Tag:BRad Lidge
Posted on: October 7, 2011 11:23 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 5:20 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Philadelphia Phillies

PhilliesBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series... 

Team name: Philadelphia Phillies
Record: 102-60, First place NL East. Lost NLDS to St. Louis, 3-2.
Manager: Charlie Manuel
Best hitter: Shane Victorino -- .279/.355/.491, 17 HR, 95 R, 19 SB
Best pitcher: Roy Halladay -- 19-6, 233 2/3 IP, 2.35 ERA, 35 BB, 220 K

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Phillies didn't waste time asserting their superiority, running out to an 18-8 record. Cliff Lee needed some time to get going in uniform, racking up a 4.15 ERA in five starts, but better times were on the way. Meanwhile, the other three aces didn't have any problem locking down games, even though the offense was exposed with the loss of Jayson Werth. Ben Francisco got April off to a rollicking start, but tailed off in May as the club went 16-13. Vance Worley, who stepped into the rotation to replace Joe Blanton, made his first start on April 29, posting a 2.14 ERA in his first five starts.

R.I.P. series

The club then registered two consecutive 17-win months and struck for Hunter Pence at the trade deadline. Philly then ran a nine-game winning streak into August, leading to their best month with an 18-7 record. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, their shot at extending their 102 victories higher was derailed by a September that saw an eight-game losing streak. Despite that, they were so dominant, they posted a 30-10 record in blowout games, as defined by Baseball Reference.

The playoffs were another story, though, as the Phillies lost in five games to the wild-card winning Cardinals. The offense was mostly the culprit.

2012 AUDIT

Philadelphia is still the class of the NL, even though everyone is one year older. Fortunately, the team is shedding the contracts of Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge most notably, so there is payroll flexibility to be had that will allow for a significant signing. It will still be some time before the Phillies drastically drop out of contention, and the club needs to continue its philosophy of putting all its eggs in one basket and contending while it still can. Flags fly forever.

FREE AGENTS

Ross Gload, 1B
Raul Ibanez, LF
Brad Lidge, RP ($12.5 million club option)
Ryan Madson, RP
Roy Oswalt, SP ($16 million mutual option)
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Brian Schneider, C

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Sign Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies will throw gobs of cash at the best closer they can get. Ryan Madson had an incredible season, finally delivering on his potential, but he's no Papelbon. Papelbon has done it all -- won a World Series, pitched in incredibly tight situations, pitched against elite competition and has experience playing in a hitter's park. (Health Bell, for example, would likely succeed no matter where he plays, but it's inarguable that he also is lucky to pitch in Petco Park.) Who knows if the Red Sox will let Papelbon get away, but the Phils need to try. Madson or Bell would be Plan B. Obviously, the team shouldn't pick up Lidge's option, but should absolutely explore bringing him back as setup man.
  • With Ryan Howard's injury knocking him out until at least May -- if not longer -- the Phillies need to get aggressive on offense. They simply had too much trouble in 2011 with the bat, so need to go after one of the better bats on the market and sign Josh Willingham. Willingham can fill in at first base with Howard's absence. That allows John Mayberry and top prospect Dominic Brown to share time in left. When Howard returns, Willingham simply shifts to left field. Yes, that puts Mayberry and Brown on the bench, but word is Philadelphia has soured on Brown as a long-term player. As for Mayberry, he had quite the coming-out party, but a team like Philadelphia can't make any assumptions about his long-term viability.
  • Bring back Jimmy Rollins. Rollins may not give the club a hometown discount, but he's a very popular player in town and will cost much, much less than Jose Reyes. Even the Phillies can't throw cash around at any player they want. They could potentially sign Jose Reyes, but that would likely mean giving up on Papelbon (or any high-salaried closer), and that would be the wrong move.
  • Let Roy Oswalt walk. While Oswalt is still a good pitcher, $14 million is a lot to pay for someone that may not be capable of making 32 starts anymore. (He has a $16 million mutual option with a $2 million buyout, so the true cost is $14 million.) There doesn't need to be any replacement starter, as Vance Worley can move up to No. 4 and Joe Blanton can slide in at No. 5. The club would need to sign some solid pitchers for Triple-A as depth, though.
  • Bring in a solid utility infielder. One of Philly's biggest issues this past season was offense. Hunter Pence helped address that, but the team needs to upgrade where they can regardless. Wilson Valdez is fine as backup shortstop, but Adam Kennedy should be brought in to man second and third, as well as become pinch-hitter du jour after revitalizing his career in Seattle. Kennedy would have to settle for less playing time, but here's figuring that's not an issue for Philadelphia.
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Posted on: October 4, 2011 10:02 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 10:50 pm
 

Cardinals need Holliday's bat back in lineup

Allen CraigBy C. Trent Rosecrans

If there was a good sign for the Cardinals in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Phillies in Game 3 of the National League division series, it came in the eighth inning when Matt Holliday sent a Brad Lidge slider into left field for a single.

It was just Holliday's second at-bat of the postseason, striking out as a pinch hitter in Game 1. Holliday has been dealing with a strained tendon in his right hand and unable to play in the field. However, before Tuesday's game, manager Tony La Russa said Holliday had improved and also said his outfielder had gotten a cortisone shot, something he had been avoiding up until this point.

The Cardinals could certainly use Holliday's bat in the lineup, as Lance Berkman is just 2 for 12 so far this postseason batting in Holliday's fourth spot. With Albert Pujols doubling three times ahead of Berkman, he had plenty of opportunities to drive in a run, but failed each time, leaving a total of five men on base. The Cardinals left 14 on base as a team. Not including Pujols, who had four hits, the top third of the Cardinals lineup went 3 for 27 against the Phillies on Tuesday.

Philadelphia-St. Louis NLDS

For the first time in the series, Berkman moved back to right field with Allen Craig starting in left. Craig started the first two games in right with Berkman in left. With Holliday out of the lineup, Craig has hit second and gone just 1 for 10 so far.

The question may be whether Holliday can play the field for an entire game. In the last game he started, on Sept. 27 in Houston, Holliday left the game in the third inning not because of his inability to swing the bat, but his inability to grip the ball on throws.

There's also the question of whether he can handle an inside fastball. In Tuesday's game, he only saw two sliders from Lidge, not anything hard. The Cardinals are a better team with Holliday in the game, but we'll see if Tuesday was the start of a great comeback story or just a cameo.


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Posted on: August 21, 2011 10:56 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Damon plays hero for Tampa Bay



By Matt Snyder

Johnny Damon, Rays. In the bottom of the seventh, Damon hit what was initially ruled a grand slam. Only the ball hit the very top of the wall and bounced high into the air, only to return to the field of play. So the play was reviewed and the umpires correctly ruled it wasn't a homer. Still, three runs scored and put the Rays on top 7-5. Fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth, with the score now tied at seven, and Damon stepped to the plate again. This time he left no doubt, as he went yard to end the game in walk-off fashion.

Austin Jackson, Tigers. If you haven't seen how the Tigers-Indians game ended, click here to watch it on MLB.com video. Jackson fired an absolute bullet from center to nail Kosuke Fukudome -- who represented the tying run -- at home plate to end the game. To those who never played outfield in high school or college, that play is much tougher than it looks. It was incredibly impressive. Jackson also went 2-4 with two runs and an RBI in the victory, which completed a Tigers' sweep of the second-place Indians.

Luis Perez, Blue Jays. He had never made a major-league start before Sunday. He had never thrown more than 64 pitches in a major-league game until Sunday. And yet Perez had a perfect game heading into the sixth inning. It's a shame he's not completely stretched out as a starter, because it was evident he just ran out of gas in the sixth. Still, he got out of a jam with an inning-ending double play off the bat of Coco Crisp, giving Perez six scoreless innings. He ended up gathering the win, too, as the Jays squeaked out a 1-0 victory.



Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians. The Indians acquired Jimenez less than 24 hours before the non-waiver trade deadline because they wanted an ace. On August 10 he looked the part. In the other three starts, he hasn't even come close. After Sunday's stinkbomb against the first-place Tigers, Jimenez has an 11.77 ERA and a 2.46 WHIP in his three road starts. Sunday was his worst effort, too, as the Indians needed him to play stopper, and instead Jimenez allowed nine hits and eight earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings. After having been swept, the Indians now trail the Tigers by 4 1/2 games.

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates. Much like his team, it appears the honeymoon is over for Hanrahan (at least in 2011). The All-Star closer hadn't blown a save in the entire first half of the season, but Sunday he coughed up his third one in the past five weeks. It's still not awful or anything, but it's a bit of a rough patch. Hanrahan has now given up five earned runs in his past three innings.

Brad Lidge, Phillies. How about a walk-off hit-by-pitch? That's what Lidge offered up to Jonny Gomes of the Nationals Sunday, as the Phillies dropped a series to the Nationals. After allowing a double and single, with an intentional walk in between, to load the bases, Lidge faced Gomes. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Lidge hit Gomes, plating the game-winning and series-clinching run for Washington.

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Posted on: July 27, 2011 5:01 pm
 

No Beltran, no Pence, but Phillies want relievers

By Danny Knobler 

Yes, the Phillies made an effort for Carlos Beltran, before backing down and allowing him to go to the Giants. Yes, the Phillies talked to the Astros about Hunter Pence, although it appears now that nothing will happen, and the Astros will look to deal Pence in the winter, instead.

And as usual, the Phillies' biggest acquisition this month might well be a pitcher.

The Phillies remain among the teams most interested in Padres relievers Heath Bell and Mike Adams, although like others they continue to complain about the high prices. The Phils have looked at the Orioles and other teams, as well, in hopes of finding bullpen help.

I know, the Phillies bullpen has been among the most successful in the game this year. Their three blown saves are the fewest in the majors, and only one of the three came in the ninth inning. And after playing much of the year with three closers (Brad LidgeRyan Madson and Jose Contreras) on the disabled list, the Phillies now have Madson and Lidge back on the active roster.

Fine. But fast-forward to October, because the Phillies are all about October.

Do you feel comfortable with Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo pitching late in games in the playoffs? Are you sure about Madson as your playoff closer? Will Lidge be healthy and strong enough to help?

People who talk to the Phillies say they're asking all of those questions themselves, and that the answer can be seen in their efforts on the trade market.

The Phillies will likely still look to acquire a right-handed hitter, but it may well be more of a platoon bat off the bench. That could change, obviously, depending on who is available, and it would be interesting to see if the Phillies went after Carlos Quentin, if the White Sox really make him available.

The Phillies didn't get Beltran, and they almost certainly won't get Pence. Don't be surprised if they end up with a reliever.

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Posted on: July 20, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 3:59 pm
 

Lidge looking for Friday return

By Matt Snyder

Phillies (former?) closer Brad Lidge has yet to pitch in the majors this season, as he's battled arm injuries. He feels he's ready to re-join Philly, however, after working a perfect inning for Class-A Lakewood. It was Lidge's eighth rehab outing, in which he's pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed four runs. His velocity reportedly isn't where it's been in the past, however, Lidge still believes he's ready.

"Everything feels good, finally,'' Lidge said (Philly.com). "My slider feels great right now. As I always say, that's a real important pitch for me. That's normally how I get guys out.''

He also expressed that he was hopeful that he would join the Phillies Friday.

Lidge, 34, had 27 saves with a 2.96 ERA and 1.23 WHIP last season for the Phillies. He was a perfect 41-for-41 in saves in 2008 before a disastrous 2009 season.

Lidge will have to contend with Ryan Madson and Antonio Bastardo for save chances, but if all three are pitching up to their respective abilities and remain healthy, there's potential for a dominant back-end of the bullpen. And that's on a team with the best starting rotation in baseball.

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Posted on: May 21, 2011 2:05 pm
 

Ryan Madson emerging as dominating closer

Madson

By Evan Brunell


Before being pressed into emergency closer duty when both Brad Lidge and Lidge's replacement in Jose Conteras went down, the closer's role was Madson's boogeyman.

From 2004-10, a span of seven seasons, Madson had an eye-popping 24 blown saves against just 20 saves, highlighted by his 0-for-7 turn in '04 and being highlighted the last two seasons with converting just 15 of 26 chances. Madson's struggles have long been odd, as his ERA over the same timespan is 3.73, dropping to 3.01 from 2007-10 and emerging as one of the game's best setup men.

Now, the 30-year-old can add vaunted closer to his resume, as he's finally dispelled the boogeyman by converting all eight save opportunities with a paltry 0.50 ERA over 18 innings on the season. His strikeout rate has spiked to a career-high and he's punched out 23 batters while walking just seven. Brad Lidge, who is hoping to return to the team in three weeks, already knows he won't replace Madson as closer. Given Lidge has yet to pitch this season, it wouldn't make sense to throw him right back in the fire as a closer. Madson's production has also eased the load on Lidge.

“Ryan’s done an incredible job, and he’s closing games as good as anybody in baseball,” Lidge said. “I would expect whatever Charlie thinks is best for the team is what he’s going to do. I’m just going to be happy to be back in the big leagues for a while. Whatever pans out is what pans out.”

Even Jose Contreras, Lidge's replacement as closer before hitting the DL, may return to his setup role once he's ready. Contreras could be activated for Sunday or Monday's game provided his rehab outing with Double-A Reading goes well Saturday night. That's how impressive Madson has been.

“When I look at him that he’s been throwing hard, but this is the best command I’ve ever seen him have of his change-up,” manager Charlie Manuel told the Wilmington News Journal. “His change-up, to me, it’s improved. And the location with it, he’s been that good.”

Madson's changeup has been a big reason for his success to date, throwing it about 30 percent of the time -- and forcing a swing-and-miss on one out of every three changeups ever since he made a mechanical tweak in mid-2010. That's a massive number. For comparison, Mariano Rivera's cutter gets a swing and a miss 8.1 percent of the time last season. Craig Kimbrel's change? 20.8 percent. Jonathan Papelbon's splitter comes close, but it's still no cigar, inducing 28 percent swing-and-misses.

The reason for the added success, Madson says, is a flaw with his pitching motion that Lidge noticed last season. When delivering a fastball, Madson's arm angle was further out from his head which allowed batters to pick up that it was a fastball easier. Given the effectiveness of a change wholly rests on being able to deceptively deliver it as a fastball, Madson wasn't getting the most out of his change.

Now he is. And now, Manuel doesn't seem interested in changing roles once Contereas and Lidge return. Even if Madson eventually transitions back to a setup role by season's end, he could have just made himself millions of dollars.

An impending free agent, Madson could be a hot name to become a closer for another team -- and with Scott Boras as his agent, you can bet Madson will hit free agency. Philadelphia hopes not, with GM Ruben Amaro saying that he wouldn't rule out trying to extend Madson in-season. That's a no-brainer, as Amaro should be doing everything he can right now to hang onto Madson, who could close for Philly for quite some time. Both Conteras and Lidge will be free agents as well.

Lidge, for his part, isn't sure what to expect when he returns after being diagnosed with right shoulder inflammation in spring training. He's been out so long and hasn't even pitched in a game situation yet. He's tossing a second bullpen session Saturday before heading out to extended spring training, then a rehab assignment. That puts his return to the Phillies sometime in mid-June. Despite that, Lidge couldn't be more pleased with how things are going.

“I’m already throwing harder than at any point this spring,” Lidge said. “I wasn’t really throwing hard at all this spring -- mid to upper 80s, I guess. I can already tell I’m throwing harder than that, so that’s very encouraging. Beyond that, I know I’ve got a few outings to get the rest back on, but it’s encouraging to know I’m past where I was in spring training.”

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Posted on: May 7, 2011 3:30 pm
 

Brad Lidge aiming for mid-June return

By Evan Brunell

LidgeBrad Lidge has yet to pitch in 2011 thanks to a right shoulder sprain, but his return date is nearing.

ESPN's Buster Olney reports that Lidge believes he will return sometime in mid-June and has just begun a throwing program to strengthen his arm. Lidge will essentially have to repeat spring training all over again, replete with getting his arm in shape and pitching bullpen sessions and extended spring-training games. He'll also certainly need a few minor-league rehab assignments, but the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing.

Philadelphia has so far weathered Lidge's absence rather well as the club ranks 11th in the majors with a 2.99 bullpen ERA. That's also without a large chunk of work by Jose Contreras, who replaced Lidge in the ninth before coming down with his own injury. Ryan Madson has stepped in as closer capably so far, but that's exposed the underbelly of the 'pen as a result. They've gotten away with it so far, but one can't lose two of the team's three best relievers without eventually paying for it. If Philly's lucky, they won't pay for it until mid-June.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 25, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 5:06 pm
 

On Deck: Weaver vs. Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez Jared Weaver

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Today we're starting another daily feature at Eye on Baseball, On Deck will bring you three of the things you need to know for each night's game, from streaks to showdowns to pennant battles and beyond, we'll highlight three games or players each night, letting you know what to watch for in the day's slate of games.

Best matchup -- Oakland's Gio Gonzalez vs. Anaheim's Jered Weaver. I'm not a big believer in the East Coast bias myth, but will say that if this were a Yankees-Red Sox matchup, you'd already be sick of hearing about these two. Gonzalez is coming off his first loss of the season, a 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Red Sox, but is still 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA. Weaver may be the American League's best starter, at least in April, leading the league in ERA (1.23) and with five wins. The game doesn't start until 10:05 p.m. ET, but it's worth staying up late to watch -- and with these two on the hill, even those on the East Coast won't have to stay up too far after bedtime. A's at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

Streaking -- Andre Ethier enters tonight's game against the Marlins as the owner of a 21-game hitting streak. It's the longest April hitting streak in Dodgers history, but still 10 games behind the team's best hitting streak. Willie Davis hit in 31 straight games in 1969, breaking the previous record of 29 held by Zack Wheat, set in 1916. Dodgers at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET

Closer watch -- The Phillies have a new closer in Ryan Madson after Jose Contreras went on the disabled list on Sunday. Contreras was already filling in for the injured Brad Lidge, but Madson has been the team's closer-in-waiting for more than a year now and will get yet another shot at showing Philadelphia he can do the job full-time. Tonight may not be his best shot, with Cliff Lee (2-1, 3.91) on the mound for the Phillies and Ian Kennedy (2-1, 5.64) starting for Arizona, there may not be much pressure -- nevermind a save situation -- in the ninth inning at Chase Field tonight. Phillies at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET

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