April 08, 2005

Phils-Nats series wrap

Brad Wilkerson had a monster series, slugging 1.143 and hitting for the cycle Wednesday as the Nationals win their series with the Phils 2-1. (AP photo)

You open the season at home by losing a series to the Washington Nationals 1-2. You find yourself on the unpopular side of a player controversy. Your bullpen blows two games. Your new center fielder makes his first big mistake by offering a Ricky Watters-type "for who, for what" quotable. And your attendance the last two games is the lowest in Citizen's Bank Park history.

What do you do?

The answer: You move on to St. Louis and take out your aggression on the Cardinals. That’s what you do.

Series notes: Pitching
It's not the positive start the Phigtins' were hoping for, but starting pitching, considered the biggest weakness entering the season, held together. Jon Lieber, Brett Myers and Randy Wolf didn't go deep, but pitched an effective 18 1/3 innings with a combined ERA of 3.44. Of the three, Myers offered the best moments, adding a cutter to his repertoire and going 6 2/3 Wednesday.

The bullpen, considered the biggest strength over division rivals, blew it big. Two days ago, having Tim Worrell as the team's setup guy felt dandy. He pitched a lot last year, as BPF No. 1 fan el123chico of A Fantasy Life said. In fact, his 77 games in '04 were third-highest in team history, and at 37, he's had the third-most appearances among MLB pitcher over the past four seasons.

He blew the lead in Wednesday's loss, but I agree with Manuel's decision to pitch him yesterday as a way to test Worrell's ability to bounce back. Let's be realistic: what are you supposed to do – release him? Send him to Triple-A?

No. This is what you do the first few weeks of the season: You figure out what you have and who can help you. If Worrell can't cut it, then you move him down to the 6th or 7th, but not after one bad game. He's a location guy and needs time to zone it.

Terry Adams 9.00 ERA, 4.00 WHIP, .400 BAA
Rheal Cormier 9.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, .444 BAA
Tim Worrell 19.29 ERA, 2.57 WHIP, .462 BAA

Despite a fast start by Pat Burrell, the meat of Washington's order outdid the Phillies, and Brad Wilkerson was a monster. Do you think Wilkerson likes being out of Montreal?

Brad Wilkerson .643 BA, .667 OBP, 1.143 SLG, 1 HR, and hit for the cycle Wednesday.

And the rest:
Jose Vidro .357 BA, .333 OBP, .643 SLG, 1 HR
Jose Guillen .333 BA, .333 OBP, .667 SLG, 1 HR
Vinny Castilla .462 BA, .500 OBP, .615 SLG, 0 HR

Two of those guys, Guillen and Castilla, are new additions. I admired how quickly the Nats built a competitive team this winter, espeically in their linuep: Cristian Guzman, Guillen, Castilla. They’re going to get some wins this season.

As for the Phillies thumpers:
Bobby Abreu .083 BA, .214 OBP, .083 SLG, 0 HR
Jim Thome .273 BA, .429 OBP, .364 SLG, 0 HR
Pat Burrell .500 BA, .500 OBP, .917 SLG, 1 HR

I hope Abreu doesn't start as slow as he did last year.

I had a suspicion fans might sour on Lofton early, but not this soon. I didn’t see it, but over at Mike's and in an email from BPF correspondent Martin Smith, it's now coming out that it’s common knowledge Lofton often breaks the wrong direction on everything hit his way. ESPN Mag made one "skinny" statement on each team in their preseason analysis, saying Lofton always gets a bad jump on fly balls, and only his speed allows him to catch some, but not catch some.

On top of the way balls sail at CBP, there could be rumblings for Marlon Byrd ... and soon.

Building the Polanco mystique
One thing is certain: Playing Placido Polanco isn't going to hurt the Phillies. The positives, in fact, might outweigh the negatives.

Already, the name "Polanco" has been uttered more than any time his entire career. Playing him more will add to his trade value. Being infamous, as Kris Benson was last season, could draw a high price from suitors. Just as Benson was a top pitching commodity at last season's deadline, Polly will be top shelf for any team in need of a second baseman.

In other words, it might go unnoticed in Philadelphia that Polly played well his first two games, but it won't in other markets.


At 1:13 PM, Anonymous enrico said...

Right on about the Polanco comments. They only reasoning I could see to not start Utley is to increase Polanco's value in a potential trade. Utley is the future, even if Polanco is a slightly better player now (which i don't neccessarily believe) you would think they would go with Utley just to get him experience.

odds the bullpen will blow a lead today.. even money.



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