Monday, August 14, 2006

Short Stuff

An extended weekend in the vibrant metropolis of Chicago prevented me from closely following the Phillies, not an altogether unfortunate situation given the results of their “crucial’ head-to-head meeting with Wild Card leader Cincinnati.

Perhaps lost in the shuffle of the series loss to the Red Legs was this little note:  with their 59th and 60th defeats of the season the Phillies officially fell short of the five additional wins GM Pat Gillick sought for the current campaign.  Gillick, no doubt, chose to forget about that milestone a long time ago.

The culprits in the losses were the usual suspects:  starting pitching, relief pitching and a lack of clutch hitting.  Hey, wait a minute, what else is there?  Fielding.  Not having seen the games I cannot comment on the details though I note the Phils made three errors over the weekend.

I can comment on Brett Myers’ latest debacle, however.  The nine strikeouts may look good on the season stat sheet, but the seven hits, five earned runs and three home runs, back-to-back-to-back, speak louder.  Myers never steps up in big games; he simply doesn’t have it in him.  At some point in virtually every outing he is going to implode.   Afterwards, Myers had this to say:  "I couldn't locate my fastball. I was trying to fight my body."  Ah, yes, that body of his.  All he needs to develop is a big slow, sweeping curve and he is on his way to looking more like a right-handed version of David Wells.

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During the weekend I caught a few minutes of Comcast Sportsnet’s Chicago installment and I must say it is fascinating to watch the highlights or lowlights of another Cubs loss followed immediately by a recap of the White Sox game.   Baseball all around, leading off the show.  The Bears played a pre-season game, too, but didn’t receive top billing.  Compare that to Philadelphia, where training camp let alone an exhibition game (“we’re talkin’ practice”) would be headline news.


J. Weitzel said...

Here's a rundown.

Overall, the team showed heart to battle back in the two losses, and claw to a win in Game 1. There were big hits across the board. Jimmy Rollins is red-hot. Chris Coste had two more clutch hits in the late innings. Ryan Howard continues to pop them out. Nunez added a couple seeing-eye singles.

Defensively, they had a solid series. Howard made his best play of the season yesterday on a hard-hit ball and backhand flip to the pitcher. J-Roll was magnificent at short. Nunez was slick. Victorino made a nice throw to hold Jr. to a single yesterday.

For the most part, the bullpen was very good. Madson was pitching his third-straight game, causing some second-guessing as to why Castro was not used all weekend. I would have pitched Rhodes another inning yesterday since he only threw 10 the previous inning. I don't think he's gone more than one all year. Rick White had his best series of the year. Fultz pitched well. Geary looks out of gas. The big story in bullpen is Tom Gordon, who looks totally flat. His curve has no bite and his fastball is down 3-5 mph. They're running out of gas.

I'm very tired of Pat Burrell and that big swing. Can someone please show him how to shorten the bat for a base hit? Even Nunez got a hit in the ninth inning off Guardado.

And of course, pea-brain Brett Myers, who needed to pitch a minimum of seven innings yesterday to spell the bullpen. Nice inning, jerk.

J. Weitzel said...

Oh, I forgot to mention Mathieson. He definitely should be in the minors. He's not ready, not even close to ready.

Tom Goodman said...

Jason: Thanks for that recap. It was very helpful. What in the world are they thinking when it comes to Fabio Castro? He's here for the duration, pitching effectively without benefit of consistent work and clearly willing and able. So, instead they send Ryan Madson out three straight games when his history is one of wearing down as the season progresses. Charlie and his gang clearly do not know how to handle pitchers. They can throw Mathieson to the wolves but apparently not take even the slightest chance on Castro. As for Gordon, he hasn't been effective for most of his outings since the AS break. Nor has he been too effective in big games and though it might be a stretch to really call these big games, for the Phillies they were a chance not only to crawl back to .500, but to also move up substantially in the WC race. That race may be a joke from the perspective of the American League, but it is a chance to build confidence and a winning approach for the youngsters on the Phillies roster. Sounds like many of those youngsters performed well under pressure except for Mathieson, whom you point out is just not ready yet.

Corey & Carson said...

Tom G- I took am taking issue with Manuel's handling of the pitching staff, as pointed out in my blog this morning.

Dumb question, but...was Chicago windy?

Tom Goodman said...

Well, as a matter of fact it does get windy as you walk down certain East-West streets approaching the lake front. But we had what could only be described as Chamber of Commerce weather there: high 70's, low humidity, gorgeous skies and architecture that can only be described as inventive, bold, dynamic and thrilling to behold.

RickSchuBlues said...

I am so tired of people still feeling a need to make Manuel an issue. Please, give it a rest. He does not make this team win or lose.

Not to quibble, but it's actually the 70th loss which will officially vanquish Gillick's five-win plan.

The clutch hitting was more present than usual during the past series, particularly from Rollins and Howard. Manuel made a point in his postgame comments that the right-handed bats have not shown up, giving the opponents' left-handed pitching a huge advantage over the Phillies, especially in the later stages of a game.

Of course, we couldn't find out what Pat Burrell may have had to say about that, because he left the ballpark in a huff. Say what you want about Myers - and I completely agree with your opinion of him - but at least he bothered to take questions after his latest failure. Burrell is just a no-'count clod.

Tom Goodman said...

RSB: I was always lousy at math. Thanks for that correction.

I didn't think of Ryan's clutch hits as being out of the ordinary for him. He and Chase have been doing it all year so I failed to exempt him from the general comment on clutch hitting. Jimmy has picked up at the precise juncture where he usually gets hot, in the final two months. Dellucci and Coste continue to produce. And Pat is...Pat, a small time player when it counts the most.

As for Manuel, the decision to continue to sit Castro is inexcusable. Is this kid more fragile than any other youngster they have thrown into the breach? Have the coaches and manager suddenly gotten religion on the subject of pysches? Do we need to see Madson worn down in his new role, which he considers a demotion? After Myers gave up two home runs, did anyone doubt what was coming next? While we might not have predicted homer number three, the implosion was a foregone conclusion. So, Charlie waits for one more roundtripper and one hit batsmen to go out there. Sure, he was saving his bullpen, but it is worth noting the Phils lost by two runs, or the middle and end of Myers' latest meltdown. Sorry, RSB, Manuel is the manager, as it game management.

RickSchuBlues said...

Points taken, Tom; I should clarify that I wasn't referring to you, but rather certain commentors who never seem to let a day go by without having to mention what an idiot Manuel is. It's old.