Posted on: May 4, 2010 5:47 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- And now for today's Phillies bullpen update:
After a good inning Monday night, Brad Lidge might be the closer again. And after surgery on his right big toe, Ryan Madson will miss the next eight weeks -- at least the next eight weeks.
The Phillies said that Madson had pins placed in his toe, which he broke while kicking a metal chair after a game last week in San Francisco. The pins won't come out for four weeks, and the best case is that Madson is ready to pitch for the Phillies four weeks after that.
"It's a pretty major blow to our bullpen," general manager Ruben Amaro said.
While Amaro can go look for pitching help, the fact is that the Phillies have been searching for pitching depth for weeks.
Lidge allowed one his his inning against the Cardinals, but both his fastball and slider looked better than they have. While manager Charlie Manuel didn't commit to using Lidge as the closer, he hinted that he would put him back in the role.
Posted on: May 3, 2010 6:12 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- And the Phillies closer is . . .
"I don't know," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Watch the game."
Really, you shouldn't be. This is the team and the manager that used four starting pitchers in the same game during last fall's playoffs. This is the team that made it all the way to Game 6 of the World Series without really knowing who the closer was.
Now, Brad Lidge is back from the disabled list, but Manuel said before today's game with the Cardinals that he doesn't plan to use Lidge as his closer yet. And Ryan Madson, who filled in while Lidge spent the first month of the season on the disabled list, is on the DL himself, headed for surgery on his right big toe.
And the Phillies closer is . . .
Well, Manuel suggested today that it could be Jose Contreras, who is (at least) 38 years old and has never saved a major-league game in his life.
"Right now, we're just kind of searching," Manuel admitted.
Look down the list of Phillies relievers, and it's not like there are any obvious options. Manuel has the most trust in Contreras, who has a 1.35 ERA in eight appearances, and Chad Durbin, who has a 2.19 ERA but has only four career saves (and two of those were for pitching three innings with a large lead).
The rest of the bullpen: Left-hander J.C. Romero, who has 571 big-league appearances but just four saves; journeyman right-hander Nelson Figueroa, whose one career save was in an 11-inning game last week in San Francisco; rookie David Herndon; and Danys Baez, who has 114 career saves but has a 8.10 ERA and two blown saves in 11 middle-relief appearances this season.
And the Phillies closer is . . .
"I'll make up my mind when I'm standing there next to [pitching coach Rich] Dubee in the dugout," Manuel said.
And the Phillies closer is . . .
Watch the game and find out.
Posted on: April 30, 2010 10:30 am
Saturday is May 1, and that means Saturday is the first anniversary of Joe Mauer's 2009 debut with the Twins.
The first anniversary of the first day of an MVP season.
A year ago today, the two teams that would meet for the American League championship were 11-10 (Yankees) and 9-11 (Angels). The team that would win the National League wild card, the Rockies, was 8-12. The guy who would win the NL Rookie of the Year (Chris Coghlan) was still in the minor leagues, and the guy who would win the AL Rookie of the Year (Andrew Bailey) had yet to record the first of his 26 saves.
The point isn't that April is meaningless. But a great season doesn't depend on it.
Which is good news for Cliff Lee, Brad Lidge, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ian Kinsler and anyone else readying for a 2010 debut this weekend.
And good news for this weekend's 3 to watch:
1. Felix and Cliff. Cliff and Felix. That was supposed to be the 2010 Mariners, right? So maybe it fits that Lee's injury-delayed Mariner debut falls on Felix Hernandez bobblehead night, in Rangers at Mariners, tonight (10:10 EDT) at Safeco Field . The M's went 11-11 while Lee recovered from an abdominal strain, and in the crazy American League West, that was good enough to leave them just half a game out of first place. They're one game ahead of the last-place Rangers, who will be just as happy to see second baseman Ian Kinsler make his 2010 debut, after missing the first month of the season with an ankle problem.
2. The Phillies survived Lidge's terrible 2009 season, all the way up to the World Series, so it's no real surprise that they survived when he missed the first 21 games of this season while recovering from elbow and knee surgeries. But fill-in closer Ryan Madson converted only four of his six save opportunities and has a 7.00 ERA, so we'll believe manager Charlie Manuel when he says, "We can always use Lidge back." He returns tonight, although the game we want to see in this series is Mets at Phillies, Saturday afternoon (3:10 EDT) at Citizens Bank Park . That's Roy Halladay (4-1, 1.80) against Mike Pelfrey (4-0, 0.69, and 24 consecutive scoreless innings). Of course, with Halladay's history (51 career complete games, including two in his first five starts with the Phillies), Lidge may not be needed on Saturday.
3. What should we expect from Matsuzaka, who missed the first month of the season with a strained neck? We really don't have much of an idea, do we, which is what makes his 2010 debut, in Red Sox at Orioles, Saturday night (7:05 EDT) at Camden Yards compelling. At his best, Matsuzaka gives the Red Sox perhaps the best 1-5 rotation in baseball, along with Josh Beckett (who had a terrible April), Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz. At his worst -- well, last year Matsuzaka was 4-6 with a 5.76 ERA in just 12 starts.
Posted on: November 2, 2009 4:00 am
Edited on: November 2, 2009 9:40 am
PHILADELPHIA -- Johnny Damon was as heads-up as could be.
The Phillies were as heads-down as could be.
Johnny Damon was on first base with two out in the ninth. And then, as Brad Lidge said, "all of a sudden he's on third."
It was without doubt the strangest play of this World Series, maybe the strangest of any recent World Series. It was also one of the most important, since it came in the ninth inning and led to Damon scoring the tie-breaking run in what became a 7-4 Yankees Game 4 win.
And here's how it happened:
The Phillies, as they always do when Mark Teixeira is batting left-handed, had the shift on. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins was well on the right side of second base, and third baseman Pedro Felix was closer to the second-base bag than Rollins.
Lidge, notoriously bad at controlling the running game, was pitching. Damon, who stole 12 bases this year, took off for second on the first pitch to Teixeira. Catcher Carlos Ruiz threw through to second base (he probably shouldn't have, since he had no chance at Damon). Feliz took the throw, and it took him a little bit behind Damon.
Damon saw no Phillie covering third, and took off. He was easily safe.
Lidge hit Teixeira with a pitch, then gave up the tie-breaking double to Alex Rodriguez.
Damon said the Yankees talked about the possibility at various times during the year, because so many teams shift on Teixeira. He said it was more possible Sunday because Feliz isn't that fast (he said he wouldn't have done it if Chone Figgins were the third baseman), and desirable because Lidge relies on a slider that often breaks in the dirt.
Lidge insisted that Damon's presence at third didn't keep him from throwing the slider, and in fact he did throw one to Teixeira on the very next pitch. But he followed that slider with three straight fastballs, including the one A-Rod connected on for the double.
The bigger question is why third base was uncovered, and who should have been there?
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said it should have been either Lidge or Ruiz. Rollins said it was his mistake, because when he told Feliz to cover second base on a steal attempt, he should have also reminded Lidge that third base would be his responsibility.
Lidge said, "I don't really know who's supposed to cover third. That's a weird play."
Somebody should have been at third, somebody in Phillies red. Nobody was, and Damon was alert enough to notice that. And quick enough to get there.
"I felt like, man, I hope I'm Johnny Damon at 25 instead of Johnny Damon in his 30s," Damon said.
The Phillies were impressed.
"Just a heads-up play by a smart baserunner," reliever Scott Eyre said.
"Usually, we're the ones doing it to the other teams," Rollins said.
This time, they were the ones with their heads down. Damon was the one with his head up.
And now the Yankees are the ones with a three games to one advantage in the World Series
Posted on: October 20, 2008 4:17 am
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- My predictions started out so well this postseason.
That's three straight I got right, and then three straight I got wrong. Which, by my figuring, means I'm due to be right with this World Series pick:
Rays in 5.
Why? Simple. The American League is a lot better than the National League, and the Rays are the deserved AL champs. The Phillies are the deserved champs of an inferior league.
Yes, I know that the Phils' bullpen is better. They actually have a closer (and a good one, in Brad Lidge). They have a setup man who was unbelievable against the Dodgers (Ryan Madson, who was so good that one scout jokingly suggested he ought to be drug-tested right now).
That would be key if I thought this series would come down to the bullpens. It won't, because there's also a big difference at the start of games. The Rays' rotation is that much better, especially once you get past Cole Hamels.
Yes, I know the Phillies have had time to set up their rotation, but that also means they've had a week to stop their momentum. And if you've watched this Phillies team, you know it has an offense that tends to shut off every now and then. And one time it shut off -- no surprise -- is when the Phillies played their interleague games.
In a six-game homestand against the Red Sox and Angels, the Phils got one win from Hamels and then lost five straight.
That sounds about right, except now they can't lose five in a row. But they can lose in five, and I'm saying they will.
(Don't) take my word for it.