Monday, May 15, 2006

Who'd Have Thunk It?

Nothing could keep the Phillies off the front page this morning!

After all, it isn’t every day your latest hero spent the previous night in an emergency room receiving treatment for food poisoning, began the day on the bench, came in as a pinch-hinter late in the game, socked the tying home run in his first at bat and the winning one four frames later in the twelfth inning.

And it certainly isn’t every day that your winning pitcher is a guy named Geary who had just been demoted two days earlier to AAA not, in should be pointed out, because of ineffectiveness, au contraire, but because he had an option remaining and the guy who edged him out for the last roster spot, one Julio Santana, did not.   The second chapter of this unlikely tale had the guy who stayed giving up three walks and two earned runs in less than an inning of alleged relief only to be put on the DL two days later.  So Geary, who as it turned out had 72 hours to report to Scranton and spent much of that time mulling his options in Philadelphia, gets the call to report instead to Cincinnati, where in the final chapter of this saga he picks up the win on Sunday.   Far be it from me to question the legitimacy of Santana’s elbow injury.  Manipulate the system?  Why that wouldn’t be kosher!!

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It’s impossible to look over at the American League without noting with pleasure that Jim Thome is back.  Gentleman Jim hit his fifteenth homer of the season last night, going 2 – 5 and driving in his 38th run as the Sox beat Minnesota 9 – 7.   Meanwhile, Ryan Howard has hit 12 homers with 27 RBI’s in his sophomore season.  Still, no regrets about the deal that sent Thome to Chicago.  The feeling here is Howard will be around for a longer time and will only get better.

And, of yeah, some guy named Rowand and two excellent pitching prospects were also part of the Thome deal.  Isn’t is nice when everyone is happy?

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I am not here to pick on Bobby Abreu, but I cannot ignore the potentially game-saving catch his substitute Chris Roberson made at the fence in the eighth inning.  That is precisely the sort of play that gives Bobby fits.

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Prior to Sunday’s game I spoke with Jason Weitzel about Brett Myers and made the point that yesterday’s start was one of the most important of Myers’ career to date.  The team had been winning despite losing several position players to injury; the starting pitching had come around with the exception of Cory Lidle, and; furthermore, Myers had finally begun to assert himself as the team’s ace and needed to consolidate that role.

So Myers goes out and holds the previously potent (until the Phillies arrived in town) Reds’ offense to a single run on four hits in seven innings in, need we remind you, a hitters’ park.   (During the three game series the Phils allowed three earned runs.)

As they say, Myers could sue his mates for lack of support, but he isn’t complaining as the Phillies march on, sweeping the Reds in their ballpark and moving to within a single game of division leading New York.

For the season Myers is “only” 2-1, but his ERA now stands at 2.73.  His maturation along with the arrival of Cole Hamels and the stellar performance by Jon Lieber Saturday night give the Phillies much to cheer about.


Rev. Smokin Steve said...

Alright Tom... you tell me.

I've been a Phillies fan now for almost 30 years. Needless to say I've seen it all in that time. I know how painful it is to get your hopes up with this team.

Right now, after seeing this team play some of the best baseball I have seen since 1993, I want to get my hopes up again.

I want to think that maybe they are really putting it together. I want to think that Cole Hamels is the missing piece of the rotation that will make it happen. I want to think that Ryan Howard is the clutch hitter we need to sustain us into October. I want to think that Pat Burrell finally gets it.

I want to think that maybe we have all been wrong about Charlie Manuel. I want to think that the presence of Pat Gillick is really that important that it overrules the sins of the organization's past.

I want to think this team is better than the Mets and will win the division. I really want to think all of this stuff.

You tell me... should I get my hopes up now?

Tom Goodman said...

Smokin Steve: You are asking a classic half empty glass Phillies fan to assume some responsibility for your mental health going forward. I am more than just a little reluctant to do that!!

One thing is certain at this stage, however. The Phillies' turnaround from their woeful start has been nothing short of 180 degrees. If they can remain healthy, which also means getting Lieberthal and Rowand back soon, and if Hamels is effective and if Gavin Floyd can continue to improve they should continue to contend.

Rowand could be out a month and the word on Lieberthal is alarming so I have some concerns. It's difficult to know how Ruiz will hit. He seems to be more than capable behind the plate. Fasano does not inspire me in the least but judging from some postgame comments, Jon Lieber likes him.

How's that for a qualified response?