Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:39 pm
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- In a way, baseball's new expanded playoffs are set up to benefit a team like the Phillies, who have won their division five straight years but twice were beaten by a wild-card team in the first round.
But if the playoffs are changing, as it's now expected that they are, Shane Victorino wants more.
"Why not make all three series seven games?" Victorino said Wednesday. "That's what I'd like."
Victorino's Phillies lost a best-of-5 first-round series to the wild-card Cardinals last October, after leading the major leagues in the regular season with 102 wins. The Phillies lost to the wild-card Rockies in the first round in 2007.
One big benefit from the new system is that it will reward division winners, and particularly the team with the best record in each league. It will make it harder, although certainly not impossible, for a wild-card team to advance to the World Series.
That should make the regular season more meaningful.
It also guarantees baseball a pair of knockout games to begin the postseason.
"I think it's great for baseball to have that extra game," Victorino said.
The team that survives the one-game wild-card playoff will face the team with the league's best record, after already burning through its best available pitching and also having to travel.
Of course, the Phillies had a chance to set up their pitching going into the first round last year, and the Cardinals, who didn't clinch the wild card until the final moments of the season, did not. And the Phillies still lost.
Would they have lost if the series had been best-of-7?
There's no way to know that, and we do know that a best-of-7 first round isn't happening right now. A second wild card team is happening, and it's extremely likely that it happens this year.
Posted on: July 15, 2011 7:37 pm
NEW YORK -- The Phillies opened the second half with two starting position players on the disabled list, and one closer returning from the DL.
So what does that mean for the Phils' trade plans as the July 31 deadline approaches?
Good question, but here's one thing worth remembering: Every year, it seems that manager Charlie Manuel says the Phillies need another hitter. And every year, general manager Ruben Amaro trades for a pitcher.
So even with Ryan Madson returning from the DL, and even with the chance that Jose Contreras may be back, too, it would surprise no one if the Phillies go after someone like Padres closer Heath Bell.
The Phillies have made a midseason trade for a starting pitcher each of the last five years (Jamie Moyer, Kyle Lohse, Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt), but with Oswalt on the way back from the DL to join Roy Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels in the rotation, that seems significantly less likely this year.
But don't the pitching-strong Phillies need another bat?
They might, and more specifically they could use a right-handed bat. But Phillies people will remind you that they haven't had their full lineup together very often this year, and that while Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco begin the second half on the DL, neither is expected to be out very long.
Phillies people even suggest that with Madson already back and with Polanco, Victorino and Oswalt soon to follow, they may not need to make any moves. They remind you that money is tight.
History tells you they always make a move.
And history tells you that they usually choose pitchers over hitters.
Polanco, who went on the DL Friday with lower back inflammation, could return as soon as next Wednesday. The Phillies were able to backdate the DL posting by 10 days (to when Polanco last played), and he said Friday that he was able to avoid getting a shot in his back.
"I'm just going to rest it," Polanco said.
Manuel said that Madson won't immediately return to his role as closer. The plan is to use him in the seventh or eighth inning the first time or two. Pitching coach Rich Dubee told reporters that Madson won't be used on back-to-back days, for now.
The Phillies have had three closers hurt this year (Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras, in addition to Madson), but they've had just three blown saves. And only one of those was in the ninth inning (Madson, on June 9).
Posted on: July 8, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 3:31 pm
Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, who finished second to Philadelphia's Shane Victorino in the National League final All-Star vote, will replace the injured Victorino on the NL team.
Victorino went on the disabled list Friday with a sprained ligament in his right thumb.
It will be a homecoming for Ethier, who was born in Phoenix, played at Arizona State and still lives in the area. Ethier had a 30-game hitting streak earlier this year, and he's in the top 10 in the league in batting average.
Posted on: May 20, 2011 6:54 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 7:18 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies said they didn't want to bring Domonic Brown to the big leagues until they were sure he was ready.
Funny how plans change when a team isn't scoring any runs.
Friday, the Phillies said they're not sure Brown is ready -- and they brought him to the big leagues, anyway. Manager Charlie Manuel said that the left-handed hitting Brown will play regularly against right-handed pitchers, and that he'll spot him against lefties.
Brown will play right field, with John Mayberry Jr. moving over to take the place of injured Shane Victorino in center field. Manuel said he hopes that Victorino will only miss the minimum two weeks on the disabled list, but the hope clearly is to keep Brown around for a lot longer than that.
This spring, the Phillies wanted Brown to compete for the starting outfield job left vacant when Jayson Werth went to Washington as a free agent. Brown pressed and struggled at the plate, then broke the hamate bone in his hand in the same at-bat that ended with his first hit.
Brown was not in the lineup Friday night against Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson, but Manuel plans to play him Saturday against right-hander Colby Lewis.
"I'm going to bring him along, just like I have a lot of young players," Manuel said.
Manuel clearly pushed for Brown's recall, hoping that he could help a team that has scored just 10 runs in the last six games. The Phillies are hitting .202 as a team over the last 13 games.
"There's still questions about whether he's ready," general manager Ruben Amaro said. "Circumstances changed, and I changed my mind. Is it the right thing to do? I'm not sure. But I think it's the right thing to do for this club."
Manuel argued that Brown was the Phillies' best option at this point. He also said that by playing Brown selectively, he can help get him established in the big leagues.
Sitting Brown against most left-handers is one way to do that. Manuel said he thinks some other young left-handed hitters were hurt by playing every day against lefties, right from the start, mentioning Hank Blalock with the Rangers and Jordan Schafer with the Braves as two examples.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 3:48 pm
The Phillies tried to make Jimmy Rollins into a third-place hitter.
It didn't work, and now he's the leadoff man again.
After the Phillies scored just three runs in their Saturday and Sunday games against the Mets, manager Charlie Manuel changed the top of his lineup for the first time this year, putting Rollins atop the order and shifting Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco down a spot, to second and third.
Polanco isn't a traditional third-place hitter -- he has just 48 home runs in the last six-plus seasons -- but he has always hit well in the clutch. Polanco is hitting .448 with runners in scoring position this year, which is why he has 19 RBI, which is 14 more than Rollins has out of the third spot.
With regular third-place hitter Chase Utley beginning the season on the disabled list, Manuel tried various combinations in spring training, including the one with Rollins leading off and Polanco hitting third. Not that he asked me, but the Rollins-Victorino-Polanco lineup is the one I liked best.
We still don't know if Rollins can be the dynamic leadoff man he once was. Rollins won the National League MVP award in 2007, and helped lead the Phllies to the World Series in 2008 and 2009. As I wrote in the Phillies camp report this spring, the Phillies are at their best when Jimmy is rolling atop the lineup.
Posted on: July 13, 2009 6:29 pm
ST. LOUIS -- A few notes and thoughts from All-Star Monday:
-- This one counts?
Since 2003, when baseball began awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that won the All-Star Game, the American League has won every year. Not that it has helped in October, because the National League team has won three of those six World Series, including two of the last three. One issue: There hasn't been a seven-game World Series since 2002, and there hasn't even been a six-game World Series since 2003.
Still, players from the Tigers and Rays, who lost in 2006 and 2008 despite home-field advantage, said Monday that they would very much prefer to have home-field advantage if they get back to the World Series this October.
"The way we play at home (29-15 this year), it helps us out a lot," Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett said. "Last year, I think what happened was we were playing so great, but when we got to the World Series we changed our game. I really feel like if we get there again and we have the home-field advantage, we'd do it this time."
"It didn't work out last year, but in the grand scheme of things, it would be great to have it again," first baseman Carlos Pena agreed. "We were just emotionally drained from the Boston series (in the ALCS) last year, so we didn't take advantage of it."
Like the 2008 Rays, the 2006 Tigers split the first two games at home, then lost three straight on the road.
"I think if we could have gotten back to our place (for Game 6), playing in front of our home crowds, it could have been different," Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge said. "Home-field advantage is worth a lot."
"I saw a stat where 18 of the last 23 teams with home-field advantage won it," Tigers starter Justin Verlander said. "But you'd better check that."
We checked, and he's right.
-- Brantorino, explained
So now we know where the idea for last week's Brantorino final-vote push came from. It came from Shane Victorino.
The Phillies outfielder revealed today that he was the one who suggested to Bonnie Clark (the Phils' vice president for communications) that they team up with the Tigers for a two-team voting bloc to win the final vote for him and for Inge. He didn't take credit for the "Brantorino" marketing slogan, just the idea of teaming up.
"I just knew Inge and I were in second place in the voting," Victorino said. "And I knew Detroit was a great baseball city, just like Philadelphia."
Sure enough, it worked, as Victorino and Inge went on to win the voting.
-- A vote for Bob Melvin
Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson played for Bob Melvin the last three years in Arizona. He plays for Joe Torre now.
He sees a connection.
"[Melvin] reminds me of a young Torre," Hudson said.
So he was disappointed to see Melvin get fired?
"No, I was happy for him," Hudson said. "I was happy for him to get a fresh start."
-- Little man in the Derby
Inge said he was more excited about Monday night's Home Run Derby than about Tuesday's game.
"I might set a record for the smallest Home Run Derby contestant ever," said Inge, who the Tigers list at 5-11, 190.
Inge said his last Home Run Derby was at the Southern League All-Star Game in Greenville, S.C.
"That one didn't go so well," he said. "I went 0 for my first 9. But then I think I hit the farthest ball in the Derby."
Posted on: July 8, 2009 2:08 pm
Here at CBSSports.com, we're never sure quite what to make of the All-Star final vote.
On the one hand, it's a blatant attempt to get people to go to another website, namely mlb.com . On the other, it's a cute way to limit the talk of All-Star snubs, because the fans get to pick one last player and right one wrong.
Mostly, we haven't paid it much attention, which is why we were so surprised to hear that one of the contenders this year is a guy named Brantorino.
Search as we can through baseball-reference.com , and we can't find a single guy by that name playing baseball right now. Can't find anyone on the baseball cube , either.
It turns out this is yet another marketing ploy, but one that intrigues us. It turns out that the Tigers and Phillies got together on this one, with the Tigers encouraging their fans to vote not only for their own third baseman, Brandon Inge, but also for the Phillies' center fielder, Shane Victorino.
Thus, Brantorino, which has the advantage of sounding a little like Gran Torino, the Clint Eastwood movie set in suburban Detroit.
Other than that? Well, there's really not much connection between the Phillies and the Tigers, or between Inge and Victorino, for that matter.
But the Phillies and Tigers were a little concerned when they saw the Rangers and Giants seeming to pair up to push Ian Kinsler and Pablo Sandoval (which only began as a "If you get your employees to vote Pablo, we'll get ours to vote Ian" deal), and by Angels and Dodgers coming up with a "Vote SoCal" campaign for Chone Figgins and James Loney.
Thus, Brantorino, which only came together Wednesday morning, but has already resulted in press releases asking businesses in Pennsylvania and Michigan to allow their employees enough computer time to vote for both Victorino and Inge.
It's not bad, although it's not the best final vote campaign we've ever heard of.
That honor still rests with the White Sox, who got A.J. Pierzynski to the 2006 All-Star Game by urging fans to "Punch A.J." Perfect, since Pierzynski is the player so many fans (and opponents and teammates) love to hate.
Posted on: October 20, 2008 5:04 pm
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Maddon says the Phillies are like an American League team, because they have a deep lineup.
Maddon's Tampa Bay players may not agree.
"I'll tell you what," ALCS MVP Matt Garza said today. "Facing that Phillies lineup, compared to facing the Red Sox lineup, the Tigers lineup or the Yankees lineup, you get a little bit of a break with the Phillies lineup, especially pitching in Philly. There's that nine-hole guy (pitcher) I get to throw against. I'm pretty pumped. I get to be that nine-hole guy, too. I'm excited about that."
While Maddon won't announce his World Series rotation until Tuesday, Garza pitched Game 7 against the Red Sox on Sunday night, so he won't be available until Game 3, on Saturday in Philadelphia. Maddon could go with Scott Kazmir and James Shields in the first two games, on normal rest.
"(Rollins) and Victorino are their sparkplugs, man," Garza said. "Just like Boston had Coco (Crisp) and (Jacoby) Ellsbury, and Chicago had (Orlando) Cabrera and (Alexei) Ramirez. Those guys are what make it go. (Chase) Utley and (Ryan) Howard, you've got to watch out, because those are the ones who drop the big bombs. But if you keep Rollins and Victorino off the bases, you can control the running game, shut down their offense a little bit and let them rely on their big swings."