Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Know Thy Enemy ... The NL East ...  

Thanks to baseball's unbalanced schedule, the bulk of the Phils remaining
games are against division rivals: the Braves, the Mets, the Expos, the Fish ... This is, needless, to say, bad news for the the Phils, who are just 10-15 against the NL East (5-14 excluding their 5-1 record against the Expos), and a combined 20-11 against the rest of the National League.

Record Against to Date: 0-6
Games Against Left: 13

The Phils need to defeat the Marlins, who are their biggest threat to the division title. It won't be easy: the Phils are 6-19 against the Marlins in '03 and '04. The Fish seem to have some sort of mystical control over the Phils. In the six games they played so far in '04, Mike Lowell (four home runs) and Hee Seop Choi (two) both hit them hard.

The real problem with the Phils against the Fish is the Phils utter inability to touch the Marlins pitching. Beckett and Willis both shut the Phils offense completely down: neither surrendered a run in their starts, Willies allowed just four baserunners in six and 2/3 innings, and Beckett allowed just three in seven full innings. The Phils had better hope that Beckett is still hampered by his blister and that the Marlins pitching staff has lost whatever mystical hold it has over the Phils.

One suggestion I'd have for Larry Bowa would be to bat David Bell in the two slot against the Marlins. Out of all of the Phillies, Bell has arguably played the best in the six games this year, hitting with a .440 OBP and .478 SLG (GPA: .318). Thome also hit them well (.370 OBP; .625 SLG), but Lieberthal, Rollins and even Abreu turned in monsterously bad performances:

Rollins: .192 OBP; .240 SLG (.146 GPA)
Abreu: .292 OBP; .318 SLG (.211 GPA)
Lieberthal: .167 OBP; .182 SLG (.121 GPA)

Batting Bell in the two hole instead of Glanville or Rollins makes sense, and would hopefully put someone on for Thome and the middle of the order. I'd also trust that Rollins recent improvement will continue and hit him first.

Record Against to Date: 4-4
Games Against Left: 11

I'm not worried about the Braves beating the Phils for the playoffs. I actually have the Braves pegged to finish 4th behind the Mets. I worry about the spoiler factor and, in particular, the J.D. Drew factor. The guy seems to thrive against the Phils. Check out his stats in the seven games he played against the Phils in '04:

Drew: .469 OBP; .600 SLG (.361 GPA)

I do not want to see Drew have some big games down the stretch but that seems likely. The Braves have a lot invested in Drew and he seems to be playing well this year. We'll see if that lasts.

Otherwise, the Braves don't scare me much and they shouldn't worry the Phils. This is a team clearly on the decline and unaccustomed to having it rough. The Phils will probably win 7 of the last 11 games. The more the Braves fall behind the more they will struggle.

New York Mets
Record Against to Date: 1-4
Games Against Left: 14

The Mets worry me a lot more than the Braves. The Braves are fading, on their way downward. The Mets have some young talent and seem to be playing decent ball. The Phils 1-4 record indicates that they really don't know how to deal with them. This is the team that I fear because they don't have anything to lose and would dearly love to humiliate the Phils by knocking them out of contention.

Montreal Expos
Record Against to Date: 5-1
Games Against Left: 13

If the Phils can continue to treat the Expos as the team they beat up and take lunch money from, then the Phils are set. I don't think that the Phils could go 18-1 against the Expos, but I'd probably pencil in 14-15 or so wins.

Bottom-line: of the Phils remaining games 52 are against division rivals. 10-15 (.400) won't cut it: in order to make the playoffs the Phils will need 90+ wins. (That should be enough to capture the division or the wildcard.) Right now the Phils are 36-31. A .400 record against the rest of the NL East would earn the Phils a 21-31 record, which means that the Phils would basically have to win 30 of their 40+ games against the non-NL East foes.

Maybe the '51 Giants went 37-7 down the stretch, I wouldn't count on that happening to the Phils. No pressure guys, but starting Tuesday you need to start beating people in a big way.

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