Posts Tagged ‘Shane Victorino’

Phillies Handing Out Extensions Like Candy

January 25, 2010

I am going to admit, I am writing this post in a very bad mood. As many of you know, I am a New York Jets fan. I have had season tickets for the past seven years and yesterday’s loss was a killer for me.

I wasn’t as confident going into this game as I was going into the 1998 AFC Championship Game, but confident none-the-less. In 1998, the Jets lost to an all-world (at the time) running back in Terrell Davis and a Hall of Fame quarterback in John Elway.

Yesterday, the Jets lost to another Hall of Fame QB, Peyton Manning. When people ask me the greatest QB I have ever seen play, the answer I always give is Joe Montana. Manning is doing his best to change my mind.

As the great Joe Benigno always says “Oh the pain, the pain, the pain.”

Now on the matter or post at hand.

The Philadelphia Phillies have had themselves quite the busy offseason. They have signed free agents (Placido Polanco, Danys Baez), made trades (Roy Halladay), and now they are taking care of their own.

Over the last week, the Phillies have signed three players to contract extensions. The Phillies are taking a page out of the old Cleveland Indians’ playbook in the early 90’s when they were locking up all of their talent to contract extensions.

Let’s take a look at who the Phillies locked up, their contracts, and whether or not those extensions make sense.

Carlos Ruiz: Three-years, $8.85 million.

I absolutely love, love, love this extension for the Phillies. Last year, Ruiz set a career high in home runs with nine and OPS with a .780 mark. But that is not the reason I love this deal.

Ruiz is one of those glue guys that every team needs. Ruiz raises his game in the postseason (career .303 hitter) and doesn’t it always seem he is in the middle of every big rally the Phillies have in October?

Ruiz also catches a very good game. Watching him in the last couple of postseasons, Ruiz has developed a good rapport with the Phillies’ pitching staff and usually makes the right pitch selection in a big spot.

Good extension by the Phillies

Shane Victorino: Three-years, $22 million.

Again, this is a very good extension by the Phillies. According to Fangraphs, Victorino was worth about $33.5 million to the Phillies over the last two years. Roughly $17 million a year.

I would smile too if I just got $24MM

To give a player around $7 million a year, who gives your team $17 million in value, is a pretty good deal in my opinion. Victorino, who was acquired by Philadelphia in the 2004 Rule 5 Draft from the Los Angeles Dodgers, can do it all for the Phillies.

Victorino finished in the top-10 in 2009 in triples (first), hits (eighth), doubles (ninth), and stolen bases (ninth). Though he slipped a little in 2009, Victorino is also a pretty solid center fielder.

So far the Phillies are two-for-two in their contract extensions.

Joe Blanton: Three-years, $24 million.

This extension I am going to have to question. I don’t mind the money per years that the Phillies are giving Blanton, but why give him three years?

If Blanton was a free agent this offseason, he would get a one or at the most, a two-year deal. Joel Pineiro is a pretty comparable pitcher and he got a two-year deal. No reason for the Phillies to go three years with Blanton.

Blanton last year was 12-8 with a 4.09 ERA with 163 K’s and a 1.32 WHIP in 195.1 innings. He will be 33 when his three-year contract expires.

So as Meatloaf once said “Two out of three ain’t bad.” With the Phillies locking up most of their top talent for years to come, they have established themselves as the team to beat in the National League for at least the next three years.

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

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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

Recapping The Rule 5 Draft

December 11, 2009

Today, Major League Baseball held its annual Rule 5 Draft. The Rule 5 Draft takes place around this time every year at the Baseball Winter Meetings.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Rule 5 Draft, here is a great overview courtesy of Baseball America’s Alan Schwarz:

“Major league teams must protect players on their 40-man rosters within three or four years of their original signing. Those left unprotected are available to other teams as Rule 5 picks.

“Players who were 18 or younger on June 5 preceding the signing of their first contract must be protected after four minor league seasons. Players 19 and older must be protected after three seasons.

“But here’s the kicker: To prevent teams from drafting players willy-nilly, each Rule 5 pick must be kept in the major leagues the entire following season or be offered back to his former team for half of the $50,000 selection price. Few players are ready for such a jump, so only about 10-15 get picked each year. Fewer still last the whole season in the big leagues.

Now you might be thinking why would I care about a draft were the players aren’t good enough to make a team’s 40-man roster? Well, you should care because some of the best players in the game today were taken in the Rule 5 Draft.

Santana was a Rule 5 Draft pick

Johan Santana, Joakim Soria, Shane Victorino, Josh Hamilton, and Dan Uggla are all current players who were taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Past players who were taken include All Stars George Bell, Kelly Gruber, Bobby Bonilla, and Roberto Clemente.

So as you can see, a team can definitely find a diamond in the rough in this draft.

Here is a recap of the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft:

1. Washington Nationals: Jamie Hoffmann, OF. Drafted from Los Angeles Dodgers

2. Pittsburgh Pirates: John Raynor, OF. Drafted from Florida Marlins

3. Baltimore Orioles: Benjamin Snyder, LHP. Drafted from San Francisco Giants

4. Kansas City Royals: Edgar Osuna, LHP. Drafted from Atlanta Braves

5. Cleveland Indians: Hector Ambriz, RHP. Drafted from Arizona Diamondbacks

6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Zachery Kroenke, LHP. Drafted from New York Yankees

7. New York Mets: Carlos Monasterios, RHP. Drafted from Philadelphia Phillies

8. Houston Astros: Jorge Jimenez, 3B. Drafted from Boston Red Sox

9. Oakland A’s: Robert Cassevah, RHP. Drafted from Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

10. Toronto Blue Jays: Zechry Zinicola, RHP. Drafted from Washington Nationals

11. Milwaukee Brewers: Chuck Lofgren, LHP. Drafted from Cleveland Indians

12. Chicago Cubs: Michael Parisi, RHP. Drafted from St. Louis Cardinals

13. Tampa Bay Rays: Armando Zerpa, LHP. Drafted from Boston Red Sox

14. Seattle Mariners: Kenekoa Texeira, RHP. Drafted from New York Yankees

15. San Francisco Giants: Steven Johnson, RHP. Drafted from Baltimore Orioles

16. St. Louis Cardinals: Ben Jukich, LHP. Drafted from Cincinnati Reds

17. Philadelphia Phillies: David Herndon, RHP. Drafted from Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

A couple of notes about this draft:

– Not every team had a pick because not every team had an open spot on the 40-man roster.

– The Red Sox, Yankees, and Angels had the most players taken with two each.

– The Rule 5 Draft is usually pitching centric and this year was no different. Out of the 17 picks, 14 were pitchers.

– Jamie Hoffmann was traded by the Nationals to the Yankees to complete the Brian Bruney trade.

– Benjamin Snyder was traded by the Orioles to the Rangers to complete the Kevin Millwood trade.

– Jorge Jimenez was traded by the Astros to the Marlins to complete the Matt Lindstrom trade.

– You can find the Triple-A and Double-A phase of the draft here.

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.

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.

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

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

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