Thursday, April 20, 2006


Great Phillies win tonight over the Nationals in ten innings. The Phils scored three runs in the eight to tie the game up and then won it on a Ryan Howard RBI single to right in the tenth – final score: Phillies 7 – Nationals 6. Now…on to some random notes about the game (something I try to do whenever I can remember…):

  • Ryan Church with another homer for the Nationals…not bad, but he is no Brandon Watson. The decision by Jim Bowden to send Church down and keep Watson to start the year was so bad that I feel obligated as a fan of baseball to mention it every chance I get and help raise awareness to the incompetence of the Bowden regime in Washington.
  • Chase Utley laid down a damn near perfect bunt to get on base before scoring on the Ryan Howard homer early on. Old time baseball guys always advocate taking a shot with a bunt to try and get yourself that base hit that will snap you out of a slump. I like the logic…when it works anyway.
  • David Bell made a great backhanded play to snatch a short hop off the bat of Alfonso Soriano in the fifth inning. As nice as this play was, it was no match for the diving snag by Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in the seventh. There aren’t too many big third basemen (believe the announcers said he is 6’3’’) that also have the range and athleticism to play shortstop – Zimmerman does. He is everything you want as a defender on the left side of the infield.
  • Sal Fasano did his pitching protégé no favors with the dropped foul pop behind home plate. With Gavin Floyd on the mound, things have to break right across the board for the Phillies – Floyd is still young enough (and shaky enough) to be the one guy in this rotation that needs an extra special outing from the rest of the team to help him out (both for his improved mental health on the mound and the practicality of putting up as many runs as possible for the most unreliable starting pitcher on the staff). His last time out, he got that little extra in the way of a big Phillies offensive first inning against Atlanta. This time out, he wasn’t so lucky. I guess the point is (and I realize it isn’t a great one) that this ballclub can never afford to give away outs – but they especially can not afford to do it with Floyd on the mound. (I think I know what I mean here, but it really doesn’t come across too effectively now that I’ve reread it…I’ll think on it and try to improve it later).
  • The Nationals announcers mentioned that Livan Hernandez has the goal of 25 hits. I assumed they meant for the season, but it appears Livan was trying to get all 25 this game. What is it with opposing pitchers killing the Phillies at the plate in the early going? Is this just something we as fans tend to notice because it is typically such a rare thing or are pitchers really hitting more effectively against the Phillies than most teams? I’d love to see some numbers on this.
  • The bullpen has nobody of real value besides Tom Gordon. I realize the pen had a solid night (the performance of Aaron Fultz and his allowance of two inherited runners to score notwithstanding), but there really is nobody out there that the team should have any confidence in right now outside of the closer. Geoff Geary and Fultz are league average guys at best, Santana isn’t even at that level, and my opinion of Ryan Franklin does not have to be rehashed for the hundredth time. Maybe Arthur Rhodes can step up and become a viable second arm out of the pen…but even if this occurs, his inability to pitch back to back days (something I’m not sure is even true at this point, though I suspect the worst) will become a problem down the line.
  • Gordon looked great in the ninth tonight. The decision to have him pitch in the top half of that inning was also a winner. Well done, Charlie.
  • Abe Nunez was once again the first option off the bench last night – this was not such a bad thing as he batted with two outs and nobody on (good situation for him, using Dellucci would have been a bigger waste in this situation), the fact that Manuel is so loyal to him as a top pinch hitting option is something to be watched.
  • Bobby Abreu is still the best hitter on this team and, in my mind anyway, it really isn’t that close a competition. His two-run homer in the eight inning was definitely “clutch”…even though it didn’t put the team ahead or even tie it up…and even though it was “just” the eight inning and not the ninth or extras…a big hit is a big hit at any point of a close game.
  • The second best hitter on the team had himself an excellent night as well. The two plate appearances by Chase Utley in the eight and the tenth were both things of beauty. Working those two walks to extend the inning against two different lefthander relievers – the whole thing nearly brought a tear to my eye.
  • That other young lefthander, Ryan Howard (third best hitter…now that’s a debate for another day), had himself an okay night as well. He had a great plate appearance against Joey Eischen in the eight (much like Utley’s) and then, of course, had the game winning RBI single to right field off of Mike Stanton in the tenth. His opposite field two-run homer off of Hernandez wasn’t bad either.
  • The three lefthanded hitters noted above were on base 9 out of 15 times tonight.
  • David Dellucci pinch hitting for David Bell in the eight was a very interesting decision by Charlie Manuel, was it not? It more or less worked out for him as Dellucci knocked in the tying run with an RBI groundout. Using Alex Gonzalez to bat for Sal Fasano right after the Dellucci at bat was questionable as it completely burned the Phillies bench in a tied game after eight innings. The whole issue with the roster mishandling will surely be swept under the rug, hidden by the euphoria of a thrilling Phillies comeback victory. I, for one, just wanted to see Ryan Madson make a pinch-hit appearance – somehow, someway.
  • Tom Paciocrek and Bob Carpenter were in the broadcast booth tonight for the Nationals. I know I probably spend far too much time making fun of announcers around here, but these guys are so bad at what they do that my brain would explode if I couldn’t vent about their ineptitude somewhere. Between the constant ripping of Philadelphia sports fans, the strange sudden shift towards blaming the umpire in the ninth inning onward, to the play by play guy constantly offering up his own asinine, old school baseball insight (Carpenter actually said that his ideal starting pitcher strikes out no more than 5 batters per 9 innings – this shows that “he is a pitcher and not just a thrower.” I have no idea what he is talking about here, it makes no sense at all – I wasn’t aware that “throwers” are the type of pitchers that tend to rack up the high strikeout numbers. I expect this nonsense out of the color guy, but it is even worse when it is coming at you from both analysts in the booth)
Hopefully this win was exactly what the Phillies needed to jumpstart their eventual 9-1 ten game homestand. The Phillies have the decided pitching edge tomorrow (Ryan Madson vs. Billy Traber), but the Billy Traber's of the world always seem to be the guys who give them the most trouble. I'm actually one of the few Traber fans out there, so the matchup may very well be a bit more tough than it will appear to the casual Phils fan. Or maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about and there is good reason that Traber is 26-year old pitcher who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2003. Here's hoping for a big Phillies win and another 3-hit day for Ryan Madson.

Minor league notes (for the past two nights) to come tomorrow...they should be up around early afternoon. Lots of good pitching news to report too, so please try to calm down and not refresh this page excitedly every 10 minutes hoping to see the freshly updated stats page. I mean, the whole world is waiting on these all important minor league reports...right?


Blogger Adam said...

Tom Paciocrek must know someone in the high reigns of basball to have a commentating job. He's one of the worst I've ever heared. Thankfully Fox released him from the Braves FSN network. They replaced him with Jeff Torborg, who atleast follows the game. For example, Paciocrek would usually comment on how the opposing team was gosh golly tough and reasons why Brian Jordan should be in the Hall. Well maybe not exactly that, but it was almost always off the wall stuff nobody wants to listen to.

Besides that I have a question for you concerning the future of the Phillies...Do you think the organization will hold onto Howard and Utley as stakes of the future? Rollins will be in Philly atleast thru 2010 w/a 2011 opt. He might retire after his contract runs out? You guys will get a solid 3B sooner or later. So, it's almost a set infield for the remaining of the decade.
I'm not mentioning Abreu or Burrell because Abreu is apart of too many rumors and I think Burrell will be traded or test the FA market after 2008.

10:18 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

I knew Paciocrek's voice sounded familiar! I thought he was the guy from the Marlins telecasts last year, but now it's coming back to me...hearing him doing games for FSN for the Braves made me long for the TBS guys (who I strongly disliked until I got and began to realize how many worse announcing teams are really out there). The Torborg-whoever the play by play guy also got on my nerves during that first Phillies-Braves series...I've never been a Torborg fan personally, but, again, there are worse guys out there.

I think Utley and Howard are both here for the long haul - the topic of locking up Utley long-term is something that will surely be addressed within the next year or so. Like you said, Rollins is locked up through 2010 so he'll hold down short as long as he is here until then while (hopefully) either Mike Costanzo or Welinson Baez seizes control of third. The Phils could also opt to select one of the second tier third base prospects (Wes Hodges from GT or Matt Antonelli from Wake) with either of their first two picks in the June amatuer draft.

So much changes so fast in baseball these days, but if I had to bet on any one thing staying the same with the Phils over the next 3 seasons (through 2008), I'd say the odds are pretty damn good that Howard, Utley, and Rollins will all be key members of the Phils infield.

By the way, I just noticed that Ricardo Rodriguez joined the Braves organization and was starting for their AAA squad. That bit of news completely passed me by without me noticing. Unless I did and I forgot...anyway, funny how that all worked out.

10:36 PM  

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