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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Friday, June 01, 2007

The Month of June... 

With May and April in the bag the Phillies turn their gaze towards the month of June and the stretch run towards the All-Star Break. What does the Phillies schedule look like in the coming month?

The Phillies start a four-game series at home against the San Francisco Giants tonight, which runs to Monday afternoon. Tonight’s game marks the first of thirteen consecutive games for the Phillies, who then have to pack their bags on Monday night and journey north to New York to play the Mets in Queens for Tuesday. The Mets get the Phillies for a three-game set (June 5-7), before the Phillies journey westward to Kansas City to play a rematch of the 1980 World Series against the Royals (June 8-10). After that the Phillies go back home to play the White Sox in a three-game set on June 11-13.

After playing three games against the Tigers June 15-17, the Phillies go to beautiful Cleveland and get the Indians for three games on June 18-20.

Returning from Interleague play, the Phillies get to feast on some creampuffs called the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the month before starting a four-game series with the Mets on Friday, June 29, which is a double-header … I don’t think that the month of June is particularly vital to the Phillies season as long as they do not collapse and utterly fall out of contention. Part of the issue, to me, is that the Phillies play 12 games against the American League this month, which means that the Phillies aren’t playing teams they are fighting over a division with or a wildcard slot with. In a playoff race you want to face-off with teams are in competing with because then you control your own fate.

Looking at the Phillies schedule it strikes me that the Phillies caught a break not having to play the Minnesota Twins and Johan Santana, but their A.L. Central enemies are tough: the Indians are 33-19 and the Tigers are 30-23. Neither of these teams are going to be pushovers. The White Sox are a little under .500 but they are a tough team loaded with offensive firepower. Hopefully the Royals (19-35) are going to be three easy wins.

I like the fact that the Phillies get games against a pair of terrible teams, the Cincinnati Reds (21-34) and the St. Louis Cardinals (22-29). The Phillies have had real success against the N.L. Central this season (9-4), so any and every game against the Central – probably the weakest division in baseball these days – is a good thing.

This weekend’s match-up against the Giants will be interesting, and when I say that I refer to the traveling freak-show that Barry Bonds pursuit of Hank Aaron has become. Thankfully Bonds won’t get a chance to break the record against the Phillies. I cannot believe that he’ll hit ten home runs this weekend, and in any case, I am sure that Charlie Manuel would prefer to intentionally walk Bonds rather than having the Phillies name etched in history as his victims.

The Giants themselves don’t look terribly imposing either – they are a sub-.500 team that aren’t particularly good any phase of the game. A 3-1 series victory is a possibility.

It is a pity that Monday’s game doesn’t match Barry Zito with Jamie Moyer. Instead, the Phillies send Jon Lieber to duel with Zito. I’d have loved to see two soft-throwing, fly-ball oriented lefties going at it.

Have a nice weekend everyone. Next week, in honor of the MLB Draft on Thursday, I’ll be looking at some minor leaguers in the Phillies system and well as providing a draft preview / general notes.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Don't Blame Jamie Moyer 

A three-game sweep at home to drop the team under .500 again (26-27) was certainly not the way the Phillies hoped they edge into the month of June. Last night’s 4-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks was a terrible development for the team, which had been playing so well, and ran their record against the D-backs to 1-5. Thankgoodness they don’t play again … Until the playoffs? …

Jamie Moyer pitched a nice game for the Phillies. True, he surrendered three home runs, but he otherwise handled the D-backs hitters very well, tossing lots of off-speed pitches they found difficult to deal with. The game was 1-0 until the eighth inning, so I think Moyer deserves credit for keeping his head in the game and giving the Phillies a chance to win.

Sadly the Phillies really struggled against some nice pitching. They mustered just three hits and a walk. The team batting average last night was .096 … You won’t win many games hitting like that.

No game tonight. I’ll have a preview of the Phillies June tomorrow.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's May 9th, All Over Again... 

Entering this season the Phillies had been 14-5 against the Diamondbacks over the last three seasons (2004-2006) and hadn’t lost the season series to the D-backs since 2003. With a 1-4 record against them this year, that isn’t a possibility any longer. Last night’s 11-5 loss to the D-backs was a minor disaster for the team, which had been playing so good for so long. Alas, the Phillies are mired at .500 and sit a full eight games behind the New York Mets. It’s not quite time to start thinking about the wildcard, but …

Let’s just say that there was a lot to be discouraged about from last night:

-I am sure Ryan Howard will be fine, but the sight of him limping in the game wasn’t good and probably filled people with terror and dread.

-Jon Lieber surrendered five runs in his half of the game.

-The Phillies bullpen gave up another six runs, but none of them were earned. Going into last night’s game the Phillies had give up twelve unearned runs. Last night alone they surrendered six. Ouch. I think someone needs to chat with the Phillies about their defense, because they are playing terrible in the field again. Their Defense Efficiency Ratio (DER) is amongst the worst in the N.L. and they have committed a boat-load of errors. I am unimpressed.

Tonight is Jamie Moyer vs. Randy Johnson, a rematch of the pitching matchup from the Phillies 9-3 win over the D-backs on May 9, the Phillies sole win over the D-backs this season. Let’s hope this game goes as well as that one did.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tuesday Morning Quick Fix... 

A dearth of runs and typically poor bullpen pitching helped undermine a very good performance from Phillies starter Freddy Garcia last night. Despite allowing just three runs in eight innings worked, with nine strikeouts and two walks allowed, Garcia was undone when Ryan Madson allowed two runs at the top of the ninth, thus making the Phillies subsequent rally at the bottom of the inning much harder. Ultimately, despite Greg Dobbs three-run pinch-hit home run – who is this guy? – at the bottom on the inning, the Phillies still fell short by a score of 5-4.

As the Phillies enter the month of June, they are well-positioned for a run at the top. They sit above .500 at 26-25, and are seven games behind the Mets. However, the Phillies are closing fast on the slumping Atlanta Braves, and the Mets are staying on top by relying on such pitchers as John Maine and Oliver Perez. As the summer wears on, both Maine and Perez will struggle as the Mets will no longer be able to shield them with terrific defense as they are right now:

Perez: .765
Maine: .736

The Mets team DER of .737 cannot stand. They are a terrific defensive team, of that there is no doubt, but they will regress closer to the mean as the season wears on and Maine and Perez will see their ERAs balloon.

A few short takes …

In just 91 plate appearances Dobbs has four home runs and 21 RBIs. His 6.4 Runs Created a game are impressive, better actually than J.Roll (6.0). This guy can hit. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you this year’s version of Chris Coste.

Didn’t take Ryan Howard long to go on a tear since he got back, having hit three home runs with seven RBIs in just four games played. Not too shabby.

Coming up next, two more against the D-backs and then a four-spot with the San Francisco Giants. I hope the Phillies aren’t in-line to give up #756. Then the Phillies get to lock horns with the Mets. I can’t wait for that …

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