Friday, June 30, 2006

Winning Streak At One

Ryan Madson certainly threw a gem of wrench into the proceedings, didn’t he?   The up-and-down youngster was obviously up last night as he threw 8.2 innings of shutout ball.  Flash Gordon got the final out.

One start after a disastrous outing in Boston and Madson set down a good-hitting Baltimore lineup by doing what good pitchers do:  getting ahead in the count; mixing up his pitches; working quickly.

It would be nice if he could string together a few successive starts similar to last night’s.

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The final game against Baltimore also found Pat Burrell sitting again and Bobby Abreu in the DH role.  Both moves gave more playing time to David Dellucci and Shane Victorino and provided more offense and defense to the Phillies’ lineup.  Dellucci becomes a free agent after this season.  His first few months in Philadelphia were a struggle as he was used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter, a role to which he was unaccustomed and ill-suited. Once he got a few more chances to start and the consistent at-bats that come along with them, he started producing.  The Phillies should have a serious talk with Dellucci about next year.  If they can offer him fulltime work he just might be interested in re-signing.   The key would be to make sure they don't mention the word “pitching” during any such discussions.

Victorino is a spark-plug.  He runs hard on every ground ball.  He hustles in the outfield.  He provides an otherwise leaden team with lots of energy.  He has earned a chance to play more.

Do Dellucci, Rowand and Victorino strike as much fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers as Burrell, Rowand and Abreu?  Probably not.  But if the Phillies want to stop relying on the long ball for their scoring and improve their overall defense, the former trio is the way to go.  More significantly, if they want to shake up this team and acquire the pitching they desperately need, Burrell and Abreu remain the best bargaining chips they have.

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More than a few bloggers and commenters were upset with the Phillies for trading yet another pitcher to the Texas Rangers.  When the news was announced yesterday that 22-year old starter Daniel Haigwood, acquired in the Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome deal, was dealt to Texas for 21-year old left-handed reliever Fabio Castro, the blogosphere was up in arms.  The more tame comments ran along the lines that the Phillies hardly had a surplus of pitching at any level and that Haigwood seemed to be one of their better prospects.   They might be right; then, again, we’ve seen a lot of higher rated prospects – Floyd, Hamels, Mathieson, and Brito -- come up from the minors lately and they haven’t exactly set the world on fire.   Indeed, the only Phillies’ prospects who are prospering in the big leagues are doing so for other teams.  


Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I don't think it is fair to criticize the team based on trading Haigwood. We don't know anything about the kid.

RickSchuBlues said...

I think that what upset people about it is that Gillick has already given up on two of his own acquisitions, first Rodriquez and now haigwood - second, instead on saving Haigwood for part of a package deal, the only transactions we keep seeing are these page-14, small-print type moves that have as much impact as a fly buzzing into the path of a truck. I was glad to read that Conlin termed Gillick "disappointing" in his terrific column today. That, he has surely been.

I agree that the Phils would probably not be too much worse off with the OF you propse, only it would be essential in my view to add a platoon-caliber right-handed hitter to the mix, a Todd Hollandsworth or Jason Michaels type perhaps. I don't think Dellucci would fare quite so well playing every day...and I'm still not sold on Victorino's ability to play every day, either. More often, yes. But 150-plus games apiece? I have my reservations.

Tom Goodman said...

RSB: Very thoughtful comments. I, too, have my reservations about the long-term viability of a Dellucci-Rowand-Victorino outfield, especially in the run production dept., but for the near-term I could live with them if the Phillies can acquire some pitching by using Bobby and Pat as bait. When the season began, all of us assumed this team could score runs, indeed, outscore their opponents given the questionable pitching. Well, they haven't even been able to do that, so why not move in the other direction, namely, get the pitching and hold the other guys!!

As for Gillick and his acquisitions, they have been profoundly underwhelming since the Rowand deal. Conlin's column was on the money.

BenJah said...

having victorino and dellucci play EVERY day might not be all that great, but if we got really good pitching in return, i could live with it for this season. but then who becomes the 4th outfielder?? and what does that do for the gaping, canyon-like, black-hole at third base?

Tom Goodman said...

I am assuming they trade EITHER Abreu or Burrell not both.

RickSchuBlues said...

They'll trade both, but only if they're willing to accept very little for Burrell. I'd bet the house neither are back in '07, and part of the kitchen that they aren't here in September '06. And I will be temporarily overjoyed to watch DD and Victorino every nght in their places (if Dellucci doesn't in fact go before them, which, knowing the Phils, he probably will).

J. Weitzel said...

Dellucci might be the most attractive player of the bunch to teams looking for offense for the playoff run. He's hitting better than Burrell right now. He's healthy, he's cheap and he's a free agent after this season. No team is interested in spending money nowadays.

George S said...

I am all for a Delucci-Victorino-Rowand outfield. Put Rowand in RF, though. They cannot do worse than the original OF. A 4th OF is not critical with these 3. Even Roberson can fill that slot in the short-term. The Phillies should absolutely trade both Burrell and Abreu for pitching and 3B/C help.

As for Victorino playing 150 games, why not just find out and stop speculating? It would do the Phillies well if they would give some of these young players a real chance, rather than make half-assed assumptions based on quick looks. Wasn't Victorino a player of the year in the minors? 35 ABs for Ruiz??

The decline of Burrell is sad and unexplainable to me. It's not the injury, and I'm not even sure it's a slump rather than a permanent decline. Very strange. He's got to go.

Bell should be offered around right now and if there are no takers, released outright. He adds nothing to this team and is taking up a roster spot and ABs from some other players that might be able to help this team. His salary is spent anyway.

Abreu is resigned to being traded and probably wants to be. I think both he and Burrell have written the year off and are playing that way. The difference between the two is that Bobby has more personal pride and will not let his numbers drop too far. Otherwise, he is simply mailing it in every night. With some of the younger players the Phillies have, it is not good to have this type of attitude from your veterans and keep playing them anyway.

The Phillies should keep Myers. I explained my reasoning in a separate comment elsewhere.

RickSchuBlues said...

The decline of Burrell is a shock I've long since recovered from. It started the second he signed his huge contract, which made him into a totally different player. It is sad, because he looked in 2002 like the next homegrown Schmidt-type player who would be a rock in the lineup for years to come. But that was four seasons ago. His mere presence on the field drains energy from this team. And Abreu's been a numbers guy all along. As I've stated before, he is the perfect centerpiece for a losing team. Despite the loss in production, eliminating these two from the picture truly will be addition by subtraction.

George, the only way I'd be willing to consider keeping Myers (if it were my decision) is if it became clear in a short period of time that what happened to him last week was the catalyst he needed to finally stop him in his tracks, become humbled, and begin to grow up. If he comes back in a couple of weeks with no signs of repentance, and is still the same hothead who barehands the ball from the catcher, then I say unequivically, out with him.

Tom Goodman said...

More thoughtful comments from everyone. I think Dellucci will be traded to Detroit, which needs a left-handed bat and would be willing to give up some pitching to acquire one. While most of the trade rumors have focused on Abreu and Detroit, why would they elect to take on all of that salary and mood when Dellucci is an absolute bargain in these times of mutli-year, multi-million dollar contracts and has a better attitude? He isn't hurting his stock by his recent performance either. Talk about timing.

George has touched on something everyone has mentioned in one fashion or another lately regarding the Phillies' handling of young players. They rarely want to give them a chance to show what they have. Victorino would never have gotten the playing time he did had it not been for Rowand's injury. Ruiz has been buried. Nunez, though not young, was nevertheless new to this organization. They brought him in and never gave him a chance. He might not be able to hit, but he certainly cannot show what he has by pinch-hitting all the time or starting every seventeenth day. Plus, I would bet he came here with the expectation he would see a lot of starts, especially against right-handers, and has been keenly disappointed by his handling.

At the beginning of this season most of us assumed the Phils would remain competitive by outscoring their opponents. It turns out, even that assumption was mistaken. But it is a moot point. They could score a lot of runs and still lose more often than not given the absolute chaos in their pitching staff.

George S said...

RSB, heere is a portion of what I had written earlier about the Phillies and Brett Myers.

"I am not saying that Myers will ever be a warm and fuzzy guy. But if he can re-invent himself with professional help, help that he is now getting, it would be a great gamble for the Phillies to keep and support him. What he allegedly did was despicable, and he should have to pay the price for that. But if he can turn it around with counseling, why let another team benefit while the Phillies get little in return for trading 'damaged goods'?

To many, no matter what he does from here on out, he will be branded as a wife-beater. I'm sure many fans will never let him forget it. But it would be smart for the Phillies to take a wait-and-see approach here instead of overreacting and moving him for ten cents on the dollar. This club cannot afford to give away baseball talent. See how Myers come out of counseling before making a rash decision about his future with the team.
Kenny Rogers has shown that it can be done, and that you can apparently win back the fans if you make the effort to deal with your anger problem. And is it a coincidence that Rogers is so far having a great season after getting his temper under control through professional help?"

Seems similar to your view. I'm just against the Phillies acting rashly on this one.

Tom Goodman said...

I have little doubt this will be the last thing I say about Brett Myers. While I would normally be willing to say many people can benefit from counseling and professional therapy, I remain dubious about Myers' prognosis and again must point out that his history is far more complicated than the incident in Boston.

Throughout his career, Myers has shown a clear and strong tendency to become visibly and inappropriately upset with those "close" to him, namely, his teammates. As RSB pointed out in a comment a few weeks ago (not, pointedly, in the context of his assault on his wife but earlier in light of yet another example of Myers' onfield hostility towards his own teammates)Myers is quick to blame others for his troubles and to allow his emotions to get the best of him. This has been his tendency ever since he arrived in Philadelphia.

Moreover, and this is no small matter, Myers was apparently a boxer in a former life. Whether this was as a professional or amateur I haven't the least clue, but it is worth noting that such a background only adds to the profile of a combative personality who isn't above using his fists.