’t surprise me. I was asked today who I thought would win and was asked why. I simply said that the NL’s pitching was much better than the AL’s and it was proved tonight. Only Hong-Chih Kuo of the Dodgers allowed a run, but was unearned. The NL staff recorded eight strike outs on the AL’s best hitters.

Matt Capps of Washington was credited with the win and fittingly, the Yankees’ Phil Hughes was responsible for the loss as he allowed two runs in seventh that were inherited by Matt Thornton of Chicago. Thornton for the losing decision though.

Ryan Howard got the start as the NL’s designated hitter. The left-handed power hitter faced two lefties in his two AB’s, going 0-for-2. In his first at-bat, David Price of Tampa Bay blew a 99 MPH fastball past him for the strike out and then he grounded out to second in his other. Roy Halladay pitched 2/3 of the sixth, allowing two hits and striking out one. If he wasn’t replaced by Capps, he would have earned the victory.


RPAC Blogger Preview

I did another questionairre with a blog that got posted today. Justin Evans, a good friend and former teammate on We Hate to Lose, is the owner of Red Pinstripes Are Cooler. He asked myself in a few other bloggers a bunch of questions and posted our answers along with his. Here are my answers to his questions:

01.  Who do you believe is the biggest catalyst to the Phillies success in 2010?

Jimmy Rollins. He has always been the catalyst for the Phillies offense and will not have a year remotely as close to the one he had last year. He’s already batting over .300 in spring and with his high expectations and confidence, I think he’s going to have a fine year.

02.  What are your expectations for J.A. Happ?  Happ was as lucky as Cole Hamels was unlucky last season.  Do you think he can come close to his 2009 success?

I expect a sophomore slump but not one that’s as drastic as the one Kyle Kendrick had. If Happ can take the role of #4 and pitch well enough for the team win, then he will have a solid year of 10-14 wins and an ERA in the low 4’s.

03. How would you rate Ruben Amaro’s two offseasons as GM?  Would you have signed Ibanez or Polanco for more than two years knowing that you have a lot of youth to sign in the future?

Ibanez was a mistake and Polanco was actually a good signing. The infield prospects aren’t as great as the ones in the OF. If Ibanez was signed to a two year deal with an option for a third, that would’ve been better. As far as GMing the past two years, Amaro has done a good job. Though he gave up a lot for the two Cy Young pitchers he had in four months, he has a lot of young talent in the farm to afford to make those mistakes. He can’t do it again though.

04.  What does Joe Mauer’s deal mean for Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard?  Will the Phillies re-sign both, one, or neither?  If only one, which player do you recommend they re-sign?

Werth is gone unless the Phillies increase the pay-roll. I have no problem with that either if Dom Brown turns into a stud or Tyson Gillies become  a diamond in the rough.

05. After Domonic Brown, which prospect in the farm system are you most excited to see wear a Phillies uniform in the future?

It’s a toss-up between Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies. Aumont has a lot of upside on the mound and the the Phillies’ project in turning him into a starter will be very interesting. As far as Gillies, he’s got a beautiful compact swing and seems to be a guy who can get on base and be a serious threat to steal and stretch hits.

06.  Cole Hamels added some pitches to his arsenal.  How often do you think he’ll use his cutter and curve in 2010?  Everyone is expecting Cole to bounce back from an unlucky 2009, how big of a “bounce back” do you expect?

He’ll start off using his normal stuff, working the cutter and curve in. If things are going well for him at that point, the cutter and curve will not be used often. If he’s struggling, he’ll look to mix it up by adding the cutter and curve. As far as a bounce-back season: he will have one. Adding Roy Halladay took the pressure off of him. His confidence has also been much higher seeing as he feels he’s doing well in the spring and is looking to put 2009 behind him. I expect a 2008-like year.

07.  You’re going to a Phillies game today, what is your choice of food/beer for tailgating?  If you have no time to tailgate, what are must have drinks/food in the stadium?

I always get to the game early to feast at Harry the K’s or Bull’s BBQ. Pulled Pork, Schmidter, or a cheese steak from Tony Lukes are always top choices.

08.  How do you feel about the bullpen heading into the season?  Who are your biggest question marks?  If the Phillies make their third straight World Series, who pitches the final out for them?

Lidge is my biggest question mark because I’m afraid he will rush himself back. If Lidge is doing fine, he will be the closer all year. If he’s hurt or struggling, Ryan Madson should be the first to take the ball again. Am I worried he will struggle again? A little. But he got a lot of valuable experience last year after being thrown into the role. He will have the mindset of a closer this year as he knows he will be the go-to back-up.

09. Fifth starter: Kendrick or Moyer?  Does it really matter?

It matters a lot. Having a complete rotation will always matter. The Phillies have that too. Moyer will most likely start the season with only a couple chances to screw up. If he doesn’t get the job done then Kendrick is in. Kendrick earned himself a shot at starting but it was Moyer’s job to lose and he has pitched to deserve holding onto it for now.

10.  Better beard?  Werth, Park, or Bruntlett?

Werth’s by far. He had the Jesus-hair going with it. And with Easter around the corner, it’s so fitting.

11. Is Gload/Castro/Schneider better than Bako/Stairs/Bruntlett?  Yes/No? Why?

It’s much better. Schneider is a legit back-up and the confidence Charlie Manuel will have in him to play more will keep Carlos Ruiz fresh all year so he can be affective in the post season again. Gload is a better hitter than Matt Stairs all around. He’s actually another Greg Dobbs with a little more pop. Both he and Schneider will benefit in the Bank. Castro is a solid fielder and a better hitter than Bruntlett. In fact, anything is an upgrade in the hitting department compared to Bruntlett. Castro can play a lot of positions and will keep Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins fresh.

12.  Which current Phillie do you see making a speech at Cooperstown in the future?

No one anytime soon. They have future HOFers in Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and possibly Jimmy Rollins and Jamie Moyer. Moyer could be the closest age-wise but he’s not a guarenteed future HOFer. The first three are all locks but have plenty of years left in them.

13. Which Phillies on the 2009 World Series team, not named Cliff Lee, do you think this team will miss the most?

JA Happ. He won’t be he same pitcher this year.

14.  With Placido Polanco switching from second base to third, what are your expectations regarding his defense?  How valuable is he to the Phillies lineup in the 2-hole?

He’ going to be fine at third. Some throws won’t be made but he’s a smart guy and won’t forc bad throws. He has good range and will be able to eat up balls that could get into the OF. As a hitter, he fills a hole Pedro Feliz left in the line up. He will also be a great 2-hitter seeing as he strikes out a lot less than Shane Victorino.

15. Who scares you the most in the NL East?  The NL?

The Braves in the division because it’s Bobby Cox’s las year and they have a good rotation to go wih a balanced offense. In the NL it’s easily the Cards as their 1-2 is the best in baseball. Also having the best player in baseball in Albert Pujols helps.

NL East Preview

Philadelphia Phillies

Last year’s record/place: 93-69, 1st
Key acquisitions: C  Brian Schneider, 3B Placido Polanco, IF Juan Castro, OF Ross Gload, SP Roy Halladay, RP Danys Baez, RP Jose Contreras.
Key losses: 3B Pedro Feliz, OF Matt Stairs, IF Eric Bruntlett, SP Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, SP Brett Myers.
Player to watch: Roy Halladay – When you trade top-tier prospects and let a pitcher like Lee go, all eyes will be on this prize of a pitcher the Phillies acquired. Halladay has dominated the NL his entire career while pitching in the AL. Imagine what a year will do for him in the weak NL East.
Season outlook: It’s very simple for the Phillies: defend their division and NL pennant. The reigning three-time East and two-time NL champions are poised to do so after a lucrative offseason in which they got Halladay, Polanco, and Baez to lead the way of a ton of moves that improved the rotation, already stellar line up, and struggling bull pen and bench. The Phillies should improve upon their excellent 2009 season and find themselves as the heavy favorites to win the World Series.

Atlanta Braves

Last year’s record/place: 86-76, 3rd
Key acquisitions: 1B Troy Glaus, IF Eric Hinske, RP Billy Wagner, RP Takashi Saito.
Key losses: 1B Adam LaRoche, SP Javier Vazquez, RP Rafael Soriano, RP Mike Gonzalez.
Player to watch: Chipper Jones – He’s been the Braves best position player for the past 15 years. He had a down year last year, finally showing signs of aging. But Jones wants to prove there is still plenty left in the tank and will look to bounce back this year. The Braves still rely on him and will need a good year from him to contend for a playoff spot.
Season outlook: The Braves want to send Bobby Cox off with a bang. Winning the division and making a playoff push would certainly do that. They can compete with the Phillies but a Wild Card berth seems to be more plausible. They do have a secret weapon that has frustrated the Phillies in the past: Derek Lowe. Offensively they have some legit weapons in Jones and Brian McCann. One of the players I’m excited to see is rookie Jason Heyward. He’ll start in RF and should give the Braves a new player to be excited about since Jones in 1995.

Florida Marlins

Last year’s record/place: 87-75, 2nd
Key acquisitions: none.
Key losses: 1B Nick Johnson, OF Ross Gload, P Scott Proctor.
Player to watch: Hanley Ramirez – Ramirez is one of the most exciting young players in the game and it’s shocking Fish fans don’t come out to the park to see him play. He can field, hit for average and with a little power, and can swipe bases with the best of them. If you had to start a franchise with a short stop, it would be Ramirez.
Season outlook: They are that team who always seems to surprise. Like mosquitos, they never go away and are always hungry to win. With a very solid young corps of Ramirez, Cody Ross, and Dan Uggla, the Fish have the ability to give the Phils and Braves some problems. But their inability to make any big moves is what dropped them to third. They were also able to resign Josh Johnson, the team’s ace and one of the best pitchers in the NL. If they can surround him with more pitching talent, the Marlins will be even more dangerous in a couple years.

New York Mets

Last year’s record/place: 70-92, 4th
Key acquisitions: C Rod Barajas, C Chris Coster, LF Jason Bay, , CF Gary Matthews, Jr., RP Josh Fogg, RP Kelvim Escobar.
Key losses: C Brian Schneider, 1B Carlos Delgado, OF Gary Sheffield, SP Oliver Hernandez, RP J.J. Putz.
Player to watch: Jose Reyes – After being injured for over half a season last year, Reyes will look to be healthy and take his spot back among the best short stops in baseball. With an early set-back with a thyroid problem this spring, Mets fans are praying for Reyes to be fine and their team to not be as humiliating as last year’s team.
Season outlook: When healthy the Mets have good players but they aren’t healthy. Reyes is already battling injuries and Carlos Beltran will need to have a bounce-back year. Adding Bay was great offensively for the Mets if he’s healthy. He’s aging, has knee problems, and not that great of a fielder. Johan Santana is still one of the greatest pitchers of our time.

Washington Nationals

Last year’s record/place: 59-103, 5th
Key acquisitions: C Ivan Rodriguez, IF Eric Bruntlett, SP Chien-Ming Wang, SP Jason Marquis, RP Matt Capps, RP Scott Olsen, RP Tyler Walker.
Key losses: C Josh Bard, IF Dimitri Young, OF Austin Kearns, SP Livan Hernandez.
Player to watch: Stephen Strasburg – Not often you see a pitching prospect as good as Strasburg. Though starting in the minors is a much wiser choice, the last-place Nationals may put him on the opening day roster to put fans in the seats… or will that be because they open the season against the Phillies?
Season outlook: They don’t have much to really look forward to. We know the Nats are a bad team and there’s no need to rub that in. They did that for us by signing Bruntlett. But all kidding aside. Strasburg gives them something to look forward to and build off of in the future. Hopefully he pans out for their sake.