Sunday, June 29, 2008

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 www.fightinphillies.com and at MLB Blogs also called Fightin Phillies – leave me your comments and perhaps I can bring them up on a future podcast.

email me at: Rich@FightinPhillies.com


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