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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Comments

Re Utley: I've noted several times this year that the emperor has no clothes. He still has the smarts, but not a whole lot more.

Utley and the team were very disappointing.

Utley seems as though he's aged 10 years since 2008. Does anyone anticipate the offensive tears he would routinely go on anymore, or even 2 games in a row going yard? Other than the NLDS homer that barely cleared the fence he has been invisible.

yesterday's game proved that even a RHP who throws an average game against us can go 6 or 7 innings and hand it over to lefties in the pen who will, of course continue to shut this lineup down, even moreso. When it was clear we couldnt take advantage against Cain despite numerous opportunities you knew the game was lost.

I just really think that three straight years of playoff baseball, resulting in one less year of rehab and recovery for many of these players, is noticeably starting to take its toll.

he had a good run.

The Phillies and Yankees are very similar right now in that they have proven superstars on their roster that seem to have aged overnight. Utley, Rollins, Ibanez, Werth, Victorino and even Howard havent really shown up, but neither have Posada, Jeter (until last night), Texiera, A-Rod, and Swisher.

*one less month of rehab...

Both the Phils and the Yankees look old. Changing of the guard, perhaps?

Assuming the Rangers win the AL, can you see either the Phils or the Giants beating them?

Be that as it may, clout has counseled calm re: today's game. In clout I trust. So if the Phils lose today, I'll blame him.

i don't see either team beating texas

'Both the Phils and the Yankees look old. Changing of the guard, perhaps?'

I think it is possible but I also believe we have a better shot of continuing our success over the next couple of years versus the yanks, unless of course they land Cliff Lee, then all bets are off. It's been amazing what we have accomplished with so many injuries, but perhaps those same injuries and the tolls they have taken on this roster are ironically doing us in after all.

All things considered, I'd rather have the injuries finally land their knockout blow in the NLCS, then in the regular season. More Phillies baseball is always a good thing. There will be at least 3 more games this season. I don't see Doc losing game 5, and I like the prospect of giving Oswalt the ball in a game 6, whether it's an elimination game or not.

This series is not over. Let's see how our guys respond. They've responded to challenge after challenge for 4 years running now.

I understand that the core "looks" old. But are they really old enough to be old???

By the way, I know it's a small sample, but the bullpen has yet to give up a run in the playoffs. That could bode well for us today with Blanton on the mound. If the Phillies can get to Bumgarner a little bit, I could see Blanton surprising us today.

I still think the Phils win this series. Lets just be happy we are seeing these guys in 7 and not 5.

As others pointed out, beat a rookie in the playoffs and you've got yourself a 3 games series with your best 3 starters all lined up.

And to take it further, if the Phils can take thier heads out of their asses and win this series, I am pretty sure they'd beat the favorites over Texas. The Rangers are just having a field day on a pretty bad rotation in NY. They do look impressive but "on paper" the Phils should be able to handle them.

no texas is better. and texas will at least hit our pitching a little bit. even sf is hitting them a little bit. but we aren't hitting anything. if we somehow escape this series, we'll need to turn it up even another notch to beat the rangers

We look tired, worn down, and old. And that's just Davey Lopes.

They looked "old" when they played poorly earlier in the season, then they were "back", now they're "old" again. Just a few months ago there was a post with a title something like "the last night of the Phillies era" (obviously a play on Olney's book title), then they went on to have the best record in baseball. It's a Jekyl/Hyde season.

A win tonight featuring some offense will have everybody on Cloud 9 again, except maybe Jack, who will remind us how we can't be excited or something.

I think we need Moyer back in the rotation to reinvigorate these old farts.

They won't hit a guy they've never seen...He'll probably throw a no hitter against us

Just curious.

When you look at a player, how do you know when he's looking "old" and when he's just looking like he's in a slump?


When I look at players I have a hard time telling the difference. Maybe I should go see an ophthalmologist?

I'm not sure yanking Raul would make a difference at this point either. he's looked awful but he was on fire for the second half of the season up to this series. If he had been lousy down the stretch I would sit him.

In the end, who knows. We've seen this team look old and listless before, only to turn it around and go on an offensive tear. It could easily happen tonight against the rookie.

At the same time... they really looked tired and listless last night. Hard to envision how they're going to flip the switch unless Bumgartner melts down.

This has been a tale of two teams this year. The pitching, I don't particularly worry about, because the pitching is going to be decent to great, and has shown that throughout the year.

The offense though, has run the gamut from lethal to pathetic. Right now, they're stuck in pathetic mode.

However, it seems to me that the offense always seems to show up when a cruddy pitcher is on the mound (view the gobs of run support that Kendrick and Moyer got).

So my prediction is that the offense shows up today. Whether or not Blanton pitches decently enough to take advantage is another story.

My prediction: If Blanton on the hill today doesn't re-invigorate the offense and lead us to a win, nothing will, and we can kiss the series and the season good-bye.

It's clear that if Dobbs was on the roster we would not be behind in this series.

The Phils are tops in Spetember come october they rely on the other team to fold and that is a problem especailly if the other team is not cooperating.

"I'm not sure yanking Raul would make a difference at this point either. he's looked awful but he was on fire for the second half of the season up to this series. If he had been lousy down the stretch I would sit him."

Arguments for yanking Raul:

1) Worst come to worst, Francisco will at least be a minor upgrade in the field. In big AT&T park, that might make a difference.

2) Francisco has always hit lefties well.

3) Ibanez has looked like a dead man walking for this series and, as a left hander, has never hit lefties as well as righties.

Sure, Ibanez could flip a magical switch today and get 3 splash HRs off of Bumgardner, but I think the preponderance of the evidence indicates Francisco would be a better bet.

This was probably discussed in earlier threads, but how does it make sense to hand the ball to your #4 starter with the season on the line? Didn't work for the Yanks, and isn't likely to work for us.

Ben Fran needs to be in the lineup tonight. Either way, God help us all.

For once, I whole heartedly agree with Heather on a couple posts in a row.

If the Phillies don't play well today, and don't hit today, Doc will have to pitch nine innins of shutout ball in game 5, and the most that will probably guarantee is extra innings.

Also, Raul is worthless...WORTHLESS...right now. Subbing in Greg Dobbs might actually be an upgrade right now, but subbing in Francisco, who can at least reach the seats in right field (whereas Raul can't reach the seats in left field) is a good idea, and since Ben Fran is an upgrade in the field, and since Bumgarner is a tricky left hander, if Charlie DOESN'T sit Raul today, he'll be making a big mistake, and he'll be as culpable for this team's offensive woes as anybody out there.

Utley had one bad game. Ibanez has had a horrible playoffs.

The team is old, and has lost power, which had been it's greatest attribute. BL readers have ignored this all season, but there's no question it's true. It's also true that power wins in the playoffs (despite the crap you hear about "manufacturing runs")--look at the Rangers. Or the Yanks last year. Or, you know, the Phils in 2008.

We're still a better overall team than the Giants, but in a short playoff series, especially one with low-scoring, well-pitched games, anything can happen. The fact that so many people on here predicted an easy series, and it hasn't been, reflects more on their ignorance than on a surprising outcome in the series.

"This was probably discussed in earlier threads, but how does it make sense to hand the ball to your #4 starter with the season on the line? Didn't work for the Yanks, and isn't likely to work for us."

Blanton > A. J. Burnett

Also, the problem here isn't the pitching. All of our starters pitched competently enough to win. It's the offense. If the offense shows up, they'll win today. If it doesn't show up, it doesn't matter who is on the mound.

Just my $.02.

Charlie is loyal to a fault. He starts Blanton and Ibanez today. Blanton goes 4 giving up 4ERs, Ibanez goes 0-3 with 2ks and a GIDP. Cliff Lee goes on to win the world series....world ends earlier than expected (2010 vs 2012).

after 3 games people are calling the team too old, too hurt, and not good enough??? pathetic


The series is looong from over. The giants offense is not very good. Without Cody Ross they would have scored about 4 runs this series.

Remember, no matter how bad the phils offense looks, the giants have to score runs too. There is no way anyone can argue the giants have a better offense and pitching is comparable. Phils in 7

The other thing is that if Girardi had simply pulled Burnett before Molina (or, for that matter, had simply had him pitch to Murphy instead of putting the tying run on base), Burnett probably leaves with a quality start and the Yankees win.

I got no problem throwing Blanton. I DO have a problem starting Ibanez, but my guess is that ship has sailed. "Those are like, my guys, you know."

Doesn't matter if Blanton, Halladay, or Sandy Koufax pitch tonight if we score 0 runs.

Is this old man the same guy that carried the offense in the WS last year??

i saw manuel's pc yesterday. he was hedging on the ibanez/francisco thing. it's not a done deal ibanez will start

The Phillies starters have an ERA of 3.00 for the series. The Phillies bullpen has an ERA of 0.00.

Pitching has NOT been the problem. Blanton should pitch today.

will Charlie go the way of Joe Girardi and will his pitching loyalty result in certain doom? Will Blanton pull a Burnett and pitch decently through 6 innings before allowing a 3 run bomb to the rodeo clown, or worse Pat the Bat? Will Raul ride the bench? Will we have a hit by the 7th inning? Inquiring minds want to know, I want to know....

Also, please don't lump me in with people overreacting to one bad game and calling the team old.

I've been calling the team old all season--because they have been. They have the oldest roster in the league. It's not a matter of opinion.

The relationship between age and deterioration of physical talent is undeniable.

I'd wonder if the PED-induced trend of older players excelling has colored our ability to identify a "downtrending" versus a "slumping" player.

Which was JRoll last year? This year?

"if Charlie DOESN'T sit Raul today, he'll be making a big mistake, and he'll be as culpable for this team's offensive woes as anybody out there."

The sad thing is he won't. We know UC well enough by now. No way UC replaces any of "his guys" for this game.

So I'll be reduced to hoping Raul finds his magical switch for this game.

:-(

On a slightly different note, am I the only one who thinks we might actually have better results via wholesale changes?

Like make a suprise lineup announcement two hours before the game. Sweeney's playing first base, Francisco is playing RF, Valdez is playing short.

At least we would have the element of suprise going for us.

Oh and for the record, my last suggestion was supposed to be Francisco in LF, not RF.

And yes, I was semi-joking.

howard leads the team in average and you want to replace him? if you play valdez, you play him for utley who is actually worse than rollins right now, if that's your thinking.

I Heavy B-lieve!!!

I am also of the opinion that we will see some retractions of the "rumors of Chase Utley's demise were greatly exaggerated" mold in the near future. We debated whether he had a mental playoff block last year, and then he took off in the WS...

All we really need is for Blanton to get Cain's strike zone from yesterday and Bumgarner to get Hamel's.

That and for Ibanez to get the flu for a week and a half. Really, he has aged an incredible amount in the past year and a half.

Who knew that the three year contract would be such a bad idea?

dlhunter: I think it's something like a bell curve (after normalizing for talent disparity*). Most players decline in their mid-30s. Some, like Ibanez, are on the right tail of the curve and can stay productive into their late 30's. Some guys are on the left tail of the curve and will experience a sudden, quick decline in their early 30's. Only hindsight will tell whether Rollins is in that group.

*When I say normalizing for talent disparity, I mean that obviously a first-ballot HOFer like A-Rod has a better chance of staying productive into his late 30's than a replacement-level player. We're talking just about the vast majority of players.

Heather - Since Howard is, like, the only guy actually hitting? I might consider refraining from starting Sweeney.

Andy: I assume you're joking about the 3-year contract, right?

Jack - As one of those who kept saying at the time it was a bad idea, and then got screamed at when Raaauuuullll had a great 2009 start? Yeah. I'm joking.

Let's not completely bash Raul, he was huge down the stretch and a big reason we won the division. Having said that, he's swinging like Charlie Hough at present.

They're not old. The Giants pitching is good. Lets give Cain a little credit here, they pounded his sinker into the ground all night. Yesterday they found the holes when they had guys on base (how many balls did the Giants hit hard?) and got some good bounces. Every ground ball we hit was right at somebody. This is the way it goes when you have two good pitching staffs. A "ground ball with eyes" here, a lucky bounce there, and you lose. Shake it off.

I understand the UC is loyal to a fault argument, but at the same rate it is that loyalty which causes guys to play harder for him. Thus, it seems we have a double-edged sword...

Ok, we're on the same page then. That's what I thought.

"Who knew that the three year contract would be such a bad idea?"

Are you being joking, or not? I can't tell.

At any rate, if you are serious, a lot of people thought it was a bad idea.

That's right Tony.

87.5% of battled balls by the Phillies off Cain were converted into outs (2 hits on 16 balls put in play).

Only 50% of batted balls put in play by the Giants off Hamels were converted to outs (5 hits on 10 balls put in play; one of those should have been an error, though).

That's your game right there.

The Phillies are not suddently "old." They are facing very good pitching. The Giants are the only team in the NL that can match H2O and they are doing just that. If the Phillies win tonight, they force at least a Game 6 at home with Roy Oswalt on full rest. I still like our chances.

Wait, we're not allowed to "completely bash" Raul for going 3 for 25 with countless left on base? But we can rip Utley for one bad game?

Ibanez has some friends in high places here on BL. He's been constantly defended despite a mediocre season and now a horrible playoff run.

Can our batters show some plate discipline and stop acting like their up by 8 runs? Can we take some walks? We can't swing for the fences in SF because the fences are 55 feet farther back then at the Bank. get on base and listen to Lopes and make things happen. That plus the pitching we've shown throughout and we win this thing.

Raul has been hoooorible. A black hole in the lineup. If he's going to play he should be hitting 8th. Now that we've been bashing him, he'll probably knock in 3 runs tonight.

"If the Phillies win tonight, they force at least a Game 6 at home with Roy Oswalt on full rest. I still like our chances."

I agree with this part of your post. In fact, I'll go so far as to say whichever team wins this game wins the series.

If the Giants win, the Phils aren't overcoming a 3-1 deficit.

If the Phils tie it up 2-2, the Phils have Halladay and Oswalt coming up. I still like Oswalt vs. Sanchez and I think Halladay feels like he has something to prove after his loss to Lincecum.

Jack: I bashed both Raul and Utley, just recognize that Raul was huge down the stretch so Charlie's loyalty there is a little more rational. I also heard Charlie say to Wheels on the pre-game radio show right before the All Star Break regarding Raul that: "That Sonvabtch can hit".....

"Raul has been hoooorible. A black hole in the lineup. If he's going to play he should be hitting 8th. Now that we've been bashing him, he'll probably knock in 3 runs tonight."

For our team, or by misplaying a ball in the outfield for the Giants?

(Sorry, it was too easy.)

Agree on Utley being responsible for yesterdays loss, as much as 1 player on a team can be. Over the last 2 post seasons he's had some pretty costly errors in the field, and they seem to come in bunches.

I don't agree that the Phillies are losing because they're old. The core is all around 30, not exactly Medicare eligible. You don't jump off a cliff when you hit 30, there's slight and gradual changes. This team is in the NLCS and won 97 games, the highest number in this four year run, so they can't be all that bad.

I don't see why the series is over if the phils lose tonight? Yes our offense has got shut down so far, but our top 3 will be going against their top 3. I have more faith in a slumping offense(phils) putting a few runs on the board than a bad offense(giants) scoring a few.

Have some faith.

Raul is not the only hole in the lineup, he's one of many. Utley's half swing grounders, Werth's swing-from-his-knees whiffs, Victorino's mentally challenged working of the count, Howard's home run power drought all have contributed. And I'll throw in a poorly-called game, though rare, by Chooch to boot in game one.

By the way, anyone else care that Bonds gave Howard hitting advice before the series then rooted openly for the Giants???!!!!

Ibanez woke up when Cholly started the temporary platoon I believe and Cholly needs to implement another temporary platoon right now. I love Polly too, but wouldn't mind seeing WV at 3rd today.
Rollins
Utley
Vic
Howard
Werth
BenFran
Ruiz
Exxon

JC: Charlie's loyalty to Raul is more rational than loyalty to Utley? In what world? Utley has been his best player for 5+ years.

From Aug. 17 on (when Utley returned):

Utley: .273/.395/.410 (.805)
Ibanez: .299/.350/.497 (.847)

Both were just fine down the stretch. Utley got on base more, Ibanez hit for more power.

Jack: "Rangers proving, once again, that power is what wins in the playoffs."

Wait, I thought pitching won in the playoffs?

" The Giants pitching is good. Lets give Cain a little credit here, they pounded his sinker into the ground all night."

The bats did look bad, but the above should be restated. We're not facing the Nats pitching.

Old and injured is another way to look at it. Utley, Howard, Polly, and Rollins are all still recovering from pretty serious injuries that have limited their speed and/or mobility. You can even lump Raul in there if he's still not 100% from offseason surgery.

The Phils looked old for the first half of the season, then miraculously got young again in the 2nd half. They don't look old, they look bad (and banged up), but everyone knows how quickly they can turn it around.

Jack: I wasnt comparing his loyalty to Utley with Raul, just describing his rationale with regard to Ibanez as opposed to other players generally. That would be a ridiculous comparison, but thanks anyway for the statistical breakdown as to why.

Clout: Power pitching and power hitting, mostly. Yes, pitching wins in the playoffs, of course.

But in terms of scoring runs, it's usually power that matters. Against top pitchers, you don't get too many hits. If you can make those hits leave the park, you have a much better chance of winning.

This team , over this year, has played poorly, gotten themselves in bad position to win the division, turned it on at will, and won big time.

Can we pull off that magic trick again in this playoff round- that's the question.

One of these times we will flip the switch and nothing will happen. Is it this week?

It's not time to panic, but it sure is time to be on the edge of your seat.

I have to agree that it's pitching and good defense that wins, which is why the Twins and Braves had early exits. The power display that Texas is putting on is due to the fact that the Yankees pitching is mediocre at best after CC, and the Rangers sluggers are enjoying that short porch at the Stadium as a result.

I've seen a few posters comment on the strike zone. I agree that the strike zone was completely awful, as it has been throughout both the AL and NL playoffs, but it seemed to be bad for both teams. I felt the Lincecum/Halladay zone, however, was slanted a little towards Lincecum. I don't know if because Halladay's pitches have so much unexpected movement and Lincecum's are straighter that Lincecum was getting the corners, but it seemed that way. Yesterday, I didn't feel like Hamels was getting squeezed more than Cain. It also didn't help that the Phils were flailing at many pitches outside of the zone.

Is there any data to confirm or deny what my eyes told me regarding the strike zone for each pitcher?

R. Billingsley, Eno Sarris's article on fangraphs.com has the strike zone plot for Game 3.

Thanks, Heather. I'll take a look.

I guess I stand corrected. The strike zone plot indicates that Hamels had 6 pitches inside the strike zone called balls (Cain had 3). It also shows that Hamels had 4 pitches outside of the zone called a strike (Cain had 9).

Interesting. Thanks again, Heather.

Question on reading those strike zone charts.
Are the horizontal lines on the chart somehow adjusted for each batter ?
i.e.- Is the high & low border of the zone in the chart the same for a 5'8' batter as it is for a 6" 5" batter?

Bubba - They're usually normalized. But keep in mind that most players are close to the same height (6' - 6' 3" I'd say) and so there are not very many large variations in the size of the zone.

Plus the calls that Cain were getting were side to side.

So, Cain had 69 strikes yesterday and 50 balls. According to R Bill's post above, he should have had 63 strikes and 56 balls, if the zone is called correctly.

Is that really such a dominating performance as everyone made it out to be?

Keep in mind that he had 16 balls put in play against him, and only 2 turned into hits.

Surely, the Phillies offense wasn't good yesterday, but they were also a bit BAbip unlucky and Cain wasn't quite as dominating as some might seem to think.

Still, Cain has yet to give up an ER in his postseason career, so maybe there's something to his smoke and mirrors performance.

So to recap the data:
Cain had 15 bad calls in his favor;
Hamels had 7.

It does not excuse Werth for taking strike three in his first AB, though, since the pitch was over the plate and over his knee and he looked at Barrett like he was crazy, but the pitch was clearly in the strike zone. With two strikes he cannot let that one go by.

Fat - I kept thinking if Vic's first inning liner was five feet left or right and if Howard's fly was 10 feet farther it would have changed the game completely.

But other hitters (Werth and Ibanez, maybe Polanco, for instance) look lost up there right now.

Thanks Andy

I think shaved headed Raul with that chew in his chaw looks like a slow old man. At least Werth has hair.

I have not panicked, yet, but these hitters need to hit. We still have H2O.

even when the Phils stunk they never had pleasant games in San Fran, either at this park on at Candlestick. I would venture to say we've never swept a series out there, and if we have not for many years. They always seem intimidated out there.

I think this series goes 7, even if we lose tonight. Rarely in his career has Roy had back to back mediocre starts, and he'll be geared up knowing that the season will be resting on his right arm. The Giants offense is simply no match for him if he's on his game.

If Doc wins game 5, then Oswalt toes the rubber in game 6, and he basically manhandled this offense a couple days ago, and we all know how good he is in CBP. If Oswalt and Doc win their games, as I believe they will, then this series is either going 7, or we win it in 6.

To clarify, I was not reading the strike zone plot to excuse offensive performances of each team or anything like that. I was using the data to see if my eyes were deceiving me with regard to Cain getting certain pitches and Hamels not getting similar pitches. The fact that Cain got more pitches outside of the strike zone does not indicate that the umpire cost the Phils the game.

I was simply looking to see if Cain was getting pitches that Hamels wasn't. According to the above referenced chart, he was. I am making no observation with regard to the degree to which that helped or hurt the respective pitcher.

Regarding starting Blanton tonight... I would give this serious consideration if I were Manuel. In the past 50 years, pitchers starting postseason games after more than 15 games of rest are something like 0-11 with a + 7.00 ERA. I'd think about starting Halladay, especially since you have to feel good about a Halladay- Bumgarner matchup. You would then pitch Blanton in game 5, and return to Oswalt in game 6 at home (where he's been stellar) and Hamels for game 7. The Phillies need to do everything in their power to win tonight's game. If they don't, they'll face the gauntlet of Lincecum, Sanhez, and Cain with no room for error. Start Halladay on short rest, win tonight's game, and take your chances winning 2 out of the next 3 with Blanton, Oswalt, and Hamels pitching. I'll take that.

Don't count Howard among those having a poor series. He's getting hits and getting on base, but there haven't been many runners on in front of him. Whats more, he's not getting very many good pitches to hit, because pitchers are not threatened by Werth at all right now. The new strategy on Howard is just don't let him beat you, even if it means he gets on base. To his credit, he hasn't been chasing slop and has been taking what the opposing pitchers give him, but he won't be able to do more than that unless the rest of the lineup starts producing.

Jack- you are still making up that "so many" thought this would be an easy series. One or two, maybe. The consensus was this would go 6 or 7 games and they would all be close. You're just pulling things out of thin air.

However there was also a consensus that people would start bailing (as they have the past three seasons) when things looked bleak and that has absolutely held true. All of a sudden we're "too old" because we're not hitting pitching that nobody else in the NL could hit down the stretch, either.

Fatalotti- I don't agree that the Rangers are some juggernaut now and would decimate either of these teams in the World Series. After Lee, their pitching is questionable, and after Lee and Wilson, it's VERY questionable. Throw a good starting staff at them (which the Yankees have not done) and they won't look so invincible.

Good Morning-

I have been reminiscing about those happy days of yore when I had no idea who Cody Ross was. Like about a week ago.

Every time Jayson Werth strikes out, I think "Oops, your new contract just got smaller."

I think the Phils will win tonight.

No team wins the crown in September no matter how good it looked on your screen. And no team wins a pennant after 2 Ws.

What we need is Mick Billmeyer's (sp?) binoculars! That'll get us a win today for sure!

Aren't the bullpens in San Fran right on the field. Mick would have such an easy time relaying the signs to the hitters. He could just yell.

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