Posts Tagged ‘Brad Lidge

07
Apr
11

PHILLIES: Starting Off Strong

So, it appears that the era of the 4 aces and overwhelming expectations has gotten off to a pretty solid start.

With the first week of the MLB season coming to a close, the Phillies are sitting at 4-1 in their first 5 games, with Thursday’s series-finale rubbermatch against the Mets hanging in the balance.

Yes. I am well aware that we are only 5 games, or roughly 3%, through the season.

But, considering Chase Utley, Brad Lidge, and top prospect Domonic Brown have been out action since the first pitch was thrown at Citizens Bank Park last Thursday, the opportunity to win five out of their first six games would go a long way to silencing any critics who said that the Phillies season was doomed from when Cliff Lee signed that dotted line in December.

Speaking of Lee ( 7 IP, 4 H, 3 ER. 11 K’s in a 9-4 win over the Houston Astros), he was just one of quite a few Phillies that have stood out so far.

(Statistics accurate as of 4/7)

Ryan Howard: For all those who were worried that the Big Piece’s production would suffer with the absence of Utley in the lineup, let’s just hope the first week was not just an admiration. Howard is what baseball scouts would like to call “locked in” at the plate right now. So far, the Phillies 1B and cleanup hitter is 11-for-21 (.524) with 2 HR, and is already leading the National League in RBI’s with 8. The only blemish for Howard is that, like usual, the strikeouts are not hard to come by (6 in 5 games).

Placido Polanco: Was a little worried about Polly going into the season. Getting up there in age, had off-season elbow surgery, production diminished greatly at the back end of the 2010 season. However, like last season, Polanco has gotten off to a scorching hot start. However, in contrast to 2010, where a power was the story for Polanco, a .450 BA with 4 RBI’s and a .522 OBP has made him quite the catalyst in the early going for the Phillies.

Ben Francisco: Talk about making the most of an opportunity. In the absence of Domonic Brown, who is scheduled to return later this month after undergoing surgery for a broken hambone, Francisco has absolutely been tearing the cover off the ball so far during this 2011 campaign. While his .333 BA, 2 HR, 5 RBI’s says a lot, it is impossible for a simple statline to include 2-3 balls hit that were knocked down by the wind at Citizens Bank Park that would have been as good as gone if they were hit in June or July.

Honorable Mentions: Jimmy Rollins (.368 BA hitting out of the 3-hole), Raul Ibanez (.300 BA, 4 RBI’s), Wilson Valdez ( .294 BA, 2 RBI’s), Roy Oswalt (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 6 K’s in first start), Antonio Bastardo ( 1-0, 1 Hold, 2.2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 3 K’s)

15
Feb
11

PHILLIES: Week 1 Notes From Clearwater

With the national media departing finally from Clearwater and moving south to Jupiter, Florida where the whole Albert Pujols fiasco is starting to sort out, it’s time to finally time to get down to talking about some, you know, actual baseball stuff instead of the subjective discussions that have recently coincided with the hype and expectations surrounding the Phillies.

– For all those worried about Dom Brown’s winter, don’t be. Apparently, in addition to spending the last two months completely changing his stance, he also added about 10 pounds of muscle according to Phillies Daily News Writer David Murphy, transforming his arms into “pythons”.  I’m now sure how the latter translates into all-around baseball success, but the fact that their is visible proof of Brown’s hard work in the off-season leads me to believe that he’s in the mindset that the RF job is his to lose. And it’s a correct mindset at that.

– A noticeable absence from Clearwater this past week has been longtime Phillies reliever Chad Durbin. Durbin, who was one of the longest tenured Phillies before the organization failed to renew his contract after last season, is still a topic conversation in the clubhouse. For example, players such as Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson have publicly taken time this week to lobby for his return in the media. You don’t see that very often. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen right now. Those to look out for that are in contention for his 7th inning role and spot in the bullpen include Kyle Kendrick (who doesn’t quite have place in the starting rotation now with the evolution of R2C2), the much-maligned Danys Baez, and a couple relatively new names such as Vance Worley and Michael Schwimer.

– Ok, here is one thing of note surrounding all the Phillies hype. As I was peering through Twitter yesterday, I noticed that the highly-regarded FOX Sports baseball insider Ken Rosenthal predicted  that one of the Phillies “Fab Four” of starting pitchers would win the 2011 NL Cy Young Award. However, it wasn’t the incumbent NL Cy Young Roy Halladay. Or Cliff Lee. Or even Roy Oswalt. It was actually the Phillies projected 4th starter, 27-year old southpaw Cole Hamels. While it may not be the popular choice amongst the group, do not forget, this guy owns the most recognizable hardware out of any of the four aces. A World Series ring.

For anything else you want to know, just click on the following video.

14
Oct
10

PHILLIES: 2010 NLCS Preview

As we all anxiously await the time early Sat. evening when arguably one of the best and most-anticipated playoff pitching matchups in post-season history will become a reality, it’s finally starting to set in that the Phillies have made their third consecutive National League Championship  Series with relative ease.

While it’s undeniable that the Reds didn’t hit, pitch, and especially field to the best of their ability, it was very clear who was the better team in that series, whether it play on the field or demeanor in the dugout or clubhouse. You don’t have to be a Phillies fan to realize that.

On the other side, the San Francisco Giants will come into their first NLCS since the Barry Bonds era in a similar fashion. In their 4-game series win against the Atlanta Braves, they out-performed an admirable opponent with dominating starting pitching, and while their hitting weren’t necessarily strong, the bats did capitalize when the opportunity presented itself (countless errors by a certain Braves second basemen) to put the series out of reach.

Hmmm, sounds awfully familiar.

With that said, here is the breakdown of the series between the Phillies and Giants.

SCHEDULE WITH STARTING PITCHING PROBABLES

GAME 1 (7:57 PM SATURDAY): Giants ( Tim Lincecum) at Phillies (Roy Halladay)

GAME 2 (8:19 PM SUNDAY): Giants (Jonathan Sanchez) at Phillies (Roy Oswalt)

GAME 3 (4:19 PM TUESDAY): Phillies (Cole Hamels) at Giants (Matt Cain)

GAME 4 (7:57 PM WEDNESDAY): Phillies (Joe Blanton) at Giants (Madison Bumgardner)

GAME 5 (7:57 PM THURSDAY if needed): Phillies (Roy Halladay) at Giants (Tim Lincecum)

GAME 6 (3:57 or 7:57 PM OCTOBER 23RD if needed): Giants (Jonathan Sanchez) at Phillies (Roy Oswalt)

GAME 7: (7:57 PM OCTOBER 24TH if needed: Giants (TBD) at Phillies (TBD)

STARTING PITCHING

The men on the mound will dictate the future of both teams of this series. On one side, you have the tandem now known as H20, along with a bullpen that looks to be reverting back to their ’08 form. On the other side, you have a 2-time Cy Young award winning pitcher, and 3 other bright young arms to fill out the rotation. Even Barry Zito, a past Cy Young award winner in his own right, couldn’t make the post-season roster. So, which side will win out?  Personally, I would have to go with the team who has a certain pitcher who has both a perfect game and a no-hitter under his belt this year. That’s just me.

ADVANTAGE: PHILLIES

BULLPEN

This one is a little tough. The Phillies bullpen, which for the most part has been considered their achilles heal for the entire season, has woken up as of late. A huge part of that is because of closer Brad Lidge, who had a blast from the past type of performance in the final two months of the season, only blowing one save in the 2 1/2 months of play after the all-star break. In addition to that, they also seemed to find some stability in terms of left-handed pitching out the bullpen, as both Antonio Bastardo and J.C Romero had a stellar final month or so. However, even though it may not have shown in their NLDS series against the Braves, the Giants, led by their perennial all-star of a closer Brian Wilson, may be the most consistent bullpen from top to bottom remaining out of the playoff teams.

ADVANTAGE: GIANTS

HITTING

Not even a question here. While Giants do have certain veterans on their team who are used to playoff competition (Juan Uribe, Aaron Rowand, and Edgar Renteria), they struggled mightily as a team at the plate during the Braves series and for that matter the entire season, even with the probable NL ROY Buster Posey, and a re-surging Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff in the lineup. Compare that to a Phillies lineup who, while still struggling a bit in their own right, was amongst the top offenses in all of baseball this year, and clearly is still the more explosive, experienced, and without question better offense in this matchup.

ADVANTAGE: PHILLIES

INTANGIBLES

Both teams are well-managed. Both teams have players on their team who have been in this type of playoff atmosphere before. So, what separating them? The Phillies are returning to the NLCS for the third consecutive year, while the Giants have long been on vacation during that time. In the two previous years, we all know the end result with the Phillies. Now, back in the same spot, with arguably their most talented team when comparing them to the prior two, I just don’t see that end result changing.

ADVANTAGE: PHILLIES

PREDICTION: Phillies in 6

05
Oct
10

PHILLIES: NLDS Schedule and Roster Set

While the Phillies do not need to send in their 25-man roster until 10 AM on Wed., after their most recent workout at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday afternoon, the details surrounding the divisional series against the Reds are now officially finalized. Here is the schedule and NLDS roster (information via “The Phillies Zone” writer Matt Gelb).

SCHEDULE (With Probable Starting Pitchers)

Game 1 (Wednesday at 5:07 PM at Citizens Bank Park): Phillies (Roy Halladay) vs. Reds (Edison Volquez)

Game 2 (Friday at 6:07 PM at Citizens Bank Park): Phillies (Roy Oswalt) vs. Reds (Bronson Arroyo)

Game 3: (Sunday at 7:07 PM or 8:07 PM at Great American Ballpark): Reds (Johnny Cueto) vs. Phillies (Cole Hamels)

Game 4: (Monday at 5:07 PM or 7:37 PM at Great American Ballpark if needed) Reds (TBD) vs. Phillies (Roy Halladay)

Game 5: (Wednesday at 6:07 PM or 8:07 PM at Citizens Bank Park if needed): Phillies (Roy Halladay) vs. Reds (TBD)

ROSTER

PITCHERS (10)

SP Roy Halladay, SP Roy Oswalt, SP Cole Hamels, SP/RHP Joe Blanton, RHP Chad Durbin, RHP Jose Contreras, LHP J.C Romero, LHP Antonio Bastardo, RHP Ryan Madson, RHP Brad Lidge

Those who were left off the roster: SP Kyle Kendrick, SP Vance Worley, RHP David Herndon, RHP Danys Baez, LHP Mike Zagurski

INFIELDERS (8)

1B Ryan Howard, 2B Chase Utley, SS Jimmy Rollins, 3B Placido Polanco, 1B Mike Sweeney, 1B/OF Ross Gload, UTIL Wilson Valdez, UTIL Greg Dobbs

Those who were left off the roster: SS Brian Bocock, 3B Cody Ransom

OUTFIELDERS (5)

LF Raul Ibanez, CF Shane Victorino, RF Jayson Werth, OF Ben Francisco, OF Domonic Brown

Those who were left off the roster: OF John Mayberry Jr.

CATCHERS (2)

C Carlos Ruiz, C Brian Schneider

Those who were left off the roster: C Paul Hoover, C Dane Sardinha

30
Sep
10

PHILLIES: Projecting The NLDS Roster

Now that the Phillies have not only clinched a playoff birth, but have also locked up yet another NL East crown and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, it’s time to erase the next week of meaningless baseball from our memory and actually focus on what’s important.

Yes folks, would be the Phillies fourth straight appearance in the postseason.

As I said in my last post, I would break down the potential playoff roster once everything was clinched. Well, I am a man of my word, and since the Phillies 2010 playoffopener will officially be played Wed, October 7th with an opponent that will TBD, it looks like it is about time to see how the current 33-man roster will dwindle down to 25 once the NLDS starts.

PITCHERS (11): In this breakdown, I have the Phillies keeping four starters and eight relievers. In reality, with the way the schedule looks as of right now (Games on Wed, Fri, Sun, Mon, Wed.), they will most likely use three starters, in which Doc should be ready to go if a fourth game is needed on 4-days rest. With that said, Joe Blanton will most likely be on the playoff roster as a possible 4th game starter, and if not, a middle-reliever if need be.  With Blanton on the roster, along with Danys Baez, who was signed to a deal in the off-season basically to give this team another veteran hard-throwing RHP for the month of October, that means both David Herndon and Kyle Kendrick will be left off, as their normal spot on the 25-man roster should be fulfilled by a second LHP as you will see below. I also project Cole Hamels to start game 2, so he will have the opportunity to pitch at Citizens Bank Park in front of a home crowd, something that worked quite well with him in the last two previous postseasons.

SP: Roy Halladay (Game 1 Starter)

SP: Cole Hamels (Game 2/3 Starter)

SP: Roy Oswalt (Game 2/3 Starter)

SP: Joe Blanton (Game 4 Starter/Middle Reliever)

RHP: Chad Durbin

RHP: Danys Baez

RHP: Jose Contreras

LHP: J.C Romero

LHP: Antonio Bastardo

Setup: Ryan Madson

Closer: Brad Lidge

CATCHERS (2)

This is pretty simple. In a 5-game series, barring injury concerns, there is no need to have three catchers on the roster. With Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz and primary backup Brian Schneider, fortunately, there aren’t any of those concerns. With that said, look for the Phillies to keep a veteran backstop, that being Paul Hoover, in the bullpen as a nice little security blanket close by if the injury bug bites in the NLDS.

C: Carlos Ruiz

C: Brian Schneider

INFIELDERS (7): Aside from the normal starters and Wilson Valdez, Phillies management has some tough decisions to make on this end. Do they keep an extra outfielder with speed such as Domonic Brown or John Mayberry Jr.  instead of Greg Dobbs, who would usually be a shoe-in to play in the postseason if not for his struggles this season? At this point, in a NLDS 5-game series, I think yes. Also, the mid-season addition of Mike Sweeney limits the need for Dobbs as the combination of he, Vladez, Ross Gload have proven that they are able to play the positions that Dobbs can at an even higher level.

1B: Ryan Howard

2B: Chase Utley

SS: Jimmy Rollins

3B: Placido Polanco

UTIL: Ross Gload

UTIL: Mike Sweeney

UTIL: Wilson Valdez

OUTFIELDERS (5): Another tough one here. Aside from the everyday starters and Ben Francisco, the final outfield spot comes down to three guys. Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., and yet again, Greg Dobbs. As a stated before, Dobbs’s lackluster performance this year really leaves him in a difficult position to make the postseason roster in any capacity. When it comes down to Dobbs and Mayberry, the biggest thing here is need. If the Phillies take Mayberry, that leaves only one possible LH situational hitter (Gload) on the bench. While it does depend on who they play in the NLDS, I don’t see Charlie Manuel and company feeling comfortable with that regardless of the opponent. I just don’t. Along with that rationale, taking Brown along for the postseason ride would go a long way towards giving him the proper experience that would allow him to properly implant Jayson Werth in the Phillies outfield once Werth bolts for the allure of dollar signs come the offseason.

RF: Jayson Werth

CF: Shane Victorino

LF: Raul Ibanez

OF: Ben Francisco

OF: Domonic Brown

Well, that was my stab at it. The two toughest calls here are obviously the battle of the last utility spot between Brown, Mayberry, and Dobbs and the decision of who’s going to be the 11th pitcher between Baez, Kendrick, and Durbin.

While I know the anticipation is killing all of you, the good news is that you only have to wait until next Wed. to find out.

07
Sep
10

PHILLIES: Recap of September Call-Ups

Fresh off of a split with a double-header against the Florida Marlins and sitting just a half-game back of the NL East leading Atlanta Braves, the Phillies made what looks like the last of their September roster moves (besides Danys Baez coming back up when he is healthy), as it appears that John Mayberry Jr. will likely join the team on Tuesday for the final month of the regular season.

Just to recap this protocol, on September 1st, the MLB rosters are able to expand from the usual 25-man roster to a maximum 40-player roster. This allows players who are currently on the Phillies organizational 40-man roster that are minor leagues for whatever reason to be brought up to major league competition until the end of the regular season without any coinciding roster move.

Including the probable addition of Mayberry and optimism surrounding the health of Baez, that will most likely bring the total to nine, that being the number additional players who will be occupying spots in the Phillies clubhouse until October 3rd (final day of the regular season).

Here is a recap of all the moves and the impact that these players may be able to make down the stretch.

RHP Danys Baez: Baez, a reliever who was once thought of as a potential closer if the Brad Lidge situation did not pan out, has been much of a disappointment since signing a 2-year, 5.5 million dollar contract at the start of the 2010 season. Inconsistent at best and borderline unbearable at worst, there is a reason that the team is not rushing to bring him back to the fold from injury. At the most, he may take up some mop-duty roles if games are out of hand to keep the likes of Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, J.C Romero, and Jose Contreras fresh for when it really matters.

OF John Mayberry Jr.: While it’s not official yet, it’s widely assumed that Mayberry will be with the Phillies come Tuesday. Say what you want about him (overrated, a 1st rd. bust, etc.) but he really does have value for this team. For one, he absolutely demolishes lefties (.350 this year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley), so pinch-hitting duties and an occasional starting nod to spare Raul Ibanez against those southpaws may be in the cards for Mayberry if he is promoted. Secondly, Mayberry’s 20 stolen bases this year should give him an opportunity to pinch-run late in games. Lastly, his ability to play the two corner OF positions at an above-average level will give manager Charlie Manuel the option of using him during double-switch situations late in games. All things considered, none of this is valid if he is not added to the big league roster.

An interesting subplot to the end of the season could be the usage of Vance Worley.

RHP Vance Worley: Now this is a bit interesting. Worley has made a meteoric jump on MLB prospect lists since going from Double-A Reading to his first ever big league on Monday in the span of 3 months (a time frame that also includes being involved in the Roy Oswalt trade rumors). Yesterday, Worley did nothing to stop his climb to the top of the organizational mountain, going 5 innings and giving up just 2 ER in a spot-start against the Marlins. Just to refresh your memories, the Phillies branch has never been thrilled with the idea of Kyle Kendrick as the teams fifth starter, and I’m going to go out there on a limb and say that Worley’s role on this team for every fifth game will show that. Catch my drift? Even if that is not the case, Worley’s two well above-average big league pitches (FB, Slider) will allow him to have some worth as a primary long reliever in the next few weeks.

LHP Mike Zagurski: This was to be expected. Zagurski spent a month with the Phillies earlier this season when J.C Romero was down, and has showed utter dominance at with Lehigh Valley this year (13 straight scoreless innings at one point). While his transition to the big leagues could be viewed by some as shaky, with the ability to expand the roster, having LHP representation in the bullpen besides Romero and Antonio Bastardo was a must, and Zagurski and the next player I am going to talk about were really the only suitable candidates who could fill that role for this team.

LHP Nate Robertson: The former Tigers/Marlins starting pitcher was signed almost two weeks ago by the Phillies for one specific reason. Flexibility. In the past two seasons, Robertson has pitched in 47 games. He’s started 24 of them. So basically, the guy has just as much experience starting games has he does coming in relief. That had to weigh heavily in the mind of GM Ruben Amaro Jr. when they he, along with other members of the front office, were discussing signing a LHP for the stretch run. Well, his 6.1 innings of scoreless baseball he pitched AGAINST the Phillies as a member of the Marlins on April 18th this season may have had an impact as well.

RHP Scott Mathieson: Probably the move that most fans wanted to see. In July, Phillies fans got a small taste of Mathieson’s near 100 MPH in one game of relief duty. That first big league appearance in three years (two Tommy John surgeries later) may not have gone as well as all those involved would have liked, but a player who can bring a fastball like that to the table when he steps up to the mound is bound to be an valuable asset to a team in the middle of a pennant race, regardless of how much he actually pitches.

1b/ OF Ross Gload: It’s not really fair to lump Gload into the Sepetember “call-up” category, but his presence back in the Phillies clubhouse after a month on the disabled list can is indeed  a welcoming addition to the roster. While a groin injury may have sidelined Gload for the better part of the Phillies recent surge up the standings, he should assume duties as the Phillies primary LH bat along with Domonic Brown off the bench when he is deemed healthy to do so.

INF/OF Greg Dobbs: Dobbs has been designated for assignment twice this season due to his ability to produce at the big league level, so his production and playing time may be limited. However, once upon a time, Dobbs was the league leader in pinch hits, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Charlie Manuel, being the player’s coach that he is, gives Dobbs a couple at-bats against RHP, since he still has shown the ability to hit them even during this stretch of baseball that may mark the end of his career.

C Paul Hoover: Kind of ironic that the first of these call-ups may have been the most insignificant. Hoover, as it stands right now, is buried behind Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider on the teams depth chart at his position. This year though, with injuries being a common theme with both of those catchers, Hoover’s worth is to the team is invaluable, whether he is in the clubhouse or being used as the bullpen catcher.  Can’t say I would be comfortable seeing him behind the dish in a meaningful game though.

Notable absences from this list include both Andy Tracy and Cody Ransom.  Before you say “Why?”, take note of a possible and probable reason.

They are not on the current 40-man roster.

So, in order for them to participate in a big league contest, the Phillies would have to take two players off the 40-man roster, enabling them to be picked up on another team via waivers. As of right now, I cannot see the Phillies doing that to anyone besides Dobbs, and he would have to REALLY struggle for them to do so. Truthfully, I don’t see Dobbs getting enough opportunities to struggle any more than he has already, so it’s kind of a mute point.

For right now that is.

03
Aug
10

PHILLIES: Concern for Ryan Howard

The injury bug has been present all-season long in the Phillies clubhouse.

Want proof?

Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Brad Lidge, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton, Carlos Ruiz, Chad Durbin, J.C Romero, Brian Schneider, Antonio Bastardo and the recently departed J.A Happ have all already spent time on the disabled list.  That’s 14 disabled list casualties among the projected 25-man roster for this team at the beginning of the season. For some (Rollins, Victorino, Lidge), their individual stint has even turned into stint(s).

Pluralities are never good when talking about injuries.

However, with Utley and Victorino still on the DL, and Raul Ibanez dealing with a wrist injury, Philadelphia’s injury issues were put under an even greater microscope Sunday after slugger Ryan Howard sprained his ankle sliding into second base.

Ryan Howard's ankle injury is the most recent cause of concern regarding the Phillies.

For the Phillies, losing Howard for a long duration of time may affect the chemistry for this team more than any other injury this season. Bold statement aside, I am not questioning the value of Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins to this team by ranking them under Howard in this comparison of order of importance. They are both all-star caliber players, and they obviously both have very important (and different) roles on this team. With that said, losing a guy who is involved in plating or scoring almost a quarter of the offense’s runs over the course of a season and is one of the biggest threats in baseball with what he can do with one swing of the bat would be absolutely detrimental to the Phillies playoff hopes is in 2010.

The good news?

Nothing’s broken. Howard’s MRI immediately following Sunday’s contest against the Nationals revealed no broken or fractured bones in his ankle, ruling out a possible surgical procedure that would lengthen a DL visit.

The bad news?

This injury, one that was earlier categorized as “a couple day thing” by manager Charlie Manuel on Sunday, may be more severe than we all, including the skipper, originally anticipated. After Howard left Nationals park on Sunday on crutches, it was announced late Monday night by MLB.COM’s Todd Zolecki that instead of traveling with the team to Florida for the Phillies series against the Marlins, Howard would be going to Philadelphia to meet with team doctors about the status of his ankle.

The scenario.

If the doctors conclude that he the condition of the ankle is improving, he’ll fly down to Florida himself, and rejoin the team (maybe not in a active role right away) on Wednesday. On the other side of the spectrum, if the pain and the swollen nature of the injury does not subside substantially (which it hasn’t as of late Monday night) in the next 12-24 hours, then it is very likely that Howard will end up on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Sunday, August 1st.

Sadly, my intuition tells me the ladder might for in store for the Phillies, which if you look at them right now, are a team that can ill-afford the reality of an injury like that to a player like Howard while being in the middle of a pennant race.




The Philly Phour

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