Sunday, June 29, 2008

Phillies Talk Podcast June 29

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Phillies near end of June, still in First!

The Phillies have been on a slide lately but they rebounded to win on Saturday night after having a real tough time against the Texas Rangers on the first game of the series with a loss with Brett Myers on the mound. It’s been a rough June for the Phillies as they have 12 wins and 13 losses with one more game to play in the month. A lot of talk has centered around what will happen with the starting pitching rotation as Brett Myers and Adam Eaton each are getting hit pretty badly when they pitch.

In Saturday’s game, Chase Utley is emerging from his slump with a 3 for 5 night with a towering 400 foot homerun that is good to hear. Jimmy Rollins was going into last night’s game with a 1 for his last 20- but almost scored on an amazing ‘inside the park’ homerun try that found him thrown out at the plate but may be the seed that the Phillies need to break out of their slump and go out there and have some fun! Jimmy’s average has plummeted to .264 which is tied with Pedro Felix on the club and as the Phillies announcers said last night, it seems that something is different with Jimmy since he came back from his injury, not physically but maybe more mentally, he just doesn’t have that ‘we’re going to win it all’ attitude it seems.

Brett Myers has been the Phillies ‘go to guy’ when it came to relief a season ago, he may be the only starting pitcher who has opened for opening day and first moved to the bullpen last year and now this year, the Phillies moved him back into the starters role and now they may to forced to make such a move for other reasons now. Brett Myers has been a Phillie for a long time now, and if a trade were considered for him or Eaton, I hope the Phillies get someone good in return. All too often this club trades away players for no body’s and then the Phillie player excels on another team that he is traded to. Look at Vincente Padilla, he’s traded for a player that probably isn’t in baseball now and Padilla is one of the mainstays in the Rangers pitching rotation. So I would expect a fairly good player in return for either of these two veteran pitchers. Don’t just give players away!

The Phillies have remained in first place due to the Marlins and the Mets losing along with the Phillies – the Phils are still 2 games up on the Marlins and the Mets and Braves lay in wait at 4 games back. The Mets were doing pretty well in the past couple weeks but this weekend the Yankees have been roughing them up. Phenom Johann Santana is now 7-7 on the season as the Mets look to pick up the pieces from last year still, and try to make this combination of players work.

The two hottest teams in baseball are the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox as we are nearing the half way point in the season. The Cubbies may be on the way to a 100 plus win season for the first time since they won 100 games way back in 1935 – that’s right 1935 the closest the Cubs have come to winning 100 games recently was back in 1984 then they won 96 games and finished first in the division that year- Could this be the Cubbies year as they last won a World Series back in 1908 and in 1907- the poor Phillies have only one world series victory and that was in 1980 – who can forget that?

If the Phillies do get in the playoffs this year, I hope they play a little better than last year’s games against the Rockies, the Phils couldn’t get out of their own way in that series and hopefully the players had a taste of the playoff season last year and they’ll be a lot more comfortable this year.

Is this Phillies 2008 a serious contender for the World Series? That is an answer that will continue to be found out, but with their current pitching staff – I would have to say it isn’t. A team that gets into the World Series has to have a potent offense but also a great staff of pitchers, and the Phillies on paper should be doing better in the starting pitching department. Lokk back at the championship Phillies team of 1980 for example, Steve Carlton lead the team with an awesome 24-9 record a 2.34 era and 286 strikeouts he pitched 304 innings – along with Carlton the Phillies had the explosive offense of Mike Schmidt who had 48 homeruns that season along with only 119 strikeouts. The next best pitcher for the Phillies that year was Dick Ruthven – he had 17 wins. Larry Christenson had 5 wins for the team while the dog Pitcher that year was Randy Lerch who went 4-14 with the team that year. The Phillies let Lerch go after 1980 but the Lerch man came back to the Phillies for a cup of coffee in 1986 to go 1-1 in 4 games started for the Phils that year. So my point is you have to have at least two great starting pitchers to make a ball club become a serious contender for the World Series, the Phillies should doing whatever is necessary to land a ‘Greg Maddux’ or someone of his caliber to bolster that team that has a great chance to make the playoffs if not go further. If no starter is added of high caliber though, I say we can write the Phils out of the World Series and even making it into the playoffs may be difficult.

The Phils go back out onto the field today on June 29 in Texas at 605 pm local time in Philly then they have an off day on Monday before the Phils head into Atlanta with a Braves team that is moving up in the standings. So the Phils better be sharp as the Braves no doubt want to get the Phillies back for sweeping the bravos in Atlanta June 6-7-8 – they will be out to avenge that one for sure.

In the last 10 games the Phillies are 2-8 –they haven’t won a series of games since they swept the Braves back in early June – they have lost their last 5 sets of games against various teams but they can win a set of games with a win against Texas tonight and that would be great as the Phillies would post a 13-13 June with a win as well.

For the Phillies Talk Podcast, my name is Rich Baxter - read my blog on the Phillies at and at MLB Blogs also called Fightin Phillies – leave me your comments and perhaps I can bring them up on a future podcast.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Myers mired in a mucky situation

Brett Myers has been on a roller coaster with the Phillies the last couple of years. This time the roller coaster is spinning out of control, with the bad luck that Brett has had the last couple outings. His last outing against the Rangers wasn't his worst, I saw some glimmer of hope in his delivery. He was trying to mix in some off speed pitches and was trying to keep the ball low. This is good.

Myers has been the Phillies Opening Day pitcher for two years in a row, and he's done everything the team has asked him to do, even move into the bull pen and do a pretty good job of his closer's role. Now Myers is a starter again, not too easy to get used to, pitchers don't generally move back and forth from relief to starter all that often.

Pitchers don't always pitch greatly, they have some off times, even off years. Look at tonight's starting pitcher for the Rangers, Vincente Padilla. Padilla had a rough year in Philly and the Phils traded him off but yet he's one of the aces of the Rangers staff and has been for some time. Vicente went 9-12 the year the Phils traded him, then came back the next year in 2006 to get 15 wins for the Rangers. Vincente had an off year the next year with 6 wins and 10 losses in 2007, now he already has 10 wins for the Rangers this year, and we have more than a half a season left.

I wish the Phillies had that 20 game winner on the staff other than Cole Hamels, they would make the playoffs for sure with that. Right now, it's still choppy ocean as the Phils look to chart their next move.

If Myers had any fault with his career as a Phillie it was his wife abuse that took place in Boston June 23, 2006. For this he could have easily been shown the door if the Phillies had some sort of policy in place or if someone stood up and said, 'This is wrong". At the time Myers has red hot for the Phillies and he could do no wrong, now this has changed and don't be surprised if Myers gets his walking papers which could be the best thing to happen at this time in his career.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wade interested in Freddie Garcia

Ed Wade, our former Phillies GM who is a large part responsible for what the Phillies look like today still, is interested in Phillies rehabbing pitcher Freddie Garcia. If Wade's own pitcher wouldn't have thrown him to the ground in disgust, we probably would have traded Garcia for the Houston pitcher/bouncer Shawn Chacon even up, assuming Houston would have picked up his full salary which I am sure they would have.

The story is familiar, player doesn't do what management wants and he gets spanked. Only this time after a slight spanking, this player relaliated and assaulted the poor defenseless Wade. This doesn't sound like a good way to keep your job, and Chacon should actually be banned from baseball at least for the rest of the year, if not for his life. Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal came out against Ed Wade on this story. Read his post on the situation here. Rosenthal doesn't make any sense saying that Wade shouldn't have called him on the carpet in front of other coaches and staff. Why not? The pitcher totally disregarded management when there was a visit to the mound, is that ok Ken? Come on, if your boss said he wanted to speak with you, and you walked a away and just ignored him, I guess Ken Rosenthal or anyone else wouldn't have a job or a boss at that point. They would have been fired. Why shouldn't a player be told, that this will not be tolerated? What if every player acted this way?

I've never been that big of an Ed Wade fan, but this wasn't his fault and the guy doesn't deserve to be assaulted by some big goon.

Rich Baxter / Fightin Phillies Blog

Friday, June 20, 2008

Phillies are in first, but for how long?

The Phillies alone in first, for how long?

The Phillies have surprisingly been on top of the NL East for a while now. The team have really pulled out a lot of offense to get there. As of June 20, the Phils are 2nd in the NL in runs scored with 393 and 4th in batting average with .263. Winning games got them where they are, now in the last 10 games the tables are turning on the Phils a little. They have only 4 wins in their last 10 games going into June 20th, and tonight on the 20th they look like they may lose another to the Angels on the first visit to Philly by the Angels is already being played.

Teams to watch continue to be the Marlins, which didn’t exactly fold its cards yet. The Marlins are only 2 games out of tying the Phils for first. The New York Mets are almost .500 now, and are looking like a powerhouse looming in the distance as they plot along after the firing of Willie Randolph. Poor Willie, he shouldn’t have lasted this long really.

Chase Utley has shown that he is human, and is in the first real slump he’s been in for as long as I remember. So many games he has been a powerhouse, now when he doesn’t connect, people notice. They have taken the many great hits from Utley for granted, and now he’s still a superstar, but even superstars have slumps.

If the Phillies were to fall out of first place, I would have to place that around the All Star break. Leading up to the All Star Game, the Phillies have a long home stand with 4 games against those Mets, three with the Cardinals, and three with Arizona. The only way the team avoids this is to keep winning going into the last week of June. They need to reverse this recent slump that the whole team has slid into, and get back to having fun and winning.

Ryan Howard has been hot to add RBI’s to his season total, but his batting average is way below the average major leaguer. He needs to try to get hits more, and stop swinging for the fence so much. His strikeouts are an astounding 102 already and we haven’t hit the half way point in the season yet. He is on pace to have 230 K’s this year. I am not happy with this, I don’t care that he has 63 rbi’s, I would like a hitter for average a lot more. He’s coming around after a totally unsatisfactory April and Mid May. If Howard stops striking out and connects for more hits, the Phillies will continue to win. If not, the Phils may suffer for it.

Errors have been creeping up on the team, rarely the team had an infield error, now that trend is reversing though. The Phillies have had more than their share of errors. The Phils should have 46 wins by now, according to as of June 20, they’ve had some tough luck and that win total is 42 but for now it is good enough for first!

Rich Baxter / Fightin' Phillies blog

Phillies not passing their tough tests

When the Phillies started their series against the American league, I had a good feeling because the Phils were red hot and were firing on all cylinders as they welcomed in the Boston Red Sox. The first game of the series, the Phillies pulled all the stops out. They pummelled the Red Sox with pure power and then the last two games against the Sox, the Phils just couldn't get out of their own way.

Chase Utley has left the building temporarily, he's gone hitless in 20+ AB's and people are taking notice, although this is getting more attention then the times Ryan Howard strikes out. Go figure. These games have exposed a few of the Phillies weaknesses. Pitching, they have no real 20 game winner prospect except Cole Hamels. This and a combination of other things have exposed to daylight a few of the Phillies more pressing problems.

In my opinion, Charlie Manuel hasn't been 'managing' too much. He sits back, and doesn't show any respect to great hitters and doesn't intentionally walk them most of the time. This often haunts the Phillies as these hitters feast on these opportunities. In other times, his pitching changes are suspect. It's a strange sort of managing he does, because most of the time it is just 'play on' without his guidance. He always talks of needing to 'play' better when the team doesn't do well, but can he take a look at some of his own calls and see that he could do a lot better.

This team is 10 games over .500 as the game 1 vs. The Angels of LA or whatever they are called this year starts, they better figure out what is happening because a team called the Mets are turning things around and charging up the standings with their sites set for the Phillies.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Let's make it 3 HR's in a row!

Back to Back to Back - three home runs in the first inning against the Cardinals on June 13th 2008! Very rare for the team to have this happen, this time it was Utley, Howard, and Burrell. The last time this happened was in 2004, during that year it happened twice once on 5/18/2004 and then prior to that on 5/4/2004. The home run trios were by the same three players in different order:

5/18/2004 it was Abreu, Burrell, Thome
5/4/2004 trio was in order: Abreu, Thome, Burrell.

Prior to that according to the Phillies Media guide this rare event happened in 1999, 1987, 1985, and 1977.

Several Phillies players have hit 3 HR's in one game by themselves. The last was Ryan Howard 9/3/2006 game 1 vs. ATL at home in Citizen's Bank Park .... all three were consecutive. Prior to that, Mike Lieberthal hit three in a game on 8/10/2002 at Los Angeles. This is so rare, we have to go back to 1997 to find the Phillies player who hit three in a game, Bobby Estalella - who did it in Montreal on 9/4/1997.

The only 'modern' player of the Phillies to hit four homeruns in one game was Mike Schmidt who did it consecutive at Wrigley Field on 4/17/1976. Prior to that, Chuck Klein did it in 1936 and then it goes all the way back to 1896 when Ed Delahanty hit 4 home runs in one game.

Rich Baxter / Fightin Phils Blog

Moyer goes to 9-0 vs. Marlins- Lessons to be learned from this

Perhaps Brett Myers and Adam Eaton should look at Jamie Moyer and use Moyer's wisdom to improve their records. Moyer paints when he is on the mound, he doesn't throw right down the middle at 95 miles per hour, as Myers does much of the time. A finesse pitcher is just as effective as the fastballer, and sometimes even better. Moyer is 9-0 against the Marlins now, Moyer has their number.

Myers and Eaton should learn at lot from this, they need to develop more of a style where they are catching batters off guard and start learning to paint instead of just going out there and chucking the ball.

The Phillies have the 7th highest batting average in the NL at .262 - they could bring this up more by getting more base hits. They are second in runs in the NL at 353 runs scored. In pitching the Phils are 4th in the NL with ERA at 3.84 -

The Phillies are at 40 wins already with more than half of the season to go. They have the 13th highest payroll at 95 million-

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Phils better crush the Marlins in Game 3

I thought the Phillies were going to pull into Miami and crush the Marlins the way they have been playing. I don't believe that they dropped the first two games of the series to them. Where is that offense that couldn't be stopped in the past two weeks?

I say the Phillies should come out and send a clear message to the Marlins that this is 'the Phillies' division by coming out and trouncing them in game 3.

Yes, Flash imploded in Game 2 he shouldn't have been on the mound to give up that Grand Slam, he isn't that good really and has been pitching above his means. Manuel again makes me wonder if he is managing the team or is the team managing him. I'll say it again in this Phillies blog: I don't think Manuel is as good as the credit he is taking from the recent win streak. He doesn't manage smartly. With the first walk, Gordon should have been pulled period. This isn't armchair coaching, but it's what happens with better managers who know better than stay with someone until the ship sinks and the game gets blown.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Phils announcers ... How are they doing?

Kalas is still 'The Voice' of the Phillies

The Phillies brought back Tom McCarthy and gave him a multi-year contract this year. Tom is ok, at times he seems a bit distracted, especially on his home run calls. They lack enthusiasm and energy at times. I like him for the most part, I think he has to become more of a Phillies 'fan' sometimes. I know he worked for the Phils and then went over to the Mets for a few years, but he needs to be more of a 'rah rah Phillies are great' type of announcer. He isn't even on the Phillies broadcasters site on the site, that's a bit strange.

Longtime announcers Chris Wheeler and Harry Kalas are still stellar, I like a lot of what they bring to the broadcast. A lot of stories about the ballplayers, some inside stuff. Kalas is a bit silent at times, but silence is good too, you don't always have to be talking to have someone appreciate the announcing style. They have the best long ball calls but a close second to these two is Scott Franzke over on the radio side that is just thrilled at times when he calls homeruns, it's so great to hear!

Speaking of the radio side, I think both Scott Franzke and Larry Anderson do a great job on the airwaves. I think Franzke would be great on tv as well. Gary Matthews works well with both Wheeler and McCarthy and does a good job as his 'sarge' nickname would allude to.

The field is crowded, a lot of variety with our broadcast team. I still wish my other favorite Phillies announcer of the past Scott Graham would be coming back sometime soon. He was the real deal and a great announcer for the Phillies, his contract not being renewed was almost a crime.

Rollins miscue shouldn't have been handled like that!

Jimmy Rollins well publicized benching the other day was a real joke. Rollins hit a high fly up to deep short, which 98.9 times out of 100 is an out, that would have been the third out. Rollins looked dejected as he lurched off towards first and didn't make it much past first base after the ball was dropped.

Charlie Manuel, the Phillies manager, felt it necessary to take Rollins out of the game in a very public spanking of Rollins in public. This went way too far. Rollins was last year's NL MVP, Rollins deserved a lot better from Manuel. If anything Manuel could have taken him in the office after the game and talked to Rollins. No one really would have noticed this. Just as no one really noticed Jimmy not advancing more than first base on the dropped fly.

If I had a dollar for everytime I though Manuel's moves can be dead wrong, I'd be very rich by now. The Phillies are winning right now, and Manuel is enjoying basking in the sunlight of the winning streak. He's no Dallas Green, he's no Tom Lasorda, and he's not even close to being a really great manager in my opinion.

Rollins is one of the most under appreciated players in the league by not only the Phillies but even the media. He didn't deserve this, I've seen many plays that were worse by Philly players and nothing was done as a punishment that was so obvious as this. Manuel was wrong, and he better start understanding that Rollins is putting all those feathers in his cap not only this season but previous one's of course.