Gameday: Phillies (94-64) at Nationals (68-90)

Philadelphia Phillies (94-64) at Washington Nationals (68-90)

NationalsJoe Blanton (8-6, 4.94 ERA) vs. Ross Detwiler (1-2, 2.52)

Time: 7:05, Nationals Park
Rainy, 66
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Nationals Park is where it all began this season, where the division was won, and, tonight, the Phillies will say goodbye to Washington until next spring. That is, if the rain holds off.

With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs sewn up, the Phillies can afford to take their ease a little bit, as Charlie Manuel proved last night. Last night, Adam Dunn’s walk-off homer helped the Nats to a 2-1 victory over the Phillies’ reserve squad. Tonight is no different, as the Phillies make seven changes from their Opening Day lineup. John Mayberry gets his first start of the year, and Hero of the People Wilson Valdez returns to the lineup in relief of Chase Utley.

That patchwork squad will face lefthander Ross Detwiler, a 24-year-old making his 19th career major league start. Detwiler was picked 6th overall in 2007. In recent years, the Nats have done well drafting pitchers in the high rounds, netting Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Chad Cordero, and Jordan Zimmermann in recent years. Detwiler has not been so fortunate, struggling with his control this year. At his best, he’s a finesse lefty in the Cole Hamels mold, mixing in a decent fastball with a change-up for an out pitch, but so far, despite a nearly-even K/BB ratio, Detwiler’s gotten away with it, posting a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. Pay attention to this guy, because when the Nationals finally put it together in a couple years, Detwiler could be one of their good young arms, along with Zimmermann and Strasburg.

There’s not a whole lot else to say about tonight’s game. Hardly anything is on the line, so sit back, relax, and be glad you’re not out there in that rain.

Today’s lineup: Rollins SS, Valdez 2B, Victorino CF, Sweeney 1B, Francisco LF, Mayberry RF, Dobbs 3B, Hoover C, Blanton P

Nugget NectarYour Gameday Beer – Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest

Today is the 60th birthday of Milwaukee Brewers owner Ken Macha, and in his honor, we’ll give you a seasonal beer from the best of the Milwaukee brewers, Jacob Leinenkugel. Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest is not as highly-touted as, say Sam Adams, but it’s a malty beer that makes you think of football, terrible weather, and pumpkin pie. Enjoy. -Michael Baumann


Gameday: Phillies (94-63) at Nationals (67-90)

Philadelphia Phillies (94-63) at Washington Nationals (67-90)

NationalsRoy Oswalt (13-13, 2.80 ERA) vs. Jason Marquis (2-9, 7.18)

Time: 7:05, Nationals Stadium
Cloudy, 68
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They call it “The Hangover.” Not the movie, the lineup. No Zach Galifinakis making funnies, but a lineup short the normal starters. Utley and Howard are still in there, with nothing really to play for. It’s obvious Charlie Manuel wants to keep his guys fresh.

Plaicdo Polanco is out, and you may not see him for the rest of the season as he’ll rest that bum elbow. So the good news is he’ll get more than a week to heal. Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, and Jayson Werth are the other regulars to get a blow tonight.

It’s also official: The Phillies will begin their playoff schedule on Wednesday, October 6 at Citizens Bank Park. Going with that start date (the Phils had the choice between Wednesday the 6th or Thursday the 7th), they’ll be assured normal rest for Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt until Game 4 of the NLCS (not getting too far ahead of ourselves). That means Joe Blanton is your long man in the pen and we’ll get to see plenty of the Big 3. Nothing wrong with that.

Tonight is a fine opportunity to take a look at the bench the Phillies will have in the postseason. Greg Dobbs, Dom Brown, Brian Schneider, and Ben Francisco will all get some hacks as they get prepared for the playoff run. More importantly, Jimmy Rollins is back in the order. He’ll get some at bats before the regular season ends. He hasn’t started a game since September 8.

Today’s lineup: Rollins SS, Ibanez LF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Francisco CF, Brown RF, Dobbs 3B, Schneider C, Oswalt P

Nugget NectarYour Gameday Beer – Rouge Dead Guy Ale
It was named one of the five best beers in America by Food and Wine Magazine. This is a darker, more intense style of ale (technically, it’s a German style called a Maibock). It’s a bit higher in alcohol — 6.5 percent — with a toasty, malty character and real texture to it. This is my go-to for big, spicy foods: sausages on the grill, barbecued ribs, that kind of thing. -Pat Gallen


Five keys for Phillies to survive injuries

As reported yesterday, the Phillies will be without Chase Utley and Placido Polanco for at least the next 15 days, and in all likelihood a little longer. The timing of the news is not great as the team had broken out of its hitting slump and looked poised to regain the lead in the NL East. Now with these injuries that becomes a lot more difficult. I still think the Phillies can hang right with the Braves and Mets over the next few weeks, but it will take a variety of factors coming together to do so.

Bellow are five keys for the Phillies to stay in the race despite these injuries.

1. Rollins must regain form: When a player is out for as long as Rollins was it is expected that the player will need a few weeks to find his swing. The Phillies can not afford Rollins that time, however. With their No. 2 and No. 3 hitters on the bench, the importance of Rollins setting the table becomes even more important. I’m not saying he needs to hit .350 the next month, but the team will need Rollins to at least maintain his .400 an-base percentage.

2. The Big Man must get on a tear: Over the past four seasons we have seen Ryan Howard get incredibly hot in August and September and at times single handily carry the team to victories. This time Howard can not wait until August. The team needs one of those power surges right now. Howard’s .295 average has caught everyone off guard and he is having a season that should put him back in the top five of the MVP voting. There is no reason to think he can’t catch fire over the next few weeks and lift his team once more.

3. Pitching: If you lose a little offense than the pitching must do its part to keep the opposition off the board. The Phillies staff has been hot and cold this season and needs to get hot again in a hurry. Roy Halladay is the only member of the starting staff that has an ERA under 4.00 and that simply won’t cut it over the next month. This team may need to win a couple of games by 3-2, or 2-1 scores and for that to happen the starters must show more than they have so far this season. Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick have the most room to improve and one may be pushed by a returning J.A. Happ.

4. A surprise candidate must emerge: This could come from anywhere. Maybe somehow Greg Dobbs will remember to hit again? Maybe Ibanez will go on a tear like he did the first half of last year? Maybe one of the team’s backup catchers has the best two weeks of his career? Maybe the Phillies reacquire Cliff Lee and none of this will matter? No matter where it comes from the team will need unexpected productions to keep moving forward in July.

5. The Braves and Mets slump: Most believe that the Braves and Mets have overachieved the last two months. If that is indeed the case it is fair to suggest that a downward swing is coming. The Braves (5-5) and Mets (4-6) may already be in the process of doing so as their last 10 games have not gone well. Consider that the Mets are just 15-22 on the road and have an 11-game West Coast trip coming in the second part of July and its not hard to see them falling off. As for the Braves, the Phillies can help themselves from July 5-7 when they host Atlanta for a big series.

So there you have five ways that the team can keep winning despite the recent injuries. If a few of these factors take place there is no reason that the Phillies can’t be right at the top of the pack when Utley and Polanco return.

Happ back soon, so who goes?

A forgotten man in the Phillies’ rotation is working his way back.

J.A. Happ, on the DL for almost the entire season, is set to make his fourth rehab start on Wednesday. After that he may be heading back to Philadelphia. Bellow is a report from

Lefthander J.A. Happ (strained left elbow) said he will make his fourth rehab start Wednesday at double-A Reading.

Happ, who threw 71 pitches in his last start, said he is aiming for 90 to 95 pitches this time around. He said Phillies officials who charted his last outing for Reading told him he averaged 88 m.p.h. with his fastball, an improvement from before.

Happ has been on the disabled list since April 16.

In three rehab outings, Happ has allowed 10 earned runs in 101/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .304 off him.

“Just looking for a little more crispness to the arm,” Happ said.

The issue at hand when Happ does return will be which starter gets sent to the bullpen. Baring any injury, the decision will come down to Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick.

Of that group the smart money would be on Kendrick, but would that be the right move?

Kendrick has pitched moderately well, going 4-2 with a 4.48 ERA,  and is coming off his finest start of the season, throwing seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Yankees.

Meanwhile Joe Blanton has continued to struggle. The Phillies most reliable pitcher last season, Blanton has yet to find a groove. He is currently 2-5 with a 6.96 ERA.

Jamie Moyer is the third choice, but I wouldn’t expect the Phillies to do the same thing to Moyer that they did last year when the team acquired Pedro Martinez.Jamie wasn’t too happy about that move the first time.

Plus Moyer’s seven wins and 4.76 ERA are well ahead of Blanton’s numbers.

I still believe Kendrick will be the one shuffled to the ‘pen as his contract is much lighter than Blanton’s, even though he deserves to stay in the rotation. Sadly money usually talks in these situations.

If you were Phillies management, what would you do?

When will the Phillies offense return?

There are slumps and then there is what the Phillies offense is going through right now.

Things got no better yesterday when the Phillies wasted a great start by Cole Hamels in a 3-1 loss to the Padres. Hamels took a no-hitter into the seventh, but allowed a pair of solo home runs and the Phillies offense had no answer. It was a continuation of what has been a putrid three weeks that has seen the team relinquish first place.

Here are a few of the scary numbers:

The Phillies, figured to be among the top home run hitting teams this season, have belted just 53, good enough for 12th overall. That’s not terrible but not nearly good enough for a team that relies on the longball so much.

• Philadelphia has been held to two runs or less in eight of its last 15 games, including being shutout five times.

• Their .258 team batting average is 16th in baseball. Who knows where they would be without Polanco’s .320 average.

• Chase Utley average has dipped to .260, the lowest it has been since the 2004 season.

• Raul Ibanez is hitting .230 with just three home runs. Dominic Brown’s footsteps get closer every day.

• Joe Blanton has the third best average of the team. He is hitting 308. We will overlook Nelson Figueroa’s .500 average in two at-bats.

• Jayson Werth is hitting .143 so far this month with six hits in 21 at-bats. Over that time he has as many strikeouts (7) as he does hits.

It has been bad, to be sure. Yet here the team sits, still in second place just two games behind Atlanta. The hope is that the worst has already arrived and that the team will straighten itself out and get back on top in the East.

But the question is when? When does the team find the offense that made them the most exciting ticket in town the last three years?

Blanton returns, Madson still an idiot

Big Joe Blanton is back for the Phillies.

As for Ryan Madson? He might be gone for a while.

Madson, who injured his toe thinking he was a soccer player and that a metal chair was the ball after blowing a save last week, will have surgery on Tuesday to fix his broken right toe. It was reported that Madson had a CT scan Monday and it revealed further damage to his foot.

Philadelphia trainer Scott Sheridan said before Monday night’s game against St. Louis that a timetable for Madson’s return will be announced after the surgery.

As for Blanton, he was solid in his return but not good enough to keep the Phillies from falling to the Cardinals, 6-3. Blanton pitched well until he ran into trouble in the seventh. Reliever Nelson Figueroa couldn’t bail him out, allowing two inherited runners to score. Why is Figueroa coming in a one-run game in the seventh anyway?

Blanton finished will four runs allowed over 6 2/3 innings, on 10 hits and 94 pitches. Even though it was a loss, Blanton showed little rust and should fit in nicely as a strong No. 3 in the rotation.

The Phils get back at it with the Cards on Tuesday.

Phillies roster set for Opening Day

Baseball officially begins tonight with the Yankees taking on the Red Sox on ESPN as the schedule makers have done their best to make sure fans will be sick of the rivalry by mid-June.

As for Philadelphia baseball — well that’s about to take off as well.
The Phillies open up the season Monday afternoon with a 1:05 start against the Washington Nationals.

The Phillies will begin their quest for a second World Series title in three years  a little short-handed as Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero will start the regular season on the DL. The position players have remained healthy though, so expect plenty of runs to be scored in this opening three-gams set with the Nats.

Bellow is the 2010 Phillies roster, which was finalized this weekend.

Pitchers: Righthanders Danys Baez, Andrew Carpenter, Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin, Roy Halladay, David Herndon, Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Madson, and lefthanders Antonio Bastardo, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Jamie Moyer.

Infielders: Juan Castro, Greg Dobbs, Ryan Howard, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.

Catchers: Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.

Outfielders: Ben Francisco, Ross Gload, Raul Ibañez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth.

Blanton has problem ab problem

Big Joe Blanton may have a big problem on his hands. Or just a minor one.

Either way with the regular season less than a week away this is not the time for injuries to start popping up.

It is being reported that Blanton injured an abdominal muscle during a bullpen session today. He will be examined by a team doctor on Thursday. Even if the injury is deemed minor it is unlikely Blanton would make his scheduled exhibition start against the Pirates on Saturday.

If Blanton needs to go on the DL the team will at least be comfortable with his replacement as Kyle Kendrick would be the obvious choice to fill the void.

As we wait for the results, and hope for the best, cue the irony of the heaviest pitcher on the staff having a problem in his abdominal region.

After all, they say laughter is the best medicine.

Whiz Kids or the New and Improved Phitens, who is better ?

 From 1976 to 1980 they won 4 NL East titles, 1 National League Pennant and 1 World Series.

 From 2005 to present they have won 3 National League East titles, 2 National league Pennants and 1 World Series.

The first team included the group known as the Whiz Kids, with nearly every member of the team either in the hall of fame, or close to it, and known nationally as household names due to the exposure they recieved during their dominance.  The second team is still playing so does not have the advantage of securing a historical place in our minds and memories as of yet, but may equal or exceed the ability and statistics of the first group of Phillies superstars. 

This article will attempt to compare the two squad’s core group of players, then and now to determine which team is truly the best Phillies team of all time.  It might be noted the first team played just prior to the advent of steroid allegations and performance enhancing drugs becoming the norm, whereas the second group has played and does play in “the steroid era” of baseball with equal or better statistical results, yet has received no substantiated press regarding the use of these illegal and banned substances.  That by itself in this modern era of sports is remarkable, but what this group has acheived in a short period of time may be more so.

The first group-of Phillies included; Michael Jack Schmidt, Pete Rose, Bob Boone, Greg “The Bull” Luzinski, Tim McCarver, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox and was led by pitchers Steve “Lefty” Carlton, Tug McGraw and Larry Christensen. 

The current group of 21st century Phillies includes; Ryan Howard, Jaysen Werth, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and has had Brett Myers, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, JA Happ and Brad Lidge leading the way from the mound. 

For purposes of a direct comparison, I am not selecting players that only played 2 years or less with either team during the peak, hence the noticable lack of names such as  Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Juan Samuel, Pedro Martinez and the like.

The 1976 to 80 team, over their five seasons averaged  747 runs, 113 Homeruns, 696 RBI’s, 136 stolen bases and a .270 batting average while the pitching staff posted an ERA of under 3.50 for the span.   The two offensive leaders would have to be Rose and Schmidt, with Rose batting .291 with 390 runs and 255 RBI and Michael Jack posting over 200 homeruns, 600 RBI and 600 runs scored over the same 5 year span.

The leaguewide change of focus from defense to offense over the ensuing 30 years is evident when one realizes the Whiz Kids pitching staff ranked 7th league wide with an ERA around 3.00 while the 2008 staff was ranked 4th league wide while the ERA had risen to 3.88.

The offensive numbers of todays Phillies correlate to this change.  The current team is averaging 837 runs scored, 207 home runs, including a team record 224 last year, 706 RBI’s and 120 stolen bases.   Todays squad is led by Ryan Howard, with 220 homeruns, 630 RBI’s, and 460 runs scored over his first 5 full seasons.

The Phillies offensive output has increased by 30-40% while the team ERA has risen by 20% at the same time the league ERA has risen accordingly.   Between the Phillies dominance in the late seventies and early eighties and the current Phillies rise to prominance, the National League East was owned by the Atlanta Braves.  But those Braves dominated by virtue of their excllent pitching staff led by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.  There has not been a National League team that has ever had the dominant lineup from 1st to 7th position that the current Phillies possess.

Last years Phillies saw 4 players hit 30+ homeruns and drive in 90+ runs, as well as six players score 90+ runs and 8 hit 25 or more doubles.   They also had 4 players steal 20 or more bases.  This is the most balanced team to play in the National League in 50 years.  The Whiz Kids were famous simply because the perennial basement dwelling Phillies went to and won the World Series.   The current club should be afforded more respect because they are a better rounded and higher achieving team, and I for one, can not wait for them to close out the National League for 2010 so they can return to the World Series and go 2 for 3 as they take the championship away from the hated NY Yankees and return it to it’s rightful place, in Philadelphia.  This is a team that could easily win 3 or 4 of the next 5 World Series and establish itself in history as a baseball dynasty.

Based on these numbers, I would have to state, the current Phillies ballclub is the best statistical team ever to play baseball in Philadelphia, and I have a feeling the best is yet to come.

Gearing up to go for 4 in a row

Thank God, baseball is back ! 

Pitchers and Catchers reported a day early as the Phillies get geared up to try to make it 4 in a row.  The role that used to belong to the Atlanta Braves as the perennial team to beat seems to have been handed over to our Phitens.   The Braves and Marlins both made off season moves that indicate the team in their sights is in fact the Phillies.  The Mets also signed Jason Bay for 66 million for four years to improve their chances at being competative.  They may finish 15 games out instead of 24, but will never seriously challenge.

I believe this year the race is a two team one.  The Braves and the Phillies, although unlike most of the late eighties through early this century, the Phillies are the team with the slight edge prior to the start of the season, thanks in part to their off season acquisition of Roy Holliday, the pitcher many expected them to sign when they ”settled on” Cliff Lee last year.


I respect the man as a pitcher and a player, and think he did amazing things for the Phillies, especially in his first 6 starts after the trade, and through the 2009 playoffs and World Series.

But seriously, as good as he was, the Phillies are markedly better with Halliday in the rotation.

The Phillies finished the season last year first in runs, and slugging, second in stolen bases and on base percentage.  They hit a team record 224 home runs as well.  They finished 6th in ERA.  So the obvious place for manager Charlie Manuel to focus on improvement was at pitcher. 

Some improvement may have occurred without management intevention, one thing in particular being right knee surgery to 33 year old closer Brad Lidge.  He may startle some with a year closer resembling his stellar 2008 after a lackluster 2009.  He contributed to both the Phillies 3rd straight National League East title as well as their World Series loss.  He has been quoted as saying he wants to end the season on Broad Street again, obviously with different results.  A repaired right knee may allow him to complete his follow through more quickly as well as hold runners on base better, two things he was unable to do at his normal level of competance at the close of last season, when it mattered most.

 So it is starting to take shape here, the 2010 pitching rotation.  Cole Hamels as the throwback Ace.  Roy Halliday as the entering Ace.  Jose Contreras as the Ace in waiting.   J A Happ as the rookie phenom.   Joe Blanton as the workhorse.   Madsen and Baez as middle relief.   Romero, Kenrick and Durbin as the bullpen crew.  Brad Lidge as THE CLOSER (Goat or hero, depending on which Lidge we get apparently)

With much of the offense returning intact, notable exception being the addition of Placido Polanco, these Phillies should once again chase the 100 win mark.  I, for one, can hardly wait for opening day.  Unlike last year when I was exiled to the deep south, this year, I will be there in person to watch my favorite sports team of all time take to the field.

Three becoming the number for the Phillies

For the third time in a week the Phillies locked up one of their starters with a three year deal.

It is being reported that Carlos Ruiz and the team have agreed to an $8.85 million, three-year contract that avoids salary arbitration.

Ruiz joins Joe Balnton and Shane Victorino as members who have joined the three-year club last last few days.

Three has indeed been a magical number for the organization. When the team acquired ace Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays, they singed him to an extension that guaranteed to keep him in town for the next three years. The team then worked quickly to lock up Balnton, Victorino and Ruiz for what they hope will be three more years of success, including this year where they look to make their third trip to the World Series in — you guessed it — three years.

This is great news for Phillies fans as almost all of the starters will be in place until at least 2011 and most until 2012. Given the age of the core there is no reason to expect decline from the majority of the players and improvements are still possible. The one player who has yet to be locked up is Jayson Werth, who could taste the free agent market after the upcoming season. With the payroll already set to pass $140 million and not much coming off the books next season outside of Jamie Moyer’s $7 million it may be difficult to keep Werth, who appears on the verge of stardom.

Baseball is a business and it is impossible to keep all of the pieces together, but Ruben Amaro Jr. has done an excellent job of keeping the large majority of things the same.

Now all that is left is making sure the level of play remains the same.

The signing of Ruiz basically closes the book on the Phillies’ offseason. Last week the team added veteran — and I mean veteran — pitcher Jose Contreras, so the bullpen is pretty much set. I wouldn’t mind seeing another starter added to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation, but with the Phils maxed out on funds, anyone they bring in would be a long-shot at best.

With that said it would be hard to grade this offseason anything lower than a B+ with the only flaw being the decision not to roll the dice on keeping Cliff Lee for one more season and giving the team the best rotation in the game.

Road to a Dynasty is going to cost $$$

If the Phillies want to become a dynasty, I offer 5 suggestions to send them on their way. They have a good balanced ball club, one that has won the National League east three times in a row, been to 2 World Series and won one. That is a good 500 or so games for the team. But to truly become a dynasty, they need to sustain this level of play for 1000 or so more games.

That is tough in an arbitration filled, salary capped, league unless they plan on spending half a billion dollars each and every off season like the Yankees seem to do. Frankly, as much support as the Phillies get, I still  don’t think they can afford to do this, and I doubt the fans will support them spending that kind of money in the city of brotherly love unless they become perennial champions first.

But short of spending billions there are a few steps they can take to ensure success for years to come, simply by adding the right pieces to the existing nucleus of this years club and securing the worthy pieces they already have in the fold to make sure they don’t find greener pastures elsewhere.   Chase Utley was ranked the 6th best player in baseball, Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard should be in the top ten as well. Cliff Lee is a top five pitcher, and Cole Hamels is probably a top ten pitcher, JA Happ is the runner up rookie of the year.  Beyond that, the team is really a group of utility players, position players, run producers and role models.

In addition to this strong nucleus, now that trading season has begun, here is what I would do if I were Ruben Amaro.

1.) I would do whatever it takes to sign Placido Polanco to play third base next year.  5 years for $40 million perhaps.

2.) I would sign Omar Vizquel to replace Bruntlett as the end all-be all utility middle infielder.  4 years for $10 million.

3.) I would sign Ryan Howard up for the rest of his career, with a rich contract full of performance bonuses and incentives, this is the guy who hits 40 homeruns, drives in 140-150 runs, scores another 100 and has a strikeout total that is dropping and a fielding percentage that is rising.  This is a motivated player, 2005 rookie of the year, 2006 MVP, and in my opinion 2008 MVP as well; we CANNOT let him go.  He has three years secured right now, that leaves him a 32 year old in his prime either arbitrating or shopping himself as a free agent.  Wrong !!  He should get something in the 9 figure area now that he proved himself for the fourth straight year, remember he was asking for $18 million a year, before accepting a three year buyout deal in February for $54 million, but is entitled to  Texiera/ARod/Jeter type money and will go get it elsewhere in 2012 if he doesnt get it here.   Figure 5-6 more years at $130 million.

4.) I would sign Jimmy Rollins for another 5 years, slightly sweeter than his previous 2005 deal, to keep him in the leadoff role through 2015.  Figure $40 million here.

5.) I would sign Victorino to a long term contract as well.  Shane and Rollins are looking to be perennial run scoring gold glove machines, and having them 1-2 or 1-3 or whatever in the lineup in front of Utley, Howard and Werth means opposing pitchers dont stand a chance.  You can lock down Shane for $10 million for 4 years.  $40 more million.

Also, I would tie up Chan Ho Park with a multi year deal.  Park is by far the best deal for the money, and a known prospect who performed as well as any other bullpen hopefuls the Phillies are looking at.  $10 million ?  It seems a lot but in baseball salary terms, a drop in the bucket !

Think of it, Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Polanco, Ibanez, Werth, Ruiz, with Francisco, and Vizquel occasionally spotting the starters makes one hell of a lineup.   Everyone of those guys could score 100, drive in 100, hit 30 doubles, 20 homeruns,  steal 20 bases, and have an OPS  between .600 and .900.

Then you have Lee, Hamels, Blanton, and Happ as a four man rotation with Park, Madsen, Eyre, Durbin and probably Lidge since Charlie loves the guy in relief. Who thinks that group WON”T win 100 games next year ? And using these numbers plus those already signed onto contracts, that still places you around 8th in the league in overall payroll.

Because I can sense a dynasty in the making, I only hope Amaro and Manuel sense the same thing and are committed to spending the resources to make it happen.  It won’t be billions but it WILL be $250,000,000 +.   But think of it, $250 million is less than the largest contract in baseball for one person, and it secures a championship caliber TEAM potential through 2015 or so !!  The key is to do it now, and get it done, and then reap the rewards for the next 5-8 years to come.   The fans in Philadelphia are long suffering and certainly deserve it !

Lights out on Philadelphia?

It wasn’t a blown save, it was something much worse.

Bard Lidge allowed three runs in the ninth inning and the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-4, to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the World Series, Sunday night.

Pedro Feliz hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 8th off Joba Chamberlain to tie the game at 4-4 and give the Phillies the momentum heading in to the ninth. Lidge came in and got the first two hitters out, as it appeared his postseason reconciliation was going to continue.

Then it all fell to pieces.

Johnny Damon hit the blooper of all bloopers to keep the inning alive. Damon, not the fastest runner these days, stole second and third on the same play as the Phillies were playing a shift against Mark Teixeira, as no one was covering third.

This was Lidge’s first big mistake. With Feliz accepting the throw down to second, there was no one to cover third except for Lidge who never even attempted to get over there. From there he hit Texeiria, let up a double to Alex-Rodriguez, a single to Jorge Posada and it was all over.

While Lidge will take most of the heat for this loss, there is plenty to go around.

-         The Phillies hit two home runs, again solo shots, as the team had trouble getting men on base.

-         In the fifth inning Chase Utley tried to toss the ball to Rollins with his glove in an attempt to start a double play instead of taking his time to transfer the ball and just get one out. As a result he got no outs and the Yankees would score two runs that innings.

-         Joe Blanton pitches OK, but took the crowd out of the game early by allowing two runs in the first inning.

-         What is going on with Raul Ibanez?

-         Ryan Howard had a broken-bat single, but again looked helpless against the breaking ball.


It is now desperation time in Philadelphia as the Phils must win three straight to defend their World Series title. It can be done, certainly, but the Phils will need to play a lot better than they have through four games. Cliff Lee takes the ball tonight against A.J. Burnett.

The Phillies have been a team that plays well when their backs are against the wall, but this is bigger than any test they have had this season.

We will see if there is any magic left, or if it is “lights out” for the Phils.

Phils need Hamels to step up in Game 3

Pivotal Game 3 has arrived.

To say that Cole Hamels has been a disappointment this season would be an understatement. Coming off of a postseason where he was the NLCS and World Series MVP, big things were expected of the young left-hander. Those expectations were never met as Hamels went 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA. He consistently gave up big home runs and never quite found a rhythm. Even upon the Phillies’ return to the postseason, Hamels could not find his 2008 magic.

If he can find it tonight, all of those aforementioned stats will be forgotten.

Hamels takes the hill tonight as the Phillies host the Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series.

Opposing Hamels will be postseason veteran Andy Pettitte. With the series tied at 1-1, there are big impactions on tonight’s contest. If the Yankees win they will have the series lead with their ace C.C. Sabathia set to face Joe Blanton in Game 4, a matchup the Yanks undoubtedly feel good about. Meanwhile, if the Phillies win they will go into Game 4 with a load of confidence knowing that Cliff Lee will be waiting in Game 5 to close things out if they can find away past Sabathia.

Playing a part in the atmosphere will be the weather as showers are expected throughout the evening. The rain will certainly not quiet the Phils’ faithful who have helped the team to the point of dropping just one home postseason game in two years.


Pitching matchup: Andy Pettitte is 2-0 this postseason with a 2.37 ERA. In 11 lifetime World Series appearances, he is 3-4 with a 3.82 ERA. You know Pettitte will be relaxed as this is nothing new for him. As is the case with most veteran pitchers, the Phillies would be wise to get to them early as he has the capability to shut teams down if he gets a lead and a favorable strike zone.

Hamels has been ineffective so far in the playoffs, going 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA.  Giving up the long-ball has been a problem and could be again tonight against a dangerous lineup. Charlie Manuel said they talked about using the curveball more, so we will see if that factors in his outing.

 Game Time: 8:07

Joe Blanton will start Game 4

Joe Blanton will get another chance to crack a home run in the World Series.

More importantly, he will get a chance to pitch the Phillies past the Yankees in Game 4, on Sunday. Manager Charlie Manuel announced today that Blanton will get the call, instead of using Cliff Lee on three days’ rest. Lee will pitch Game 5.

Manuel said that he did not think Lee would be ready on three days’ rest and that he did not want to push him. He also said that he will use J.A. Happ exclusively out of the bullpen the rest of the way.

Blanton started Game 4 against the Rays last year, combining a strong pitching performance with a clutch home run in what became a 10-2 Phillies win. It gave the Phillies a 3-1 series lead. Fans can only hope for some déjà vu.

Cole Hamels will start game 3 on Saturday and will be opposed by veteran Andy Pettitte.

So what do you think: Is Charlie making the right move by going with a rested Joe Blanton over Lee on short rest?