Monday, April 10, 2006

1-6...Red Means Go?

Bad, bad, bad loss. The game itself wasn’t particularly ugly (some iffy managerial moves, but relatively clean play on both sides…except for Jeff Francoeur in right), but the circumstances surrounding the defeat make it really hurt. This was the Phillies game to win due to the huge edge in the starting pitching matchup (Brett Myers vs. John Thomson). Now that they’ve gone down to the Braves 5-3 to open the series, the Phillies will have a day off to think about that 1-6 record before throwing out Cory Lidle and Gavin Floyd in succession to stop the bleeding. The notes below are kind of scattered, so attempt to read them at your own risk...

*** The lineup stinks right now – I know lineup construction isn’t nearly as important as many make it out to be, but there is still no good reason for Aaron Rowand to be batting second for a major league team. Rowand is badly miscast in the two-spot…I know he had a good game tonight, but the team would still be wise to drop him to sixth in the lineup and move everyone else up a spot – Rollins, Utley/Abreu, Abreu/Utley, Burrell, Howard, Rowand, Bell, Lieberthal would work…it isn’t ideal, but it isn’t so radical a switch that the Phillies wouldn’t consider it (since you know the thought of moving Rollins out of the leadoff spot has never occurred to them…). They mixed up the lineup for the first time of the season tonight (Utley and Burrell swapped spots), so maybe they are willing to change some things if need be. Maybe, maybe not.

*** You know I’ve got to go there…third inning, leadoff double by Rollins, what do you do with Rowand up next? Have him swing away, of course…right? Wrong – the Phillies opted for another Aaron Rowand bunt attempt – a terrible attempt at that (it was popped up to the pitcher). The bunt just looks even worse when you consider Rowand had himself a 3 hit day. Is moving Jimmy Rollins over 90 feet from second to third in a tied game in the third inning a good idea? Is trading one of your 27 outs worth those 90 feet? These are rhetorical questions, of course, because the countless studies done on run expectancy show time and time again that this is an idiotic move.

*** I like Pat Burrell. I think Pat Burrell will have another good year. But there is “star” player in this league that watches as many fastballs go by him than Burrell does. I’m not sure that this is necessarily a bad thing (though I tend to think it might be); it is just an observation more than anything else.

*** David Bell made a truly great play on a Jeff Francoeur grounder in the fourth – full extension dive to his left, plus a perfect throw to get his man. It was a solid game for Bell overall.

*** Brett Myers had an up and down outing, but came out of it okay in the end. I had a lot to say about him, but I’ll put it on hold for now – he is a guy who gets the benefit of the doubt after the impressive year he put together last season.

*** Cal Ripken joined the ESPN broadcasters in the middle innings to sell his new book…ESPN’s baseball coverage is terrible, they interviewed Ripken like this was a spring training game – talking about the book only, not pausing for game updates, and generally not caring about the action on the field. I hate ESPN.

*** Edgar Renteria played Bobby Abreu’s line drive out in the fifth perfectly…it looked like a game tying RBI single off the bat, but Renteria was in the right place at the right time to make an easy catch. The Braves always seem to be the best at the league when it comes to positioning their fielders. The advance scouts in Atlanta earn their keep.

*** Two on, one out in the sixth inning. The Braves take out lefthander Mike Remlinger and bring in Lance Cormier (no relation to Rheal, who pitched another quality inning by the way). David Bell due up. Some obvious questions…with answers not so obvious to me at this point - Why is Bell actually hitting in this situation? What is the purpose of David Dellucci on this team?

*** Of course, baseball is a funny game - David Bell wound up working a 2-0 count, then ripped a high fastball for a single right up the middle. Bell had a very good approach at the plate this time up. I still don’t agree with the decision to let him hit, but it definitely paid off for the team. This time anyway…

*** What is the purpose of David Dellucci on this team? Why is Abe Nunez (Tomas Perez II) batting with two men in scoring position in a one-run game in the sixth inning? There is no defense for this move…none that I can think of anyway. This situation did not end as pleasantly as Bell’s did earlier…

*** Very nice play by Pat Burrell on a Brian McCann drive to left – it was Burrell making a one-handed stab at a ball going full speed towards the wall to rob McCann of a double.

*** Impressive defense by Ryan Langerhans in leftfield as well - he cut off Rowand’s single in the seventh beautifully and then gunned a throw back into second to hold him at first. Langerhans also made a nice play on Abreu’s sacrifice fly that scored Rollins and tied the game.

*** Rick Sutcliffe reports that Aaron Rowand is still having a hard time coping with the trade to Philadelphia and gets weirded out whenever he looks down to see his red shoes…Rowand misses Chicago an awful lot…similar situation with Dellucci and Texas (not about the shoes per se, but about the missing)…what effect, if any, will the fact that the team added guys who may or may not even want to be here have on this team going forward?

*** Jimmy Rollins had a very good night – 3 hits and a walk in his four plate appearances…too bad he couldn’t come through in the ninth, but he can hardly be faulted for his effort.

*** There are certain dangers of having Ryan Franklin in the bullpen…the most obvious being that in close game situations, it isn’t exactly ideal having a flyball pitcher coming out of the pen. Homeruns will happen with Franklin…it’s what the team signed up for when they brought the guy in. It’s hard to get made at Franklin for giving up the homer, because giving up homers is who he is.

*** Eighth Inning: very nice at bat for David Bell, Victorino with a pinch single (who was batting for Lieberthal, thankfully), and then the David Dellucci at bat we were all waiting for…he just flat out missed a 91 MPH 3-2 fastball…no Phillie will get a 3-2 pitch more hittable than that for the rest of the season. Damn.

The Phillies really can not make a habit of losing to teams with both Mike Remlinger and Brian Jordan on their roster…man, I knew both players had made the team out of spring training, but I didn’t really believe it until I saw them in Braves uniforms with my own two eyes. Amazing that they are still hanging in there…even more amazing that the Braves decided to hand them jobs.

That just about covers all I care to say about the majors…off day tomorrow…last night's minor league stats coming shortly…


Anonymous oper33 said...

Amen on your lineup changes. I think its really hurting Howard batting him sixth in front of Bell. Speaking of Bell I thought they were going to split time with him and Nunez at 3rd, did I make that up? anyway I hope you keep up this blog going all summer I like reading your take on the games.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

I agree with you on the Phils lineup. Rowand batting second? Move him to atleast sixth and use Utley behind Rollins. BTW how crazy is it having 2 Cormier's in one game?

The game didn't come in on ESPN but rather one of the local Braves stations. Skip Caray mentioned the neverending Abreu rumors. He didn't understand why the Phillies would trade him.

Speaking of Jordan and Remlinger. I don't expect Remlinger to finish the season as a Brave. He looked good enough to make the team out of ST when our bullpen was unhealthy. Plus he's a lefty and only one of two in the pen right now. Once the pen gets more established and healthy, Remlinger will probably be cut if he continues to have bad outings. Brian Jordan will probably remain with the team this year and hopefully this time retire at the end of the season.
If you recall Eddie Perez was another nonroster invitee to ST. Perez was sent down to Double A as a special instructor/backup C/father figure to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

9:01 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

oper33 -

Yeah, the biggest plus of moving Howard up in the lineup would be giving him a little protection - there is no reason for any pitcher to give in to him knowing that big, bad David Bell is waiting on deck. Aaron Rowand is, at the very least, a more feared bat that Bell - not intended as a backhanded compliment for Rowand, but it sure seems like it, right?

The usage (or lack thereof) of Nunez thus far in the season has been puzzling. The Phillies have hinted all offseason long that he'd be given plenty of at bats at third, but it's been a lot of Bell at the hot corner to this point. I still happen to think David Bell is the lesser of two evils at third unless they decide to give Alex Gonzalez a shot at some PT. It's a cop-out of an answer, but who really knows what this team is thinking when it comes to setting the daily lineup?

You get three thank you's by the way...thanks for reading, thanks for leaving a comment, and a special thanks for the kind words. I still have no clue what will become of this site during the long summer ahead, but comments like yours are great encouragement to keep this thing rolling.

braveswin -

I like the nostalgic feel of having Remlinger and Jordan as Braves again, but it still seems like a questionable decision. You gave good explanations as to why they are on the team though and I'm really not one to argue with what the Braves do considering their track record of success. I still would have told Chipper he'd have to switch to left or first full-time (it's an inevitability anyway, why wait?) to set up an Andy Marte-Wilson Betemit left side of the infield. Renteria looks solid so far, so what do I know?

I didn't hear that about Eddie Perez...I like that move a lot. Having him around to tutor Saltalamacchia can only be a good thing for Salty plus it's a class move on the Braves part.

Two Cormier's in one game freaked me out. I'm convinced Charlie only used Rheal, so that he could match the Braves. That's my theory anyway.

Anyway, nice work by the Braves in game one of the series, but tomorrow is Cory Lidle time! Be afraid, Braves, be very afraid.

10:41 PM  

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