Posts Tagged ‘Cole Hamels’

Starting Rotation: National League East

January 21, 2010

Earlier in the week, I took a look at the starting rotations for each American League team. Now it’s time to switch gears and focus on the National League.

I will start in the National League East and go from there. The NL East is home to perhaps the two best pitchers in baseball in Roy Halladay and Johan Santana. Not only are there superstar pitchers in this division, there are also some great young arms like Josh Johnson and Tommy Hanson.

Here are the starting rotations for each National League East team as presently constructed.

Philadelphia Phillies

1. Roy Halladay, RHP

2. Cole Hamels, LHP

3. Joe Blanton, RHP

4. JA Happ, LHP

5. Jaime Moyer, LHP

Quick Take – The Phillies made the big move this offseason trading for Halladay. In doing such, they had to trade playoff hero Cliff Lee. While I have no doubt Halladay will be a Cy Young candidate in 2010, this rotation will only be as good as Hamels is. They really need him to bounce back this year.

Atlanta Braves

1. Derek Lowe, RHP

2. Jair Jurrjens, RHP

3. Tim Hudson, RHP

4. Tommy Hanson, RHP

5. Kenshin Kawakami, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation has so much depth, that the Braves were able to trade Javier Vazquez. I like this rotation because it’s a good mix of young (Jurrjens and Hanson) and old (Hudson and Lowe). If the Braves give him any run support, Jurrjens could be a Cy Young candidate in 2010.

New York Mets

1. Johan Santana, LHP

2. Mike Pelfrey, RHP

3. John Maine, RHP

4. Oliver Perez, LHP

5. John Niese, LHP

Quick Take – This rotation reminds me of those Boston Red Sox rotations back in the late-90’s. They had Pedro Martinez and a bunch of question marks. This is a big year for Pelfrey. Perez is reportedly got in the best shape of his life this offseason, so let’s see if that translates to his performance on the mound.

Florida Marlins

1. Josh Johnson, RHP

2. Ricky Nolasco, RHP

3. Anibal Sanchez, RHP

4. Sean West, LHP

5. Chris Volstad, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation is young, tall, and talented. Johnson leads this staff and is an early favorite to win the NL Cy Young award in 2010. At 6’8″, 240 lbs, West has a ton of potential. This staff also has top pitching prospect Andrew Miller waiting in the wings.

Washington Nationals

1. John Lannan, LHP

2. Jason Marquis, RHP

3. Scott Olsen, LHP

4. J.D. Martin, RHP

5. Craig Stammen, RHP

Quick Take – The addition of Marquis will help this staff, but overall, it’s still pretty weak. I really like Lannan. He is a good pitcher, who unfortunately plays on the worst team in baseball. Of course, all eyes will be on the development of Stephen Strasburg. There is a chance he could join this staff by the end of the year.

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

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Jamie Moyer May Not Be Ready For Opening Day

January 7, 2010

At 47-years-old, you have to start wondering how much more Philadelphia Phillies’ LHP Jamie Moyer can put his body through.

On October 2, Moyer underwent surgery to repair three muscle tears in his groin and lower abdomen. Almost two months later, Moyer underwent another surgery after an MRI exam showed a small blood collection that could have been infected.

Moyer will have knee surgery on Monday

Now, Moyer is scheduled to undergo another surgery–this time on his right knee. Moyer will undergo the surgery on Monday.

That’s a lot of surgeries for a 27-year-old to have, let alone a 47-year-old. Thanks to all these procedures, Moyer may not be ready for opening day for the Phillies.

“I would doubt that Jamie would be ready for opening day,” Ruben Amaro said through the Philadelphia Inquirer. (The Phils open April 5 in Washington.) “It’s possible. If anybody can do it, Jamie can.”

Moyer signed a two-year extension for $13 million before the 2009 season, so one has to figure this will be Moyer’s final season in the major leagues. Unless he wants to say he played till he was 50, I don’t see why Moyer would continue to pitch after this season.

The Phillies’ first four spots in the rotation is set with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, JA Happ, and Joe Blanton. When Moyer comes back, he could either compete for the fifth spot in the rotation or be a long reliever out of the pen.

I think because of his ability to eat innings, Moyer will be given every chance to start for the Phillies in 2010. In the two seasons before last, Moyer threw over 190 innings.

Moyer will be entering his 24th year in the major leagues in 2010. Every time Moyer takes the mound, he is living proof that A. It pays to be born left-handed and B. You don’t have to throw 100 mph to be a successful major league pitcher.

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

It’s Official: Mariners, Blue Jays, Phillies, And A’s Complete 4-Team Trade

December 17, 2009

Finally, finally, I can write about the big trade.

As I mentioned in a post earlier, I was very hesitant to write about the trade because it was never official and there were so many moving parts. Now that all the parts are in place and everything is written in stone, lets take a look at what went down between the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, and Oakland A’s.

Phillies get: RHP Roy Halladay, RHP Phillippe Aumont, RHP Juan Ramirez, OF Tyson Gillies, and $6 million from the Blue Jays.

Blue Jays get: C Travis D’Arnaud, RHP Kyle Drabek, and 1B Brett Wallace

Mariners get: LHP Cliff Lee

A’s get: OF Michael Taylor

Why Philadelphia Made This Trade: GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has been enamored with Halladay since last season. And who can blame him? For my money he is the best pitcher in the game.

When Lee–the pitcher who Amaro acquired instead of Halladay at the July 31st trading deadline last season wanted CC Sabathia type money after the 2010 season–the Phillies set their sights on Halladay again.

Halladay should dominate the NL

This time, they got him.

They got him and were able to sign him to a three-year, $60 million extension–something they weren’t going to be able to do with Lee. Now the Phillies have the best pitcher in the game to go along with the best offense in the National League.

That’s a pretty good combination.

The Phillies also got perhaps their closer of the future in 6’7″ Aumont. Aumont is 20-years-old and was the Mariners’ first-round pick (11th overall) in 2007.

Aumont struggled a little bit when he was promoted to Double-A in 2009 giving up 21 hits and 11 walks in 17.2 IP.

Aumont did strike out 24 in those 17.2 innings, so his stuff was still there. If Aumont impresses in spring training he could find himself in the Phillies’ bullpen in 2010.

Gillies was rated as the fastest baserunner in the Mariners’ farm system by Baseball America in 2009. He has stolen 80 bases in 235 career minor league games.

Gillies is 20-years-old and has a .321 average and .419 OBP in 3 minor league seasons.

Ramirez was the 5th ranked prospect in the Mariners’ system heading into 2009 by Baseball America. Since signing with the Mariners in 2006, Ramirez has given up more hits/9 each year he has been in the minors.

He has a career 4.12 ERA in four minor league seasons and projects as a relief pitcher.

This trade is a perfect example of why the Phillies have become one of the premier teams in baseball. They trade prospects, they get prospects back. They trade star players and they get star players back.

The Phillies not only make trades so they can win now, but win for the future as well.

And do you know who is going to benefit the most from this trade from a Phillies’ perspective? Cole Hamels.

Remember, Halladay turned AJ Burnett into a complete pitcher. I foresee him doing the same thing with Hamels. Look for Hamels to have a big year in 2010.

Why Toronto Made This Trade: Plain and simple, the Blue Jays had to trade Halladay.

The longer the Blue Jays held on to Halladay, the less they were going to get. If the Blue Jays held on to Halladay until the July 31st trading deadline, they probably would have gotten 10 cents on the dollar.

The Blue Jays were able to land one of the best pitching prospects in the game in 22-year-old Kyle Drabek. Drabek, the son of former major league pitcher Doug Drabek is projected to be a front-line starting pitcher in the major leagues.

In four minor league seasons, Drabek has a 3.70 ERA and an impressive 1.26 WHIP.

The Blue Jays also were able to get the catching prospect they wanted in D’Arnaud. The 20-year-old D’Arnaud was the Phillies’ first-round pick in 2007.

He has struggled some at different levels in the minors, but in 2009 D’Arnaud hit 13 home runs in 126 games at Single-A Lockwood.

I like the move by the Blue Jays of getting Wallace from the A’s. The Blue Jays already are set in the outfield for the future with Adam Lind, Vernon Wells, and Travis Snyder so they really didn’t need Michael Taylor, who they acquired from the Phillies.

Wallace fills a need at first base for the Blue Jays. Wallace, who was traded to the A’s from the St. Louis Cardinals in the Matt Holliday trade hit .302 with nine home runs in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League in 2009.

The trade for Wallace most likely means Lyle Overbay has played his last game as a Blue Jay.

Why The Mariners Made This Trade: If you are Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik you say to yourself “I can get one of the best pitchers in the game without giving up my top, top prospects–where do I sign?”

Lee gives the M's a solid 1-2 punch

Did the Mariners give up some good prospects? Sure they did. But they were able to get Lee and not give up SS Carlos Truinfel, OF Michael Saunders, or OF Dustin Ackley.

Lee, along with Felix Hernandez give the Mariners perhaps the best one-two punch in the American League. For one year and $9 million, Lee was certainly worth this trade for the Mariners.

Why The A’s Made This Trade: The A’s already had Daric Barton, Chris Carter and Jake Fox on the 40-man roster as first baseman. What the A’s need is a power hitting outfielder.

Enter Michael Taylor.

The 24-year-old Taylor is a man beast. He hits for average, power, he can run, and knows how to work the count–a lethal combination

In 116 games in 2009 between Double-A and Triple-A, Taylor hit .320 with 20 home runs, 21 stolen bases, and a .944 OPS. He will have a chance to win a starting outfield spot for the A’s in 2010.

I think if I was to give out grades for this trade it would go something like this:

Mariners – A

Phillies – B+

Blue Jays – B-…Giving $6 million to the Phillies is comical.

A’s – B

It will be really fascinating to look back on this trade five years from now. Of course, I will be here to write about it.

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

Royals Sign Former No. 1 Overall Pick, Bryan Bullington

November 24, 2009

The Kansas City Royals made a minor move today, but the player they signed will have an impact on baseball’s amateur draft for years to come.

The Royals signed RHP and the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft Bryan Bullington to a minor-league contract today. Bullington was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and has recently pitched in the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays organizations.

Bullington was the No. 1 pick in 2002

Bullington is the poster boy for everything that is wrong with baseball’s draft and why they desperately need a slotting system like the NBA.

The Pirates drafted Bullington with the No. 1 pick in 2002 for one reason and one reason only: Signability.

Bullington, who was drafted out of Ball State University, was the most signable player at that time. The Pirates took Bullington ahead of more talented players like BJ Upton, Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, Khalil Greene, and Jeff Francouer.

When asked why he took Bullington with the No. 1 pick, Pirates GM Dave Littlefield said at the time “Bullington could be a good No. 3 pitcher.”

Really not something you want to hear about the No.1 overall pick in the draft.

Since Bullington was drafted, he has appeared in a grand total of 13 major league games. In those 13 games he has given up 47 hits and 22 earned runs in 39 innings.

In all fairness to Bullington, he did pitch well after being drafted by the Pirates going 34-17 with a 3.33 ERA in 69 games during his first three seasons.

Bullington hasn’t been the same since he tore his labrum in his pitching shoulder.

Picks like Bullington in 2002 and Matt Bush (San Diego Padres) in 2004 are the greatest examples of why baseball needs a slotting system for their draft. Bad teams need to be able to take the best player available, not the most signable.

Now to Bud Selig’s credit, he has recognized this as a problem in baseball and plans to implement this in the next collective bargaining agreement.

The Royals plan to use Bullington out of the bullpen in the minors. I guess he will never become the No.3 starter he was projected to be.

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

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.

2009 World Series Preview And Prediction

October 28, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees

Schedule

Yankee Stadium

Game One: Wednesday, Oct. 28 7:57 ET. Cliff Lee vs. CC Sabathia

Game Two: Thursday, Oct. 29 7:57 ET. Pedro Martinez vs. AJ Burnett

Citizens Bank Park

Game Three: Saturday, Oct. 31 7:57 ET. Andy Pettitte vs. Cole Hamels

Game Four: Sunday, Nov. 1 8:20 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Five*: Monday, Nov. 2 7:57 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Yankee Stadium

Game Six*: Wednesday, Nov. 4 7:57 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Seven*: Thursday, Nov 5 7:57 ET. TBD vs. TBD

* If necessary

Umpires

Gerry Davis (crew chief), Joe West, Dana DeMuth, Brian Gorman, Mike Everitt, Jeff Nelson

Roster Changes

Phillies – In: Brett Myers. Out: Miguel Cairo

Yankees – In: Eric Hinske, Brian Bruney. Out: Freddy Guzman, Francisco Cervelli

Cliff Lee2

Lee will take the ball in Game One

Matchups

Yankee hitters vs. Lee, Martinez, and Hamels – .269/.327/.444

Philly hitters vs. Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte – .249/.281/.417

Preview

At 7:57 ET tonight, the Phillies and the Yankees will officially begin the 2009 World Series or “The worst case scenario for New York Mets fans.”

Not only do the Mets suffer one of their worst seasons in franchise history, but now they have to watch their hated division rival and hated cross-town rival in the World Series. Talk about a punch to the gut.

Don’t worry Mets fans, you will get through it. As a New York Jets fan, I went through something similar a couple of years ago when the New England Patriots played the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

I rooted for the Giants in that game. I decided there was no way I could ever root for the Patriots under any circumstances. I am getting a sense that most Mets fans are feeling the same way towards the Phillies.

Now let’s talk about the two teams that matter–the Phillies and the Yankees. This will be the first time perhaps since 1999 that the two best teams in baseball are playing each other for the championship.

I have thought long and hard about this series and which direction I want to go. For me, this series comes down to a couple of things.

1. Will the Phillies look like a deer in headlights like the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim did? Let’s be realistic here–the Yankees beat both teams because both teams turned into the Kansas City Royals.

It’s not like the Yankees bludgeoned both teams.

The Yankees will always capitalize on errors and bad baserunning. Their lineup is too good not to.

If the Phillies make the same errors and baserunning mistakes the Twins and Angels did–they will lose this series.

2. Chad Durbin, Chan Ho Park Scott Eyre, and Ryan Madson vs. Phil Hughes, Domaso Marte, Joba Chamberlain, and David Robertson. This series will be determined mainly by the under-belly of the bullpen–not by the closers.

I laugh when people say the Yankees have the advantage in the pen because of Mariano Rivera. Isn’t that the case with every game of every series the Yankees play in?

Saying the Yankees have an advantage because of Rivera, is like saying the Bulls had an advantage at shooting guard with Michael Jordan. It’s a given.

It’s going to be how the pitchers before Rivera fair that will determine the outcome of the game. In particular, Marte.

Girardi was going to Marte over Phil Coke in the ALCS in late inning situations vs. a left-handed batter. With the way Girardi overmanages, 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?

Pedro Phillies

Pedro will go in Game Two

3. Can Pedro Martinez and Cole Hamels step up? If the Phillies are going to win this series, then one of these guys is going to have to step up. Martinez pitched better than anyone expected in Game Two of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Now Martinez is expected to win against the Yankees in Game Two of the World Series. I have my doubts about this move.

Why open up a hornet’s nest by starting Martinez in the Bronx with all his prior history with the Yankees? Martinez is a National League pitcher at this point in his career. Let him start in Game Three or Four against a National League lineup with the pitcher hitting.

If Martinez doesn’t pitch well in Game Two, then the Phillies are going to need Hamels to wake up in Game Three. There is no evidence to suggest that he can.

His fastball is flat, his curveball has no break to it, and his body language on the mound stinks. That’s a recipe for disaster against the Yankees.

4. Will the layoff hurt the Phillies? We saw a long layoff hurt the Detroit Tigers in 2006 and the Colorado Rockies in 2007. The Phillies haven’t played since the 21st.

I think for the Phillies, the layoff won’t matter. Remember, they had a long layoff last year going into the World Series and that didn’t affect them at all.

5. Will Girardi Girardi overmange the Yankees out of a World Series title? If Girardi was overmanaging in an American League game, what is going to happen in those three games in Philadelphia? It might get ugly.

Girardi has been bailed out by Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees’ overall talent. What happens when the Yankees don’t bail him out?

Prediction

I have picked against the Phillies all postseason. I have picked the Yankees all postseason. Everything in me is leaning towards picking the Yankees.

They have the better pitching and they will catch a break someone. The inevitable bad call that favors the Yankees will happen somewhere during the series

I’ll keep my trend going.

Yankees in Six

MVP – Mark Teixeira

Also, for those of you in the New York/Long Island area, I will be on AM 1240 WGBB this Sunday night on Sports Talk Live with Frankie The Sports Guy at 10:30 PM ET.

We’ll be talking about the World Series and some other things that are going on in baseball.

Phillies Destroy Dodgers 10-4, Head Back To World Series

October 22, 2009

Like I said last week, if Chase Utley doesn’t beat you, then Ryan Howard will. If Howard doesn’t beat you, then Raul Ibanez will. And if none of those guys beat you, Jayson Werth will.

Werth hit two HR's last night

Werth hit two HR's last night

Last night, Jayson Werth smacked two HR’s and drove in four runs as the Philadelphia Phillies destroyed the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4 to advance to their second straight World Series.

At some point I am going to realize that I shouldn’t keep betting against the Phillies. I picked the Colorado Rockies to beat them in the NLDS and I picked the Dodgers to beat them in the NLCS. Maybe if I pick the New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim to win the World Series, the Phillies would win?

What I have realized is that what happens in the regular season doesn’t matter for the Phillies. Not only are they a unique bunch because their superstars are their grinders, but they are unique because no matter what happens in the regular season, their players rise up in October.

That my friends, is a winning combination.

Did Jimmy Rollins have the best regular season? No, he didn’t. But he will always get the big hit in October. You can bank on it.

Carlos Ruiz is a nice regular season catcher. In the postseason, he takes his game to another level. Was there a Phillies’ rally in this series he wasn’t a part of?

How about Shane Victorino? In the regular season he had a .358 OBP. In the postseason he is getting on base almost 44 percent of the time. He is having great AB’s.

And of course, how about Brad Lidge? This guy couldn’t save his way out of a paper bag from April to September. Now in five postseason games, he has three saves and a Blutarsky-esque ERA of 0.00.

All these guys just know how to win in October. Did you know the Phillies are 18-5 in their last 23 postseason games? 18-5!!! That is incredible.

As for the Dodgers, this series was over when Jonathan Broxton blew the save in Game 4. And the series was officially over when Vicente Padilla gave up the three-run HR to Werth in the bottom of the first inning.

That HR was game, set, and match.

I think the Dodgers found out what their fatal flaw is in this series. They really need an ace.

They have a nice regular season pitching staff. It’s a staff that could win 85-95 games in the NL West. However, they don’t have that guy who can go out there and give you seven dominant innings on a consistent basis in the postseason.

Chad Billingsley was supposed to be that guy, but he is clearly not at this point. They need to get themselves a Roy Halladay or a John Lackey.

Teams like the Phillies crush mediocre pitching and the Dodgers have mediocre pitchers.

Here are some of my other observations from last night’s game:

I don’t want to hear about Cole Hamels peripherals anymore. The guy is not the same pitcher as he was last year. I was shocked that he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning last night.

James Loney was the only Dodgers’ player to show up for all five games in this series.

Someone should tell George Sherrill that pitching in October in Philadelphia is a lot different from pitching in Baltimore in July.

What was the point of bringing Clayton Kershaw into the game last night?

Chan Ho Park should have never started the eighth inning. He should only be a one inning pitcher. Ryan Madson should have started that inning.

How good was Chad Durbin in this series? He didn’t allow a hit in three innings pitched. Again, another guy who steps up his game in October.

Hero of Game 5 – Jayson Werth

Goat of Game 5 – Vicente Padilla

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans on making the 2009 World Series

Ruiz, Ibanez Power Phillies To Game One Win

October 16, 2009

If Jimmy Rollins doesn’t beat you, then Shane Victorino will beat you. If Victorino doesn’t beat you, then Jayson Werth will beat you. If Werth doesn’t beat you then Chase Utley will beat you. And if none of those guy beat you, Ryan Haward, Raul Ibanez, and Carlos Ruiz will beat you.

That is how deep and powerful the Philadelphia Phillies lineup is. The Los Angeles Dodgers found out first hand how deep the Phillies lineup is in their 8-6 loss in Game One of the NLCS last night.

The Phillies took advantage of seven walks handed out by Dodger pitching as well as some just horrendous managing by Joe Torre to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

This was a weird game because it started off as a pitcher’s duel between Clayton Kershaw and Cole Hamels. Both pitchers looked very sharp early. I was particularly impressed with Kershaw. He had electic stuff through the first four innings.

Kershaw fell apart in the fifth

Kershaw fell apart in the fifth last night

Then the fifth inning happened and this game went from looking like a two hour and 30 minute game, to a game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

Ibanez led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on Kershaw’s first wild pitch of the inning. Pedro Feliz walked and now you have first and second with nobody out for Carlos Ruiz.

Ruiz proceeds to tomahawk a ball about 360 feet over the leftfield wall. Kershaw was cruising through the first four innings and with just one pitch he is down now 3-1.

What a good little player Ruiz is. He is really underrated. He is just another player in a long list of gritty, gutty, gamers the Phillies have.

To put it in perspective how underrated Ruiz is, according to Marc Hulet over at Fangraphs, Ruiz was worth about $10 million to the Phillies this season. His salary for 2009 is around $475,000. Not a bad deal for the Phillies.

Once Ruiz hit that homerun, Kershaw unraveled like Armando Benitez in any pressure situation. Kershaw walked Hamels on four pitches, then got Rollins to hit into a fielder’s choice, and then struck out Victorino on a ball that bounced five feet in front of home plate.

In that sequence, Kerhshaw, channeling his inner Rick Ankiel (Ankiel threw a record five wild pitches in an inning in 2000) threw two more wild pitches. He was done. Toast. Finished.

This is when Torre went into sleep mode. I would have taken Kershaw out before facing Utley. It was clear this kid was rattled and had nothing in the mound.

Torre left Kershaw in to face Utley and he promptly walked the Phillies’ second baseman. After that there is no way on earth I am leaving Kershaw in to face Howard.

It was still a 3-1 game and the way Hamels was pitching up to that point, three runs might have been enough. There is no way Torre can let that game get out of hand.

He had a lefty warming up in the pen in Scott Elbert and a righty warming up in Ramon Troncosco. Torre either has to bring in Elbert to face Howard or he can walk Howard and let Troncosco face Werth.

Either way, Kershaw can’t be pitching to Howard.

Of course, Torre leaves Kershaw in the game and Howard proceeds to rip one down the rightfield line. The game is now 5-1 and Torre was a day late and a dollar short with his decision making.

Not only was that a terrible managerial move by Torre, but there was another part of this game that would have me really concerned about where Torre is mentally this series.

In the bottom of the sixth with two on and two out, Torre called upon Jim Thome to pinch hit. First, I have no problem with Torre going to Thome that early in the game.

Thome is their big gun off the bench and who knows if the Dodgers are going to get another chance like this for the rest of the game. An extra-base hit gives the Dodgers a lead and Thome is their best chance at an extra-base hit off the bench.

Now here comes my issue with Torre and where I would have lost my mind if I was a Dodger fan.

Thome walked and right now he can’t run. He has plantar fasciitis. Everyone seemed to know this except for Torre. Thome gets to first and there is no pinch-runner coming off the bench.

Torre was so asleep at the wheel on this, it was disturbing to watch. Any manager worth his salt plans ahead and goes to someone on the bench “Hey, if he walks or gets on base, you are going to pinch-run.”

It was like Torre was only expecting a HR or a strikeout from Thome. He was completely unprepared for anything else.

The TV camera goes into the Dodgers’ dugout and it appeared Torre was asking Don Mattingly if he could run? Joe, it’s your job to know that.

I will assume Mattingly said no and now they are scrambling for a pinch-runner. Are you kidding me? I could not believe what I was watching.

Torre eventually pointed to Randy Wolf, who had that “Who me?” look on his face. Wolf had to down to the dugout and put on cleats, which proved Torre had not prepared for the situation.

It was a complete clown show.

Wake up Torre!!! You are not in the American League and you are not in Yankeeland anymore. You actually have to work in the National League and make decisions.

You were embarrassed in Game Four in last year’s NLCS (the Matt Stairs game) and you were embarrassed in Game One of this year’s NLCS.

Dodger fans can’t be too pleased with what they have seen from Torre.

Even with Torre in never-never land the Dodgers still had their chances in this game. Down 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers had Andre Ethier on second with nobody out.

Then Chan Ho Park entered the game. Park came into the game looking like a guy who just on vacation for a month. He had that “I don’t give a darn about anything” beard going and looked extremely relaxed.

He looked like Vincent Chase when he disappeared on that island during last season’s Entourage. Park came into the game throwing bullets.

Park got Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Casey Blake 1-2-3 and the Phillies had the lead. That inning was huge. Enough can’t be said about Park’s effort in Game One.

Ibanez put the icing on the cake

Ibanez put the icing on the cake

The Phillies got three insurance runs in the top of the eighth on a Raul Ibanez three-run HR off of George Sherrill. Some interesting notes about that inning.

Sherrill walked the first two batters of the inning. Up until that inning, Sherrill had never walked the first two batters of an inning in his career. The last HR Sherrill gave up to a left-handed hitter was on June 14, 2008 to Adam LaRoche.

Ryan Madson did his best to cough up the lead in the bottom of the frame, but limited the damage to just two runs. With the Phillies up 8-6, Brad Lidge came into the game to close the Dodgers out.

This was a long, but entertaining game. The Phillies will try to take a 2-0 series lead today and will have Pedro Martinez going to mound.

The Dodgers will counter with Vicente Padilla. This is a must win game for the Dodgers.

Hero for Game One – Chan Ho Park

Goat for Game One – Joe Torre

Series MVP – Raul Ibanez

Game Three is today at 4:07 ET

National League Championship Series Preview And Pediction

October 15, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Best-of-seven series

Game One: Thursday, Oct. 15 8:07 ET. Cole Hamels vs. Clayton Kershaw

Game Two: Friday, Oct. 16 4:07 ET. TBD vs. Vicente Padilla

Game Three: Sunday, Oct. 18 8:07 ET. Hiroki Kuroda vs. Cliff Lee

Game Four: Monday, Oct. 19 8:07 ET. Randy Wolf vs. TBD

Game Five*: Wednesday, Oct. 21 8:07 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Six*: Friday, Oct. 23 8:07 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Seven*: Saturday, Oct 24 8:07 ET. TBD vs TBD

*If necessary

Prediction: Here we go again. Last year, these two team met in the NLCS with the Phillies winning in five games. In the National League, there have only been two times where teams met in back-to-back NLCS’s. Each time, the team that won the year before, won the next year.

So history says the Phillies will once again be playing in the World Series. While some might use the phrase “history repeats itself,” I will use the phrase “there is a first time for everything.”

I believe the Dodgers will win this series.

Here are five reasons why I like the Dodgers:

Hamels hasn't been right all year

Hamels hasn't been right all year

5. Cole Hamels is not Cole Hamels. At some point we are going to have to realize that Hamels is not the same pitcher he was last year. With every start we were hoping he would turn it around, but it just never happened this year.

There is no evidence to suggest that Hamels is going to turn it around in this series. John Kruk on ESPN said that Hamels didn’t pitch well against the Colorado Rockies in Game Two because his he and his wife were expecting a baby.

Well, what was the excuse for the last six months?

4. I think Manny Ramirez has a big series. Ramirez looked as clueless as I have ever seen him look in that final weekend series against the Rockies. He didn’t do much the first two games of the NLDS either, but then had a huge Game Three against the Cardinals.

I just have a feeling that Game Three was a sign of things to come.

3. The Dodgers have home-field advantage. This postseason is shaping up to be a home-field advantage postseason. All four teams that had home-field advantage in the first round won. I think that trend carries over in this series.

The difference between last year’s series and this years is that the Dodgers will have that extra game at home. Despite the lack of fan support (I’ll get to that in a minute), the Dodgers play very well at home.

2. The Dodgers’ bullpen. The Dodgers’ bullpen is the difference in this series. The one-two punch of George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton can make any game in this series a seven inning game.

I also like the fact that if any of the Dodgers’ starters get in trouble early, they have two guys who can give quality innings in long relief–Jeff Weaver and Chad Billingsley. That is something the Phillies don’t have.

Kershaw will start Game 1

Kershaw will start Game 1 for the Dodgers

1. Kershaw is to the Dodgers what Bret Saberhagen was to the Kansas City Royals in 1985. In 1985, Saberhagen was a 21-year-old prodigy who led the Royals to a World Series championship.

I really believe Kershaw, who is also 21 by the way, has that type of ability. Not only does Kershaw possess nasty stuff, but I think he can carry the Dodgers’ rotation on his back if need be.

I love the fact that Kershaw is starting Game One. Kershaw had a 1.83 ERA at home this year and I expect him to pitch very well in this series.

Dodgers in six

MVP – Clayton Kershaw

Now let me talk about the Dodger fans. As of 9:21 pm ET last night, there were plenty of good seats available for Game’s One and Two at Dodger Stadium. I went to Ticketmaster, put in for best seats available, and plenty of seats were available for purchase.

That is pathetic.

You can’t sniff a playoff ticket for face value in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, or St. Louis. Even the Tampa Bay Rays sold out in their ALCS in five minutes last year.

Just a terrible job by Dodger fans. No excuse for that.

Phillies-Rockies Postpone Game Three

October 10, 2009

Game Three of the Philadelphia Phillies-Colorado Rockies playoff on Saturday night has been postponed because of cold, snowy weather.

Major League Baseball rescheduled the game for Sunday night at 10:07 p.m. ET, and Game Four was pushed back to Monday. Game Five, if necessary, will be played as scheduled on Tuesday in Philadelphia, without a day off for travel.

The NL Division Series is tied at one game each.

A cold front moved into Denver overnight, dropping temperatures into the teens with record lows for the date. Coors Field was covered with a thin layer of snow and ice Saturday morning and flurries were expected to continue through the night.

Who does this postponement favor? Clearly the Phillies. Instead of using either JA Happ or Joe Blanton in Game Four, Charlie Manuel can now use Cliff Lee on full rest in Game Four.

Manuel can come back with Cole Hamels on full rest for Game Five as well.