Posted on: July 11, 2009 2:22 pm
Rumors continue to swirl about the Phillies acquiring Roy Halladay from Toronto. Blue Jays' GM JP Ricciardi said earlier this week that he would listen to offers for Halladay, whose contract expires at the end of the 2010 season. The pitching-starved Phillies are reportedly one of the favorites to land Halladay. Yes, the same pitching-starved Phillies who watched Pedro Martinez (37-years-old and last seen getting knocked around the majors) throw 2 simulated games this week. Toronto would be looking for a bunch of prospects, and the Phillies have said that the only untouchables are pitchers Kyle Drabek and Jason Knapp, and OF Dominic Brown.
The most consistent rumors seem to be along the lines of Halladay for P J.A. Happ, who as pitched well in the majors this season for the Phils; and minor-leaguers among Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson, and Michael Taylor.
While normally I'm opposed to giving up young talent for a veteran player, the Phillies as they are constituted at the major-league level are built to win NOW. The core players on this team are around 30, which gives them another 3-4 year window as a contender. Halladay is 32, and with the exception of a tired arm in 2004 (which he attributed to a heavy preseason program), he has been healthy throughout his career. The only time he has missed in the past few years was due to freak occurrences (appendicitis, a broken leg from a line drive off his shin, and a liner off his head). After pitching for a non-contender in Toronto his whole career, he'd probably welcome the chance to come to Philadelphia and compete for a World Series (now THERE'S a sentence I never thought I'd write). Joe Blanton has been pitching much better of late, and even Jamie Moyer has been pitching better after his rough start. Ace Cole Hamels has been uncharacteristically inconsistent, but a 1-2 punch of Halladay and Hamels, with this offense and a bullpen that looks like it's getting back into its 2008 form, would make the Phillies a strong contender to repeat as World Series champs. Halladay has been one of the best--and arguably the best--pitcher in baseball this decade, and they could do no wrong to add him to their roster.
The one thing I'd want before I'd pull the trigger on this deal is a conract extension though. I don't want to give up that much talent out of the farm system (which isn't as deep as other teams) in order to rent Halladay for a year-and-a-half.
Posted on: July 2, 2009 12:30 am
The Phillies have just been pounded by the Braves, 11-1. Atlanta tagged Cole Hamels for seven runs in four innings, while the offense struggled against Atlanta starter Jair Jurgens. After their normal struggles in interleague play, and losing the first 2 games in Atlanta, the Phils have now dropped 11 of 14. The four game benching of Jimmy Rollins hasn't helped, as he is mired in an 0-for-27 slump (although with his .205 average, it might as well ve called an 0-for-the-season-slump). Hamels still hasn't regained the consistent form that he showed last fall while winning the MVP awards for the NLCS and the World Series. And now they're making another trip to the Pig Farm, calling up 33-year-old Rodrigo Lopez to start the first game of the Mets series Friday night. It will be Lopez's first appearance in the majors since 2007.
But at this point, what can the Phillies do? True, they've been hit hard by injuries to key players such as Raul Ibanez, Brett Myers, Hamels, and Brad Lidge, but the Mets have struggled with injuries too. Ibanez is eligible to return Friday, but most likely will not be ready, and a groin injury is not something you want to rush. Myers is done for the year (although a possible return in the postseason if the Phillies make it that far is possible). Lidge is back from his DL stint, and Hamels is hit-and-miss at this point. Rollins traditionally has had strong second halves, but he looks far from breaking out of his slump at this point. Pitching is a major problem right now; while the back end of the bullpen finally is back in order, the rotation is a mess. As of now, there's not much out there in the way of help, and the pitchers that are available aren't worth the Phillies giving up highly-ranked prospects. If more teams fall out of contention by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Phillies might be able to pick up an arm or two, but their best option might be to go into the farm system for Carlos Carrasco, or maybe even Kyle Drabek.
For what it's worth, at this point last year, the Phillies were in the middle of a funk where they lost 17 of 26 games, Chase Utley was battling his hip injury, Brett Myers had just been sent down to AAA, and the team was two weeks away from shoring up the rotation by trading for Joe Blanton, so you have to hope that this is one of those stretches of bad baseball that even the best teams go through over the course of a season.
Posted on: June 21, 2009 5:06 pm
The Orioles just completed their sweep of the Phillies, extending the Fightin's losing streak to 6 games, and ending one of the worst homestands in the team's history. The Phils now head on a 9-game road trip before coming back to the Bank to take on the Mets over July 4th weekend. The trip begins Tuesday night in Tampa Bay against the defending champion Rays, before moving on to Toronto to face the Blue Jays (who swept the Phils last week), and finally on to Atlanta.
The Phillies currently sit in first place in the NL East with a 36-31 record, a game and a half ahead of the Mets, and 3.5 games ahead of Florida. How does this compare to last year? At this time in 2008, the Phillies were in first at 42-34, a game ahead of Florida, and 4.5 ahead of the thrid-place Mets. While the Phillies have gone through a brutal 2-8 stretch, no one else in the division has really taken advantage of it; the Mets are 3-7 in the same span.
Murphy's Law has hit the Phillies recently, as they've seemingly had everything work against them. The cries to replace Brad Lidge with Ryan Madson have gone silent, as Madson hasn't been an effective closer. The bullpen, which hasn't been fully staffed all season due to J.C. Romero's drug suspension and Lidge's DL stint, has finally had its excessive workload catch up with it. The starters have still been inconsistent and for the most part unable to eat innings and allow the bullpen to get a break (and losing an innings-eater like Brett Myers for the season will not help). When the starters have turned in a good performance (like Cole Hamels today), the offense has failed to provide enough run support to win the game. The defense, one of the best in baseball, has been sloppy, and at times, inattentive. And they've lost their best hitter this season, Raul Ibanez, to a groin injury, which is the type of injury which can linger all season.
It's not time to panic yet though. It's only June 21, and the Phillies are still in first. If you're going to lose Lidge and Ibanez, better June than September. The Phillies need another starter, but the number of available starters on the block is pretty small at this point, and one name that's been consistently tossed around, Erik Bedard, is someone who I don't think could cut it in Philly (and third base coach Sam Perlozzo, who managed Bedard in Baltimore and was a coach in Seattle with him last year, has reportedly advised them against trading for him). So the Phillies' best move for pitching might come from within the organization, or maybe making a run at Ben Sheets, who is currently rehabbing from an arm injury but should be able to pitch during the second half. The players who are slumping (especially Jimmy Rollins), will snap out of it at some point, and they should be able to reverse the mystifying troubles that they suffer at home. As far as the sloppy play goes, it's a long season, and even the best teams go through stretches of bad play; the Phillies are no different (remember, this is a team that for several years got off to really poor starts).
Posted on: June 13, 2009 12:01 am
I was thinking of things to write about, and I thought that every so often I'd do a post featuring a position-by-position breakdown between the Phillies and a team they're playing in a key series. Since they're playing the Red Sox this weekend, I figured I'd start with them.
Posted on: June 9, 2009 3:27 pm
The Phillies placed closer Brad Lidge on the 15-day DL today (retroactive to June 7). Lidge who has been pitching with pain in his right (pushoff) knee all season, has been far less effective than he was in 2008 (0-3, 7.27 ERA this season). He has converted only 13 of 19 save opportunities, and opponents are hitting .306 against him. Lidge blew 2 saves this past weekend in Los Angeles (the Phillies lost both games), after telling David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News that his knee was still bothering him before the series began. Presumably Ryan Madson will step into the closer's role while Lidge is out, and J.C. Romero will take over Madson's role as the setup man.
The Phillies filled Lidge's spot on the 25-man active roster by recalling 36-year-old catcher Paul Bako from Reading (AA). Bako hit .357 in 10 games at Reading, and his recall might help solidify the Phillies' bench, was has struggled this year, by giving them an extra catcher and allowing them to use Chris Coste as a pinch-hitter.
If the reports about Lidge's knee are true (no tears or serious damage, just inflammation), then hopefully a couple of weeks of rest will allow him to heal without needing more surgery. The best thing the Phillies could do would be to let him rest now and come back at 100% for the second half of the season, as I wrote three weeks ago:
Who says that CBSSports.com's team bloggers don't know what they're talking about?
Posted on: June 7, 2009 5:59 pm
One major issue that the NHL (not so surprisingly, since it's the NHL) has failed to crack down on is cheap shots, especially shots to the head and equipment (mainly sticks) being used as weapons. Not only is this a major issue involving player safety, but it's an issue that affects the bottom line for the league, as they could see a loss of attendance or TV ratings if a star player is injured and misses a large amount of time.
The incidence of these cheap shots has gone up in the 15 or so years of the Bettman Era; out of the 10 longest suspensions in NHL history, 9 have been on his watch, and all of them for illegal hits or flat-out vicious attacks. I personally think that rules enacted to cut down on fighting have played a major role in the increase in goonism (see my last post), as the players who are delivering these cheap shots are not facing retribution from the other team's enforcer nearly as much as in the past due to rule changes like the instigator penalty (which needs to go NOW), and the third-man-in rule.
The NHLPA, while in favor of opening up the fighting rules so that players can police the games themselves, have told the NHL that they want an outright ban on blows to the head, but the league's GMs have refused to address the issue. Toronto GM Brian Burke said that there is "no appetite for an automatic penalty". Some of them feel that it would take some of the physical side of the sport.
While there will always be instances where a player is unfortunately injured on a clean hit, where he just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, the league NEEDS to cut down on the intentional shots above the shoulders. You can't allow goons to be headhunting other players (or running at their knees, or using their sticks as weapons, etc.), especially while you're tying the hands of the enforcers and preventing them from doing their job of protecting their teammates.
The NHL should remove the instigator rule and ban intentional shots to the head. If it's incidental contact (wrong place, wrong time, or the player recieving the hit moves at the last second and inadvertantly puts himself in harm's way, cases like that), then no penalty should be issued to the player delivering the hit. If the player goes at his opponent with an intent to injure (aims for his head, skates leave the ice, etc.), then that player needs to be fined and/or suspended. The league's players need to be protected from these acts of goonism.
Posted on: June 4, 2009 8:27 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2009 11:32 am
A major issue that comes up when hockey is discussed is fighting. I'll come out and say it right now: I LOVE fighting in hockey. It's great when 2 players square off and duke it out, and while I wouldn't want to see this happen in EVERY game, I do like the occasional games where there are multiple fights breaking out all over. Is this the only reason that I'm a hockey fan? No, but if it was ever eliminated, honestly, hockey would lose some of its appeal for me (not to mention the fact that I'd feel that it was another case where the NHL has ignored its own traditions and alienated the true, hardcore hockey fans like me, who have supported this league most of my life, to try to appeal to people who most likely will still not pay attention to the sport).
1. There's no fighting in international hockey, European leagues, college, or kids leagues.
2. Hockey cannot be considered a family sport as long as fighting is allowed.
3. Fighting isn't a "necessary" part of the game and slows up the pace.
4. Fighting is rare in the playoffs and they're still exciting, so that means that the regular season would be more exciting without fighting.
5. Hockey isn't as popular as other sports because of the fighting.
6. Hockey would be better if you got rid of the goons and added more scorers.
Posted on: June 3, 2009 6:33 pm
It's just been announced that the Braves have released P Tom Glavine. ESPN is reporting that in a meeting with Glavine, they told him that his velocity was down, but it's viewed as primarily a financial move, as Glavine would receive a $1 million bonus if he was added to the active roster, and another $1.25 million if he was on the roster after 90 days. Between that and ace-in-waiting Tommy Hanson, the Braves sent Glavine packing. Glavine, who insists he can still pitch, and has pitched well in his last few rehab starts, is now a free agent.
So it poses this question: should the Phillies, who are in need of help in their rotation, go after Glavine? Right now, after Cole Hamels, there's no one currently in this rotation who shouldn't be considered for an upgrade, and due to Brett Myers' hip injury, the back end of the rotation is currently staffed by 2 unproven pitchers in J.A. Happ and Antonio Bastardo. Glavine, who has won 305 games in his career, also has an extensive postseason history, having started 35 postseason games, going 14-16, with a 3.30 ERA.
It makes sense for the Phillies, who are in a win-now position, to approach Glavine with an incentive-laden contract. With that type of contract, they won't pay unless he reaches certain performance standards, it won't cost them any players (especially prospects) in a trade, and his experience (especially in the postseason) makes him more appealing than the inexperienced Happ and Bastardo in September and October.