Thursday, April 21, 2005

A Game of Picas

An old family friend once described a particularly sensitive person we knew as someone “always willing to meet an insult more than half way.”

I recalled her observation more than once as I perused the NL East standings published over the last few days in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

It is customary when listing the home team to place them in the uppermost position when tied with other clubs, but the editors at the Inky have consistently placed the Phils at the lowest position even when they have the same record as teams listed above them. A trivial matter, to be sure, but telling. This hasn’t been a baseball town for years, especially in the Inquirer.

Maybe I'm being too sensitive.

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It may be early in the season but indications are that Ryan Madson is experiencing some sophomore blues. Madson has been violating the cardinal rule of relievers, giving up runs consistently, inherited runners and those of his own doing. In the process his ERA has ballooned to 7.71.

The Phillies could afford the luxury of waiting for Madson to work his way through this rough stretch were it not for the fact that the rest of the relief corps has been equally unimpressive. With the exception of Billy Wagner, whose numbers may be good but whose luck is the far more telling statistic, the Phils relievers are giving up runs at an alarming pace. Tim Worrell’s ERA is 9.00; Gavin Floyd’s is 11.48; and Rheal Cormier’s 9.00.

It is fair to say the Phillies would have a better record if their relievers could hold the line.

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It would also be fair to say the Phils would climb higher in the standings if they would hit with runners in scoring position. Last night they stranded eleven base runners. One clutch hit early in the game when the opportunities were ample would have changed the complexion of the game significantly. Chase Utley must have stranded more than half that total all by himself. His open stance leaves him vulnerable to breaking stuff in and major league pitchers are quick to take advantage, busting him inside. Utley is going to have to adjust. He is striking out nearly once every fourth at-bat (six times in 28 appearances).

1 comment:

Tom G said...

I read a quote from Utley that was interesting, he basically said that when he is pinch-hitting, he hacks, whereas when he starts, he plays more games with pitchers. The "hacking" approach when he pinch hits -- which I think is actually the right way to go about it -- is probably why he has so many K's.

As for hitting in the clutch, you are right, that old problem is starting to rear it's ugly head again. I couldn't beleive it when Thome swung at the first pitch last night, leaving all those runners on base.

He'll come around, but right now he is really frustrating to watch.