Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy Rollins’

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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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

10 Things We Learned About Baseball In October

November 3, 2009

Not only is October the best month on the baseball calendar, it’s also the busiest. Besides the playoffs, you have general managers being fired and hired, you have managers being fired and hired, and you already start to hear some free agent and trade rumblings.

This October was no different. Let’s take a look at 10 things we learned about baseball in October.

10. Kevin Towers and JP Ricciardi were let go. When a team doesn’t win two things happen. 1. The manager gets fired or 2. The general manager gets fired.

In San Diego and Toronto–the general managers were fired.

Towers spent 14 seasons as the San Diego Padres’ GM and they have won four division titles and made one World Series appearance (1998) under his stewardship.

I wasn’t in favor of this move when it happened. Towers can be the GM of my team any day of the week and twice on Sunday. He knows how to get the job done.

Ricciardi was let go by the Toronto Blue Jays after serving as their GM since 2001. The Blue Jays never won more than 87 games and only finished above third once with Ricciardi as the GM.

If you fire someone, then you need a replacement…

9. Jed Hoyer and Alex Anthopoulos will be making the decisions in San Diego and Toronto. The Padres hired Boston Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer to replace the above mentioned Towers.

Jed Hoyer

Hoyer is the new GM of the Padres

Hoyer joined the Red Sox front office at age 28, where he helped to build Boston’s rosters and assisted in contract negotiations.

In 2005, when Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino had a lover’s quarrel and Epstein took a ten week hiatus, Hoyer along with Craig Shipley, Bill Lajoie, and Ben Cherington took over the GM duties for the Red Sox.

Anthopoulos takes over for Ricciardi in Toronto on an interim basis.

While Hoyer and Anthopoulos take over as general managers…

8. Manny Acta and Brad Mills were hired as managers. Mills was hired to be the next manager of the Houston Astros. Mills replaces Cecil Cooper who was fired with 13 games left in the season. Former Astros manager Phil Garner and interim manager Dave Clark were finalists for the position.

Mills has spent the last six seasons as the bench coach for Terry Francona and the Boston Red Sox.

Acta was hired by the Cleveland Indians to be their next manager. The Indians signed Acta to a three-year deal with a club option for 2013.

This will be Acta’s second managerial stint. His first one, as we all know was with the Washington Nationals from 2007-2009. Acta was 158-252 with the Nationals and was relieved of his duties in July.

As manager of the Astros, Mills will be squaring off against this guy in St. Louis…

7. Tony LaRussa will be back as St. Louis Cardinals manager. The Cardinals and manager Tony LaRussa have agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011. The Cardinals also got good news when pitching coach Dave Duncan agreed to return to the team as well.

But the big shock was the announcement of Mark McGwire as hitting coach. McGwire will replace Hal McRae as the Cardinals’ hitting coach.

While the Cardinals were making news, the team they beat in the 2006 World Series made news of another kind…

6. The Detroit Tigers suffered an epic collapse. The Tigers had everything going for them headed into the last week of the season. They were playing at home, they were playing a Chicago White Sox team whose season was over, and they were three games up on the Minnesota Twins with four games to go.

Despite all that, the Tigers couldn’t hold on the AL Central lead. The Tigers lost two-out-of-three to the White Sox and the Twins swept the Kansas City Royals.

Those results forced this…

5. The Tigers and Twins played an all-time classic. The Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings in a one-game playoff to clinch the American League Central title. For four-hours and thirty-seven minutes in this epic classic there were no salaries, no free agency, no arbitration, and no steroids.

This game was about two teams playing their guts out and leaving everything on field. The Twins and Tigers not only captured the 58,088 screaming fans in the Metrodome, but they captured millions watching at home.

They captured four friends, who weren’t Twins or Tigers fan, but were so into the game that they were texting back and forth on practically every situation that occurred. We all knew we were watching one of the best games we ever saw.

This was just an amazing game. A true classic and a game which reminded us what is great about the game of baseball.

The Twins win allowed them to go to the postseason…

4. The 2009 postseason has given us a lot of memorable moments. Every year the postseason gives us memories that last a lifetime. The 2009 postseason has been no different.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finally exercised their postseason demons by beating the Boston Red Sox.

Matt Holliday’s dropped flyball against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Two of the NLDS opened the floodgates for the Dodgers.

Alex Rodriguez, doing his best Reggie Jackson imitation leading the New York Yankees to the World Series.

CC Sabathia finally putting his past postseason failures behind him and being worth every penny.

Jimmy Rollins walk-off double off of Jonathan Broxton shattering the dreams of the Dodgers.

Cliff Lee carrying the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff throughout October.

While on one end there is triumph in the postseason, on the other end there is heartache…

3. It’s been a rough postseason for closers. 10 blown saves (the 11th happened on Sunday night) in the postseason by closers through October 31st.

papelbon

Even Papelbon blew a save in this postseason

Everyone thinks closers aren’t important until they blow a game in a big spot. Huston Street, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Brian Fuentes, Ryan Franklin, and Broxton all imploded at one point this postseason.

Only Brad Lidge and Mariano Rivera didn’t blow a save through the first two rounds of the playoffs. It’s no coincidence that the teams they represent are in the World Series.

While the closers were one story of this postseason, the big story has been…

2. Bad umpiring has plagued the 2009 postseason. Major League Baseball just can’t win. It’s always something.

This postseason, the umpires have come under tremendous fire for missing calls, which has prompted many to call for more instant replay in baseball.

It seems like every game this postseason the umpires were missing calls. And these weren’t bang-bang calls–these were blatantly obvious calls.

But despite all the bad calls by the umpires, this has been a fabulous postseason. And all roads in the postseason lead to this…

1. The Phillies or the Yankees will be world champions. For the first time in maybe 10 years, the two best teams will be playing in the World Series.

The Phillies took Game One behind a complete game, 10 strike out performance from Cliff Lee. Chase Utley provided the offense with two homeruns off of Sabathia.

The Yankees evened the series at one behind a brilliant performance from AJ Burnett. Hideki Matsui’s homerun off of Pedro Martinez in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie.

The Yankees overcame a 3-0 deficit thanks to a two-run HR from Alex Rodriguez and some timely hitting by Johnny Damon to take a 2-1 series lead.

It’s very rare a World Series champion isn’t crowned in October, but this is an unusual year thanks to the World Baseball Classic. We will just have to wait to November to crown a champion.

November will be the final month of the baseball. Come back on December to get a recap of the World Series and all the award winners 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

Jimmy Rollins Gives Phillies 3-1 Series Lead

October 20, 2009

Closer Jonathan Broxton was called upon to get four outs last night for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Broxton was only able to record three outs.

Rollins' walk-off double off Broxton

Rollins' walk-off double off Broxton

Jimmy Rollins’ double off of Broxton with two-on and two-out in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Philadelphia Phillies a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Dodgers last night and sent the 46, 157 fans who packed Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy.

The Phillies now lead their best-of-seven series with the Dodgers 3-1.

The Phillies are a unique bunch because their superstars are their gamers. Their superstars are their girtty, dirtdogs, who not only do the little things to win, but get the big hits when the moment is presented.

That is very rare in baseball. The New York Yankees had that in the mid-90’s, the Boston Red Sox have it now with Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedrioia, and the Phillies certainly have it now with Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley.

As soon as Rollins stepped into the batter’s box in the ninth inning, you just had that feeling that he was going to come through. But the reality is–Rollins should have never had that chance to begin with.

With one out and nobody on, Charlie Manuel called on Matt Stairs to pinch-hit for Pedro Feliz. It’s amazing how one moment can scar a franchise for life.

Stairs is clearly in the Dodgers’ heads. He is the reason the Dodgers went out and got Jim Thome and his HR off of Broxton in Game 5 of last year’s NLCS has turned him into Ted Williams in the Dodgers’ eyes.

Why Broxton, one of the best closers in the game is pitching around Stairs with nobody on base is beyond me. I understand Stairs can tie the game with one swing of the bat and he beat you last year with a HR. But last year is last year and if you are supposed to be a top-five closer, you shouldn’t fear anyone–period.

Stairs was a .194 hitter during the season for a reason.

Worst case scenario for the Dodgers is that Stairs hits a HR and the game is tied. Now you have a runner on base and with one swing of the bat, you can lose the game.

Then things start to unravel for Broxton and the Dodgers.

Broxton then plunks Carlos Ruiz and then the crowd really got into it. The fans at Citizens Bank Park really make it hard for an opposing pitcher. They are right on top of him.

Broxton got Greg Dobbs to pop out to third and that is when Rollins came to the plate. Like I said earlier, as soon as Rollins came to the plate you just had a feeling he was going to do something.

On a 1-1 pitch, Rollins took a 99 mph fastball and ripped it into the right-center field gap. The ball rolled to the wall, Eric Bruntlet, who was running for Stairs and Ruiz scored, and just like that the Dodgers had their hearts ripped out from their chests.

This was just a crushing loss for the Dodgers. They had done everything to win this game.

Randy Wolf pitched very well for 5 1/3 innings, they got some good clutch hitting from James Loney and Casey Blake, and Hong-Chih Kuo pitched really well in relief.

But at the end of the day, Broxton couldn’t get the job done. Now the Dodgers’ season is on life support.

I think today’s day off actually helps the Dodgers. I think if they would have come back and played today, they would have been crushed in Game 5.

The day off will allow the Dodgers to catch their breath a little bit and give them a chance to regroup.

I expect the Dodgers to play well in Game 5, but I don’t see them coming out of Philadelphia with a win.

Hero for Game 4 – Jimmy Rollins

Goat for Game 4 – Jonathan Broxton

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

Game 5 is Wednesday at 8:07

Phillies’ Offense, Cliff Lee Dismantle Dodgers

October 19, 2009

Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda was suffering from a herniated disk in his neck.

After last night’s performance in Philadelphia, he might be suffering from whiplash as well.

Kuroda was torched last night for six runs in one-and-a-third innings as the Phillies beat the Dodgers going away 11-0 to take a 2-1 advantage in their best-of-seven series.

If you are a mediocre pitcher and make mediocre pitches–the Phillies will crush you. It’s as simple as that. The Phillies’ offense is too good to be shut down by a guy who was throwing Double A stuff.

Kuroda had nothing last night as the Phillies smacked him around all over the field. Ryan Howard got the  scoring started early with a two-run triple in the first. Believe it or not, Howard actually had four triples during the regular season, so this wasn’t that big of a shock.

If Howard’s triple didn’t shock Kuroda, then the next batter did. Jayson Werth, who is having his national coming out party, blasted a two-run HR over the centerfield fence to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead.

Things didn’t get better for Kuroda in the second as Carlos Ruiz started off the inning with a double and he came around to score on a Jimmy Rollins double of his own. Kuroda was lifted and the game was essentially over.

Why was this game over at that point? The game was over because Cliff Lee just dominated the Dodgers’ lineup.

Lee allowed just three hits, struckout 10, and didn’t allow a run in eight incredible innings of work. In three postseason season starts, Lee has allowed two earned runs and has struckout 20 in 24.1 innings of work.

Lee dominated the Dodgers last night

Lee dominated the Dodgers last night

So much for not having “postseason experience.”

Having “postseason experience” is one of the most overrated things in sports. Having post season experience or no postseason experience has no bearing on the outcome of the game that is played that day.

I can give you a countless number of players who have had years upon years of experience in the postseason, who have failed and I can give you a countless number of players who have had zero postseason experience, who have dominated.

It’s all about the performance of today–not five years ago.

And today, Lee is performing at a very high level. How dominant was Lee yesterday against the Dodgers? Lee faced 26 batters and only three times did batters have a 2-0 or 3-1 count.

As a batter, you can’t be aggressive if you are constantly behind in the count.

Now, if you are the Dodgers you really have to ask yourself if you want to bring back Kuroda if there is a Game Six? Joe Torre’s other option would be Chad Billingsley.

Billingsley allowed two runs on two hits in three-and-a-third innings of work last night. He only threw 57 pitches, so if Torre wants to bring him back for Game Six, he should be plenty rested.

The Dodgers will have Randy Wolf going tonight. I actually think Wolf will pitch well tonight.Very rarely does a team get blown out two games in a row in the postseason.

If he doesn’t, the Dodgers might not make it back to play in L.A.

Hero for Game Three – Cliff Lee

Goat for Game Three – Hiroki Kuroda

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

Game Four is tonight at 8:07 ET.

Huston We Have A Problem: Phillies Stun Rockies In Ninth

October 13, 2009

Anyone who has read the book Moneyball knows that one of the basic theories or principles of Billy Beane and Bill James is that any pitcher can be a closer. They feel that you can pull anyone off the street and they could pick up saves.

We saw this theory or principal work this year with guys like Heath Bell, JP Howell, and Ryan Franklin.

However, I have always disagreed with this theory or principal to an extent. I say to an extent because I agree that anyone can close a game…in the regular season.

Any yodel can close a game in June against the Arizona Diamondbacks or the Kansas City Royals. However, it takes a special person to close out a game in the postseason. Not just anyone can close out a game in October.

The Colorado Rockies found that out first-hand last night.

In what was just a wonderful baseball game, the Philadelphia Phillies scored three runs with two outs in the ninth inning off of closer Huston Street to defeat the Rockies 5-4 and win their best-of-five series 3-1.

The late inning disaster by Street (we’ll get to that in a bit) overshadowed what was an old fashioned pitchers duel for the majority of the game. Starters Cliff Lee and Ubaldo Jimenez matched each other pitch-for-pitch for seven innings.

Street had a meltdown last night

Street had a meltdown last night

Jimenez made just two mistakes in seven innings. He gave up a solo homerun in the first to Shane Victorino and another solo homerun to Jayson Werth on a serious hanger in the sixth.

This game was 2-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth and then the Rockies came alive.

Thanks to some unbelievable jumping ability by Dexter Fowler, the Rockies had first and second with one out. Charlie Manuel called upon Ryan Madson to get out of the jam.

Madson got Troy Tulowitzki to fly out to left. Ben Francisco, who just entered the game for defense made a great diving catch to get the out.

Jason Giambi, who was pinch-hitting for Garrett Atkins came through with a single to left to tie the game. Yorvit Torrealba then came up and he hit a rope to right center. Todd Helton and Jason Giambi scored and the Rockies had a 4-2 lead.

Then Street came in.

Street was shaky in Game Two, he was shaky in Game Three, and he was ultra-shaky in Game Four. Street struckout Gregg Dobbs to start the inning. Then he allowed an infield single to Jimmy Rollins and then got Victorino to hit into a fielder’s choice.

And then this is where Street fell apart.

When I pitched, I always had a theory about nibbling: Nibbling leads to walks and walks lead to big innings. By nibbling, you also told the hitter that your best stuff as a pitcher couldn’t get him out.

When you nibble and try to make that perfect pitch, a pitcher has a tendency to “aim” the ball. That is what Street did last night. He tried to make that perfect to Chase Utley, nibbled, and ended up walking the Phillies’ second baseman.

Street was scared to throw the ball over the plate. He didn’t believe his best stuff could get Utley out in that situation.

Now with runners on first and second, Ryan Howard came to the plate. Then I saw Street do something and at that point, I knew the Rockies were in trouble.

With Victorino now on second, Street did one of those fake throws to second to try to keep Victorino close. At that point it was all over for Street.

One, where is Victorino going? Do you honestly think he is going to steal third with Howard at the plate? If he would have gotten thrown out at third to end the game, people in Philadelphia would have burned his house down.

And two, if Victorino wants to steal third–let him. His run doesn’t matter. What that told me was that Street was avoiding throwing the ball and his concentration wasn’t 100 percent on Howard.

So what happens? Street misses his spot by at least six inches and Howard laces a game-tying, two-run double to tie the game. If your concentration is not 100 percent focused on Howard, he is going to kill you every time.

Jayson Werth came up next and flared a single to right center and just like that the Phillies had the lead.

The Rockies tried to make a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, but for the second night in a row, Brad Lidge got Tulowitzki to end the game. This time Lidge got Tulowitzki on a wicked slider down and away.

So no Billy Beane and Bill James–not just any old pitcher can close out a game. It takes a very, very, very special pitcher to close out a game in October.

Unfortunately for the Rockies, they didn’t have that special person.

The Phillies will play the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. Game One is set for Thursday. I will be previewing this series tomorrow

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

Awful Umpiring Help Phillies Take Game Three

October 12, 2009

I would like to first off thank the inventor of DVR. It really is one of the best inventions ever. It allows to watch shows, programs on sporting events on your time.

Last night I used this wonderful invention to record Game Three of the Philadelphia Phillies-Colorado Rockies series last night. With the game starting at 10:00 ET, there was no way I was staying up to watch this game.

I watched the first four innings last night, woke up this morning, and watched the remaining five innings. Truly fantastic.

While DVR allows you to watch everything you want to see, it allows you to watch things you have no interest in seeing during the show, program, or sporting event. Things like–more awful, hideous, terrible, inexcusable umpiring.

What the heck is going on with the umpiring during these playoffs? It has been truly terrible. I think the home plate umpiring has been okay. For the most part, the home plate umpires have been consistent with their umpiring

But the issue is–they are missing obvious calls. And it is happening time and time again throughout these playoffs. As much as I would hate to see all forms of instant replay in baseball, I really think Bud Selig and his band of merry owners are going to have to start to give it some serious consideration moving forward.

Last night was a perfect example of the umpires missing the obvious calls. In the top of the ninth, with the game tied at five, Chase Utley came to the plate with one out and Jimmy Rollins on second.

Utley hit a ball that went off his leg in the batter’s box and then rolled into fair territory. Utley was able to beat the ball out for an infield single.

However, not only did the ball hit him in the batter’s box which is a foul ball, but Utley was out at first base as well. Not did the umpires get the call wrong once, but they compounded the issue by getting the call wrong a second time.

As you can see Utley is clearly out

As you can see Utley is clearly out

Two terrible calls on the same play. Rollins advanced to third on the play and then the Phillies took advantage of the situation when Ryan Howard hit a sac fly to give the Phillies the lead.

I hate to harp on bad umpiring because it really overshadowed what was a really good game. And despite this game being played in 30 degree weather, it really was a good game.

In a back-and-forth game, the difference at the end was the backend of the Phillies bullpen. Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge didn’t allow a hit for the last three innings and really shut the Rockies down.

With both starters being completely useless–JA Happ and Jason Hammel, you knew this game was not only going to come down to the underbelly of the bullpens, but the backend as well.

Lidge got the save last night

Lidge got the save last night

Madson, Durbin, and yes, Lidge all got the job done. And let’s give somewhat credit to Lidge. I don’t care how much of a Philly homer you are, when Lidge walked Carlos Gonzalez (the best player so far in this series on either team) you had to being thinking here we go again.

Then he walked Todd Helton with two outs and then about four million Phillies fans said “I can’t watch right now.” But Lidge got his act together and managed to get Troy Tulowitzki to pop out to end the game.

I said somewhat credit earlier because Lidge really threw a hanger to Tulowitzki. That last pitch was made to be hit 450 feet. Tulowitzki just missed it.

But the bottom line is this–one inning, no runs, no hits, and a save for Lidge in a tight game. The Phillies and their fans aren’t interested in style points, they are interested in results.

The result was a 6-5 Phillies win and a 2-1 advantage in the series.

Game Four is tonight at 6:07 ET. Charlie Manuel should be thanking Mother Nature for the rest of his life. Because of the snow out, Manuel can come back with Cliff Lee tonight and if necessary, Cole Hammels tomorrow.

I am convinced Manuel had no idea who he was going to start in Game Four. Now he gets to come back with Lee. Not a bad deal for the Phillies.

Rockies Win Game Two: Leave Philadelphia With A Split

October 9, 2009

The Colorado Rockies traveled to Philadelphia with one goal in mind: Leave the city of brotherly love with at least one win.

Mission accomplished.

The Rockies beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4 yesterday in a nail bitter to even up their best-of-five series at one game apiece. This was a fascinating game to watch unfold.

This game reminded me a lot of a last week’s University of Washington-Notre Dame football game. Washington had tons of opportunities to put that game away late with touchdowns, but kept settling for field goals. They let Notre Dame stay in the game and in came back to haunt them.

Notre Dame eventually won the game in overtime.

That is how I thought this game would end. The Rockies had so many opportunities in the later innings to put this game away, that when they let the Phillies hang around, I thought the Phillies would steal it late.

But unlike Notre Dame, the Phillies didn’t have the luck of the Irish.

The Rockies jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind Yorvit Torrealba’s two-run homerun and some solid pitching from starter Aaron Cook. Torrealba had himself a great game yesterday. He played winning baseball all game both offensively and defensively.

The Phillies came back with three runs of their own in the sixth inning to make it 4-3. Raul Ibanez highlighted the inning with a two-run single off of reliever Jose Contreras.

I still haven’t figured out why Contreras pitched to Ibanez in that spot.

The Rockies then had opportunities to break this game open in the seventh and eighth innings and failed to do so. They had bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh and only scored one run. They had bases loaded and one out in the eighth and failed to score.

The eighth inning annoyed me more than the seventh inning though. With one out and the bases loaded, Clint Barmes came to the plate against Brett Myers. Myers was all over the place yesterday and yes, I am convinced he hit Troy Tulowitzki on purpose.

Myers couldn’t throw a strike to save his life and what does Barmes do? He swings at two pitches out of the strikezone and grounds to third for a forceout. I like Barmes, but that was one awful at-bat.

The Rockies had the Phillies on the ropes so bad that Charlie Manuel used potential Game Three and Four starters Joe Blanton and JA Happ in relief yesterday. I think Manuel at his old age forgot their were more games left in this series. But the Rockies could never deliver the knockout blow.

Jayson Werth’s homerun in the eighth made it 5-4 and then I was convinced the Phillies would somehow steal this game. The Phillies even got two on with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against closer Huston Street.

But Street got Shane Victorino to line weakly to Barmes to end the game. I will say this about Street–he was lucky to get out of that inning with a win. He threw some pitches to Matt Stairs and Jimmy Rollins that were meatballs.

Game Three is scheduled for Saturday at 9:37 ET. However, this game might get frozen out because it’s supposed to be like 14 degrees in Denver on Saturday night. Of course, I will keep you posted to any changes made to the playoff schedule

The Champs Are Back: Philadelphia Phillies Clinch Playoff Spot

October 1, 2009

The defending World Series champions are back to defend their crown.

With their 10-3 victory over the Houston Astros, the Philadelphia Phillies clinched a spot in the 2009 postseason and their third straight NL East division title.

The Phillies have become, from top to bottom, one of the best run organizations in baseball. If you are looking to build an organization, the Phillies have a great blueprint for success.

Here’s the blueprint…

  • Draft a solid core like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley.
  • Surround that core with solid gamers like Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino.
  • Add players when needed like Raul Ibanez and Joe Blanton.
  • Build up your farm system so you can trade for players at the trading deadline like Cliff Lee.

That’s a pretty solid blueprint if you ask me. Despite their solid blueprint for success, the Phillies have a lot of questions going into the postseason. The questions mainly surround their bullpen.

Going into tonight, I was all prepared to suggest that Manager Charlie Manuel pitch Pedro Martinez in Game 4 and use JA Happ as the closer. Brad Lidge is toast this year and I think Ryan Madson is too good in the eighth to be removed from that role.

Happ could be to the Phillies this year what Adam Wainwright was for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. But after watching Martinez pitch last night, I am not so sure Martinez can start a playoff game for the Phillies.

Martinez had absolutely nothing against the Astros. His fastball was between 87-89 mph and it looked like Martinez was struggling to even get it to that speed. What on earth were the Phillies thinking letting Martinez throw 130 pitches against the New York Mets on September 13th?

That’s like not going to the gym for six months and the first time you go back you run a mile on the treadmill. Surprisingly, you feel great and when you go back the next time, instead of taking it easy again — you run five miles.

Chances are you won’t be the same and Martinez hasn’t been the same since.

I think at this point, the Phillies will have to go with Happ in Game 4 and take their chances with Madson or Lidge closing out the ninth.

The Phillies have a very good chance to repeat as champions. Now it’s up to their bullpen to make it happen.