Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Momentary lapse of judgement from Herrera, Phils drop first game to Tigers

Obudel Herrera does a lot of things right. He occasionally shows a few things that he doesn't do right and last night we saw both sides of that spectrum.

There was a very slow roller hit to the pitcher who fielded it and wasn't in a hurry to get the ball to first, and the score was tied 4-4 in the top of the 7th.  At the same moment, Odubel Herrera acted like he would take the same approach to getting to first base, he jogged as he watched the play unfold, perhaps if he had gone full speed, he may have made it to first.

We used to see another player do that quite often on the Phillies. Many times we saw some of the same speed to first base on certain plays,  he earned the nickname, J-Stroll. When asked about it, he said, you're not going to be running full speed on every play. Of course that player was one of the Phillies best shortstops, Jimmy Rollins. Should you run full speed on everything?, maybe not, but the plays that you don't are very easy to spot from both a fan's seat or the player's bench. Pete Mackanin didn't miss this one, and Odubel took a seat late in the game.

Coming into this game, the Phillies ran into a hot Tigers roll, they were 5-1 in their current home stand. The Tigers also own the 2nd best interleague record of any AL team, the stand now at 121-75, Boston has the best record at 123-67.

The Phils try it again tonight, a lot of the team's games against the NL East have been played, hopefully they don't start sinking here when they are playing the teams outside of the division.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

The passing of Jim Mulry from Phillies Talk Podcast

Phillies Talk Podcast lost a very important part of the broadcast team that made it up when Jim "Sports Dog" Mulry passed away on Friday at the age of 65 in Philadelphia.

Listeners of the show really looked forward to listening to what Jimmy had to say about the current state of the team, and his love for baseball in general. His dedication to our listeners was really strong, he had been in somewhat poor health in the last couple years but he insisted on doing some shows even from his hospital bed a couple years ago. A listener often didn't know what he was doing the show from such tough circumstances.

To get you up to speed on the history of the show, it was started back in 2006 when podcasting was just starting to get off the ground. Jim wasn't very tech oriented, in fact, he never owned a computer. All of his knowledge was up in his brain, and he enjoyed reading and learning all he could about baseball and sports in general. He was an avid fan of all sports from football, especially college, to golf to basketball.

I met Jimmy at a job that we both worked at, we used to talk sports and I had an idea. Jim sounded like he had been in broadcasting, and indeed he had done several announcing duties over the years for various local sports projects. I decided to ask him if he'd like to try doing a sports podcast with me, and he said, "A what?"  I had to tell him all about podcasting which was just starting to take off in 2006, I told him it was an internet broadcast that could be heard around the world by anyone with a computer, phone, or ipod that wanted to listen. He was in, and we started off doing all the major Philadelphia sports for about a year, before we decided to limit it to baseball, which was something we agreed on because of the love we had for the game. So that's a bit of history on how we started the show.

Jim and his wife regularly made the rounds of local high school and college sports in the area. His idea of a great Friday night often included going to the local high school football games and supporting local sports, he was well known to athletic directors from all over the area.

Phillies Talk Podcast will continue, I know Jim would have wanted the show to go on. For the next edition, I'll be releasing a bit of a retrospective on what he had done over the years. Some great interviews we did, some behind the scenes banter and some fun times we had while doing the show. I'll have it finished by the Memorial Day weekend, so stay tuned for it! If you never listened to the show, now you may have a good reason to want to tune in. You can subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher Radio, and listen from BaseballTalkRadio.com - which is the home for great baseball talk shows.

God bless Jim, and may he rest in peace. The memories we had of doing the show and our friendship was legendary, we was almost like a brother that I never had.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Phillies cool off their hot roll

Every year it seems like the Phillies team doesn't do well for certain pitchers, this year it's Jerad Eickhoff

The Phillies floated back to earth in the past couple of games, last night the team lost to a feisty Marlins team, after getting soundly beaten by the Reds in the final game of a three game series on Sunday.

Last night, the Phils had plenty of opportunities to get some runners across home plate, but finished the night with a 1-13 RISP in the 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins. Despite these losses the team is nearly tied for second with the Mets in the NL East.

Jerad Eickhoff pitched what is referred to as a quality start. Nonetheless, he got the loss which takes him to 1-6 on the season. Eickhoff gave up 3 R on 6 IP and has a 4.44 ERA on the season.

Vince Velasquez pitches for the Phillies tonight, as they seek to put a stop to this recent couple game losing streak. Even Velasquez has cooled down a bit from where he was only a couple weeks ago, in the last two starts, he went six innings and gave up 4 runs in each game.

The Marlins haven't been doing all that great of late, they are 5-5 in their last 10 games, the rest of the starting rotation for this series is Jeremy Hellickson, and then Aaron Nola to finish up the series before the Braves come into town for a weekend series with the Phillies.

In the middle of May, if you had said the Phillies would be contesting the Mets for second place at this point in the season, I would have swore this was a dream. That's exactly where the Phillies are though at this point in May. Can they continue getting into the 'W' column to keep up the pace in the NL East?

From Eickhoff's page on ESPN.com:

 Eickhoff hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last four starts, and yet has an 0-3 record to show for it. The luck should change for the righty at some point, especially if he continues his impressive 4:1 K/BB ratio. Eickhoff's next start will come Sunday against the Braves.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Who the hell believes in the Pythagorean theory for baseball anyway?

Even Mackanin has to wonder if this lucky streak will keep lasting, and where it may take this young Phillies team

Just today there was a call to have Pete Mackanin considered for Manager of the Year by baseball pundit Jon Heyman. Here's the tweet that went round the world about it from Jon:

But how is this possible? We've been watching the Phillies all season so far and as dedicated blogging professionals and fans, we can't figure this out. The Phillies just have not be dominating teams this year, in fact, we've seen them winning lately and holding leads but how much of this is because of great managerial moves or great offense and pitching displays?

Then there is something that is the the Pythagorean theory of baseball, which is a formula used to tell how a team could just be lucky in the manner in which it's won the games that they have if their record is indeed better than what it 'should' be based upon this theory. If you've never heard of this or have never seen it, you can find a team's Pythagorean record at Baseball-Reference.com

I just happened to wonder by the 2016 Phillies before the start of the game between the Phils and the Reds tonight. The number left me dumbfounded, according to this theory, the Phillies should have been with a record of 15-21 at the beginning of the game with the Reds, and not the 21-15 record that they indeed had.

What does all of this mean?

It could mean that the Phillies have won some games that they shouldn't have. Their amount of runs scored compared to the runs scored against can't be good if your record should be 15-21, but that's proving this theory a bit wrong when the Phillies have such a great record. Is it just luck then? You can't find the answers in any sabermetric stat, you'll just go crazy because the numbers don't support the good record.

That's where the sabermetric and the crowd that thinks they have baseball all figured out by the numbers are sucking some serious wind. The numbers don't show the good results, they are the force of something else, perhaps a bit of baseball luck, a blessing from the baseball gods or something else unexplained that will leave a sabermetrics fan speechless. The power of winning, of clinging to 1-run games (the Phils have a 13-3 record in these games so far this year) and pulling out miraculous victories can lead you to a certain amount of faith..almost like a baseball religious experience. It's happening folks, you gotta believe.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Phils make first stop in Atlanta this season

Phils make first stop at the Turner Field stadium, next year it's the new Sun Trust Park for the Braves

The Phillies stop in Atlanta tonight to play the first of 9 games that the Phils will play there this season. The Braves have turned into a very bad team, perhaps by design, as they prepare to move to a brand new stadium next season in the Atlanta suburbs just off a major highway.

Rumors that the Braves have tanked the season have taken over as they have the worst team in the MLB so far in 2016. Atlanta used to own the NL East for a very good chunk of time from the early 90's to 2005. In fact, the Braves finished in first place every year from 1991 to 2005 except in 1994, when the Braves finished in 2nd place.

This franchise in Atlanta has dipped down to the core in '16 currently with a .233 winning percentage - perhaps worse than last year's Phillies team that almost lost 100 games on the season. On top of that, the Braves finish up their last year at their current stadium before moving next year.

So what's all the hubbub about getting a new stadium in Atlanta? The new stadium is going to be called Sun Trust Stadium and it's being built about 25 miles north of the current stadium which is actually in Atlanta. The Braves have been playing in Turner Field since 1997, but the team argued that this stadium needed $350M in renovations, it didn't have enough parking, and was too far from mass transit at about 3/4 of a mile away. The city of Atlanta countered that it couldn't afford the improvements needed by the team for the Turner Field complex, so the team looked elsewhere and found this new location in Cobb County.

The new stadium for the Braves will be an exercise in luxury. A brand new Omni Hotel will be built overlooking the stadium with 260 rooms, Comcast will play an important part in the Atlanta Braves new location as well, they are relocating their Southeast headquarters to a building near the new Sun Trust Park and will provide high tech services and build a mixed use facility similar to the one in Philadelphia with bars, restaurants, and other attractions.

 The plan surprised many residents of Cobb County, it was a classic sneak attack type of presentation with only 2 weeks notice before the stadium was announced  and then voted on. Many residents didn't even know what was going on, but by the time they figured it out, Cobb County would be backing a $397M investment into the Braves. The county commission voted 5-0 to approve it and was going to issue bonds to pay for the investment.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Latest Phillies Talk Podcast - Is this team like the '93 Team?

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Subscribe to the show on iTunes, and Stitcher Radio, the links are on the right side of the blog here at FightinPhillies.com 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Phillies get replay marred loss in St. Louis

These are the games that the Phillies should win, but last night the Phils couldn't hold their slim lead into the 9th inning and lost 5-4 in a spectacular come back win by the Cardinals last night.

There was an hit that was bobbled by Freddie Galvis (this used to be called an error at times) allowing 2 runs to score in the bottom of the fifth. The Phillies contested a safe call at home but the call was upheld and the 2nd run was a good score as somehow the hand of the Cardinals base runner, Eric Fryer, seemed to get in their in time.

 It took a very long time for a call to come back from the New York TV replay control center that makes the call. In years past, he probably would have been called out, but in this game of video replay era, the play was agonizingly replayed many, many times before a call was made. It was the second replay to be argued that inning and a very important one for the Phillies.

The Phils just couldn't close the door on the Cardinals as they rallied for a couple more runs in the bottom of the 9th for the walk-off win hit by Matt Holliday.

Even with all of the delays, the game clocked in at 3:03, at least that make the baseball timing gods happy.

This new way of playing baseball for video replay is strange, and it's not too appealing. Of course when the Phils lose because of it, that even seems worse but it interrupts the overall flow of a baseball game.

The series wraps up this afternoon in St. Louis, the Phils look to salvage a series here needed to win to make it at .500 in St. Louis. The loss brings the Phils to 16-12 on the season and 8-7 away as the lucky streak for them seems to be over at the moment.

Jerad Eickhoff vs Jaime Garcia this afternoon at 1:45 PM local time.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Cardinals break up 4-game losing streak last night

Adam Wainwright owns a chapter in Jeremy Hellickson's book last night with his long home run against him, that sailed into the 2nd deck at St. Louis

The Cards looked like a team that needed a spark last night to re-energize their offense. They went into last night's ballgame with a 4-game losing streak and we're looking to end the drought that the team had been on.

The drought ended last night, as Adam Wainwright got the win and he hit an upper deck home run against Jeremy Hellickson to drive in 3 runs on the night. That was the spark that the Cards needed to get on track again it seemed like.

Hellickson may have stayed in this game a little too long, after giving up the long home run to Wainwright, he then (2 innings later) gave up back to back home runs to Matt Adams and Aledmys Diaz . The score at that point was 6-3 in the bottom of the 6th inning.

Brett Oberholtzer came in to the ballgame to relieve Jeremy Hellickson in the bottom of the 7th inning, and gave up two home runs to put this one out of reach for the Phillies, the Cards added another run in the bottom of the 8th inning also against Oberholtzer. Phils lost this one by a 10-3.

Pitching deserted the Phillies in this game, both Hellickson and Oberholtzer had a night that they would have probably wish they can forget.

Last night, the Phillies owned the best winning streak (6 games) and the Cards owned the longest losing streak (4 games) going into last night's games in the NL.

The Cards like to score runs late in the game, they went into last night's game tied with the Cubs for most runs scored in the 7th inning or later so far this season.

It's the Cardinals 125th anniversary this year of playing professional baseball, and the Cards are in the middle of 2nd home stand of the year for them.

The 4-game series continues again at 8:15 PM local time when the match up is expected to be Aaron Nola, who pitched a gem last outing (1-2 with a 3.55 ERA) and Michael Wacha (2-1 with a 3.07 ERA)  for the Cardinals. 

Monday, May 02, 2016

Tough series to show Phillies real mettle

The Phillies seem to have players that are developing well for them this season so far

One of the toughest stretches of the Phillies season is about to happen as the Phils will pull into St. Louis for a 4-game series with the Cardinals.

There has been a lot of winning lately with this Phillies teams, but they've played a weaker opponent in the Indians than the Cardinals are. The Phillies are now 5 games over .500 on the season at 15-10 just 2.5 GB from the NL East leading Washington Nationals who are at 17-7 and then the Mets who are 15-8 on the year.

The Cardinals are at 12-13 on the year, they always seem to have a good team. Their record hasn't shown what type of team this really is, but the main probably that the Cards have had is their inability to hit better pitchers in the league. The Phillies just happen to have a few of those better pitchers, so we'll see if the Phils can continue their hot streak of late.

The Cardinals just got swept by the Nationals at home, so they'll be trying everything they have to avoid getting beat by the Phillies in the same manner.

The first 10 games of the season saw the Cardinals continue that winning way that they've had for years with a 6-4 record, but then the Cards started playing teams like the Cubs and Nationals and couldn't seem to find a winning streak in them.

For the Phils tonight it will be Jeremy Hellickson and for the Cardinals, Adam Wainwright.