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Phillies Blog Articles - April 2010

Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) announces the Goose Gossage Award
by Scott Butler 4/1/10

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I wanted to pass along our announcement of the Goose Gossage Award. Here's the official press release:

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Announces Formation of Goose Gossage Award
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance is pleased to announce the formation of the Goose Gossage Award.

Starting with the 2010 Major League Baseball season, the Goose Gossage Award will be a postseason award given to the top relief pitcher in each league. "It's hard to picture anyone more worthy of having his name on an award such as this," said BBA founder Daniel Shoptaw. "Mr. Gossage embodies what so many people think of as the classic relief pitcher, and the BBA is honored that he has agreed to lend his name to this award."

Richard "Goose" Gossage was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 after a 22-year major league career in which he had 310 career saves and recorded a 3.01 ERA in 1,002 games played. He was a nine-time All-Star, finished among the top vote-getters for the Cy Young Award in five different seasons, and was named the 1978 Rolaids Relief Man of the Year.

The Goose Gossage Award will be voted on by the membership of the BBA. Team chapters will have two votes each for either the American or National League ballot. The General Baseball chapter will vote in a manner determined by its members.

"At the end of the 2009 season, we voted on awards mirroring those of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, though we did not have a separate award for relievers," stated Shoptaw. "Due to the popularity of that voting, we decided that it was important to differentiate ourselves from other voting organizations. With the addition of the Goose Gossage Award we have taken the first step in that direction."

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in 2009 and numbers 142 blogs across baseball, representing 29 of the 30 major league teams and including numerous general baseball blogs. Award balloting for the BBA is a transparent process, as no ballot is counted unless it is posted on the voter's blog.

The official website of the BBA is located at www.baseballbloggersalliance.com. The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and the hashmark #bbba. Members of the BBA may also be heard at Blog Talk Radio each Tuesday night with their call-in show, BBA Baseball Talk.

2010 Phillies Preview and Predictions
by Scott Butler 4/3/10

Here it is! Since Spring Training is now officially over, it is time for our 2010 Phillies overall team prediction. Expectations are sky high for this Phillies team, but just how good will the '10 Phillies be? Will they win the Division? Win another World Series? Let's find out.

We begin of course with pitching. Roy Halladay is by all means an ace pitcher and certainly the ace of this staff. Outside of a few great months with Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in Philadelphia since Steve Carlton. He brings with him a ridiculous work ethic, cool demeanor, an amazing AL East resume, and, oh yeah, a pretty darn good sinker. When you see that Halladay had a 2.79 ERA in the same division with the Yankees and Red Sox, you could easily predict that Halladay could have an ERA under 1 with the Phils, especially since most National League hitters don't know him that well. We fully expect Halladay to have at least as good numbers as last year, but an ERA in the low 2's or lower is a bit of a stretch.

As good as Halladay is, the key to the success of this team will largely depend on the success of Mr. Cole Hamels. There is an enormous amount of pressure on Cole Hamels. If Hamels can pitch like he did in 2008, the Phils may have the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball and will be awfully hard to stop in the playoffs. Hamels has terrible numbers in Spring Training, so is there any reason to have even the slightest faith in him? We think so. Unlike last year, Hamels has worked really hard in the offseason to get in shape and work on a few pitches. From all accounts, his curveball is much improved and he has added a cutter. The curveball and cutter make Hamels much less predictable and makes a good fastball and great changeup even better. 2009 was a rough year, but people forget that Hamels is still only 26 and this may just be part of the learning curve. You heard it here Phillies fans, Cole Hamels is back!

The rest of the starting rotation is a mediocre group. You pretty much know what you get with Joe Blanton: he is gonna pitch six innings and give up three runs just about every time out there. He is nothing more or less than a solid middle of the rotation pitcher. While Blanton is on the DL for roughly a month with his oblique strain, Kyle Kendrick should fill in nicely for him. Kendrick is at the very least a battler and should keep the team in games, but he had a great spring and may even be better than we hope.

As good as JA Happ was last season, he is a vanilla pitcher and will not duplicate last season's success. Happ is like Blanton and will be nothing more or less than solid. He doesn't have the stuff to keep his ERA below 3 and he's too stubborn to have an ERA any worse than 4. Then there is Jamie Moyer. As we have mentioned all along, at this point in his career, in an average year Jamie Moyer will have an ERA around 5. That's where it finished last year and that's where it will be this year.

In regards to the hitting, there is not much to say other than they will continue to score a ton of runs. We love the addition of Polanco to the lineup and feel that he will have a major impact on this team. We mentioned time and again that Polanco brings the "small ball" dynamic that this team desperately needs. We pretty much know what we are going to get with the rest of the lineup. No worries here.

Without a doubt, the bullpen is a big question mark and Brad Lidge is a major concern. The fact that his fastball is only in the upper 80's is very worrisome, and most indications show that he may not be the same guy who helped us win the World Series. Lidge will not be anywhere near as bad as he was last year, but we can only hope that he can hold his own at the back end of the bullpen. As the main lefty in the bullpen, JC Romero is a key piece of the puzzle. Romero is another big unknown, and whether or not he can return to his pre-2009 form remains to be seen. Madson and Durbin should be similar to what we've seen from them in the past, but who knows what we will get out of Baez and Contreras. You can generally flip a coin with most relievers, and let's just hope we get the good side of the coin with those guys.

One of the greatest affects Roy Halladay might have is on the bullpen. Halladay has pitched no less than 200 innings in each of the last four seasons, and that is in the toughest division in baseball and in a league with the DH. Now pitching in the National League, Halladay should be able to pitch 250 innings and provide much needed rest for the bullpen. And they will need it.

The bench has certainly improved by getting rid of guys like Stairs and Bruntlett, but we aren't too thrilled with Juan Castro and Ross Gload who replaced them. Many people have overlooked the importance of Greg Dobbs to the bench. Dobbs is one of the best pinch-hitters around, and having a healthy Greg Dobbs would be a huge upgrade to last season. Brian Schneider was a good pickup by Ruben Amaro, and he is a great improvement over Coste and Bako. But the biggest item that is lacking in the Phillies bench is speed. We don't have anyone to plug into late game situations, which puts the Phillies at a major disadvantage. Overall, the bench is OK at best.

Overall Predictions

Make no mistake, this is a good Phillies team. They have an amazing lineup, solid pitching, and a great team chemistry. But the bench and bullpen are definite flaws, and teams like the Braves, Nationals, and Mets have improved. Therefore, we do not predict the Phillies will win 100 games and walk away with the Division.

Now for our official predictions:

Hitting: BETTER
Starting Pitching: BETTER
Bullpen: WORSE
Defense: SAME

Record: 95-67

Cy Young winner: Roy Halladay

NL MVP: Chase Utley

NL Division champs

The Phillies will once again be crowned WORLD CHAMPIONS!

Fans should be ashamed of themselves
by Scott Butler 4/13/10

I feel that Phillies fans are "true" baseball fans and the most knowledgeable fans in all of baseball. But their performance in yesterday's home opener is embarrassing.

Did they seriously boo Cole Hamels in the second inning of his second start?!

Fans need to chill out about Cole Hamels and cut the guy a break. Are you trying to tell me that if you are named NLCS and World Series MVP and help bring a desperately needed championship, Philadelphia gives you exactly one year before fans are all over you again?

Is there reason to be worried about Cole Hamels? Probably yes. Although he is 2-0, he has a 5.06 ERA and hasn't pitched through the sixth inning yet. He hasn't had command, doesn't have much movement to his fastball, and has barely thrown the curveball and cutter he apparently was working on over the offseason. Quite frankly, he hasn't shown any indication that he is the same pitcher from 2007 and 2008.

But it's not like he's a complete turd, either. He had a very mediocre season last year and has not looked good this year. But two starts is just not enough to measure a guys entire season. I realize you are booing him because you have high expectations. But if you want him to stick around for a while, let's give him at least 5 or so starts before we start hammering him.

This is the first time in his life that Hamels has gone through any adversity. Think about it. He was the prize of the Phillies minor league system, pitched great in his first three seasons as a pro, and then was named MVP in the playoffs twice. HE'S NEVER FAILED BEFORE. Hamels has a great arrogance about him, but he is starting to learn how to use that arrogance, even when he's losing.

If Hamels still stinks a month from now, go at it fans. That's what we do. That's how we let our players and our team know that we won't stand for failure. Just not yet.

Cole Hamels is back, baby!
by Scott Butler 4/19/10

Yesterday's game against the Marlins was really frustrating, but what we saw from Cole Hamels might be infinitely more valuable than one series loss.

For the first time this season, Cole Hamels resembled the guy from a couple years ago. After a slow start, Hamels was downright nasty.

I bet many fans were beginning to hit the panic button on Cole Hamels during the first few innings of the game. He only allowed one 329 foot homer, but Hamels looked very hittable and quite frankly very average. His command was ok, but his pitches were flat and there wasn't much remarkable at all. However, he continued one positive trend during those first few frames in that he avoided having that one big meltdown inning we saw a lot of last year. That's all well and good, but we expect more than just good composure by Cole Hamels.

Then somewhere around the fourth inning, Hamels hit his groove. He had good location, excellent movement on his changeup and cutter, and a decent curveball. We finally saw in this outing the evidence of the cutter he has been working on all offseason and a fastball with movement. It's hard to tell the difference between the fastball and cutter, but whatever he threw had excellent downward movement that Marlins hitters couldn't touch. Add to that an improved curveball, and there is now an element of unpredictability we haven't seen from Hamels in over a year.

That said, Hamels is still a work in progress. That may not be what you want to hear from your former ace, but he is still going through a bit of on-the-job training with his two new pitches. So don't be surprised if he has a few clunkers in the near future. But mark my word, at the end of the season his stuff will be there and then WATCH OUT.

I know it was just one outing, but we saw clear evidence of what Cole's stuff can do. Now he just needs to perfect it...and he will.

Ryan Howard signs five-year extension
by Scott Butler 4/26/10

Ryan Howard will play first base for the Phillies until at least 2016. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Yep, the Phillies signed Howard to a five year extension worth $125 million. That is the largest contract in Philadelphia Phillies history and it keeps Howard in Philly through 2016. There is also a club option for a sixth year that could raise the total value to $138 million.

Howard is now 30 and in the middle of a three-year, $54 million contract extension. He will make $19 million this season and $20 million in 2011. The latest extension begins in 2012. He will make $20 million in 2012 and 2013 and $25 million from 2014-16. The option in 2017 is worth $23 million with a $10 million buyout. The deal includes awards bonuses and a limited no-trade clause.

Ryan Howard is quickly becoming the best offensive player in Phillies history. Since joining the big team in 2005, he leads the Majors in home runs (222) and RBIs (650). Howard is just the fourth player in baseball history to have four consecutive seasons with at least 40 home runs and 130 RBIs.

Howard also was the player fastest to hit 200 home runs, which he did in 658 games. That's 48 games faster than the next best of Ralph Kiner, who did it in 706 games.

Originally selected by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2001 Draft, Howard has a career .279 batting average, 225 home runs and 656 RBI in 750 games.  He is fifth on the Phillies' all-time home run list and his .583 slugging percentage is the best in club history.  

This was certainly a surprise to me. I just assumed that Howard would go with the highest bidder and test free agency. And I never thought the Phillies would be willing to spend an average of $25 million per year on any player.

This is a great signing, and it guarantees that we keep most of our core for quite some time. The big question now is what will happen to Jayson Werth. By signing Howard, the Phillies may not have enough money to pay Werth the $15 million he will command in the open market. But who knows...

 

 

 

 

 

 

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