Posts Tagged ‘Chase Utley’

Starting Nine: National League East

January 14, 2010

Isn’t it funny how a couple of minutes could change an entire post? As I started writing this post last night, I found out the news that New York Mets’ center fielder, Carlos Beltran will be out of commission for three to four months.

Within five minutes, the Mets went from having a very good lineup to a lineup with a lot of holes in it. So now that Beltran is out for a couple of months, where does the Mets’ lineup stack-up against the rest of the National League East?

Let’s take a look at each lineup in the National League East as presently constructed today. Since the pitcher will hit ninth, I just inserted the team’s top pitcher in the nine-hole.

Philadelphia Phillies

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

2. Placido Polanco, 3B

3. Chase Utley, 2B

4. Ryan Howard, 1B

5. Jayson Werth, RF

6. Raul Ibanez, LF

7. Shane Victorino, CF

8. Carlos Ruiz, C

9. Roy Halladay, P

Quick Take – One through eight, this is the best lineup in the National League. This lineup has speed and power throughout. This lineup will be hard to shutdown in 2010.

Atlanta Braves

1. Nate McLouth, CF

2. Martin Prado, 2B

3. Chipper Jones, 3B

4. Brian McCann, C

5. Troy Glaus, 1B

6. Yunel Escobar, SS

7. Matt Diaz, RF

8. Melky Cabrera, LF

9. Derek Lowe, P

Quick Take – This lineup will only go as far as Glaus takes them. If he can come back healthy, then the Braves will have a very good lineup in 2010. It could be made even better when super stud prospect Jason Heyward makes his debut.

New York Mets

1. Jose Reyes, SS

2. Luis Castillo, 2B

3. David Wright, 3B

4. Jason Bay, LF

5. Jeff Francouer, RF

6. Daniel Murphy, 1B

7. Omir Santos, C

8. Angel Pagan, CF

9. Johan Santana, P

Quick Take – Not having Beltran will kill this lineup. The Mets could make up for the loss of Beltran by signing Bengie Molina and/or Carlos Delgado. The Mets have been rumored to be interested in both.

Florida Marlins

1. Cameron Maybin, CF

2. Chris Coghlan, LF

3. Hanley Ramirez, SS

4. Jorge Cantu, 3B

5. Dan Uggla, 2B

6. Cody Ross, RF

7. Gabby Sanchez, 1B

8. John Baker, C

9. Josh Johnson, P

Quick Take – If Uggla and Cantu stay, then this lineup becomes a lot better than most people think. This is a big year for Maybin. I think he really needs to show something this year.

Washington Nationals

1. Nyjer Morgan, CF

2. Christian Guzman, 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Adam Dunn, 1B

5. Josh Willingham, LF

6. Elijah Dukes, RF

7. Ivan Rodriguez, C

8. Ian Desmond, SS

9. Jason Marquis, P

Quick Take – This lineup is certainly getting better. I like the one through five, especially Zimmerman. The Nationals are talking to Orlando Hudson, but if he doesn’t sign with them, I don’t mind Desmond as their Opening Day shortstop. I think he can be good.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the National League Central.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Brandon Phillips: What’s His Trade Market?

November 17, 2009

Yesterday, I talked about one of the Cincinnati Reds trade candidates, Bronson Arroyo. Well today, I’ll talk about another Reds trade candidate, second baseman Brandon Phillips.

Phillips has had a pretty interesting career so far. He has been involved in two extremely lopsided trades.

Phillips could be traded this offseason

In 2002, Phillips was traded from the Montreal Expos to the Cleveland Indians along with Cliff Lee, Lee Stevens, and Grady Sizemore for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.

And in 2006, Phillips was traded from the Indians to the Reds for the ever so popular player to be named later. Or PTBNL as all the cool kids say. That player turned out to be Jeff Stevens.

So Phillips has already been involved in two lopsided trades–will he be involved in a third? Let’s take a look at the pros and the cons of Phillips and what teams would be possible suitors for the man who went to high school in Stone Mountain, GA.

I wonder if he knows Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who also hails from Stone Mountain, GA?

Pros

Because Phillips hasn’t played on a national stage since joining the Reds, people don’t realize how good Phillips actually is.

Over the last three years, Phillips ranks third amongst all major league second baseman in home runs with 71, sixth in hits with 494, third in triples with 19, and second in stolen bases with 80.

Not only can Phillips do it with the bat, but he can do it with the glove. Phillips is one of best defensive second baseman in baseball.

Phillips won a Gold Glove in 2008 (not that it means much), but more importantly, Phillips has ranked at the top in second baseman UZR over the last three years.

As a matter of fact, only Chase Utley has a higher UZR over the last three years than Phillips.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Phillips is his contract. Phillips has two years remaining on his contract with a club option for 2012.

Phillips is set to make $6.75 million in 2010 and $11 million in 2011. That is very reasonable for a man who is only 28-years-old and has been worth $28 million over the last two years according to Fangraphs.

Cons

In a game where OBP is highly valued, Phillips hasn’t seen a pitch he hasn’t liked. Phillips did set a career high in walks in 2009 with 44, but that is nothing to get excited about.

Phillips ranked 12th in OPS amongst second baseman in 2009 behind guys like Alberto Callaspo and Martin Prado.

Perhaps the only other question a GM could have with Phillips is can he produce on a big stage? It’s one thing to put up big numbers when your team is 20 games out of first in August, but can you do it when your team is battling for a playoff spot?

There is only one way to figure out the answer to that question.

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of acquiring Phillips, let’s take a look at what teams would be interested in the Reds’ second baseman.

New York Mets: Obviously the Mets would have to find a taker for their current second baseman, Luis Castillo. That is a task all by itself.

However, if they can get rid of Castillo, I think Phillips would be perfect with the Mets, who should be building their team around pitching, defense, and speed.

Los Angeles Dodgers: As I mentioned yesterday with Dan Uggla, the Dodgers need a second baseman. Phillips and Rafael Furcal would be a lethal double play combination in L.A.

Unfortunately, because the McCourts are making a made for TV movie, I am not sure how much salary the Dodgers are willing to take on.

San Diego Padres: The Padres are a lot closer to competing than people think. They have talked about adding payroll in 2010 and if they feel Matt Antonelli isn’t quite ready yet to be their second baseman, Phillips could be a nice player for them.

Minnesota Twins: Nick Punto is a nice little player, but should be a utility on a good team. The Twins are moving into a new stadium, which means new revenues.

They have already added payroll in the form of JJ Hardy and Phillips fits the Twins style of play to a tee.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Are the Angels ready to give up on Howie Kendrick? Every year is supposed to be “Kendrick’s breakout year” and it hasn’t happened yet.

Phillips seems like a perfect fit in Anaheim. He is a great defensive player and can’t you see him being Bobby Abreu’s latest patient pet project?

Believe it or not, the market for second baseman these days isn’t as good as one would think. There are a lot of teams in baseball, who already have quality players at that position.

I am going to say that Phillips does get traded this offseason, with the Twins and Angels being the most likely suitors

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

National League Hands Out Some Gold Gloves

November 11, 2009

Yesterday, the American League handed out their Gold Glove awards. Today, the National League handed out their Gold Gloves.

Let’s take a look at who won in the National League:

C. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals – .995 fielding percentage, 40 percent caught stealing percentage

1B. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres – .995 fielding percentage, 3.8 UZR

2B. Orlando Hudson, Los Angeles Dodgers – .988 fielding percentage, -3.3 UZR

SS. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies – .990 fielding percentage, 2.7 UZR

3B. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals – .963 fielding percentage, 18.1 UZR

OF. Michael Bourn, Houston Astros – .992 fielding percentage, 8.6 UZR

OF. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers – .995 fielding percentage, 2.5 UZR

OF. Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies – .997 fielding percentage, -4.1 UZR

P. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals – 1.000 fielding percentage

Apparently, there are no good defensive left fielders in the game of baseball these days. The American League didn’t have a Gold Glove left fielder and now the National League doesn’t have a Gold Glove left fielder.

It’s really just silly.

How can you reward three center fielders and not reward a right fielder for defensive excellence? Jayson Werth is the best defensive right fielder in the National League and he should have been rewarded for it.

I disagree with three of the choices the voters made.

How does Victorino win the Gold Glove? It seemed like every other game he was misjudging a flyball. Like I said earlier, Werth would have been a better choice as a right fielder, or, if you must have three center fielders win the award, Mike Cameron would have been a better choice.

I am not fond of the Hudson selection. I would have gone with Chase Utley. And that has nothing to do with Utley being a superior offensive player.

Utley is a very good fielder, but he is so good offensively, that it overshadows his defense.

The last change I would have made would be with Rollins. Troy Tulowitzki would have gotten my vote. He is the best defensive shortstop in the National League and should have been rewarded for it.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Hideki Matsui Powers New York Yankees To World Series Championship

November 5, 2009

If Mark Teixeira doesn’t beat you, then Alex Rodriguez will. If Alex Rodriguez doesn’t beat you, then Jorge Posada will. And if Teixeira, Rodriguez, and Posada don’t beat you, then Hideki Matsui will.

Playing in perhaps his final game as a New York Yankee, Matsui went 3-for-4 with a homerun, a double, a single, and six RBI as the Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 to win their 27th championship.

Matsui did the majority of his damage against Phillies’ starter Pedro Martinez, who didn’t have much last night. Martinez, who was pitching on five days rest, which was short rest for him, really couldn’t get going.

In the second inning, after walking Rodriguez to lead off the inning, Martinez missed his spot by at least four inches to Matsui on a 3-2 pitch and Matsui promptly hit one into the rightfield seats.

In the third inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Matsui came up to the plate again. And again Martinez missed his spot. Martinez, trying to throw a fastball high and outside, threw a fastball outside, but not high enough.

Matsui served a single to left-centerfield to make the score 4-1 and that was the back breaker in my opinion.

While Matsui was driving in the runs, Andy Pettitte wasn’t allowing any runs to the Phillies. So much for not being able to pitch on three days rest.

Andy Pettitte

Pettitte came up big for the Yankees yet again

Pettitte pitched with a bend, but don’t break mentality last night. Pettitte walked five and gave up four hits over 5.2 innings, but never gave up the big hit.

Here are some other observations from last night:

The Phillies biggest fear in this World Series came to light last night–nobody except Cliff Lee could win a game for the Phillies.

After Matusi’s two-run single in the third, I couldn’t believe Charlie Manuel left Martinez in the game to face Posada.

Ryan Howard struck out for a 13th time last night breaking Willie Wilson’s World Series record of 12 set back in 1980.

I can’t believe that more was not made of Shane Victorino’s misplay on the Derek Jeter linedrive in the third. That was a huge play. The way the Yankees were playing, you can’t give them four outs in an inning.

Great job last night by Chad Durbin keeping it close. 0.1 innings, two hits, one walk, and three runs.

While Matsui might have won the World Series MVP award, Damaso Marte was just as valuable in this series.

Marte’s strike out of Chase Utley in the seventh was the nail in the coffin for the Phillies.

Of course, Marte came on to clean up Joba Chamberlain’s mess. How many times did I have to write that this postseason. Someone explain to me why Chamberlain is the most hyped pitcher in the game again?

Melky Cabrera has a World Series ring and Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, and Don Mattingly don’t. Unreal.

Back in March, Gary Sheffield was deciding between the New York Mets and Phillies. The Phillies really could have used him as their DH in this series.

Both teams were playing eight on eight tonight. Brett Gardner = automatic out for the Yankees. Ben Francisco = automatic out for the Phillies.

The Yankees become the first team since the 1991 Minnesota Twins to win a World Series using a three-man pitching staff.

5,000 kids in Long Island, who were Mets fans yesterday, are now Yankee fans today. They came into class today wearing red Yankee hats and a fake Chamberlain jersey.

Matsui will be replaced in the Yankees’ lineup next year by Matt Holliday. Damon will move to DH.

Now all of a sudden Joe Girardi is a genious.

Yankees’ President Randy Levine said in his post-game interview that George Steinbrenner was the first owner to go into Japan when they signed Matsui. Somebody should tell him A. Hideki Irabu played for the Yankees in 1997 and B. Ichiro Suzuki came into the league two years before Matsui.

How many times did the Yankees’ front office try to get rid of Pettitte over the last 10 years? Just proving that they are good business men, but terrible baseball men.

Pedro Feliz killed the Phillies this game. Three times up with RISP and 0-for-3. He gets a hit in any of those AB’s, it’s a different game.

How awesome was Carlos Ruiz this postseason? Just awesome. Such a good little player.

Raul Ibanez had a tremendous AB versus Rivera in the eighth inning. He worked hard for that double.

For the final out of the World Series, the Yankees had Jerry Hairston Jr., Gardner, and Nick Swisher in the outfield. Just goes to show you, you never know who is going to play a role in the World Series in April.

Well, with that the baseball season officially comes to an end. I’ll be doing a year in review in the upcoming days and I will be doing a what to look for this offseason post as well.

It’s one in the morning and I need some sleep. Have a good night folks.

Phillies Hold Off Yankees, Force Game Six

November 3, 2009

Like George Costanza, the Philadelphia Phillies did the opposite last night.

Instead of having tuna on toast, with coleslaw, and a cup of coffee and trying to wait out AJ Burnett, the Phillies had chicken salad, on rye, untoasted, and a cup of tea and jumped all over Burnett.

The Phillies were aggressive and ambushed Burnett in the first inning thanks to a Chase Utley three-run homerun and eventually held on for an 8-6 victory to force a Game Six back in the Bronx.

The Yankees now lead the best-of-seven World Series 3-2.

What ever respect Burnett earned in his gutsy performance in Game Five of the ALCS and his brilliant performance in Game Two of the World Series, he lost last night.

Yankees Orioles Baseball

Burnett gave the Yankees nothing last night

To go out in a World Series game and give your team absolutely nothing, is pathetic. At least battle like you did against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Here is all you need to know about where Burnett’s head was last night.

In the bottom of the third, Burnett was facing Jayson Werth with two on and nobody out. Burnett gets to 0-2 on Werth on two fastballs. The second fastball he blew by Werth.

Now one of the first things you learn when you become a pitcher is if a guy can’t catch up to your fastball, don’t throw anything offspead.

So what does Burnett do? He throws a tumbling curveball right over the middle of the plate. Werth was all over it and ripped the ball right back up the middle.

You can’t throw that pitch, if a guy just couldn’t catch up to your fastball on the pitch before. Let him prove that he can hit your fastball.

Burnett was then taken out of the game.

Just a terrible performance.

Here are some other observations from last night.

When Shane Victorino got hit on the finger squaring to bunt in the first inning, it reminded me of David Cone breaking his finger in 1987 on a bunt attempt.

In a potential clinching game in the World Series, the Yankees had Nick Swisher batting fifth.

Lee was good last night, but wasn’t great. He walked three guys last night and had only walked three guys in his previous four starts.

Lee only threw first-pitch strikes to 18 out of the 31 batters he faced. Very uncharacteristic for him.

I was very surprised to see Lee come out for the eighth inning. I thought Charlie Manuel should have gone to Chan Ho Park to start the inning and preserve Lee for a relief appearance in a potential Game Seven.

Great job by David Roberston and Alfredo Aceves to keep the Yankees in the game. Four innings, two hits, and three strike outs.

The Yankees have to be encouraged by Phil Hughes’ performance last night. 1.1 innings and looked sharp.

I guess we now know why Damaso Marte is ahead of Phil Coke on the depth chart.

With five homeruns, Chase Utley has tied Reggie Jackson for most homeruns in a World Series.

Why does Swisher look up at the scoreboard before every pitch? If this was the 1960’s, he would be accused of stealing signs.

Can someone please teach Brett Gardner how to bunt? This guy is one of the fastest players in baseball and he is hitting the ball in the air every AB.

I had no problem with Manuel going with Ryan Madson in the ninth. Lidge threw 30 pitches the night before and Madson was solid in Game Four.

Whatever praying the Phillies’ dugout did before the Derek Jeter AB–it worked. Jeter hitting into a 6-4-3 double play is more than anyone could have expected.

Say what you want about Johnny Damon–when the game and season is on the line, he shows up to play.

You can make all the great defensive plays you want, but Mark Teixeira’s postseason honeymoon is over. He has been awful in this World Series and for the most part, the entire postseason.

Hideki Matsui leads the Yankees in total bases this World Series (11) and has only started two games.

Citizens Bank Park has an X-Ray machine in the stadium. How far have we come in terms of technology? It really is amazing and we all, including myself take it for granted.

Hypothetical here: Let’s say Teixeira tied the game with a two-run HR in the ninth and Brett Gardner wins the game for the Yankees in the 15th inning. Does Utley still win the MVP award?

Ryan Howard has struck out 12 times this postseason tying Willie Wilson’s World Series record. I am confident that he will break that record in Game Six.

Another hypothetical here: Game Six, the Phillies are up 4-3, and heading into the ninth inning–who close’s for the Phillies?

If there ever was a “good loss” last night was it for the Yankees. They took the Phillies best punch last night and managed to get back up and make a fight out of it.

The Yankee teams from 2001-2008 would have taken that punch and not gotten back up.

Hero for Game Five – Chase Utley

Goat for Game Five – AJ Burnett

Series MVP – Chase Utley

Game Six is Wednesday at 7:57 ET.

Brad Lidge Implodes, Yankees On Cusp Of World Series Title

November 2, 2009

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, the Philadelphia Phillies rode Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge to a World Series title. In this year’s World Series, Hamels and Lidge have imploded in back to back games and now the Phillies are on the brink of elimination.

In a crucial Game Four, Alex Rodriguez broke a 4-4 tie with a double in the ninth inning off of Lidge and Jorge Posada singled home two more runs to give the Yankees a 7-4 victory over the Phillies.

The Yankees now lead the best-of-seven World Series 3-1 and are on the cusp of their 27th World Series title.

While Rodriguez might have broken the tie in the ninth, it was the great AB and then some heads up baserunning by Johnny Damon that was the story of the inning.

With two outs and nobody on, Lidge was cruising. He looked like the Lidge of 2008. He was throwing wicked sliders and more importantly–he was throwing with confidence.

Johnny-Damon_2

Damon's play last night was heads up

Then Damon came to the plate.

Lidge got Damon in a 1-2 hole, but couldn’t put him away. Damon worked the count to 3-2 and then served a single to leftfield.

What happened next was stuff of legend.

With Mark Teixeira at the plate, Damon stole second. But because the infield was in a shift, third baseman Pedro Feliz took the throw to second.

With Feliz taking the throw at second, nobody was covering third base. Damon realized that and immediately took off for third base. It was one of the most heads up plays you will ever see on a baseball diamond.

Now with Damon on third, Lidge was scared to throw his devastating slider because he didn’t want to bounce it in the dirt and he had to rely on his fastball.

Lidge then plunked Teixeira and the rest was history.

Here are some other observations from last night:

I don’t know why Lidge didn’t try to put Damon away with a slider in the ninth? He kept going to his fastball when his slider was unhittable at that point.

I don’t understand the theory of “If a guy is on third, you can’t throw your slider.” When did Carlos Ruiz become swiss cheese behind the plate?

If Derek Jeter makes that Damon baserunning play, Jeter’s cleats, socks, uniform, and the base are sent to the Hall of Fame.

I have no problem with bringing Lidge into the game at that point. If he can’t pitch in that situation when can he pitch?

Now Lidge knows what Mark Wohlers feels like when you don’t get beat on your best pitch.

All seven other closers have imploded at some point this postseason. The only one that hasn’t? Mariano Rivera. There is a reason why the Yankees are one game away from winning the World Series.

There was only one pitch that Feliz could have hit a homerun on and Joba Chamberlain threw it.

The Yankees got a glimpse of their future when Rivera retires on that Chamberlain gopher ball.

Chamberlain’s “win” last night is the perfect example of why wins for a relief pitcher is one of the most overrated stats in baseball.

It’s taken Rivera only 13 pitches to retire five batters the last two nights. Amazing.

Joe Buck talked more about the NFL than he did the baseball game he was announcing through the first three innings.

Somebody should tell Robinson Cano that the World Series started.

Ryan Howard still hasn’t touched home plate.

Very good, but not great performance from CC Sabathia last night. 6.2 innings, three runs, three walks, and six K’s.

I thought Blanton was good as well last night. And yes, it was the right decision to start him instead of Cliff Lee. Someone other than Lidge needs to a win a game for the Phillies. What’s the difference if it is Game Four of Game Five?

The biggest mistake Blanton made last night was walking Nick Swisher to lead off the fifth. That just can’t happen. It was no surprise that Swisher eventually scored.

Great baserunning by Melky Cabrera scoring on that Damon blooper in that inning. Great read on the ball.

Chase Utley just hit another homerun off of Sabathia.

The last team to come back from a 3-1 World Series deficit was the Kansas City Royals in 1985. Sadly, this was the last time any Royals fan felt any joy.

I wonder if the air has come out of the balloon for the Phillies? As Bob Boone said to Don Sutton on the play ride from California to Boston after the California Angels lost an epic Game Five (the Dave Henderson game) to the Boston Red Sox in 1986–“When the air comes out of the balloon, it’s hard to get it back up.”

That being said, I would be shocked if the Phillies didn’t win tonight. Lee on full rest and AJ Burnett on short rest should get them to Game Six.

Hero for Game Four – Johnny Damon

Goat for Game Four – Brad Lidge

Series MVP – Johnny Damon

Game Five is tonight at 7:57

Yankees Rock Cole Hamels, Take Game Three

November 1, 2009

There are some things in life I just don’t understand.

Like why my mom continues to buy single-ply toilet paper, or why Heidi Klum is married to Seal, or why a hitter would swing at the first pitch after a pitcher just walked two out of the last three batters he faced.

The New York Yankees overcame a three run deficit thanks to a gutsy performance from Andy Pettitte and some timely hitting to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-5 last night in Game Three of the World Series.

The Yankees now lead the World Series 2-1.

For me, the turning point of this game was in the bottom of the second inning. I might be in the minority here, but I really thought the Shane Victorino AB with the bases loaded and one out in the second changed the course of the game.

Andy Pettitte

Pettitte came through again for the Yankees

Pettitte had already served up a homerun to Jayson Werth and a wall scraping double to Pedro Feliz. Then he walked Carlos Ruiz, misplayed a Cole Hamels bunt, and walked Jimmy Rollins which forced in a run.

Victorino came up with Pettitte on the ropes. Pettitte was done and Victorino let him off the hook.

Instead of taking a strike, Victorino, trying to be the hero–swung at a pitch in the dirt. Then Victorino swung at another pitch in the dirt to make the count 0-2.

Victorino managed to hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-0, but I really thought that AB was the turning point of the game. That AB allowed Pettitte to settle down, gather himself, and from there–he was vintage Pettitte.

Why Victorino didn’t take a strike in that situation is beyond. Pettitte wasn’t close to throwing a strike to Ruiz and was even further off to Rollins. You have to let Pettitte prove to you at that point that he can throw a strike.

The Phillies could have possibly had five or six runs that inning, but settled for three. From there the Yankees bats came alive against a yet again mediocre Hamels and now are just two games away from winning the World Series.

Here are some other observations from last night’s game.

No matter what the situation is, Pettitte always manages to keep the same demeanor on the mound. He really is one of the great clutch performers of all-time.

Hamels didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning. He only last 4.1 innings last night. Amazing.

Remarkably, there are still some people out there who will argue that Hamels is the same pitcher as last year. I wonder if they still feel that way after last night’s performance.

If this series goes seven games, there is no way Charlie Manuel can start Hamels in Game Seven.

I would go with Happ in Game Six and then Pedro Martinez in Game Seven. Give Martinez the extra day if you can.

I still can’t believe Hamels would throw a curveball–Hamels third best pitch to Pettitte. Pettitte’s single was another turning point of the game. That was the single worst pitch of the postseason.

Apparently Joe Girardi’s benching did Nick Swisher well. Swisher hit a double and a homerun last night.

Swisher played Feliz’s double in the second terribly. A good rightfielder catches that ball against the wall.

Ryan Howard just struck out again.

I thought the umpires had a very good game last night. Home plate umpire Brian Gorman was consistent all night and good job getting together on the Alex Rodriguez homerun.

The 2009 postseason is officially Jayson Werth’s coming out party. Two more homeruns last night now give him seven for this postseason.

Believe it or not, outside of Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte has been the Yankees most reliable reliever.

Despite the one hour and 20 minute rain delay, this game didn’t end as late as I thought it would. I thought this game would end at two in the morning.

Yankees’ bullpen–three innings, one hit, and one run. Phillies’ bullpen–4.2 innings, three hits, and three runs.

100 percent agreed with Girardi with sending out Phil Hughes to start the ninth with a four run lead. With three games in a row, the Yankees need to save Rivera as much as possible.

Terrible job by Hughes in not being able to finish the ninth. The Yankees didn’t want to use Rivera and they had to.

Howard just struck out.

Chase Utley and Howard went 0-8 with five K’s. If they Phillies are going to win this series, then those two need to carry the offense.

The team that wins Game Four wins the World Series.

Game Four is tonight at 8:20 ET

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Just as a reminder, I will be on the Frankie the Sports Guy show tonight on AM 1240 WGBB at 10:20 ET. I’ll be talking about the World Series and some other baseball topics.

Former Yankee third baseman Charlie Hayes will be on the show as well.

AJ Burnett Outduels Pedro Martinez, Yankees Even Series

October 30, 2009

So much for this being an offensive World Series.

For the second night in a row we saw a pitcher’s duel in the Bronx. Last night AJ Burnett outdueled Pedro Martinez as the New York Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 to even their best-of-seven series at one game a piece.

AJ Burnett

Burnett pitched the game of his life last night

What you saw last night was two pitchers going about getting hitters out in two completely different ways, but getting the same result.

Burnett, overpowered the Phillies lineup with a mid-90’s fastball and a power curve all night. Martinez, used an array of offspead pitches to keep the Yankee hitters off balance all night.

But last night proved that no matter how hard you throw, whether you throw 95 mph or 85 mph, pitching is all about first-pitch strikes and location. A well spotted 85 mph fastball is just as effective, if not more effective than a 99 mph fastball right down the middle.

Burnett threw 22 first-pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced and Martinez threw 16 first-pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced.

Here are some other observations from last night:

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think Burnett had a performance like that in him.

In the third inning, after walking Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, every Yankee fan thought “Here we go again” with Burnett.

I am very surprised the Phillies didn’t change their approach during the game. If you see a guy throwing strikes, there is no point in being patient.

Ryan Howard just struck out again.

Have Yankee fans not realized that chanting “Who’s your daddy?” only motivates Martinez?

I am still trying to debate who is the smarter pitcher–Martinez or Greg Maddux?

The ball Matt Stairs hit to drive in Raul Ibanez in the second was an error by Alex Rodriguez–not a hit.

I would love to see a throwing contest between Johnny Damon and Jason Bay. That would be high comedy.

If the Yankees don’t resign Damon, some dumb team is going to give him a three-year deal and regret it from the first day. Damon at this stage of his career is a product of the Yankee lineup and the new Yankee Stadium.

Did anyone else think Ibanez’s diving catch in the second inning was happening in slow motion? It seemed Ibanez was running forever and the ball hung up in the air forever.

It was good to see Mark Teixeira finally show up with the bat. That homerun was a bomb to rightcenter.

How did Hideki Matsui hit that homerun in the sixth? That pitch was at his shoe tops.

Did Charlie Manuel get coaching advice from Grady Little before the game? There is no way Martinez should have come back out for the seventh.

Howard just struck out again on another curve four feet out of the strike zone.

Manuel said he didn’t start Rollins and Shane Victorino in the eighth because Utley doesn’t hit into many double plays. Manuel thought it might have been five or less throughout the season.

Manuel was right. Utley hit into five double plays during the regular season.

If you are a Yankee fan, you can say Damon’s linedrive hit the ground in the seventh. As a Philly fan, you can say Utley was safe on that double play.

Both plays were bang-bang. I have no problem with either call.

I don’t care how great Mariano Rivera is, you can’t keep asking a 40-year-old to throw 40 pitches a night.

The Yankees are really going to need to find somebody to pitch the eighth inning in Philadelphia. With three games in a row, Rivera can’t pitch two innings every night. His arm will fall off.

I wonder if Jerry Hairston will get the start in Game Three against the lefty Cole Hamels? Hairston was 1-3 last night replacing Nick Swisher.

How much weight has Mark Grace gained? He has seriously ballooned up. I think we will be seeing him in a Nutrisystem commercial pretty soon.

Hero for Game Two – AJ Burnett

Goat for Game Two – Ryan Howard

Series MVP – Cliff Lee

Game Three is Saturday night at 7:57 ET.

Cliff Lee, Chase Utley Help Phillies Take Game One

October 29, 2009

There’s an old saying in baseball that has held true from 1909 to 2009–good pitching, always beats good hitting.

That saying held true again last night in Game One of the 2009 World Series.

On a rainy, misty night in the Bronx, Cliff Lee dominated a powerful New York Yankee lineup and Chase Utley hit two homeruns as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Yankees 6-1 to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven World Series.

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Lee was performance last night was historic

Lee’s pitching performance last night was very similar to Josh Beckett’s performance in Game Six of the 2003 World Series. Beckett steamrolled the Yankees that night and Lee steamrolled the Yankees last night.

Lee made pitching look ridiculously easy last night. Like Beckett, Lee was in control the entire game. He set the pace, he pounded the strike zone, and he did what he wanted to do.

Lee became the first pitcher in World Series history to pitch a game where he struck out 10, walked none, and didn’t allow an earned run.

Here are some of my other observations from last night:

CC Sabathia didn’t have his best stuff last night and he still held the Phillies to two runs and just four hits in seven innings. Pretty impressive.

Sabathia missed his spot twice last night to Utley and Utley made him pay big time.

How great were Utley AB’s last night? He saw 30 pitches in four AB’s. His walk in the first inning might have been more impressive than his two HR’s.

Alex Rodriguez was very good defensively last night. Offensively? Not so much.

I really can’t believe Yankee fans are calling the radio stations this morning and complaining. What are you complaining about? You lost to a great pitcher, who pitched great last night. It happens.

Lee is on a roll right now like Bret Saberhagen in 1985, Orel Hershiser in 1988, and Josh Beckett in 2007.

The Yankees have a serious Phil Hughes problem. What ever he did in the regular season, he is doing the complete opposite in the postseason.

Hughes has faced 27 batters this postseason and has only retired 14 of them. Ouch!

You can have Mariano Rivera in the pen, but if you have nobody to get him the ball, then it won’t matter.

Here is what I wrote about Damaso Marte in my preview yesterday:

“Marte is going to be asked at some point during this series to get Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, or Raul Ibanez out.

Does any Yankee fan feel confident with first and second and one out in the seventh and Girardi calls on Marte to pitch to Utley and Howard?”

I was off by an inning. Marte came in the eighth with runners on first and second to face Utley and Howard and he did a really good job. He got Utley to strike out looking and got Howard to fly out to right.

Have you noticed that since Joe Girardi was hammered for overmanaging in Game Three of the ALCS, he has undermanaged since?

I was a little surprised he left David Robertson in the game to face Raul Ibanez in the eighth. I thought he might have gone to Phil Coke in that spot.

Was it a shock to anybody that Carlos Ruiz was in the middle of a rally in the ninth? This guy is so good in the postseason. I have become a huge fan.

Unlike the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Phillies expected to win last night and not hoped to win. The Phillies believe they are the better team and played like it.

Good job the umpires getting together to make sure they got the call right on that popup by Robinson Cano in the bottom of the fifth.

If a Yankee fan is going to complain about the check swing being called a strike in Cano’s AB that inning, then the Philly fan can complain about Lee striking out Hideki Matsui on an inside fastball and the pitch being called a ball. Matsui singled on the next pitch.

Lee coming out in the ninth inning pretty much ensured that Charlie Manuel will go with a fourth starter in Game Four instead of Lee on three days rest.

Tonight we are going to find out if AJ Burnett is worth his contract.

Now we are going to find out how tough the Yankees are. It’s one thing to take a punch in the face from the Angels in Game Five up three-games-t0-one.

It’s another thing to take a punch in the face in Game One of the World Series.

Game Two is tonight. First pitch is 7:57 ET.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Dodgers Rally In The Eighth, Even Series At One

October 17, 2009

31 pitches

Five pitchers

Three hits

Two walks

Two runs

One blown save

That was the bottom of the eighth inning for the Philadelphia Phillies. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth, the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for two runs and eventually held on for a 2-1 victory to even their best-of-seven series with the Phillies at one game apiece.

As my friend Mike always says “How do you beat Ric Flair? A small package in the center of the ring.” I say “How do you beat the Phillies? Get to their bullpen.”

The Phillies’ bullpen stinks. I know it’s harsh, but there is no other way around it. Yesterday, they ruined what was a brilliant pitching performance by Pedro Martinez.

Pedro was classic Pedro yesterday

Pedro was classic Pedro yesterday

Martinez was vintage Pedro. He had the Dodger batters off-balance all game. His performance yesterday was very similar to his performance in Game Five of the 1999 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.

He didn’t have a 95 mph fastball that night either. But what he had that night and what he had yesterday, was his brain. And Martinez is one of the smartest pitchers in the game–if not the smartest.

Nobody is better when they don’t have their best stuff than Martinez is. He had everything working yesterday. The Dodgers had no chance against him in the hot California sun.

Of course, the classic second guess is why did Charlie Manuel take Martinez out after seven innings? Martinez allowed just two hits, struckout three, and didn’t walk a batter in those seven innings of work.

Most importantly, Martinez had only thrown 87 pitches. If Manuel would allow Martinez to throw 130 pitches against the New York Mets in a meaningless game in September, why wouldn’t he allow him to go further into the game?

“To me, Pedro was done,” Manuel said. “He did a tremendous job and took it actually farther than I anticipated. . . . He was gone. I think he was spent.”

If the manager of the Phillies says that Martinez was done, then I have to believe him. One would think he would know his players better than anyone.

Manuel took Martinez out after the seventh and that’s when the fun started.

Manuel brought Chan Ho Park into the game to face Casey Blake, Ronnie Belliard, and Russell Martin. Park, who was so good Thursday night, was the complete opposite yesterday.

Park allowed a leadoff single to Blake and then misplayed a bunt by Belliard. Park really should have fielded that bunt. It wasn’t a good bunt at all by Belliard.

Now with runners on first and second with nobody out, Martin was attempting to sacrifice bunt. However, Park wouldn’t let him because he couldn’t throw the ball over the plate.

If a guy is giving himself up and giving you an automatic out–let him. Just throw the ball over the plate. It shouldn’t be that hard to throw the ball over the middle if you are a major league pitcher.

On a 3-0 count, Park got a gift call from the home plate umpire. The pitch was about three inches inside, but was called a strike. Completely changed the AB and the inning.

With the count now 3-2 and the bunt off, Martin hit a routine groundball to third. Pedro Feliz threw the ball to Chase Utley covering second for one out and then Utley decided to throw the ball off the fence on the Dodgers’ dugout.

I know some people will say Utley’s bad throw was caused by the hard slide by Belliard who was on first. That wasn’t the case. Utley just made an awful throw.

Juan Pierre, who was running for Blake scored on the play to tie the game at one. Instead of having two outs and a runner on third, the Dodgers had one out with a runner on first.

Then came the parade of Phillies’ relievers out of the bullpen. I am surprised I didn’t see Don Carmen or Mitch Williams come into the game.

Scott Eyre gave up a single to Jim Thome. Ryan Madson walked Rafael Furcal. And with the bases loaded, JA Happ walked Andre Ethier to force in a run.

Just like that it was 2-1 Dodgers and when Jonathan Broxton set the Phillies down 1-2-3 in the ninth, the series was tied at one.

And not to be overshadowed in this win for the Dodgers was the effort by Vicente Padilla. He was matching Martinez pitch for pitch and only made one mistake (a HR to Ryan Howard in the fourth) in seven-and-a-third innings of work.

He has pitched brilliantly for the Dodgers in two starts in the postseason.

Game Three is Sunday at 8:07 ET

Hero for Game Two – Vicente Padilla

Goat for Game Two – Chase Utley

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg