Sunday, April 30, 2017

Phillies Talk Podcast - Phillies in 2nd Place in April with special guest Matthew Veasey







My first couple rants on the show, with the debacle last night, the Phillies bullpen blowing a 3-run lead, and losing a game they should have won. But, all is not lost on the year as the offense has been doing much better, the pitching has suffered a few big losses in the starting pitching department.


I'm joined by Matthew Veasey on this show, we're talking all about baseball Phillies style for April 2017. We're talking about the first month for the team, we're not that displeased with what has been going on, except possibly the bullpen.


Phillies closer role is a glaring problem



Hector Neris has just been scraping by as a Phillies reliever, he's looked very shaky in his last appearances prior to last night, and then the implosion happened... no relievers were even up in the bullpen as management watched this happen 


The Phillies blew yet another game that should have been in the win column last night in Los Angeles. We were up late in the game by a 5-2 score, with the game being out in LA, I'm usually fast asleep by the time the late start game is over. Last night, I figured I would hang in there even though the Phillies were up by a comfortable 5-2 lead.


Well, 'comfortable lead' is apparently not in the Phillies vocabulary. The phrase should never be uttered at anytime. The bullpen has done what it's done before to this team and that is lose ballgames. Last night it was Neris who imploded, and he hasn't looked good in the last few appearances let alone last night when he gave up 3 home runs in a row to the Dodgers, who tied the game on those solo HR's.

Not once did the pitching coach. Bob McClure,  even bother to approach the mound after a home run was given up by Neris. It was obvious to anyone watching the game, that Neris didn't have the good stuff needed to put this game in the 'W' column for the Phils. Manager Pete Mackanin just watched the whole slide unfold and did nothing about it. Neris looked nervous and like he was rushing his pitches and batters were just teeing off on him.

After the game, Mackanin reiterated that he hasn't named a closer because 'he doesn't want to put any added pressure on a relief pitcher.' So apparently each night, he'll decide who gets thrown out there when the Phillies need to close a game. Neris has been that guy in the past week of Phils games. He's looked awfully bad in that role too, getting in serious trouble and just escaping in two other recent games prior to last night's debacle in LA.

If there is no closer, then don't leave someone out there that is in serious trouble, and do nothing about it. Mackanin acts like he's paralyzed to do nothing with this team. He's not a good manager, and he's showing it with what he doesn't do in certain situations. The Phillies need a better quality closer, that is more than apparent, none of the pitchers they currently have is a 'closer'.

You can't just hang a sign on someone that isn't qualified to do the closing duties and expect them to do like Jeanmar Gomez did last year for the Phillies, he did a really wonderful job and saved a ton of games for this team last year. Fast forward to this year and already Neris has looked worse than Gomez ever did, but yet Gomez has virtually disappeared from sight in the Phillies bullpen.



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Putting the Philadelphia name on the Phillies jersey



It's something that is long overdue, that is putting "Philadelphia" on the front of a Phillies jersey.

Most recently in the Uniwatch column on ESPN.com, (which I am an avid reader of that column) Paul Lucas wrote a great piece on the teams in the MLB that either don't have their city or state name on the front of a jersey. Check out the article here.

The Phillies aren't the only team not to do this, thinking about it though I really like to see the road teams that come into Philadelphia to wear the city logo. Teams like the Mets use their 'New York' logo, the Dodgers wear their 'Los Angeles' logo jersey when they come to town, you have to wonder why the Phillies have never done this?

Teams mentioned in the article were the Angels, and Brewers among others. I do remember the Angels having 'Anaheim' on a jersey some years ago, but since they call themselves the Los Angeles Angels in the past few years...nothing.

The Phils are playing their afternoon matinee against the Marlins, they are a suddenly somewhat respectable 10-9 on the season as they get ready to head west to face the Dodgers.










Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Injury woes nibble at Phils starting rotation​


The Phillies offense has just started to heat up but will the pitching now cost this team?


The Phillies starting rotation has taken a bit of a hit now that Aaron Nola has been placed on the 10-day DL. Clay Buchholz has probably already pitched his last pitch for the Phillies for this season. Talk about a short career with a team, Clay was 0-1 with the team in 2 starts with only 7.1 innings pitched, he will make $13.5 million for the season.

With Nola out now, the Phillies will look to AAA to fill the spot. The Phils already brought up Zack Eflin to fill out the spot vacated by Buchholz and now they will have to call another up today. Will it be Ben Lively?

Times like these can be a great time for a pitcher to jump on the major league roster and never look back. It's a chance for someone to step up and shine.

For the Phillies, this is all happening as the team has seen an upswing of late. They have rallied to a 9-9 record, and they moved up from near the bottom of the ESPN Power Rankings list, which this week say them rise from 28 to 22. ESPN also noted the tougher schedule that the Phils will embark on after this home series ends with Miami. The Phils head out to LA and then over to face the Chicago Cubs.

Team pitching for the Phillies hasn't been all that great so far, they are ranked 13 out of 15 NL teams in ERA. (Although several teams are very close to one another)





Sunday, April 23, 2017

Phillies sweep Braves at home, go back to back to back



Cesar starts off the rare 'back to back to back HR' binge that put the Phillies ahead today



The Phillies completed a nice 3-game sweep on the strength of 3 home runs back to back to back in the 8th inning. It was only 8th time in Phillies history that the team has hit the back to back to back HR combo. That is a real rarity.

The bullpen made it interesting again, with Hector Neris getting the closing duties this time. He loaded the bases in the top of the 9th and was in a heap of trouble, but he earned the Phillies sweep and put the Phillies into 3rd place in the NL East with the fourth win in a row, taking them to 9-9 on the year.

The Braves meanwhile have been reeling, they have been swept twice in the last two series they have played. This coming after they swept the Padres in 4 straight games to open Sun Trust Park in Atlanta.

Off day tomorrow for the Phils, then the Phils welcome in the Marlins for a 3-game series which ends on Thursday afternoon, then the Phils fly out to LA for a weekend series against the Dodgers.


Here's the list of Phillies 3 consecutive home runs aka 'back to back to back home runs' in their history and a link to the box scores of each game: (thanks to Baseball-Reference.com)

9/30/1977 vs. Montreal - 2nd inning (Luzinski - Hebner - Maddox)
8/17/1985 at Chicago Cubs - 7th inning (Samuel - Wilson - Schmidt)
7/26/1987 vs. Atlanta - 8th inning (Thompson - Hayes - Schmidt)
4/28/1999 vs. Cincinnati - 1st inning (Rolen - Brogna - Gant)
5/4/2004 vs. St. Louis - 5th inning (Abreu - Thome - Burrell)
5/18/2004 vs Los Angeles - 4th inning (Abreu - Burrell - Thome)
6/13/2008 at St Louis - 1st inning (Utley - Howard - Burrell)
4/23/2017 vs. Atlanta - 8th inning (Hernandez - Altherr - Herrera)






Friday, April 21, 2017

Phils come home to face resurgent Braves team



Colon looks like a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame despite the questionable treatments he has received for his arm troubles



The Phillies have been getting plenty of runners on base. They also did that last year, the problem is they just can't seem to put it together to score more of those runners in scoring position. They were 4-15 RISP, that is a ton of runners in scoring position last night in a win over the Mets.

Tonight, the Phillies welcome in the Atlanta Braves, they are just fresh of of opening up their new stadium up in the northern Atlanta suburbs. Think of moving the Phillies up to Bucks County and that's what the Braves did.

The Braves opened the new ballpark called SunTrust Park, by sweeping the San Diego Padres in 4 games straight. That was the good news, then they lost 3 straight to the NL East leading Washington Nationals.

The Phillies managed to take 2 out of 3 from the Mets in New York. In the process they handed Noah Syndergaard his first loss of the season.

The better news for the Phillies is that they don't have to face the Braves pitcher who throws knuckleballs, R.A. Dickey. They will​ however face a pitcher that previously has been very tough against the Phillies, the ageless wonder, Bartolo Colon. Colon is 44 years old in May, he's had an incredible career and has a lifetime record of 243-163.

Here we will see how Colon fared at the different ballparks last year:


Ballparks
Split G PA AB R
H 2B 3B HR SO BA
NYM-Citi Field1638336334921711181.253
MIA-Marlins Pk236349133121.382
PHI-CitizensBank3666181301214.213
CHC-Wrigley Fld12420682021.400
LAD-Dodger Stad12222570023.318
ARI-Chase Field12319593101.474
ATL-Turner Fld252484103034.208
SDP-PetCo Pk12725360015.240
SFG-AT&T Pk12726291115.346
CLE-Progressive12625283005.320
NYY-Yankee Stad312626161001.231
MIL-Miller Pk12525182002.320
WSN-Natls Park12725150002.200
CIN-GreatAmer BP12221051102.238
KCR-KauffmanStad155010001.200
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/21/2017.

As you can see, the Phillies did manage to scored a fair amount of runs against Colon in Philadelphia. That didn't translate to a lot of wins though as Bartolo finished 3-1 last year against the Phils when he was with the Mets.












Thursday, April 20, 2017

Phils seem lost at fundamentals



Franco chasing down a fly ball in an earlier game this year, last night wasn't too good


We take really good baseball for granted sometimes, we see a player react in a certain way, the way that tells you he's a really good professional baseball player, and then it's very easy to see how the Phillies are lacking at this sometimes. The game is built on a premise called, fundamentals. It's taught in the minors and players have years to learn the proper way to play the game.


Manager Pete Mackanin has said he always teaches the fundamentals in Spring Training, the things that baseball players do. Bunt, catch balls, throw to the correct bases. All the things that add up to make a team play very clean baseball.

Like a parent though, we know that sometimes things that you preach to your kids can get lost in translation. The same can be true for baseball players and coaches, you can talk and tell people things, but it doesn't mean that they will always listen.




In yesterday's post, I talked about the major league pop-up, at Citi Field it has played a part in now two games when the pop-up happened in the infield. Last night, it was very similar to the play that Jose Reyes and the Mets had the other night, a ball was hit a mile high. Hesitation and confusion took over in the infield, as Phils pitcher, Vince Velasquez looked over at third baseman Maikel Franco for what seemed to be forever, practically begging him to come in and get this ball like he is supposed to do. Franco seemed to be in never-never land then he woke up and charged in to get the ball and smashed into Velasquez and dropped the ball.




The damage had been done to the Phillies by the time this play had occurred. Vince failed to properly locate a pitch to Jay Bruce, and Bruce made him pay with a long homerun that the Mets took the lead with.

After the pop-up play the Mets announcer, former Met, Ron Darling, said that at times "Maybe because I am sitting up here, but occasionally this game is almost unrecognizable" - meaning that there is an awful lot of plays where fundamentals are just not there. (He was blaming Velasquez for just not getting out of the way of the play, but Franco didn't act like he was going to come in and get the ball in my opinion or didn't say anything to Velasquez). Darling's broadcast partner, Gary Cohen, chimed it that it was 'karma' the fact that Jose Reyes had made a gaff in chasing down a fly ball the night before.


A quick note about Velasquez, what has happened to him, he is 0-7 in his last 12 games with the Phillies. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Strange play shines light on Galvis









Baseball is a strange sport sometimes, ask someone who normally doesn't watch the sport and they will probably say because the game can be slow and somewhat boring at times.

Every now and again, there will be a play that happens to challenge this notion. Last night, Freddy Galvis popped up and 99 times out of a 100, this leads to an out. Not last night though. Galvis hit one of those balls you would call a major league pop-up. The ball sails up and for all you know it could be something like something in the Wizard of Oz, anything can happen to the ball. The wind gets a hold of the ball, player converge towards it and usually it ends up getting caught.

Right after the ball was hit, Galvis stood at the plate, he was probably doubting that it was going to be fair, but that shouldn't matter too much if it's close, and he threw the bat after the initial hesitation and began a trot towards first. The camera panned and showed Cameron Rupp charging around second base towards third.

Baseball is always watching, there are fans always watching and what many of them saw was Freddy Galvis who stood at home for what seemed like an eternity, then jogged off to first.

Had the ball been caught, not too much probably would have been said. Galvis usually doesn't do these things. Was this ball in fact even touched in fair territory?

For me, Galvis gets a pass on this one, but the watchers are now alerted, and they are always there, especially now in this instant media world.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

It's the Mets again


Cespedes will be more than happy to face the Phillies again tonight


The Phillies have gotten their fill of the National League East and we're just 2 weeks into the season.

In fact, the Phils have played 12 games so far, they are 4-8 on the season, and they have played 9 of the 12 against the Mets and the Nationals already. Excuse me but is anyone else a little bored by this schedule?

I guess if the Phillies were 10-2, we would love the schedule but we're not. We've been in some close games, some games that were lost because of a blown save or two.

Pythagorean theory has the Phillies at 6-6 on the year, so that suggests that the Phillies have had some bad luck so far.

The Mets haven't had it too easy either in regards to facing the NL East early, 7 of their first 13 games have been against the Marlins, and the Mets have been 2-5 against them so far.

It's tax day today, so get those taxes in and then settle back for some NL East baseball tonight starting at 7:10 PM tonight from Citi Field in Queens, NY.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Phils to face Nats in DC this afternoon






It's Daniel Murphy Bobblehead day in Washington later this afternoon as the Phillies take on the Washington Nationals at Nationals Stadium at 4:05 PM.

Murphy has seemed to only get better with now his second season away from the NY Mets, a team that up till 2015, he had spent his whole career with. Murph was with the Mets for 7 seasons, and last year was a metamorphosis for him as he finished 2nd in MVP voting and earned a Silver Slugger award and was named an All-Star in the first year of his Nationals career.

Murphy is off to another hot start with the Nationals, he's batting .450 and already has 9 RBI on the season along with 18 hits.

The Phillies bring a 3-6 record into the game, they've been playing very inconsistently so far with bad pitching and not a whole lot of offense. If we take away that Phillies 17-3 win over the Nats on April 8th, there wouldn't be a whole lot of offense that has been produced by this team.

It's Aaron Nola vs. Stephen Strasburg today as probable in today's game.

The Phils Game by Game since Opening Day:

PHI Last 10 Games Table
Gm#Date & BoxOppW/LScoreRecordPlace/GB
9Wed, Apr 12NYML 4-5 3-64th 3.0 gb
8Tue, Apr 11NYML 4-14 3-54th 2.0 gb
7Mon, Apr 10NYML 3-4 3-44th 1.0 gb
6Sun, Apr 09WSNW 4-3 3-31st Tied
5Sat, Apr 08WSNW 17-3 2-33rd 1.0 gb
4Fri, Apr 07WSNL 6-7 1-34th 2.0 gb
3Thu, Apr 06@CINL 4-7 1-23rd 1.0 gb
2Wed, Apr 05@CINL 0-2 1-12nd 1.0 gb
1Mon, Apr 03@CINW 4-3 1-01st Tied
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/14/2017.

   

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Met fans should thank the Phillies for finding lost offense


The Mets manhandle the Phils 14-4 last night in the renewed battle in Mets vs Phillies series


Baseball is a strange sport. There is a lot of nuance in the subtlety of this game. Take for instance the other night, when Edubray Ramos decided to try to settle a personal score with someone after months of whatever happened being over. Sailing a pitch high over the head of Asdrubal Cabrera.

It not only made Ramos look bad by the way he went back at Cabrera, it ignited the sleeping giant of the Mets offense.

Prior to last night, the Mets offense has been a lost commodity. Players on the team just couldn't get it going. The spark that Ramos lit under the Mets was one that you don't get sometimes without some pure emotion being unleashed. Perhaps some terrible pitching also contributes to the cause.

Phillies pitching coach, Bob McClure, should have been gone a couple years ago. His tenure on the team stretches back now to a time that encompasses some of the worst Phillies pitching that fans have had to witness. Last season was the true test, this pitching staff couldn't get anywhere, but yet McClure keeps his job everyday in the dugout with the team, even he must be surprised at the inaction of Phillies management to make a change.

I looked at the line score of Phillies pitching last night, it was ugly. I know it's only a week plus into the regular season, but it's downright embarrassing.

Mets fans should tip their caps to bad Phillies pitching that allowed the Mets offense to make itself known. If nothing else, it is showing that this supposed 'rebuild' of the Phillies is a complete bunch of bunk.

The Phillies have hired on more sabermetrics guys to crunch numbers for this team? This is a complete joke as well, the only way management will be getting the message though is not going to the ballpark to support this mess, I know it's tough, you look forward to going to the ballpark and having a good time. You have to draw the line though, until this happens were going to see players and coaches like we have on this team now.



Odubel got a new hairstyle and a fresh pair of sunglasses with his $30M contract from the offseason but he can't get a hit in the clutch for this team


 I now know why Odubel Herrera is getting only 45 RBI a season, his nickname should be "Leave 'em loaded" - he's come up a couple times in the last few games with the bases loaded and he can't get a hit. When no on is on base, he can't hit to his heart is content, but when it counts he can't get a clutch hit. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Edubray Ramos throws the ball and the game away last night




Jay Bruce was up after Cespedes, and Cabrera, thanks very much Edubray Ramos


The Phillies bullpen lost the game last night for the team, as Edubay Ramos took it upon himself to open a can of worms up as he threw over the head of Mets batter, Asdrubal Cabrera last night in the 8th inning of the Phillies vs. Mets game.

Ramos apparently still had an issue with Cabrera from last season when Cabrera hit a walk-off homerun off of Ramos, (wow that is a long time to hold a grudge, who said ballplayers don't hold a grudge) but this show of emotion by Ramos likely cost the Phillies the game last night.

The Phillies took Ramos out and Jay Bruce came up and showed a little emotion himself by hitting a long homerun into the 2nd deck of Citizens Bank Park in right field.

If Ramos had a score to settle he could have just drilled Cabrera and got it over with, not the crazy pitch that was 10 feet over his head. What did that prove? It just showed that Cabrera was still upset and it drew all the attention to him. Throw a couple inside pitches or something, no need to get so theatrical. The pitch was no where near Cabrera's head, and MLB pitchers are so good, if he wanted to dust him, he could have.





If anything last night's game gave the Mets fans a reason to suddenly like Jay Bruce, a player that has been very terrible for them since they signed him. It allowed Bruce to suddenly be of some value now with the win of the Phillies.

This Phillies team under Pete Mackanin is undisciplined still even after he appears to think that he has this kind of action under control. This play likely cost the Phillies the game, Mackanin went out to argue that Ramos apparently didn't mean to throw at the head of Cabrera and got thrown out of the game himself. What was he arguing that he can't help 'stupid' as in keeping his own players in check? Mackanin himself looked silly arguing a call that was plain to see by even Phillies fans, a pitcher intentionally went out of his way to try to hit a batter, but even this Ramos failed to do. 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Don't blame Gomez, blame Mackanin



Why is Pete Mackanin thinking that Jeanmar Gomez is some $100M contract closer? 




Pete Mackanin went out of his way to hang Jeanmar Gomez out in the wind the other day after he almost gave up the lead on Opening Day, he publicly spoke out about him to the press after the win which was odd in itself. But let's back up a little bit. Jeanmar Gomez was never a closer in his long career in baseball until he was signed by the Phillies in 2015 and then in 2016, when multi-million dollar ball player Jonathan Papelbon was gone from the team, he suddenly found himself with the job after Phillies manager, Pete Mackanin started going with him as his closer when the team didn't have anyone else to suit the role.

Jeamar's career numbers:

Standard Pitching
Year Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV
2010CLEAL45.4444.6811110000
2011CLEAL53.6254.4711100000
2012CLEAL58.3855.9620171000
2013PITNL301.0003.353486000
2014PITNL22.5003.1944020001
2015PHINL23.4003.0165021000
2016PHINL35.3754.85700590037
2017PHINL009.00202001
8 Yr8 Yr8 Yr2426.4804.28257461090039
162 162 162 56.4804.28581024009
CLE CLE CLE 1416.4675.1842381000
PHI PHI PHI 58.3853.961370820038
PIT PIT PIT 52.7143.2878826001
NL (NL (NL (1010.5003.6321581080039
AL (AL (AL (1416.4675.1842381000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/9/2017.


What ever made Pete Mackanin thing that Jeanmar Gomez was one of the elite closers in baseball? The Phillies worked the daylights out of him in 2016, he appeared in 70 games and he saved 37 games for the Phillies. The team has a bullpen this season that still really doesn't have a guy that legitimately should get the job as 'the closer'. Gomez only got the job out of committee last season, if you ask me this is Mackanin's fault.

I read the headlines in the Philly papers that will make print tomorrow, it says "Phillies may make a change" - a change to what? Go out and find a legitimate closer, which should have been done a long time ago?

This whole process has been very unfair to Jeanmar Gomez, even today with his blown save, the team rallied for a win. Even well seasoned closers such as Papelbon has had that happen to him more than a few times. But all of a sudden Mackanin sounds like he is upset at someone who shouldn't really be closing games in the first place?

I don't think so, Pete, this is your fault!



Phillies blogger and my guest co-host on the last Phillies Talk tweeted this out right after the game, and he is absolutely correct.