Back-to-Back Jacks Highlight an Otherwise Crappy Phillies Game

The baseball gods have lately been generous with their reminders that you never really know what to expect when you come to the ballpark. The Nationals are among the weaker hitting teams in the league lately, and they were facing Cliff Lee, who was 3-0 with two complete game shutouts in three previous career starts against the Nats. The Phillies have been getting their stroke back lately, and they drew Jason Marquis, who has terrible career numbers against the Fightins.



Lee Falters as Phillies Fall in Washington

Neither Cliff Lee nor Danny Espinosa were themselves tonight. Lee looked more like Kyle Kendrick than anything else, and Espinosa, for one night only, turned into the second coming of Joe Morgan. The Phillies’ second ace continued a run of mortality, as he and Roy Halladay gave up four runs or more in consecutive starts for the first time all season. Lee allowed six runs, all earned, on seven hits, two of them home runs by Espinosa, in only 5 1/3 innings, the first time he’d been knocked out before completing six since he was shelled in Atlanta in his second start of the year.

The result? The Nationals became the first team to score in double digits against the Phillies since a 12-11 win over the Rockies at Coors Field last Sept. 2, and emerged victorious over the Phillies by a score of 10-2.

Espinosa belted his ninth and tenth home runs of the year, a three-run shot to cap a five-run third and a solo shot to lead off the sixth. The third inning, which ended with the Phillies down five, happened, it seemed, in the blink of an eye, as the Nationals scored all five runs on only 14 pitches before batting around.

At first, it looked like the blow wouldn’t be fatal, as John Mayberry and Domonic Brown hit back-to-back home runs to lead off the fifth, then, four batters later, Chase Utley hit a two-out fly ball to right that missed being a home run by only a few feet. With several innings to go and Jason Marquis on the mound, a comeback was not out of the question.

Then everything truly went in the tank. First, Espinosa homered again in the sixth, then the Nats put up three more in the seventh off Danys Baez, then another in the eighth off Mike Zagurski, who pulled the unusual trick of walking a relief pitcher.

For those of you interested in silver linings, Dom Brown homered and doubled, and Placido Polanco continued to churn out single after single, adding two to the cause this evening. In all, it was a night to forget at Citizens Bank Park South. Roy Oswalt and John Lannan will face off tomorrow in the getaway game.



Lidge Looks Sharp, More Injury Notes

Tuesday afternoon, Phillies pitcher Brad Lidge appeared in an extended spring training game in Tampa against the Yankees club, as he rehabs his strained right rotator cuff. The former All-star reliever has been on the disabled list since spring training and has not appeared in a Major League game this year.

The 34-year-old right-hander made his extended spring debut with the Phillies club on Saturday, throwing 24 pitches, while allowing a hit and striking out one batter.

On Tuesday, Lidge recorded 5 outs in the same inning, as the rules in extended spring games can be altered a bit in order to accommodate the likes of rehabbing players. After walking the lead-off batter on 4 pitches, Lidge settled in, striking out the next 2 batters, forcing a pop up, striking out another and then wrapping up his game action with a fly out.

Following his efforts in his outing on Tuesday, Lidge told a source that he feels he’ll be ready to pitch again after 2 days and that his next rehab appearance should be with the High A level Clearwater Threshers.

The expectation at this point is to have Lidge back with the big league club before the end of June. His velocity in the extended spring games has maxed out around 87 MPH, which is below his typical fastball velocity of 90-91 MPH that he reached toward the end of last season as well as shy of the 94 MPH he typically threw in his perfect 2008 season as the Phils’ closer.

Also seeing action for the second time in Tuesday’s extended spring training game was injured minor league outfielder Tyson Gillies. The 22-year-old Canadian was acquired in December 2009 from Seattle as part of the trio of players that came to Philadelphia in exchange for pitching ace Cliff Lee.

Assigned to the Double A Reading Phillies roster but on the disabled list all season with a left hamstring strain, Gillies missed time last season with the same ailment.

In the contest, Gillies showed some range by tracking down two fly balls on defense in centerfield and legged out two infield singles. Team manager Mickey Morandini removed Gillies in favor of a pinch runner after the second hit when Gillies stepped on the opposing first baseman’s foot, turning his own ankle somewhat. Gillies iced the ankle, walked without a limp and told a source he felt fine after his day was over.

In other minor league injury rehab news, Shane Victorino is set to begin a 2-game stint with Reading this evening. Initially, the switch-hitting Victorino was slated to play 3 games with the R-Phils, but he will now not play on Thursday, as was expected, and instead take a day of rest prior to being activated to the MLB Phillies roster on Friday.

Victorino went 1-for-6 in 2 rehab games over the weekend with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.

And one last bit of information on an injured Phillies player…Australian born righty hurler Drew Naylor (12-10, 4.63 ERA last season with Reading) celebrated his 25th birthday on Tuesday by undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Naylor began the season on the disabled list for the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
_________________________________________

Photos- Joe Wombough

Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor. You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.



Cliff Lee Brings the Heat in DC



Gameday: Phillies (34-20) at Nationals (22-31)

Philadelphia Phillies (34-20) at Washington Nationals (22-31)

Cliff Lee, LHP (4-4, 3.50 ERA) vs. Jason Marquis (5-2, 4.26 ERA)

Time: 7:05 pm, Nationals Park
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 96
TV: CSN
Twitter: Phillies Nation

So, since it’s no longer Memorial Day weekend, I guess we don’t have to feel unpatriotic about the Phillies beating teams from New York and Washington anymore. Considering tonight’s pitching matchup, we should expect more of the same.

Cliff Lee might be only .500, but a deeper look into his season shows him to be as effective a pitcher as he’s ever been. Lee is second among NL starters in K/9, second in K/BB ratio, and fourth in both FIP and xFIP. He’s averaging not only more than a strikeout per inning, but 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings, combined with excellent control. Incidentally, the top three starting pitchers in the NL in K/BB ratio are Roy Halladay, Lee, and Cole Hamels, in that order.Noting the small sample size caveat, Lee has had success against most current Nationals. Ivan Rodriguez has a career .375 average against him with five walks in 37 plate appearances, but no other Nationals player has more than two career hits against the Phillies’ top lefty. Meanwhile, Nationals starter Jason Marquis has been shelled by Chase Utley, who has a career .464 batting average against the man once called “Gamechanger,” while Raul Ibanez, who is somehow inexplicably among the leaders in All-Star voting, has pegged Marquis for seven hits in 20 at-bats, four of them for extra bases. Not that this means much–I just thought you might find it interesting.

PHILLIES LINEUP:

Rollins SS, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Brown LF, Mayberry CF, Lee P

Your Gameday Beer – Jim Beam Bourbon

This morning, I went with a friend of mine to serve as a witness as he applied for a marriage license. He’s in his mid-20s, but he’ll be the first of the group of guys I’ve been friends with since high school to tie the knot, and it was a heady occasion. With that in mind, I’m not sure beer’s going to cut it tonight–this may call for something stronger.– by Michael

GO PHILLIES



Wilson Valdez’s Hat Makes the Hall



Grading the 2011 Philadelphia Flyers: Kris Versteeg

Today we begin our annual, player-by-player look at the 2010-11 Philadelphia Flyers. In no particular order, we’ll analyze one player per day over the next few weeks. First up, right winger Kris Versteeg.


Kris Versteeg

#10 / Right Wing / Philadelphia Flyers

5-10

182

May 13, 1986

10/11 Salary: $3.083 million

11/12 Salary: $3.083 million

11/12 Cap Hit: $3.083 million

Linemates: Mike Richards, James van Riemsdyk (34.87%)

Depth Chart Ranking: No. 3 RW



Basic Stats GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG SOG TOI BkS FO%
2010-11 80 21 25 46 -9 53 6 1 180 17:42 56 48.5
Adv. Stats (key) TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel QoT Pts/60 GF/60 GA/60 OZ% Fen% Corsi% Corsi Rel Sh% Sv%
2010-11 13.8 0.860 -0.462 1.68 2.28 2.72 52.8 46.2 47.7 1.8 7.92 0.909

*Corsi% and Fenwick% are Flyers-only. All other stats are full-season.

The Kris Versteeg trade was the big deadline deal the Flyers made to supposedly push them over the top offensively on their path to a Stanley Cup. It was a depth move for a guy who’s won a Cup, and it turned the Flyers into by far the deepest scoring team in the NHL. Seven 20 goal scorers (plus one 19 goal scorer) is no joke.

But everybody who watched Versteeg in a Flyers uniform will tell you he didn’t live up to expectations, and given the hefty price (a first and a third round pick) Paul Holmgren paid for him, a lot of people are suddenly ready to ship him off again. Cut your losses and such.

For the right deal, maybe. He’s not a vital piece of the Flyers roster, and it’s possible he never will be with the kind of talent that surrounds him. He has the potential to do just that and the salary to match it, but he’s not one to play above guys like Mike Richards and Claude Giroux.

But Versteeg doesn’t need to. He’s very much in the mold of Scott Hartnell on this Flyers team, in that he’s here to be consistent scoring depth, while providing a nice dose of strong defensive play as well. 

The truth is, we can’t really analyze Versteeg’s time with the Flyers with any degree of accuracy given the news of his injury. Versteeg was suffering from an abdominal injury, and it’s possible that he suffered that during his time with the Maple Leafs. It’s also possible that he suffered it in Game 4 against Boston, we just don’t know. We won’t know.

I know that during the postseason he didn’t seem very physical, but neither did the rest of the team. He routinely lost puck battles and was frankly rather invisible. Unfortunately, we don’t know how much was the injury and how much was just poor play.

He played most of his time with Mike Richards, and given No. 18′s own injury, the high expectations given the high trade price spent to acquire Versteeg and the small bit of time he wore orange and black this season, it’s tough to get an accurate grade.

At the end of the day, what did Versteeg contribute during his time with the Flyers this season? Injury or not, he was far below the expectations we had for him at the time of his trade. We definitely have to take the injury into account, but we can’t put too much weight on it because we don’t know how long it was an issue. And he didn’t play all that well this year before the trade, either.

Grading criteria: We assign grades on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the best. We base our grades on expectations, execution on those expectations and a player’s overall potential. A 10 means that the player had a fantastic, expectation-surpassing season. A 1 means that he was horrible and needs to go. Like, yesterday. 

The grade: We’re giving Versteeg a 3. The expectations were lofty for him when he arrived in Philadelphia in March, and while the entire team did indeed play horribly during his time as a Flyer, he was a big part of that. It’s not a complete indictment of Versteeg given the injury and personally, I’m excited to see what he can do healthy and refreshed with a full season in town.

But for now, he’s underwhelming and unpleasant to think about. At a $3 million price tag plus two vital draft picks, a player can’t be underwhelming and get a good grade. 

Poll
How would you grade Kris Versteeg’s 2010-11 season?











  530 votes | Results





Checking In With Mo Speights’ Twitter



Daily Debate: Phillies Cy Young Winner

Listen to today’s “Daily Debate” between Pat Gallen and Mike Gill of 973 ESPN FM in South Jersey. Today’s topic is a very interesting one – who is the Phillies Cy Young winner at the 1/3 pole of the season?

There are a few choices on this list, which player would you pick?

If you so choose, give us a vote at the bottom so we can see who wins the argument (for bragging rights, of course!).

LISTEN HERE: DAILY DEBATE MAY 30 – PHILLIES CY YOUNG WINNER

[Listen to "The Sports Bash" with Mike Gill with Pat Gallen on updates and live reports from the ballpark every day from 3-7 on 973 ESPN FM in South Jersey or 973ESPN.com]



NBA Finals Preview: Does the Heat Dynasty Begin This June?



Zagurski Recalled after Worley Sent to Lehigh Valley

Left-hander Mike Zagurski was recalled from triple-A Lehigh Valley, the Phillies announced today.  Zagurski takes the roster spot of right-hander Vance Worley, who was optioned to Lehigh Valley following yesterday’s game in Washington, D.C.

This is Zagurski’s second recall this season, having previously appeared in two games for the Phillies in April.  With Lehigh Valley, the 28-year-old was 1-0 with nine saves and a 1.88 ERA in 14 games.  He had 23 strikeouts in 14.1 innings (14.4 SO/9.0 IP) and was holding opponents to a .196 batting average.

Worley, 23, went 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in six games (four starts) for the Phillies this year and 2-2 with a 3.51 ERA in five starts for Lehigh Valley.

It sounds like the Phillies are just trying to get Worley’s arm stretched out again after two lackluster performances following a long layoff. He’ll be able to do that in Triple-A. Plus, it helps that the Phillies have a Thursday off day, meaning they won’t need a fifth starter until June 8. And even at that time, they could go with Kyle Kendrick, giving Worley even more time to get his pitch count and stamina back.



Phillies Fans Invade Nats Park (Obvs), Roy Halladay Appreciates It



POLL: Is Chase Utley Truly “Back”

It hasn’t been an easy run early on for Chase Utley. He has played in seven games since returning from the disabled list, batting .208 with one home run and two RBI. Defensively, everything looks to be relatively normal. It’s the bat that is the issue.

To be fair, Utley is still basically in Spring Training mode. He’s only 29 plate appearances into the season, and although the numbers aren’t there yet, there is a still a long season ahead for him to get it going. Utley’s batting average is quite low at this point, although he’s finding ways to contribute.

But what are YOU seeing? Are you happy with the progression? Are you happy with the way Charlie Manuel is utilizing Utley? Is this the breaking point for you – are you ready to start seeing the results from Chase ASAP?

Tell us what you think about Utley in the early going thus far. There are no wrong answers.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.



Good Ad Buy: The Seats Behind Home Plate at Nats Park



Tuesday Morning Fly By: Back From Holiday

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 04:  Ville Leino #22 of the Philadelphia Flyers talks to the media after defeating  the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 4-3 in Game Four of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Wachovia Center on June 4, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Today’s open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes…

  • Paul Holmgren gave an interview to Chuck Gormley, and it resulted in a great article: [Courier-Post]
  • First, Travis wrote about what it could mean: [Broad Street Hockey]
  • Then, I wrote about what it could mean: [SB Nation Philly]
  • A profile of Joacim Eriksson: [Flyers Faithful]
  • James van Riemsdyk is planning to have a working summer: [Daily News]
  • Question: Would you rather re-sign Ville Leino or bring Simon Gagne back? [Flyers Faithful]
  • Looking at how valuable Jeff Carter is, based on goals and plus/minus. Not the most meaningful, but still worth reading: [The Checking Line]
  • Arguing that part of Leino’s worth is that he makes Danny Briere better. Or, you know, playing center and staying healthy makes Briere better: [Philly Sports Daily]
  • Jacob DeSerres won the Memorial Cup on Sunday night as Saint John beat Mississauga 3-1: [NHL.com]
  • Jay Greenberg writes an article for ESPN Insider saying “Tim Thomas might be the perfect fit” in Philadelphia. Uh, anybody actually pay for Insider and care to see his reasoning? [ESPN]
  • The Thrashers sale is almost done, and could be announced today: [SBNation.com]
  • Looking back at all the stories written when the Jets left Winnipeg: [Puck Daddy]
  • The Bruins and Canucks will do a lot of traveling. A look at the most traveled Stanley Cups of all time: [SBNation.com]
  • Chris Pronger gave some pretty funny quotes on what the long travel means: [NHL.com]
  • The amount of travel is something the 1994 Canucks had in common with the ’11 Canucks, among other things: [NHL.com]
  • Looking at the Relief Goalie of the Year: [Hockey Prospectus]
  • Part III of the Yahoo!/NHL “Likes” analysis, this time looking at regional numbers: [Behind The Net]
  • Predictions for the Cup Final: [Objective NHL]
  • A preview of the Stanley Cup Finals: [Down Goes Brown]
  • Did you know the Flyers had the highest even-strength shooting percentage in the league this year? A look at all ES shooting talent: [Objective NHL]