Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Finally .500

62-62. Sixty-two and Sixty-two. It's good to be a fan of a .500 team once again. I was hoping that the Phillies would take care of the Cubs last night in a rather uneventful ballgame so that I could post about the significance of the Phils playing .500 ball once again, but, unfortunately for all involved, last night's game was anything but uneventful. In fact, you could say that it was quite eventful - last night's game was chock full of events. Events were going on left and right. Some of the events were good, some of the events were bad, but ultimately all of the events were...eventful. I'm not a very good writer, I apologize.

Anyway, the "big" story from last night's 6-5 win over Chicago was the Aaron Rowand/Chase Utley collision in shallow centerfield. If you haven't seen it yet, I advise you to check it out at Phillies.com. The fallout of said collision is rather large - Rowand has a broken ankle and will miss the rest of the regular season, Utley will be held out of the lineup tonight (precautionary reasons mostly...hopefully), and, in a completely unrelated incident that I decided to throw in here to see if you were paying attention, Phils closer Tom Gordon is now on the 15-day disabled list. To replace Rowand and Gordon, the Phillies promoted OF Michael Bourn and IF Joe Thurston (UPDATE: Thurston's stay with the big club may be a short one now that the Phillies have traded for utility player Jose Hernandez). In other words, the days of a 13-man pitching staff are finally over! See how I think positive in the face of all of this negativity?

Anyway, (I do believe that "anyway" is the only transition word I know) I don't know how any other Phillies fan felt as they watched Aaron Rowand limp off the field, but my emotions were all over the place. First, I felt a sense of joy and excitement. Then, disappointment and anger. Finally, peace and acceptance. Why did I feel all of this emotions so soon after seeing two grown men almost kill themselves in front of tens of thousands of people? Two words - Doug Glanville. Joy and excitement? Hey, doesn't Dougie Fresh live in Chicago now? Maybe his apartment is near Wrigley and he can make it to the park in time to man center by the bottom of the ninth. Disappointment and anger? Oh man, Ed Wade isn't the GM anymore. If only he was here instead of this new old guy in charge then maybe my dream of Doug Glanville being a Phil for the third time could be fulfilled. Peace and acceptance? Well, I'm sure the Phillies will think of a good in-house option to fill the outfield void and there is no doubt in my mind that Doug Glanville's life will be just fine without getting a call from the Phils - he has his degree from Penn, millions of dollars, and an unbeatable EverQuest character named BingBong (well, maybe he wasn't so unbeatable after all). Anyway (see? there it is again!), I forget what my original point was...if I had one at all.

Oh and by the way, for anybody out there that cares, I haven't read or heard a single news report that has accurately nailed down the order of the Phillies who assisted Aaron Rowand as he limped off the field. The correct combos (in order) were: Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, Howard and Charlie Manuel, Howard and Rick White (from out of nowhere!), White and Ryan Madson, and then finally, as Rowand was being helped down the dugout steps, Madson and Brett Myers. So there you have it - the complete lineup of Aaron Rowand's helpers. Pointless...yes. Interesting...probably not. Newsworthy in my eyes...you'd better believe it!

Now that Bobby Abreu is gone, Pat Burrell has become public enemy number one in the eyes of Phillies fans. Bobby Abreu was my favorite Phillie, so I was always up for defending him whenever the typical Philadelphia sports fan brought up either his supposed laziness in the field, inability to hit in the clutch, or cancerous clubhouse attitude. Now that Abreu is gone, I have taken it upon myself to defend him whenever possible. I'd like to think his .890 OPS is argument enough, but in a city like Philadelphia, it never is. Burrell's great diving catch in leftfield last night ought to quiet down those who think his playing with the foot injury is hurting the team as a whole. Burrell's steamrolling of Henry Blanco at home plate ought to quiet down those who cling to the notion that he is a pretty boy, former bonus baby who deserves to be booed by his home crowd because he hasn't lived up to the ridiculous expectations that they have placed on his shoulders. Pat Burrell is overpaid, yes, I can handle that argument. But to boo Pat Burrell and argue that he should spend more time on the bench than in leftfield...that's just silly.

And one last thing...because I can't go a whole post without ranting about the Bobby Abreu trade, here is another comment from oper33 and my response to it (oper33's comment is small, my response is in larger font below it...don't worry, the small vs. big font thing is not a power trip or ego thing, I just thought it would be an easy way to distinguish between the two different opinions):

I believe the Phillies HAD to trade Abreu, because I think Gillick knew that he would have to free up some money if he was going to go out and get any pitching this off-season. So the two big paychecks to dump are Abreu and Burrell, Abreu just had better trade value, meaning that anyone would be willing to take on his salary. My hunch is that the only reason Gillick made the trade was to have the cash should a deal for pitching come up.

"Pitching is absolutely important, but you still need to score to win…" Couldn't be more true, but I think you over look a very good player in Dellucci, who in about half the at bats has 4 more homers than Phillies Abreu (3 more than Yankees Abreu). Homeruns are not everything but he has about half the numbers of Abreu in everything else with a decent OBP. So there has not been much drop off if any.

And you are certainly right that baseball is much too complicated a game to say one player is holding a team back. You site some really great examples and support that comment with logic that I cannot refute with my brain, so it is in these gray areas I sometimes turn to my gut and my gut tells me, it’s not always the guy with the best numbers who wins. I think the best guys that lead teams to championships are the guys who bring the team up with them, they may not have gaudy individual numbers, but they have something else something more elusive that you can't put down as a stat. I think guys like Utley and Howard have that and guys like Bonds don't. Bonds might have been the greatest hitter of the last 20 years but it’s was Bonds versus his own stat sheet. I hate to say this but my gut also tells me Abreu was a lot like Bonds in this respect.

Either way the Phils are playing some fun baseball right now, key words being right now.

I agree with your two main points here, especially the first one…the more I read about the way the Abreu trade went down, the clearer the fingerprints of ownership come through. Maybe I’m just a fool who sincerely believed a player of Abreu’s caliber, high salary and no-trade clauses be damned, could fetch a higher return than four nobodies. Maybe I got too caught up in the some of the rumored proposed deals circulating the days leading up to the deadline - the hot rumor for awhile was an Abreu/Lidle package to the Yanks for four youngish players…the only difference between the real deal and the rumored deal was that in this case, the players offered were current Yankees Melky Cabrera and Scott Proctor along with minor leaguers Eric Duncan and Tyler Clippard. Oh well, no use getting upset over a rumor in the first place… back to the point on hand. I agree with you that it was very likely Pat Gillick was indeed given orders from upper management to slash salary. I’ll take it a step further and say that I believe these orders from David Montgomery and company are of the long-term variety and there won’t be that big pitching acquisition that the freed up money from the Abreu trade would pay for this offseason after all. I’ll weasel my way out of this prediction by giving myself a potential out – IF the Phillies continue to see favorable attendance figures in the next six weeks, or heaven forbid, the Phils squeak their way into the playoffs and add the revenues that they bring, then ownership would be significantly less likely to slash payroll for next year.

So there you have it...my first "real" post in a long while...enjoy Jamie Moyer's Phillies debut tonight as the Phils try to do the unthinkable and, dare I say it, go back over the .500 mark.


Anonymous oper33 said...

I feel so honored that you include my comments in your post, which was a classic by the way (I especially like when you listed in order all the players that helped Rowand off the field). I want to say one more thing on Abreu and then I will shut up on the topic forever. Bobby Abreu is a unicorn and he belongs with the other unicorns in Fantasy land where the ball boys make more than Chase Utley, and world series rings grow on trees. Is it right to keep a unicorn locked in the basement of AAA+ (other wise known as the NL), no if we love Bobby we must let him go. You must admit he seems much happier, and is playing great.

This team is so much fun right now, that Cubs series was some of the most entertaining baseball of the season. Monday nights game was epic, it had everything you could want in a baseball game, great defense, big home runs, a almost but not quite miracle comeback in the bottom of the 9th and of course The Collision. All this just to scratch and claw back to .500, amazing. This has to be the most exciting one game over .500 teams ever. I have to admit Burrell really annoys me sometimes, but man oh man did he lay it out Monday night. When I told my wife about him diving and going completely horizontal to make a catch, there was pause and then she said that’s like a horse falling over and she was so right, but what a horse. Right now I am so sucked into the center of Phillies homer-ville drinking the Kool-Aid with Scott Graham(it tastes great by the way, cherry flavor, I think) that I can’t gauge how good their chances are of actually getting the wild card. So I ask you do you think they have a real shot?

3:40 AM  
Blogger GM-Carson said...

You know what else tastes good- Turkey Hill's Graham Slam Ice Cream that Scott Graham does those annoying commercials for.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous oper33 said...

With Choco marshmellow baseballs...Hmmm that does sound good.

Can the commercials get any worse on 1210?

8:06 PM  
Blogger XXX said...

Man, I may be in the minority but I actually dislike the ice cream just as much as I dislike the commercials. I've never been a big fan of graham in the first place and I just can't see why anybody thought it was delicious enough to warrant an ice cream flavor (plus I hate marshmallow...even when in choco ball form).

I may be crazy, but I really think the Phillies are the best team currently in the wild card hunt. Scary as it sounds, the Phillies will win the 2006 National League Wild Card. It may be crazy, it may be scary, but it's happening. Count it.

1:24 AM  

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