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Phillies Articles - May 2009

Greg Dobbs must go!
by Scott Butler 5/4/09

No need to get heated yet, this is not what it looks like! I want Greg Dobbs to stay with the Philadelphia Phillies, but for his sake I hope he is gone.

Greg Dobbs is too good of a ballplayer to get one bat at most per night as a pinch hitter. The numbers prove it. With 550 at bats over the last two seasons, Dobbs has a .284 batting average with 34 doubles, 19 homers, and 95 RBI's. To put 550 at-bats in perspective, that is 6 less than Jimmy Rollins had last season in which he was out for a month due to injury. That would put Dobbs on pace for 104 RBIs in a typical 600 at-bat season.

Those numbers tell me that there has to be a team out there who could use his bat in their everyday lineup. Unfortunately, that team is not the Phillies. There is no position on the 2009 Phillies team in which he could split time with one of the regulars. Given the opportunity, Dobbs could show that he does belong as a starting player.

A terrific example of what can happen when a player is given a chance is the case of Jayson Werth. Here was a guy who came off a surgery and could not hit right hand pitching, and therefore split time with Geoff Jenkins. Going into 2008, he was just another guy. However, he proved his worth (yes, pun intended) when Jenkins went down with an injury, he was a legitimate force and a guy who Charlie Manuel counted on in the postseason. This season, Jenkins was released, Werth signed a nice contract and now find himself as the Phils starting left fielder.

Dobbs proved last season that he can be an everyday player when he played third base for Pedro Feliz. Hopefully that was enough for Dobbs to have enough trade appeal to give Ruben Amaro the chance to trade Dobbs for some good, young talent or in some sort of package deal.

Dobbs also appears to be a very professional ballplayer who respects the game and takes it seriously. You never hear him complaining about his lack of at-bats. As a professional, he gives his best effort each pinch hit appearance and tries to help the team as best he can. It would be a shame to keep a player like that on the bench all night.

Time to move Bruntlett
by Scott Butler 5/10/09

I'm generally not one to help get a guy fired, but the offensive production we have been receiving from Eric Bruntlett is just not good enough and Ruben Amaro needs to do something about it.

I know that Charlie Manuel likes Bruntlett because he can play many positions and he provides some speed off the bench, but Bruntlett is hitting .136 and there are plenty of utility players in the majors and minors that can serve the same purpose and hit much better than that.

The four games in which Rollins has been benched has really exposed the fact that we have nobody to back up Rollins at shortstop. Last year, he had a little more value when he replaced Burrell late in games, but we don't need that anymore.

Everyone and their grandmother knows that the Phillies are looking for starting pitching. Similar to the way we got Bruntlett as a "throw in" with the Lidge trade, we could try to get a utility player if and when we make a trade for a starting pitcher.

I don't expect to see Bruntlett in a Phillies uniform at the end of the season.

Time to panic over the Phillies starting pitching?
by Scott Butler 5/10/09

After 29 games, an ERA of 5.39 for the Philadelphia Phillies ranks last in the entire National League and the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of our 5 starters. You could certainly argue that "hey, it's early, they will come around," but should we now be worried that we may just have a bad rotation? I don't think so. Let's take a look at each of Phillies starting pitchers.

Cole Hamels
There is no need to worry about Cole Hamels, or at least what he does on the mound. The only worry (and it definitely is a real concern) is whether or not he can stay healthy. Since there is no controlling his health, I choose to ignore it and focus on what we have an idea about. There is no question that Hamels will be good, but the question is how good? I think we can expect similar numbers to last year, but not better. I predict next year will be a killer year for Cole but not this year.

Brett Myers
When you compare this year's numbers for Brett Myers and compare them to last year at the same point, it is downright frightening: they are eerily identical. Check out his numbers through 6 starts in 2008 and 2009.

After 6 starts in 2009: 2-2 record, 37 innings, 5.35 ERA, 43 hits, 10 HR, 15 walks, 27 strikeouts, 2-2 2009

After 6 starts in 2008: 2-2 record, 37 innings, 5.11 ERA, 42 hits, 10 HR, 9 walks, 27 strikeouts 2008

If his numbers remain anywhere close to last year than we are in big trouble. But that will not happen. I am extremely impressed with him this years, despite his poor numbers and almost because of them. The Brett Myers we saw last year was immature and ready to explode with his poor start last season and we saw how that story unfolded. But this is a different Brett Myers. Early on this season he actually pitched extremely well except for a few pitches that they hit a really long way. He fell behind early and seemed ready for an early shower each game, but he kept his composure and kept the team in the games. After Myers tweaks a couple things, I really think he is going to return to the form we saw from his at the end of last year. Yes, I really believe that. Just wait and see.

Jamie Moyer
Moyer is what he is. At this point in his career, I figure the over-under on Jamie Moyer is a 5.00 ERA. He finished the 2007 season with a 5.01 ERA, and I think that we can expect similar numbers this year. Don't look at what he did last season, because that was a bit of an anomaly. You cannot forget that he is 46 years old and throws a fastball in the low eighties and to expect a repeat of last year would be crazy. I would consider a 4.50 ERA to be a successful season. Moyer knows how to pitch so I am not afraid of an Adam Eaton-like season, but don't be surprised if he finishes with an ERA close to 6.00.

Joe Blanton
It is hard to make a prediction on a guy you haven't seen much, but I think Joe is gonna hit a hot streak really soon. Blanton seems to have a good head on his shoulders and it does not seem likely that he will continue to pitch this was all season. Blanton was known as an innings eater who throws strikes. As soon as he gets a better feel of his pitches and can locate his fastball he will be just fine. He will not set the world on fire, but Joe Blanton will be more than adequate as the third or fourth starter for the Phillies.

Chan Ho Park/ J.A. Happ
Park will not stick around very long as a starter for the Phillies. In his career, Chan Ho Park has been effective as a reliever and not as a starter. That trend will continue for Park in 2009. He is certainly not as bad as he has been to start the season but he is not much better, either. After a few more starts, he will move over to the bullpen and J.A. Happ will take over.

Your guess is as good as mine as to how well Happ will pitch. My thoughts are that he is not the next Cole Hamels, but he will be a solid starter for year's to come. I think he will have an ERA close to four this season, which is perfectly fine as the fifth starter.

With all of the celebrations, funerals, and rain delays finally behind them, the starting pitching is going to come together soon. Well all is said and done, the Phils starting pitching will be in the middle of the pack in the National League. With a strong bullpen and a potent lineup, the Phillies will definitely contend for another NL East title.

Enough is enough with the starting pitching
by Scott Butler 5/15/09

I have a feeling we might hear about a Charlie Manuel explosion in the next few days if the Phils can't get a pitcher other than Hamels get past the sixth inning. This is getting to be ridiculous. Joe Blanton knew before he took the mound tonight that we needed a deep outing from him. With a double header scheduled the next day and Happ unavailable in the bullpen (although we found out later that Happ was available), we still couldn't get any innings from our starting pitchers.

We are past the point of cutting the pitchers some slack. A month and a half into the season, they need to quit messing around and do their jobs. We have the worst pitching staff in the National League. That is a fact. Brett Myers has been below average. Jamie Moyer has been terrible. Chan Ho Park has been awful. Joe Blanton has been atrocious.

It is one thing to give up some runs and have a high ERA, but you have to pitch deep into a game every now and then. You may not want to see this, but let's take a look at the numbers. The Phils starters excluding Hamels have a combined 7-9 record with an ERA of 6.98. In 26 starts they have given up 34 Home runs. 34 Home runs! Not only that, but they average going 4.46 innings per start.

If the pitching continues on the same track, we have NO SHOT at winning the division. It is that simple. I know I am going on a rant, but this is simply unacceptable. I hope that my previous article about the starting pitching is accurate and the pitching will correct itself, but I'm beginning to wonder...

Carlos Ruiz, hitter extraordinaire
by Scott Butler 5/15/09

A week ago, you had to be wondering if Carlos Ruiz was a good enough hitter to stay with the Philadelphia Phillies this year. Phillies management is certainly high on the defensive ability of Ruiz and how he handles the pitching staff. But when a player is consistently batting around .200, eventually you need to make a change.

What a difference a few games makes. At the start of the game on Wednesday, Carlos Ruiz was hitting .167 with zero, yes zero, RBIs. Two days later, after his fifth at-bat he had increased his batting average to .308 (I ignored his last two at-bats. As they say, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story). He went from Mendoza to Ty Cobb in just 8 at-bats!

It makes you wonder what kind of a hitter Ruiz is going to be. He showed some power in the minors with around 20 home runs in both Reading and Scranton-Wilks Barre, but hopes of any power in the majors are gone as Ruiz has only 13 career major league home runs.

I think his problem is that he tries to pull the ball too much. That is why he hits into so many double plays. If you have played any baseball, you know that when you try to pull an outside fastball (as a right-handed batter) you will hit a lot of weak ground balls to shortstop and lose most of your power. Ruiz does not have a particularly quick bat and he would be best served by trying to go the other way with pitches and just turn on the inside pitches.

Since he has proven himself defensively, the Phillies told Ruiz in the off-season to focus more on his hitting. Hopefully he listened, because the Phils can't afford to have a .200 hitter batting in the everyday lineup. Phillies fans would gladly accept a .250 batting average. Let's see if he can give that to us.

Pedro Feliz, as solid as they get at third
by David Rocksteady 5/19/09

In our second glimpse at a top Phillies defender we will take a look at Pedro Feliz. Similar to the way we look at Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz will not get the acclaim around here that Mike Schmidt and Scott Rolen received. Those two were about as good as you will ever see and Feliz does not belong in their category, but he is arguably the best defensive third baseman in baseball right now.

Pedro's glovework is quite similar to his personality: quiet and laid back. When he first came to Philadelphia last season, I was not too fond of Feliz. He had the reputation of swinging at everything in sight and going for the long ball and he almost seemed lazy in the field and at the plate. However, my assumptions were wrong and his attitude is probably what makes him such a clutch hitter.

Back to his fielding. Again, like Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz is as fundamentally sound as they get. Always in the proper fielding stance, glove always touching the ground, and no wasted motions. You won't see many crazy diving plays from him but he will gobble up pretty much everything that comes his way.

The most remarkable facet of his defense is his arm. His throws from third base seem effortless and then ZOOM, a perfect strike to first base. Feliz makes it easy to forget how long of a throw it really is. And he is just as terrific with starting a double play; Rollins and Utley rarely have to move their glove. Pedro Feliz deserves a lot of the credit for the success of the defense. Even if he hits as poorly as he did last year, I will take his glove any day.

What a start and what a game!
by David Rocksteady 5/22/09

Steven Spielberg could not have scripted a more exciting first inning. In the Phillies first ever trip to play the Yankees at new Yankees stadium, Jimmy Rollins, our leader, began the evening by hitting the first pitch the Phillies have ever seen at new Yankees Stadium into the right field bleachers for a home run. Not only did it send a message, but it also showed that people were not lying when they said right field is a launching pad.

On the very next pitch, Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett threw a fastball that hit Chase Utley in the shoulder. It was clear that Burnett intended to hit Utley with the pitch, but it does not appear that Jimmy did anything to provoke him other than the home run itself. Raul Ibanez followed Utley with a single to right field that put runners on first and third with no outs. Burnett would not allow any more runs to score after striking out the next two batters with filthy stuff. Mark Teixeira finished the inning with an incredible diving stop on a ground ball to first.

The excitement was not over. Brett Myers sent a message to the Yankees by throwing a 1-0 fastball behind Derek Jeter. That is the way to play baseball. Someone hits you, so you hit them. No fighting. Problem solved. Finally the first inning finished with a play at the plate. With two outs and Johnny Damon on first, A-Rod hit a double to the left field corner. Ibanez picked it up, hit Jimmy right in the glove, and Rollins delivered a one hop strike to Carloss Ruiz to nail Damon at the plate.

The excitement continued throughout the game. We got to see a home run from Carlos Ruiz, yes Carlos Ruiz! We were also treated to mammoth home runs from Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez. Given that we won the game, we were also treated to home runs from Alex Rodriquez, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira.

What a game! Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Why throw a fastball, Brad?
by Scott Butler 5/25/09

Brad Lidge thought he made a good decision by throwing a 3-2 fastball that led to a game tying home run by Alex Rodriguez in Saturday's loss to the New York Yankees. "I'm pretty impressed that he was able to do that with that pitch," Lidge said. "Obviously, we didn't think he was going to (hit a homer). Sometimes you've got to tip your hat. He's a great hitter, and he got to a pitch that we didn't think that he'd be able to hit."

Brad, I completely disagree with you. My opininion is that Brad Lidge made a stupid decision by throwing a 3-2 fastball to Alex Rodriguez. Lidge's slider was electric, and after walking Damon he made the next two batters look very fooled, including A-Rod. He had such a tight spin on his slider, the hitters thought they were hitting a fastball before the bottom dropped out.

The same thing happened with Rodriguez, who found himself down in the count, 1-2. To his credit, he laid off two straight sliders for a 3-2 count. The last thing you want to do in that situation is let their best player beat you, and that is exactly what Lidge did. In that situation, a slider is the best pitch. Since the count is full and A-Rod does not want to strike out, he will probably swing at a slider that is close. His previous swings at the slider weren't even close, so chances are he would miss another one. If he lays off and takes the walk, so be it. At least it won't be their best guy that does it.

It was really dissapointing to watch poor decision making that led to Brad Lidge ruining what was a fantastic game. Everyone makes mistakes, but mental ones like in this instance are tough to forgive.

Hall of Famer Jimmy Rollins!
by Scott Butler 5/30/09

Jimmy Rollins is a Hall of Famer. Yes, I said it. You may not think that Jimmy Rollins is a Hall of Fame caliber player, but his offensive and defensive numbers stack up with all Hall of Fame players at the shortstop position. Here is how his numbers compare to Hall of Fame shortstops (including likely future Hall of Famers Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Nomar Garciaparra):

Batting Average: 16th
Home Runs: 8th
RBI's: 22nd
Slugging Percentage: 7th
Stolen Bases: 7th

Not too shabby, huh? When you figure that Jimmy still has many years ahead of him, those rankings will only get better and better. Just looking at his offensive numbers, I would say right now that he deserves to go to Cooperstown.

How about his fielding, you ask? JIMMY ROLLINS HAS THE SECOND BEST FIELDING PERCENTAGE (.983) ALL-TIME IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.

Nobody talks about Jimmy's fielding, but he is the second best EVER. Omar Vizquel is the only shortstop with a better fielding percentage in the history of major league baseball. Along with his offensive stats and a World Series championship, there is no way that Jimmy does not belong in Cooperstown.

The numbers do not lie. Jimmy Rollins is a Hall of Fame shortstop. Period

 

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