Previous month:
April 2011
Next month:
June 2011

A Fan's Take: The Inconsitent Strike Zone in Cliff Lee's Starts

Posted by Christina Angelos

This post is pure opinion, but my take on how much there has been inconsistency with the strike zone. I have a couple photos from tonight's game and one from another Cliff Lee start. I believe Cliff Lee is not hurt, but I also believe he may not be hitting the strikezone either.... but wait for it. I do believe the strikezone has been very unlucky for Cliff Lee starts:

Brown
Nationals Pitcher, Jason Marquis was getting a way outside called strike throughout the game just like this one, however if you look below, Cliff Lee did not and it was in the same spot. 

Phillies

But in the meantime, I have found another Cliff Lee at bat during the Braves series. 

Leee

and this one as well (look at the fourth pitch).

Lowe3
What about this one?

Zags

 

What is this? Seriously. The End.

 


Phillies Pitchers Allow Season-High 10 Runs to Score, Phillies Lose Game Two Against Nationals

Posted by Danielle Wilson   

The last time Cliff Lee faced the Nats at Nationals Park, he three-hit them, striking out 12. Jason Marquis has never had much luck against the Phillies, and his 9.67 earned run average against them says it all.

The Nationals took the lead early on in the bottom of the third inning, first with Jayson Werth's sacrifice fly that scored starter Jason Marquis, then an RBI single hit by Michael Morse which scored Roger Bernadina, and lastly, Danny Espinosa's three-run home run. 5-0 Nationals.

Yesterday, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez hit back-to-back solo homers for the first time this year. Tonight, Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. did it for the second time this year, and it was Dom's first home run of the season. 5-2 Nationals.

Danny Espinosa went at it again in the sixth, going yard to give the Nats a 6-2 lead. Cliff Lee would only last five and 1/3 innings, allowing six earned runs to score off of seven hits, striking out four and walking three. Michael Stutes finished off the sixth inning for Lee, striking out one.

The Nationals secured their already big lead in the seventh, starting a rally against Danys Baez. First off, Michael Morse doubled to score Ian Desmond. Next, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez singled to score Morse, followed by Jerry Hairston's RBI single. 9-2 Nationals.

Jayson Werth doubled in the eighth off of Mike Zagurski (just recalled today) to score Cole Kimball (I don't know who that is, either) and give the Nats an 10-2 lead. Zagurski walked two in the eighth allowing a run to score off of one hit, striking out one.

The Phillies couldn't come back to score nine runs in the ninth, much to our dismay, and lose game two of the series, 10-2. Raul Ibanez is still stuck at 999 RBI for his career, and the Phillies are now 15-11 on the road this season. Roy Oswalt (3-2, 2.60 ERA) tomorrow against John Lannan (2-5, 4.40 ERA) at 1:05.


Wilson Valdez's Hat Reaches the Hall of Fame, Shaving Creme and All

Posted by Frank Klose

Valdezpitching

The Baseball Hall of Fame tweeted that the hat worn by Wilson Valdez after his pitching performance in last week's 19-inning victory over the Cincinnati Reds:

Valdezhat

The hat still features the shaving creme from his post-game interview pie-in-the-face.  Think the Hall of Fame will keep it?

As it was widely reported, Valdez became the last player to start a game in the field and earn the win in relief since Babe Ruth in 1921.


Phillies Option Vance Worley to AAA

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

 After Monday's win over the Washington Nationals, the Phillies optioned RHP Vance Worley to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA). A corresponding move has not yet been announced.

Is this move meant to send a message to Worley, who recently complained to the press about his usage?

Doubtful. After his start on May 24th, Worley was critical of Phillies' Management's decision to keep him in the MLB bullpen for most of May. Worley's workload during May was very inconsistent, and making no starts between May 4th and May 24th was not ideal. This usage may very well have been a factor in Worley's sub-par starts on May 24th and May 29th. However, it seems likely that this roster move is for competitive reasons, rather than punitive. The Phillies likely counseled Worley behind closed doors, and let the matter drop.

Have the Phillies lost confidence in Worley's ability as a starting pitcher?

Also doubtful. Worley had two good starts (April 29th, May 4th) and two poor starts (May 24th, May 29th). The Phillies aren't going to read too much into that small sample. With RHP Joe Blanton on the DL, possibly until the All-Star break (or longer), Worley is the fifth best starter currently in the organization. The Phils need to get Worley back on a regular starter's routine, so he can perform optimally.

So, who is the 5th starter, in Worley's absence?

The real question here is "When do the Phillies need a 5th starter again?" Let's look at the upcoming schedule with projected starters:

Tue 5/31 Cliff Lee

Wed 6/1 Roy Oswalt

Thur 6/2 Off

Fri 6/3 Cole Hamels

Sat 6/4 Roy Halladay

Sun 6/5 Cliff Lee

Mon 6/6 Roy Oswalt

Tue 6/7 ???

The Phillies can skip the 5th starter once, with the off day on Thursday. Assuming they keep their top four starters on normal rest (highly likely), they won't need another starter until Tue 6/7.

Worley is not eligible to return to the Phillies, until he has spent ten days in the minor leagues (unless the Phillies place a pitcher on the DL, in which case Worley could return sooner). Without a corresponding DL assignment, Worley is not eligible to return to MLB until 6/10. The guess here is that reliever Kyle Kendrick will make a spot start on 6/7, and Worley will return to the rotation on 6/12.

What roster move(s) should the Phillies make in the interim?

The Phillies, including Kendrick, currently have a seven-man bullpen. In order to start on Tuesday, Kendrick probably shouldn't pitch after Friday. So, the Phillies should add another reliever on Friday, if not sooner.

With games on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a day off on Thursday, the Phillies could recall a position player for Tuesday and Wednesday, and return him to AAA for a reliever on Thursday or Friday. Bench players Ross Gload and Michael Martinez have very limited usefulness, so another decent bat could come in handy. The Phillies can easily open another spot on the 40-Man Roster, as minor league infielder Harold Garcia is out for the season. Moving Garcia to the 60-Day DL would enable the Phillies to add a player to the 40-Man Roster.

Non 40-Man roster IronPigs outfielder Brandon Moss would be the best choice, with Delwyn Young and Josh Barfield also worthy of (some, but not much) consideration. However, none of these players have any minor league options remaining. The Phillies would have to return the player to AAA via waivers, and could potentially lose his rights. For a two-game recall, such a move is probably not worth the risk.

Of the players with option(s) remaining (and/or on the 40-Man Roster), infielder Pete Orr would likely be the best possible position player choice for a two-day recall. Orr has limitations, but he is better than Michael Martinez, and less injured than Ross Gload. If Orr is the best choice for a short-term recall, however, the Phils will probably just add an additional relief pitcher on Tuesday.

Which AAA reliever gets the call?

David Herndon, Scott Mathieson, and Mike Zagurski are all on the 40-Man roster, and could be optioned back to AAA, without passing through waivers. Given that this recall may last less than two weeks, the Phillies likely won't risk a waiver claim, by promoting a reliever without option(s) remaining. Herndon and Mathieson have both pitched well in recent AAA appearances. Herndon has been more successful at the MLB level, so the guess here is that he'll get the recall tomorrow.


Howard, Ibanez Go Yard Back-to-Back; Phillies Take Game One in Washington

Posted by Danielle Wilson

The Phillies hopped on the train to Washington from New York to take on the Nationals for a three-game series. Roy Halladay who has won his last nine decisions against Washington/Montreal took the mound flashing a 2.58 earned run average.

The pesky Nats took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second thanks to Mike Morse's solo homer. Jerry Hairston scored in the same inning off of Livan Hernandez' sacrifice fly. 2-0 Nationals.

Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez showed off their hot bats in the scorching hot weather launching back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning. Domonic Brown singled to score Ruiz who had doubled following those two homers. 3-2 Phillies.

In the bottom of the fifth, Danny Espinosa went yard to tie the game at three, and in the sixth, Laynce Nix gave the Nats a 4-3 lead after another home run to right field.

Placido Polanco started a rally in the seventh starting with a single, followed by Chase Utley drawing a walk. Ryan Howard singled to score Polly, tying the game up at four. Ibanez lined out to score Utley, and Ruiz singled to continue the rally, but that's all the Phils would get, 5-4 game.

Halladay pitched seven allowing four runs off of 10 hits, walking none and striking out five. Just another koala-tea start, in which he would take the win.

Young, flithy Antonio Bastardo and Jose Contreras pitched a scoreless eighth, and Ryan Madson closed it out striking out two and saving his 12th game. Phillies win, 5-4.

Game two tomorrow, Cliff Lee (4-4, 3.50 ERA) against Jason Marquis (5-2, 4.26 ERA.)


A Look at Ugly Phillies Alternate Caps Throughout the Years (Update)

Posted by Frank Klose

  HalladayCap

Uggh.  Again?  The Phillies once again are wearing their patriotic caps, a tradition that started in 2007 or so.   But, even prior to that the Phillies donned some pretty ugly caps, including ones that don't even match the uniform. 

Here is a rundown of the caps that the team has worn since their current uniforms debuted in 1992.  "Turn back the clock night" caps do not count. 

Blue Day Game Cap - 1994

BobbyMunoz
Courtesy espn.com

In 1994, the Phillies blue cap was introduced to be worn for home day games. It did not take long before the Phillies scrapped the blue caps, calling them bad luck.   My own personal conclusion is that the losses were more likely due to the fact people like Bobby Muñoz were pitching the games.

Early - late 2000s Independence Day Cap/Interleague Cap

LarryBowaInterleague

I guess this cap looked okay with these coats, but like the previous blue cap, there is very little blue in the uniform for with to look like it matches.  The team wore these for both patriotic holidays and for interleague games.  They were last seen in 2007, back when Kyle Kendrick was making his major league debut against the White Sox:

Kendrickdebut
Courtesy Delaware Online

2008 - First MLB Independence Day Cap

HappBlueCap
Courtesy everythingphillies.blogspot.com

In 2008, Major League Baseball decided to make "Stars and Stripes" caps the standard wear for teams on July 4th and September 11th.  With each purchase, money went to charity (though they never disclosed just how much of that $35 went to charity, as noted here on Big League Stew).

What a great idea.  However, navy blue?  How about the blue that is in the American flag?  I do not think these hats matched any team's colors or uniforms.

2009 - Let's Try Red!

Lidge2009
Courtesy mlb.com

This was the one year I did not mind so much...because the Phillies actually wear Red.  They seemed to match nicely with the alternate jerseys on July 4th.   However, imagine if you were Milwaukee Brewers or Oakland Athletics having to wear red caps that absolutely did not match one bit?  They wore them...

2010 - Teams Actually have a Choice!

July42010
Courtesy rr.com

2010 finally let teams use their own colors to appear on the hat.   The hats universially were white on top, with the button and brim of the team's choosing.  Of course, with road greys, there is no white to be found on the jersey, but I think my mom said white matches everything...

2011 - Team Colors; Still a Lot of White

Mackanin

Well, teams can use their colors, but the front panel of the hat is white.  I figure they are running out of ways to make it different than the year before.

What will 2012 bring?  All white?

UPDATE: On today's Phillies broadcast, Tom McCarthy said that one dollar of the now $36.99 retail price of these Stars and Stripes caps is going to charity.  ONE DOLLAR.

The official MLB listing does say, "MLB.com will donate ALL NET PROCEEDS to the WBV Fund for each cap sold" (Welcome Back Veterans fund).   So if McCarthy was accurate, i'm having trouble believing that these caps cost this much to make...


Mets Avoid a Sweep; Phillies Fall 9-5

Posted By Christina Angelos

Worley
Courtesy of GCobb.com

 

The Phillies still won the series by taking 2 out of 3 after the Mets avoiding a sweep. You may need to know: if you remember at this time last year we were losing series against the Mets, however, this year it’s change, Phillies have taken all 3 series so far. 

The Mets pounded on Phillies rookie pitcher, Vance Worley for eight runs (eight runs, five earned) in the first two innings, while Jon Niese lasted through 6 1/3 innings and only one run tallied against him was unearned. 

Placido Polanco’s run-scoring single in the third put the Phillies on the scoreboard with the bases loaded. I guess we did not take advantage of the bases loaded situation with no out. But we did get a run in. However, SS Jose Reyes had an RBI triple in the fifth against Kyle Kendrick as the Mets take the lead to 9-1.

Raul Ibanez crushed his seventh homer of the season in the eight inning. Buchholz allowed three runs in that inning before being relieved by Pedro Beato. Rollins greeted Beato with a line drive down the right-field line, but was thrown out by RF Jason Pridie when he tried to stretch the single into a double. That ended the threat in the eighth as the Mets lead was cut in half, 9-4.

In the ninth innng, Beato allowed an RBI double to Ben Francisco before striking out John Mayberry Jr. to end the game. 

Roy Halladay (6-3, 2.35) will be on the mound for the opener against the Nationals ace, Livan Hernandez (3-6, 3.71). Halladay has defeated the Nationals twice already this season  and is 10-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 14 career appearances against them.

Oh by the way, former Phillies pitcher JA Happ hit a homerun against the Dbacks. 


Mets Run All Over Hamels, but Phillies Prevail in the End

Posted by Frank Klose

HamelsMets

Cole Hamels must have been easy to read for the New York Mets' coaching staff, because in the early going, the Mets were running all over Hamels and Carlos Ruiz.

Just 2 2/3 innings in, the Mets had stolen five bases.   Two of those bases were stolen by Jose Reyes, and each time led to a Mets run.

The Phillies got one of them back on a Raul Ibanez RBI double in the 4th.

Despite the extra bases given to the Mets, Hamels was sharp as he went seven innings, giving up just the two runs and striking out ten.  He exited the game having retired 11 in a row, as Ross Gload pinch hit for him in the seventh inning.

Pelfrey went 7 2/3 strong innings, but was pulled for the left-handed Mike O'Connor to face Chase Utley as Jimmy Rollins hit a two-out single. 

But, Pelfrey's outstanding effort went to waste for the Mets.  The lefty-vs-lefty matchup failed, as Rollins stole second base and Chase Utley singled to left field to drive in Rollins to tie the game. 

Utley promptly stole second and advanced to third base on an errant throw by Ronny Paulino as Jason Isringhausen came in to relieve.  Isringhausen walked Polanco, and lefty Tim Byrdak was summoned to face Ryan Howard.

 Howard lined a double into the right field corner, scoring both Utley and Polanco to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead and putting Cole Hamels in line for the win.

Jose Contreras breezed through the Mets with a 1-2-3 eighth inning before the Phillies added one in the top of the 9th as Domonic Brown doubled and Ben Francisco hit a pinch-hit single to drive Brown in to make it 5-2.

Ryan Madson nailed down the 9th for his 11th save in 11 opportunities.


Series Preview: Phils and Mets

                                                    Photo courtesy of Philly.com

Philadelphia Phillies (31-19, NL East-1) @ New York Mets (23-26, NL East-4)

Pitching Match-Ups:
Roy Oswalt (3-2, 2.77) vs. Chris Capuano (3-5, 5.36)
Cole Hamels (6-2, 3.06) vs. Mike Pelfrey (3-4, 5.37)
Vance Worley (2-0, 2.14) vs. Jon Niese (3-5, 4.33)
How the Opposition Rolls In-
I haven't written anything about Fred Wilpon's recent inflammatory comments about the Mets yet. Maybe I'm the only one who hasn't. Ted Berg wrote a great reaction piece on his blog, as did Aaron Leibowitz. But I've been thinking about it over the past couple of days, as I wonder exactly what to say. On one hand, who am I to criticize what a man says about the team he owns? Yet on the other hand, some of the things he said make me shake my head in embarrassment. If you haven't heard Wilpon's comments about the Mets yet, here's a refresher. The Mets owner sat down with Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker a few weeks ago, and the piece was published earlier this week. It appears to be an attempt by Wilpon to save face after the Madoff disaster and try to get back in the public's good graces. But somewhere along the way, Wilpon let his guard down while watching the end of a terrible Mets loss, when they fell to their low point on the season of 5-13. Toobin was able to get Wilpon to say things that a radio caller would say. Among them, that Jose Reyes "thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money" and that "He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it." Maybe he's right. I personally don't think Reyes is worth over $20 million a year, either. But why would you say that publicly? He's effectively destroyed GM Sandy Alderson's poker face when it comes to potential trade negotiations. Why say that at all? What positive can come out of that? He was just getting started. Referring to David Wright: "He’s pressing. A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar." The same non-superstar that the Mets promote like a superstar? The one that we're supposed to fill the ballpark to go see? What's the difference between an All-Star and a superstar? It's nitpicking to classify. Wright is a perennial All-Star who, despite taking a step backward in his game since 2009, is still one of the National League's best. Not only that, but he's one of the greatest homegrown players in Mets history, and still has a few years left on his deal. What is the benefit of saying he's not a superstar? Surely Wilpon will lower ticket prices because there's no superstars on display, right? I doubt it. But what he said about Carlos Beltran is what gets to me. “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series,” Wilpon said, referring to himself as a shmuck for presumably overpaying Beltran after his incredible 2004 NLCS. “He’s 65 to 70-percent of what he was.” Now, of course Beltran has been hampered by chronic knee injuries over the past few years. Clearly he has lacked the speed and stolen base threat that he was earlier in his career. But to call him 65-70% of what he once was? I think that's over the line. It's bad enough that there's a contingent of Mets fans who have never warmed to the gallant Beltran, but to hear the owner who brought him here say that? It's embarrassing on so many levels.
THE OUTLOOK- Rivalry? Yeah ok. But hang on there: they do play very hard against us. With that said, the Phillies are already well ahead of the Mets, and come in off of series wins against 2010 playoff teams Texas and Cincinnati. This isn't a "big series," but it's sure as hell fun to see our hated rivals again.
THE PREDICTION-
Suddenly we have all four aces and Utley and Brown playing. We look like we can hit again (even if both of them haven't much). I'm feeling good.
PHILLIES 2 OF 3.

David Einhorn's Minority Stake in Mets Assures Mediocrity for Years to Come

Posted by Frank Klose

Eindhorn
Courtesy nytimes.com

When the New York Mets announced they were looking for an "investor" who would kick in millions of dollars to be a minority owner of the team, I really wondered who would be willing to just kick in a whole bunch of money without having any say in team operations or get any state of the team's SNY cable network.

Well, they found someone, and his name is David Einhorn.

What is in the deal for Einhorn, who reportedly is sending $200 million the Mets' way? Well, it appears that Einhorn has an option to buy a majority stake in the team within three years.  The New York Times reports:

Einhorn is expected to receive a one-third share of the Mets, and potentially much more, in return for his investment. Einhorn will have the option in three years of raising his stake to 60 percent, effectively ending more than three decades of control of the team by the Wilpon family.

In the meantime, Einhorn gets what baseball broadcaster Seth Everett called  a "suite and a parking spot" on his "Stayin Hot with Seth and Bone" podcast this week. 

Clearly, Einhorn has a personal desire to be a part of the New York Mets.  His cash will help the Mets pay their bills for the time being, since they are losing $70 million this year, according to the article.

Majority owner Fred Wilpon expects payroll to be cut.   In this piece by SI.com's Tom Verducci, Wilpon confesses that the payroll should be cut, though he thinks it will be high enough to remain competitive. However, how high can this be?  If the Mets are indeed losing $70 million each year, that $200 of Einhorn's will be gone quickly.

Absent from the Mets' offseason were big-name acquisitons, and present were Rule 5 pickups like Brad Emmaus and Pedro Beato.  Likely traded at the deadline will be Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran.   Still on the payroll for next year are the expensive contracts of Johan Santana, David Wright, and Jason Bay, who may combine for half of the team payroll.  

They are probably hoping beyond hope that someone will take Francisco Rodriguez off of their hands this year so his $17 million option does not vest.

In 2012 the Mets' lineup will continue to count on Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, and whoeever ends up in right field.  Their pitching staff will still include the likes of Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey.   There is just no money to add.

So, if this deal is approved by Major League Baseball, I would expect that Einhorn takes majority control of the team after this three-year period.   In the meantime, expect mediocrity for the Mets.

David Wright a Phillie? Hmm...

In other Mets news, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post has a piece about how David Wright would be a perfect fit for the Phillies.  Many thanks to @CrashburnAlley for pointing it out on Twitter earlier.