Thursday, April 06, 2006

Game 2 - Insert Anti-Mike Lieberthal Remark Here

Cardinals 4 Phillies 3...the game in a nutshell (dumb expression, but one of my favorites):
  • Jimmy Rollins - good (38 and counting...)
  • Tom Gordon - bad (the walk to Schumaker is inexcusable)
  • David Bell - good (I'll stand by David Bell through thick and thin)
  • Mike Lieberthal swinging at the only two pitches he saw in his bases loaded, 2-out at bat in the ninth inning (neither strikes, the first pitch wasn't close) after the previous two batters had walked - very bad
I have no idea how to approach game threads this season...I originally started this site to give me something to do in the offseason, but now I'm trapped with no real plan for the regular season. Doing game recaps/notes from the games seems a tad wasteful...there are plenty of other sources (see the Phillies links to the right for example) on this here internet for those looking for conversation about last night's game. While I figure out what I'm going to do in the future, I'll stick with what I know best...just watching the game, trying to remember stuff, and then furiously typing it all up as quick as I can right after midnight. This is no permanent solution (summer is coming and all), but it'll have to do for now. By the way, suggestions on the content of this site for the in-season months is appreciated...I'm very willing to do whatever.

On to the game (4-3 loss to the Cardinals if you've been napping) begin...a mini-rant - I doubt it was just me feeling this, but watching Aaron Rowand bunt Rollins from second to third in the first inning with nobody out was an utterly painful experience to endure. Those in favor of the move will say that it "paid off" after Bobby Abreu hit a deep fly ball to score Rollins from third. This team has a very good 1-8 starting lineup that is expected to carry this team while putting up a ton of runs. True? I sure think so. Now knowing what we think we know about the potential of this offense, is it really good strategy to play for one run in the first inning of the second game of the season? - (the fact that this was the second game of the season is virtually meaningless, but I liked the way that the sentence sounded when I threw it in there). Time for a good old fashioned cliche (I don't know how to do accents on this thing, just pretend it's there)...when you find yourself playing for one run, you often score one run. You only get 27 outs/game - giving them away in the first inning to move your leadoff man from scoring position (second) to closer to scoring position (third) shows a severe disregard for the value of those outs. I'm not an anti-bunt guy. I love the bunt. I'd estimate that about 75% of my base hits through Little League were on bunts. But there is a time and a place for them...the first inning on Wednesday night in South Philly was neither.

Anyway, mini-rant over...some various things that I happened to somehow remember as I watched the game/typed an essay on the impact of the Electoral College on the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign...

*** I got the game on MLB.TV last night - the video was from the local CN8 broadcast, but the audio was from a St. Louis radio station. I was looking forward to hearing the home broadcast team for the first time this season, but I must admit the Cardinals radio guys were pretty good. Their TV guys (at least the WB duo from the first game) were dreadful, so my expectations were pretty low to begin with...

*** Mike Lieberthal's double pump on the Cardinals failed hit and run play in the second was terrible - I'm not sure what went wrong exactly, but that base should never have been stolen. Lieberthal had such a nice spring defensively behind the plate too...back to his regular season ways, I guess. Turns out that this play wound up being the lesser of two evils...Lieberthal's throw on Albert Pujols' attempted steal in the ninth inning was one of the worst I've ever seen out of a professional catcher. The ball sailed over everybody and into centerfield where Aaron Rowand mishandled it enough to at least give Pujols the idea of heading for home all the way from first. Bad, bad play all around. While we're on the subject of defense, Abreu's lame attempt at catching the ball Aaron Miles hit for a single early on was discouraging...I don't blame the guy really (much like I don't necessarily blame Lieberthal) because I sincerely believe their defensive deficiencies aren't due to lack of effort, but rather a lack of pure defensive skill. Jimmy Rollins made a very nice play in the ninth to nail Pujols at the plate (nice block by Lieberthal too), Chase Utley made a fine diving stop in the...whatever inning that was, and, again, Rollins made a nice play diving to knock down a ball in the late innings to keep it close. Up and down defensive effort to say the least, but in the end poor defense wound up hurting them.

*** Ryan Franklin was two different pitchers tonight. He was awesome in the seventh - Pujols grounded out 6-3, Edmonds 3-U, and Rolen 5-3. I was extremely happy to see Charlie Manuel leave him in for the eight (I would have bet all my money he would go the formulaic way and call for Rhodes, the "eight inning guy," to pitch...luckily I didn't bet...not that I have any money to lose anyway) even though the decision looked shaky in hindsight as Franklin struggled to find the strikezone. Good decision by the manager, decent enough results. I'll take it.

*** What is the point of having David Dellucci, the one usable (anyone but Fasano) bench player with power, lead off the eight inning? I'll answer...there's no point. I thought that was an ideal spot for Victorino. Charlie's other glaring mistake came in the ninth - why pinch-run Victorino for Burrell in that spot? This move would have been fine by me if Dellucci was still an option off the bench, but at this point he had been used. So, the pinch hitting options at this point were down to Nunez and Fasano...not pretty. Run Nunez for Burrell and keep Victorino on the bench for a possible pinch hit at bat (both Bell and Lieberthal could/should have been pinch hit for). This ninth inning move really wasn't all that bad and it helps to have the benefit of hindsight (though I'm sure many Phillies fans were having the same thoughts I was at the time), but it still burns. Oh well.

The Phillies as a team walked nine Cardinals last night...and still had a chance to win it in the ninth. That's the positive spin that'll have to tide me over until this afternoon's game.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once they had already used Dellucci, which definitely was stupid...they had either Nunez or Victorino to use to pinch run for Burrell... if you use Nunez and you end up tying the game up in that inning then you have to go and take out Nunez and put in Victoino in the field, or pinch hit Victorino for someone else.

I guess Bell would have pretty much definitely came up (not sure the exact situation, I believe 1 out, Utley coming up).

You're not pinch hitting for Utley or Howard...well, then Bell is up, who you definitely could pinch hit for and then problem solved potentially - Nunez goes to 3rd and Victorino to left...but then your bench is down to Fasano so if in extra innings you have another pinch hit situation you might be in basically what I'm trying to say is it was just easier to put in Victorino to pinch run, with Victorino you use 1 bench player, with Nunez you use 2 pretty much automatically.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

I turned this on as soon as the bottom of the ninth was about to begin. I liked the Bell AB against Isringhausen. Bell fought hard when I thought he was going to get K'd.

XXX-Is it true that Leiberthal is the clubhouse fall guy? The ESPN2 commentators pointed out that the Phillies media/public tend to point blame more towards Leiberthal when things go wrong. From your previous comment on Rollins. I'll be more than happy if Rollins gets base hits against Atlanta next week. You know as long as their just routine singles with no scoring involved.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous malphie said...

All I could think when Bell was up was ".199 vs. righties, .199 vs. righties." Woulda been a nice opportunity for Shane to be a hero, but he was stupidly on base. That's Cholly Chip for you I guess. Also: I know it was cold and a weeknight, but 20,000 people? Jeepers. Are you coming down for the game this weekend?

11:40 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

anonymous - Very fair points, I see the logic of the move a lot better now. It would have been hard to predict the inning would unfold like it did, so it is a bit unfair of me to knock Charlie for the move after the fact.

braveswin - Lieberthal is despised in Philly, the fans can't stand him. The boos he hears nightly are something to hear. I go back and forth on it...he may be treated a bit unfairly by fans who expect him to play up to his contract, but on the other hand he has said a whole ton of dumb, insulting things about the fanbase so it is really hard to defend him after a while.

malph - Madson is still the scheduled starter for Saturday, you lucky dog you. Those tickets are all yours, that Fung Wah trip twice in three weekends would wear me out. Should be a good one though...I might try to catch it on archives later (trying to see BC-FSU college baseball that day if the weather cooperates)

4:03 PM  
Anonymous malphie said...

Madson, tender. And check your calendar -- would have been twice in TWO weekends, sucka.

4:20 PM  

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