July 24, 2004

Cubs overmatch Phils to open series

The Cubs showed the Phils why it's NL East or bust if they have any hopes for the postseason.

Alou, Sosa and Phillie-killer Derek Lee, sleeping giants in the first half, each homered to help the Cubbies slug their way to to three straight.

The strikeout-prone Phils struggled once again with a pitcher who can rush the ball to the plate in a hurry, as Kerry Wood demonstrated over 6 innings, striking out 6 and giving up 1 ER.

Since the Phils can't hit fireballers, or lefties, they'll try their lucky today against RHP Carlos Zambrano who can ground ball you to death.

He's 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA in his last four starts, but he's considered by some to have the best stuff in that excellent rotation.

ESPN.com scouting Zambrano: "A terrific late-moving two-seamer that he throws in the low 90s ... hitters can do little but strike out or beat the ball into the ground when Zambrano has his control. He also throws a straight four-seamer, a slider and a hard splitter. It's tough to get the ball in the air against him, and even tougher to get it out of the park."

Why bother
After a day of Chase Utley worship by many-a-blog, he went 0-4 yesterday. Mike Lieberthal, who faced the ire of many-a-blog, went 2-4. Placido Polanco, generally not a blogger darling, supplied the only RBI.

July 23, 2004

Phils fall in adjusted standings

Baseball Prospectus has updated their Adjusted Standings page.

* The Phillies fall to fourth in the NL East in second-order and third-order standings. The Mets take over the lead in both standings.

* Only the Cardinals and Dodgers remain on top of their respective divisions.

* The Reds fall hardest in first, second and third-order standings. The Yankees fall second hardest and reliquish their division lead to the Red Sox in all standings.

First-order standings are based on Pythagenport expected wins and losses, based on total runs scored and runs allowed

Second-order standings are based on Pythagenport wins and losses, based on EQR and EQRA (Equivalent runs scored and equivalent runs allowed, equivalent runs, generated from the opponent's batting line)

Third-order standings are based on Pythagenport wins and losses are like second-order standings, only adjusted for the quality of the opponent.

July 22, 2004

Lieberthal shames himself in 8th inning

Mike Lieberthal can expect to sit Friday following today's clutch day at the plate.

With the bags juiced, Lieberthal stepped in with two out and popped up the first pitch he faced from Armando Benitez. The pitch was only his third of the game.

Tale of two catchers
At about this time in Atlanta, Johnny Estrada hit a walk-off sac fly to win the game in the 10th for the Braves.

Forget center; make a pitch for catcher
The Phils need to live with platooning Michaels, Glanville, and Ledee at center until Bryd is ready. Like his hair, Lieby's game is wearing very thin, and they shouldn't expect it to improve.

BPF Crystal Ball
Time for the first installment of BPF Crystal Ball, wild predictions based loosly on fact. Feel free to call up WIP and quote them as fact, however. Say you read it in the Reading Eagle.

Expect the Phillies to add a bullpen arm before their roadtrip. LHP Ron Villone of Seattle has been rumored. Geoff Geary, shelled for 4 runs today, will head back to Scranton.

Center field and catcher will be addressed in a three-way trade with Pittsburgh and the NY Yankees before July 31.

Backyard Baseball: Ruiz extends hitting streak

Reading catcher Carlos Ruiz extended his hitting streak to eight games Wednesday night. Ruiz went 1-2, including a sac fly that scored Ryan Howard for the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

A breeze for Ruiz
I made the bold statement July 8 that Carlos Ruiz would make the majors even before much hyped prospects Gavin Floyd and Ryan Howard. The road in front of him, at catcher, is wide, wide open.

When I spoke to him earlier in the season, he needed SS Danny Gonzalez to translate. This may account for his slow progress through the minors. Ruiz, who stands all of 5-7, not 5-10 as listed in the media guide, is 25 and a native of Panama. Here's a quick look at his season thus far.

2004: .293 AVG., .481 SLG., 62 G, 9 HR

Still pissed about Hampton

Mike Hampton earned his second win in nine days against the Phils on Monday. He's 3-8 against the rest of baseball.

This is old news, but Monday’s loss to Mike Hampton is stuck in my craw.

Hampton, a garden-variety junkball lefty the Phils tend struggle with, is 2-0 against the Phils, 3-8 against the rest of baseball this season.

Before Monday, the Phils faced him just nine days earlier and were shut out 4-0, with Hampton going 8 with 5 Ks.

With nine days to regroup, the Phils came out Monday and blasted Hampton for a whole two runs in another futile loss; Hampton went 7 and got the win again.

How does that happen? The Phils lineup is loaded with NL veterans. The right-handers: Polanco ... he’s faced Hampton 39 times .... went 0-4 Monday. Burrell ... who’s seen him 24 times at the plate ... also 0-4.

How can a team come out twice in nine days and perform so poorly again Mike Hampton? Shouldn’t there be a nice, fat book on him in Bowa’s office? He’s only been in the NL since 1994.

July 21, 2004

Florida vs. Philadelphia preview

The Main Event
Pat Burrell needs to turn it around in a big way tonight against Florida. He’s batting .120 in over the last 7 games, slugging a horrid .120.

In the opposite corner, he’ll face pitcher A.J. Burnett, who needs a good outing as much as Burrell. Burnett, the hardest throwing of Florida’s crop of young overthowers, missed most of the season with elbow ligament replacement surgery.

Burrell is 5-18 against him (.278), with 1 HR and 3 Ks.

Hard-throwing Marlin A.J. Burnett opens the series tonight against the Phils.

Generation A.J.
Burnett is the posterboy for the crash-and-burn generation of hard-throwing pitchers who've struggled with injuries or velocity issues this season. Stablemates Josh Beckett, on the DL for the third time this season, twice with blisters, and Brad Penny, a hard-thrower with control issues, are also in that bracket.

Trade rumors
The Phillies are reportedly interested in LHP Ron Villone from Seattle. Villone has a great ERA this season (3.13) and may drive a hard bargin. Expect Seattle to ask for infield prospects.

Paul Abbott
Fellow BPF writer Will Travel says Paul Abbott is the kind of pitcher the Braves could make into a 12-game winner.

The Pirates reportedly asked for Chase Utley in a deal for Kris Benson (from Jason Stark at espn.com).

July 18, 2004

Friends to help ease the suffering

At the bottom of the side menu, you'll find links to other high-quality Phillies blogs. Getting special consideration for their help in the early stages of this site are the two at the top of the list, both very good resources: Shallow Center, which uses the same template displayed at this site, and A Citizen's Blog. Welcome to the fray, fellow bloggers. I look forward to ripping off your best material.

Big Unit will take big brass ones

Of all the contending teams said to be interested in Randy Johnson, the Phillies have the best chips to offer Arizona, who will be in a liquidation stage at the end of the season and must dump veteran salary.

The Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Cardinals, with few young assets, are all said to have interest in the Unit. But don't be surprised if the Mets, doing what teams in contention often do, make a serious pitch for the 6-10 lefty.

Realize that if the Mets - already owners of a fine deal-time prize in Richard Hidalgo - wind up with Johnson, it would make them odds-on favorites to win the NL East. At this point, the Mets would likely have the best pitching staff in the majors, good enough to contend with the Yankees in Subway Series II.

Just as the Red Sox are praying for the Unit to stay put, or else pay hand over fist to keep him out of New York, the Phillies should be treating the situation with the same care.

In other words, Peter Gammons has it right in his latest column when he says the fate of the post season rests in the hands of Ol' Scratch.

Schilling deal comparison
Remember the deal in 2000 that brought Vicente Padilla, Nelson Figuroa, Travis Lee and Omar Daal to the Phillies for Curt Schilling?
Here's the package I'd slap together: Brett Myers, Ryan Howard, Keith Bucktrot, Placido Polanco.