Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trade Lee!

Now that I have your attention! Of course I don't want to trade Cliff Lee, nor am I worried that Lee has an ERA over 4 (4.18), third highest on the team behind Big Joe Blanton (5.92) and David Herndon (8.22). Despite his 2-2 record and 4.18 ERA, Lee has eaten up innings (32.1) and is tied with Roy Halladay with 39 strikeouts. On the downside, Lee is tied with Blanton with allowing 16 runs, 15 of them earned and leads the team in home runs against with 4. But, it's only April and last night was only his 5 start. Lee will still be the pitcher we expect him to be and will locate his pitches better as the season moves forward. So for any Phan who are easily rattled, no reason to worry about Cliff Lee, he will be lights out come October as he has been the past 2 seasons.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Phorgotten One

R2C2, Phantastic Phour, Phab Phour, Phour Aces...ect.....Lost in all the nicknames is one pitcher, big Joe Blanton. Since the signing of Cliff Lee, all the hype, all the expectations have rested on the shoulders of Roy Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, but people forget about Blanton. Blanton, is not a scrub, nor would he be a 5 on a majority of major league rosters. Big Joe was a 1/2 when we acquired him from the Oakland A's. So far this season, Blanton hasn't pitched terribily, nor has he pitched extremely well. But he is going out there, keeping the game close and eating up innings. Blanton is 0-1 on the season, but the Phightins are 2-2 in games Joe has started. Joe has improved tremendously since allowing 7 earned runs in his first start of the season against the NY Mutts. In his last two starts, Blanton has gone 7 innings each time and has an ERA of 2.57, not to shabby for your #5 starter! After the signing of Lee, rumors were running wild all over the internet that Joe Blanton and his $17 million contract for the next 2 years were going to be traded. These rumors upset me quite a bit. I wanted Big Joe to stay and am very happy he is still here. Last year, the Phillies traded away Cliff Lee to save on salary, as well as replenish the farm system. As we all know, this was seen as a huge mistake. However looking back, we would not have Roy Oswalt if Cliff Lee has not been traded. I was hoping the Phillies Phront Office would repeat the mistake of trading a proven starter. Though I think Kyle Kendrick will be a decent starter in the future, for right now, I want Big Joe in the back of the rotation. Joe is a gamer, who knows how to win. Let's face it, Joe Blanton has something the 3/4 of R2C2 don't have, but hope to have soon, a WORLD SERIES RING!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Living up to the hype? A comparison of the 4 aces after 3 starts

Well hello Phils phans! I apologize for not being my die hard philly phanatical self since my first post on April 2nd, but what better day to return then on the Phanatic's birthday! Happy birthday Philly Phanatic!

Living up to the HYPE
With April 17th's game coming to a close, the four aces have completed 3 turns each against teams including the Astros, the Mets, the Braves, and the Marlins. Some may argue three of those teams are not poised to win and will remain below .500 the entire season. Regardless, teams play 162 games for a reason. Presuming that each of our starters carry an even load throughout the year, our four aces are poised to pitch approximately 32 games each. Therefore, the first 3 game comparison would represent about 1/11 of their total contribution. Now please keep in mind, this is a long season, and I certainly will not be holding my breath for every start one of our aces take the mound. I simply thought it would be interesting to do a 3 game comparison. Although I could have showcased a number of stats, I focused on the basics.
Here we go...

W L ERA CG IP H R ER BB SO
* Roy Halladay 2 0 1.23 1 22.0 17 3 3 3 22
* Cliff Lee 2 1 4.19 1 19.1 17 9 9 2 26
* Roy Oswalt 2 0 2.50 0 18.0 14 6 5 4 14
* Cole Hamels 1 1 4.32 0 16.2 18 8 8 5 18

Clearly Roy Halladay continues to reign as the true staff ace. If the Phillies didn't wait til the 9th inning of game 1 against the Astros to put together their offense, Roy would be 3 and 0. Regardless, the stats speak about how under the radar Roy Oswalt has been. You've heard a great deal about Halladay and Lee in the national media, but Oswalt has done well out of the gate. For this reason alone, Roy's back pain becomes something to keep an eye on. Fortunately, according to comments made earlier today, he expects to be ready to go on Thursday as scheduled for his next start. However, Roy Oswalt's durability will be on the minds of the Phillies coaching staff, especially in these colder April nights. Maybe that means he pitches 5 or 6 innings instead of 7. Either way, Oswalt is just as important to this rotation as Halladay or Lee.

When analyzing the first 3 games, it's also important to touch on the 2008 World Series MVP, Mr. Hollywood, Cole Hamels. To his credit, he hasn't pitched poorly to this point. Yes, he had a really bad start against the Mets. But in his second start of the season, he dominated the Nationals, and today, he looked good through 6 innings. He hit a snag in the 7th, leading to two runs, and an inability to secure his second win of the season. Ironically, this is nothing new... My friend, Tamer G (this website's creator) and I often joke about Cole. The reason being, almost every start, he is guaranteed to have one bad inning. That inning we typically label the "Quintessential Cole" inning. Quintessence is defined as "the pure and concentrated essence of a substance," or "the most perfect embodiment of something." The irony is that the "Quintessential Cole" inning usually results from his psyche getting rattled. And it doesn't take much. Our use of the term is a play on words and pokes fun at Cole's lack of concentration resulting in his inability to embody a true ace. Earlier today, the quintessential Cole inning was clearly the 7th, but he was fortunate in that he didn't let it get out of control (which can happen from time to time with him). So from this point forward this season, consider yourself warned. And be sure to look for the"Quintessential Cole" inning during each of his starts.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pocket Aces

How awesome have the last two nights been? Watching Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee completely baffle the Washington Nationals was just incredible for me as a phan with high hopes for the 2011 season. It was great to see Roy and Cliff in just their 3rd start of the year look like they were in mid season form. Granted it was only the Washington Nationals, it was still fun to watch.

I especially loved how Phillies Phan took over Rightfield and showed WERTHless what we think of him...BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Here WERTHless thought he was going to be embraced for his contributions to our previous successes. I think he realizes now, he probably should have kept his trap shut. I for one, can't wait till I am in attendance for a Nationals game, because I fully intend to should WERTHless how much I miss him, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Anyone else get much pleasure from WERTHless look stupid in his at bats against Halladay and Lee? I loved it! Sure he won game 1 against Joe Blanton, but we got the last laugh in completely dominated then next two games.

It was great to see Lee bounce back from his second start in Atlanta with such as dominating performance tonight. Lee struck out 12, at one point he had 5 in a row,
gave up only 3 hits in his complete game shutout. This on the night after Halladay carried a shutout into the 9th, where he surrendered 2 run but still getting a complete game victory. These back to back complete games gave the Phillies their first back to back complete games since May 1999 when Paul Byrd and Curt Schilling did it. Fasten your seatbelts Phillies Phan! This 2011 Phillies team is going to take us on a wonderful and excited ride that will hopefully end with another parade down Board Street into another Stadium Rally!

LET'S GO PHIGHTIN' PHILS!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A look back at the Phirst Week

Phirst full week of the Phillies 2011 season is in the books. In the phirst 9 games, the Phightins' are 7-2. In the phirst 9 game, the Phab Phour, R2C2, Phantastic Phour, or whatever you want to call them plus Joe Blanton, have gone 5-2, with 49.1 innings pitched, 52 K's, and only 10 walks. Cole Hamels, Blanton, Cliff Lee have all had one bad outing, but resulted in only 2 losses. Hamels had a disastrous start to the 2011 against the Mutts, going 2.2 innings, giving up 7 hits and 6 runs, which resulted in an E.R.A. of 20.25. Hamels then redeemed himself today with a masterful outing against the Braves. Cole went 7 innings, giving up only 4 hits, 1 walk and had 8 strikeouts! Cole's incredible performance dropped his E.R.A down to 5.59.

The forgotten one, Blanton opened his season on Wednesday night against the Mutts. Big Joe, looked great to start the game, but quickly came unglued. The Phillies bats, the true story of the phirst week, gave Blanton a 7-0 lead, which was quickly erased in the 4th and 5th innings. Blanton only survived 4.1, allowing 7 runs (5 in the 5th) on 10 hits, but had 6 k's. Despite blowing a 7-0 lead, the Phightins' phought back and score 2 runs in the the bottom of the 5th giving the Phils the lead phor good. Cliff Lee followed his return home to Philadelphia with a game he would like to forget against the Braves. Lee only lasted 3.1, surrendering 6 runs on 10 hits, but only had 1 walk.

Despite all the hype around the Phillies Starting Rotation, the biggest concern for the Phillies was there offense. I love listening to MLB on XM, when I am not listening to Howard Stern (Baba Booey, Baba Booey) and enjoy calling in. There was a consistent theme to the weeks leading up to the start of the season in regards to the Phillies and that was could the offense score runs. In 2008, we won because of timely hitting. In 2009, we lost the World Series because we were out hit and the same holds true for 2010 NLCS. The bats were silent in both those series, resulting in no champagne to end the season. So the baseball pundits have every right to voice their concerns for the Phillies offense, especially when arguably their best player Chase Utley was hurt indefinitely.

Well, one week before the season started, this topic was once again the focus and they were looking for callers, so I called in. I started off by agreeing with them that the lost of Utley was a concern and pointed out the points I just stated about the past three postseasons, but followed with that the Phillies have enough heart and talent to hold them till Utley returns. I pointed out that in 2010, 6 of 8 starters spent time on the DL, including Utley and despite that, the Phillies led the league in wins for the first time in the history of the franchise. I ended my point by saying that the bats would finally bounce back and that Rollins would turn it around, as would Ibanez and that Ben Fransisco would make everyone forget the previous WERTHless rightfielder. I was praised for the call, but they joked about my comment about Big Ben, which was expected and the ended the segment with if the bats turn it around and if Utley gets back.

Which leads me to the phirst 9 games. The Phillies Achilles heal scored a messily 59 runs in the phirst 9 games. Going into today, the Phillies lead the league in runs scored over the Reds who are in second with 53 runsand have already scored 4 today (they are in the 2nd inning at the time of me writing) and Diamondbacks are 3rd with only 34 runs. Following today's game, 7 of the Phillies starting 8 are batting over .300, combined for team average of .334. They have 8 homeruns and if weren't for the wind at the Bank, Big Ben would have added 2 more and 58 RBI's. So it is safe to say, that through 9 games, the offense is alive and well. There are still 153 game to go and a lot can happen, but in the phirst 9 games, the Phightin Phils have given us much to cheer for and many reasons to BELIEVE! LET'S GO PHIGHTIN' PHILS!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Return of Cliff Lee

As mentioned in my previous post, December 13, 2010 was on of the craziest nights of Phillies Offseason history. As we all know, On December 13th, Cliff Lee decided to come back to Philadelphia and pitch in, what is regarded on paper, one of the best pitching staffs in history consisting of Cy Young Award Winners Roy Halladay(2003,2010) and Cliff Lee (2008); 2008 NLCS and WS MVP, Cole Hamels, Multiple Cy Young Award Top 5 finisher, Roy Oswalt, and Joe Blanton, who on another team could be a 1 or a 2. Well since that day, Philadelphia has been energized with visions of an incredible season.

On Opening Day, Roy Halladay and the Phillies offense didn't disappoint as they sent what remained of the sellout crowd home with a walk off win in the bottom of 9th. But now it was time for Cliff Lee to take the mound. The crowd in attendance last night was pumped for Cliff Lee. I was in attendance in 2009, when Cliff made his first home debut with the Phightins, and again last night for his return back to Philadelphia. As before every game, the starting lineups where announced, and as it was time to announce: "Batting 9th and Pitching, Number 33, Cliff Lee" the sellout crowd rose to their feet and welcomed back Cliff with one of the loudest standing ovations I have ever seen in Philadelphia. It was so loud in the stadium, you couldn't ever hear Cliff get announced. The place was nuts!

Well, Cliff didn't disappoint. He carried a no hitter through 3 and had the crowd energized through his 7 innings. Cliff gave up 3 runs, 4 hits but fanned 11 in his first win of 2011 season. It was excited throughout the game, even as the temperatures dropped, nothing would put a damper on the return of Cliff Lee!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Opening Weekend 2011

To all the baseball fans visiting our website, welcome and happy opening weekend! This season, I hope to share my insights not only to my favorite team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies, but to the many teams and happenings of major league baseball throughout the 2011 season.

So let's begin with a glimpse into Game 1, and the experience TamerG and I had at the Phillies Home Opener.

Game 1...Returning to the Scene of the Crime
Disappoint. Heartache. An emotional roller coaster ride. The last time I left the gates of Citizens Bank Park, those were just a few of the words to describe what linger as memories associated with Game 5 of the 2010 National League Championship Series. After all, the Phillies had plowed through the Division Series against the Reds and were poised to take their place in baseball history as one of the few teams in baseball to be in the World Series three years in a row. But that didn't happen. We pitched to Cody Ross who appeared to take the Giants on his back at points during Games 1 and 2 and bring them to the playoff promised land. The Giants were known for their antics, beards, and unique make-up, but in the end a strong bullpen, a formidable starting rotation, and clutch hitting were pivotal in their journey to the 2010 World Championship. Congratulations to them and feel free to add them to another team I detest in baseball next to the Mets, Yankees, and Braves. They are the defending World Champions and a team not to be dismissed heading into the 2011 season which is exactly why Ruben was strategic in his off season moves.

So the stage is set. A rotation of R2C2 was established, an outfielder ready to play everyday put up strong spring training numbers, and a tweaked bench and bullpen put into place all to help erase my final memory, Ryan Howard caught looking, of the the 2010 season and what I consider to be the scene of the crime. We were destined, at least it appeared. But the sun has set on 2010 and a new season has officially begun.

Game 1 Insights
The Phightin' Phils looked dead through 8. They lacked spunk. They lacked swagger. Sure it's early. And the weather wasn't great. But this team gives off a different vibe. As we prepare to head to game 2 this evening, I'll continue to wrap my head around it but it just feels like this team is trying to find it's identity, it's character, it's personality. Based on game 1 alone, maybe they'll be a team of comeback kids. Stringing six singles together is different and not what the Phillies have been known for. What is clear are the following:
1 - strong starting pitching will be the foundation
2 - Howard, J-Roll, and Chooch are poised to lead this team throughout 2011
and
3 - more team contributions are required...in other words this team is going to need the Mayberry's, Francisco's, and Romero's to step up quite a bit this year with early reasons pointing to injuries to established guarantees like Utley, Lidge, and Polanco (don't let an elbow brace fool you)

And with that, I'm off to prep for Game 2. More posts on the way, and once again, happy opening weekend!

New Author

Everybody Hits would like to welcome Dr Jeff K to the writing staff. He will be a welcome addition and provide his views on the Phightins'. If you too would like to join the team to write for Everybody Hits, leave a comment below. LET'S GO PHIGHTIN' PHILS!

New Beginnings - Opening Day 2011

It's been a long time since I updated this blog. But as with most people, life gets in the way of things and I haven't been able to focus on my leisurely passions as I would like, with that being said, I fully intend to write as often as I can about the team I have loved all my life the Philadelphia Phillies.

Now that the disclaimer is done, WHAT AN INCREDIBLE START TO THE 2011 SEASON! I was in attendance for yesterday's Opening Day 2011 and WOW! First let me tell you, I have been looking forward to Opening Day 2011 since last October when I was in attendance for the Phillies shocking loss to the Giants. I am sure you are taking the time to read this low budget, non insider blog you are a Phanatic like me and like me, couldn't wait for for next year after watching RyHo get rung up looking. It was a long and exciting offseason to bring us to yesterday. First there was the Phillies letting go of Jayson Werthless, a move that made me extremely happy. I did not like Werth, I thought he was arrogant and lazy, and felt that the world owed him something for someone who batted .186 with Runners in Scoring Position. The day he signed with the Nationals, I told one of my phellow phanatics that we were going to sign Cliff Lee with the made we saved on a WERTHless rightfielder. I was told that I was nuts and there was no way he wouldn't sign with the Yankees. Well on December 13, as we all know was on of the craziest off season night in Phillies History, as the mystery team, our beloved Phillies swooped in a stole Cliff Lee from the Yankees and Rangers, giving us the creation of R2C2. Well from that night foward, April 1st couldn't come soon enough!

Well April 1st phinally arrived and I woke up to snowflakes falling from the sky! Well that certainly wasn't going to put a damper on my Christmas Day! (Opening Day is my Christmas morning, aka MY PHAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR!) So I looked at the snow and put on some extra layers and my buddy and I head out to Citizens Bank Park. The excitement was building! During our short drive from our airport hotel, we enjoyed switching back and forth between WIP and MLB radio on XM. So here we are two guys in the mid 30's yelling "IT'S OPENING DAY" out our windows because the excitement surrounding the 2011 Season. As we walking through the gates, we here Dan Baker's theme music and the wonderful sound of Dan Baker's voice say those magical words I had not heard since last October: "Welcome to Citizens Bank Park." As we took our seats, in Sec. 241, the scoreboard porch, the annual Phillies Player parade was starting, but unlike the previous two seasons, there was no banner to raise this year. Hopefully the 2011 will change that for next year!

So the parade concluded and no it was time for the starting lineups. First the Houston Astros, Phans were very nice to J.A. Happ, who is schedule to start Sunday against Roy Oswalt, and to Micheal Bourne, but Bret Myers, one of the reasons we won in 2008, got a rather cold reception. I have always liked Myers, I thought he had the fire it took to win. Yeah he would run his mouth every now and again, but he backed it up on the field and I am pretty sure his RiSP might have been higher than .186. Either way, I get it, he is on another team right now and this is Philadelphia. Now it was time for the introductions of the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies. One by One, our Phightin' Phils were introduced, no surprise but Cliff Lee seemed to have gotten the biggest ovation of the day. I will have video of the introduction posted later this week, apparently, the internet connection at the hotel is too slow to upload to youtube.



Well, the introductions were over, it was time for the Annual singing of the National Anthem by Philadelphia Boys Choir, but this year included something special, a flyover by 4 fighter jets, which gave me a chill, unlike the one I already had from the wind whipping around CBP. Anthem was over and it was time for the boys of winter, I mean, summer to take the field. You could sense the excitement, anticipation and hope of another great Phillies season, as Doc took the mound. Doc was amazing, hell he was perfect through 2 2/3, until Bret Myers did what the other 8 could not and that was get a hit. It was quite the pitchers dual, until the Astros broke the 0-0 score with a run in the 6th. Unfortunately, the 6th was a far as Doc could go, he worked some long counts and was up over 100 pitches. Charlie turned to J.C. Romero and David Herndon in the Charlie Maunel lefties must lefties and righties face righties playbook after the starter has been pulled. Well that resulted in 3 runs, so with 3 at bats to go it was 4-0 Houston. In the bottom of the 7th the Phillies Offense phinally showed signs of life as 2,3,4,5 got their jobs done and chipped away 2 runs.

Mood in the stadium was relatively quiet is it normally is when the offense isn't smacking around big hits, but it was also getting extremely cold. The stadium was starting to empty out as the cold weather and cold bats were getting to people. Hell, I even contemplating leaving and I NEVER leave early. But, I stayed, as I always do, because, I never think the Phillies are done till the last out is recorded.

Which brings us to the bottom of the 9th. Phillies are down 4-2, with the heart of the lineup up. Rollins get the ball rolling with a single, then Howard singles and the crowd that stayed to brave the weather and root on their Phightins' is alive and kicking. Raul popped up to 2nd. Phightins had 2 men on with 2 outs to go, Jimmy who had already got the crowd going decides to steal 3rd. It was great decision by Rollins, as the Astros weren't holding him on, and seeing that sent a feeling through my gut that said Rollins was going to try and make something happen. Sure enough he did. So with Howard on first and Rollins on third, Big Ben Francisco comes to the plate. Quick prediction on Ben, I think he is going to have monster year and will be an All Star this year. Ben is a player like Jayson WERTHless, needs playing time to get in a groove and then will breakout. I truly believe barring injury, Ben will have 25+ homerruns and 100+ RBIs and will make everyone in Philly forget the previous rightfielder. So Big Ben is up and he singles, Rollins scores, Howard is on second. Now the Phillies Phaithful are starting to believe. Its 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th, 2 and 1 out. The crowd is on its feet, yelling and scream and trying to push the Phillies across the phinish line. So Phan Phavorite, Chooch is up at the plate he singles. That's 4 singles in 5 batters for the Phils, bases loaded, 1 out and the crowd is going nuts. Now it is time for Wilson Valdez to keep the ball rolling. Valdez who filled in brilliantly for Rollins last season, was now filling in for Chase Utley, does his best Utley imitation and drives in the trying run with another single. So here we are, the Phightins battled back from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game int the bottom of the 9th. This brings up the pitchers spot, Charlie elects to use John Mayberry, Jr, who is on his first ever Opening Day roster. The crowd that stayed behind is rockin' the Bank and Mayberry didn't disappoint! Mayberry smacked a bullet to centerfield over Michael Bourn's head, Big Ben SCORES and THE PHILLIES WIN! It was incredible! The Phillies, as in the past, since this era of Phillies baseball begin, don't quit until its over. So after a frigid afternoon, the Phightin' Phils sent home what was left of the 45,000+ Phans home with warm feelings of another magical season is in the works.

(Pictures and Videos to be added later, stupid Hotel internets)
Next up for the Phillies is the return of Cliff Lee to Philadelphia. I will once again be in attendance to see the Phightins in action as get to enjoy 3 games in 3 game with my beloved Phillies...WELCOME BACK BASEBALL AND WELCOME BACK TO THE PHILLIES! LET'S GO PHIGHTIN' PHILS!

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