Phillies Blog Articles - August 2010

Enough is enough, Charlie
by Scott Butler 8/2/10

C’mon Charlie, will you quit it with the “Lidge is our closer” talk?

Lidge of 2008 is gone, he just is. Charlie’s loyalty to his players is what makes him a consistent winner. But Lidge hasn’t been good since he struck out Hinske on a nasty slider.

Charlie stuck with Lidge way longer than he should have last year, and he is doing the same thing again. Lidge deserves as much rope as anyone in the history of this city for what he did to help bring us a championship.
We owed him that.

But two years is long enough. I’m not saying release the guy or make him your mop up guy. But when your ERA approaches six, you can’t control your fastball, and you drop fat sliders over the heart of the plate for nearly two years, it’s time to start something new.

Who you put in his place is another article for another day (probably very soon). But for now, GET LIDGE OUT OF THE CLOSER ROLE.

Phillies month in review: July
by Scott Butler 8/10/10

The story in July was in every way a roller coaster for the Phillies. The Phils entered July having already gone through an historically awful offensive slump in May and June, so when Chase Utley was hurt on June 29 and it was announced on July 1st that he would need surgery and would be out a couple months, fans had real reason to panic.

When July began, the Phillies were 41-35 and in third place in the division. With Utley out of the lineup and after losing a series to the Reds, the Phillies traveled to Pittsburgh to play the hapless Pirates. However, the Phillies once again couldn’t get their act together and lost 3 of 4 to the last place Bucs. That was not exactly the momentum the Phils needed before a series at home against the Braves.

This was clearly the biggest series of the season at that point, since the Phillies were 5 games back of the Braves. But after winning the first game the Phillies promptly dropped the next two. That put them 6 games back of the Braves and just 3 games over .500.

The Phillies needed some magic desperately with one series left before the All-Star break, and they got just that in a series against the first place Reds. Although they did not score many runs, the Phillies pulled off three walk-off wins to sweep the Reds heading to the all-star break.

Could that be the spark they needed to start yet another amazing second-half on their way to the playoffs?

The Chicago Cubs quickly brought the Phillies back to Earth. They lost three of four games to the Cubs and lost the first three games against the Cardinals to bring them to just two games over .500.

With a 1-6 record on the road trip, the Phils were able to finish the trip on a positive note with a weird game against the Cards. Cole Hamels and the bullpen combined to throw 11 innings of one-hit ball and Placido Polanco hit the game winning single in the eleventh.

That was the spark the Phillies needed as they returned home to sweep the Colorado Rockies en route to an 8 game winning streak.

The streak couldn’t have come at a better time, because it put the Phils in position to be a true buyer at the deadline. Ruben Amaro took advantage and pulled off another decent trade for an ace pitcher, trading JA Happ and a couple picks to Houston for Roy Oswalt along with $11 million dollars.

All said, the Phillies went 15-13 in July. Those aren’t the kind of numbers we expect from a Charlie Manuel team in July but it isn’t all that bad considering they started 2-5. After huge up and down stretches, the Phils ironically started and finished 3.5 games back of the Braves.

Biggest streaks:

Winning streak: 8
Losing streak: 4

Here is a quick gauge of where they stood at certain points during the month:

7/1 – 3.5 games back in 3rd place
7/11 – 5.5 games back in 3rd place
7/21 – 4 games back in 3rd place
7/31 – 3.5 games back in 2nd place.

What does it mean to have Utley back?
by Scott Butler 8/17/10

The Phillies have endured injuries to all of their offensive starters besides Jayson Werth. They have lost 6 all-stars and 2 MVPs. They lost Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Shane Victorino all at the same time. Not to mention losing Brad Lidge, JC Romero, Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, Joe Blanton, and JA Happ on the pitching side. Yet they are just 2.5 games behind the Braves and tied with the Giants for the wild card.

With Chase Utley back, the Phils should just walk away with this thing, right?

It stands to reason that adding Utley to the mix should be the missing piece we need to take us over the top. It means that we have a clear #3 hitter and it puts the rest of the lineup in more predictable place in the lineup. And it also means you want see Wilson Valdez in the lineup everyday.

If we could hang with the Braves with all that junk going on, we really should be able to fly by Atlanta.

But will we?

Don’t forget that Utley was a very average player when we was in the lineup and we dealt with that horrendous slump with Utley IN THE LINEUP. If he continue to put up those numbers, quite frankly it isn’t all that much better than what Valdez offered.

And is there something to the saying, “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”? The Phillies are red hot now, and adding Utley could possibly mess up their mojo.

As soon as the Phillies start believing that, we might be in real trouble. This team’s success, especially this year, has been through keeping their focus. Hopefully Utley’s return doesn’t change that focus. Sure, adding Utley and Howard is very, very, nice. But it will not gift wrap the playoffs for them.

Pat Burrell: a love story
by Scott Butler 8/18/10

The date is September 28, 2003. Pat Burrell just finished his final game of a 2003 season in which he hit just .209. He was booed mercilously that season on a Phillies team that once again missed the playoffs for now the 19th time in 20 seasons.

Could you have imagined in your wildest dreams on that date that Pat Burrell would make an appearance as an opponent and get CHEERED?

Are you kidding me? The same guy backed his butt up on inside pitches? The guy who rarely talked to the media? The same person who refused to waive his no trade clause and forced the Phillies to continue paying his ridiculously overpaid salary? That guy?

Fast forward 7 seasons and that is exactly what happenened. Pat Burrell received a standing ovation on August 17, 2010 as a member of the San Francisco Giants.

Boy, what a difference a World Series can make!

People do not remember or care about all the bad stuff anymore. All fans remember about Pat Burrell are the final images of that huge double in Game 5 of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

They remember him sitting with the Clydesdales with his dog to lead the Championship parade.

And they will not remember him as a man whose big salary killed the franchise. Rather, they will remember him fondly as a guy who loved Philadelphia so much that he would endure the constant boos from the fans without once even considering lashing out at the fans.

I wonder how Donovan McNabb would be remembered if he ever won a super bowl…

Why Phillies DO NOT want to win Wild Card
by Scott Butler 8/20/10

The first goal of any team in any professional sports league should ALWAYS be to make the playoffs. Obviously a team like the Yankees is not satisfied until they win the World Series, but you need to get there first. You worry about winning it all once you get there.

Despite all the injuries the Phillies have seen from top to bottom, if the season ended today the Phillies would be in the playoffs. Phillies fans should be ecstatic! This is a big deal!

Then why aren’t we celebrating?

In 2007 I couldn’t have cared less how we got in. When you haven’t had a team reach the playoffs in a decade you will gladly take whatever you get and LIKE IT. Or so I thought. I will never forget that day in 2007 when I watched Brett Myers throw strike three to clinch the National League East. The result would not have been the same if we just snuck in as the Wild Card winner.

Here’s the problem with the wild card: WINNING THE WILD CARD DOES NOT GET YOU A BANNER.

Winning the NL East is an achievement that brings with it a flag you can hang in Citizens Bank Park. The only thing winning the Wild Card gives you is the chance to play postseason baseball. Even worse, if you win the Divisional Series you still haven’t actually won anything. The banners don’t come until you win the Championship Series or the World Series.

I used to think that when players said they were focused on winning the division and didn’t care about the wild card, I thought they were just throwing us crap we wanted to hear. Now I actually believe them. This Phillies team does not want to be the Wild Card winner. They want to beat the Braves. Maybe you heard of the saying “Second place is the first loser.” I guess that guy never heard of the wild card.

The Streak Continues
by Scott Butler 8/27/10

This has been an exhausting year to be a Phillies fan. This 2010 Phillies squad meets the definition of consistently inconsistent. It seems like the 2010 Phillies are either red hot or ice cold, with nothing in between.

If you examine the numbers you can see just how streaky they have been:

10 three-game winning streaks
8 three-game losing streaks

8 four-game losing streaks
4 four-game losing streaks

That is a total of 32 streaks of at least three or four games. It may not sound like a whole lot, but considering they already have more such streaks in 2010 than they had for the entire 2009 season (2007), there may be some significance to those numbers.

What is the most alarming is the fact that cold streaks seem to directly follow the hot streaks and they don’t play long stretches of .500 baseball.

For example, the Phillies had a 12-3 stretch which was immediately followed by a 2-7 record in their next 9 games and 7-16 over 23 games. Those 38 games resulted in a 19-19 record, but when you play such streaky baseball you are really asking for it.

After going 1-6 at the all-star break, the Phils won 8 games in a row and 13 of 15 on their way to an unreal 20-5 record. But they followed that amazing run with a 2-6 stretch including a 4 game sweep by Houston.

Go figure.

What that tells me is this Phillies team doesn’t have much fire. It’s easy to head to the ballpark when things are going well, but not so much fun when you are losing.

Does this look like a championship team to you?


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