April 15, 2005

Phils-Marlins series wrap

I'd say "better late than never" for this Phillies-Marlins series recap, but in reality, there's never a good time to relive a Phils series when it's played at half-empty, joyless Dolphins Stadium. (AP Photo)

Up here in Dutch Country, Florida is paradise. Ask someone their number one vacation destination, and nine out of ten will flatly say "Florida." But when it comes to Phillies baseball, vacations in Miami are about as fun as vacations in Womelsdorf, Pa.

Like us pasty Dutchies with our fanny packs and sunscreen, the Phils go to Florida feeling good, but come home badly burned.

Following a good series against the Cardinals, the Phils managed to win the first game of this series by putting up enough runs against Al Leiter to make the job easier for Brett Myers to win his first game of the season, and for the bullpen to finally piece together some semblance of relief.

Then, the Phils bats went cold, or rather, Marlins pitching got hot again Tuesday night as A.J. Burnett went the distance, and Dontrelle Willis followed it up with a complete-game shutout Wednesday, his second consecutive shutout to start the season.

It's not far fetched to believe A.J. Burnett (1-1, 2.40 ERA) isn't capable of going nine innings at this early stage in the season, but it's unbelievable he didn't walk anybody. Tommy John seems to have disappeared from his rear view, and as I projected earlier, the hard-throwing Burnett projects as a 15-game winner.

Willis had the Phils guessing all day. They hit well against lefties Leiter and Mark Mulder, but Mulder (0-1, 8.18 ERA, 2.18 WHIP) is off to a rocky start altogether. Willis (2-0, 0.00 ERA) throws junk, has a goofy delivery and the Phils don’t respond well to that.

However, folks that are ready to hand this guy the Cy Young should take caution. Fast starts are nothing new to D-Train. Last April, he went 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA and couldn’t sustain it, finishing 10-11 with a 4.02 ERA and an RAA of 0 for the season. His rookie season saw an identical drop as the months wore on.

Willis is a good pitcher, still very young, but not a great one over his short career. It will be interesting to see if Florida pitching can maintain their hot start. Already, their No. 5 guy, Ismael Valdez, is on the shelf, and Josh Beckett has a track record of blister problems.

Though they’re tied with the Braves and Nationals, all 5-4, Florida looks to be the best team out of the gate benefiting from the best pitching in baseball.

First slump of the season
David Bell plays the game harder than any other Phillie because the game moves at a faster speed for him.

Bell, in his father’s book “The Mental Game of Baseball,” makes that admission crystal clear as he explains just how hard it is for him to keep pace in baseball.

His bat will never win him fans in Philly, so it’s a shame to see him stumble defensively as he did against the Marlins, especially following an understated series with the glove in St. Louis.

Bell is hitting .192 with a .278 OBP and .242 SLG, with only one extra-base hit and no home runs.

If anyone needs to homer in his first at bat this afternoon against Atlanta to keep the home fans at bay, it’s Bell.

Danny Sandoval is fit as a fiddle
A few months ago, I wrote an article about Scranton second baseman Danny Sandoval, who at the time, was a player I never saw.

Using a photo in Baseball America as a springboard, I went on to say media guide information and real life don't often match up. In the photo, Sandoval looked a little doughy, which contradicted my initial thought of what he might look like.

About a week later, I caught my first glimpse at Sandoval. He was built like Placido Polanco - fit and trim.

The point of the article was tell readers not to trust media guide information, which is still horribly wrong usually. But the other lesson I've learned post-post is not to trust pictures, either, or to even trust sites like this one.

Maybe it's about time to take down that post, especially since it comes up in a Google search for "Danny Sandoval." I got this comment about a minute ago:

"I know Danny Sandoval (personally) from his time in Birmingham---- trust me, he is no "dough-boy."

Hopefully now, a Google search will bring up this article, which says Danny Sandoval is fit as a fiddle, and Jason Weitzel is a total beefcake.


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