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May 3 2007

 

Month W-L R R/G RA RA/G
April, 2006 10-14 108 4.5 131 5.46
April, 2007 11-14 123 4.92 121 4.84

In April of 2007 the Phillies fared a little better than they did in April, 2006.  They went 11-14 rather than 10-14.  They scored more runs per game and allowed fewer.

That said, last April they were absolutely miserable both at scoring and preventing runs.  The 108 runs they scored in April of 2006 was just good enough to tie them for 12th-best in the NL.  In April of 2007 they were fourth in the NL in runs scored. 

They still can't get their starting pitching going.  They were 13th in the NL in runs allowed this season after being tied for 13th in the first month of the season in 2006.  April, 2006 saw Madson and Floyd combine to make nine starts in which they threw to a 7.27 ERA.  Seems like it should be one of the easier ones to solve.  Not so much.  April, 2007 saw Eaton make five starts in which he threw to a 7.71 ERA, Myers make three starts in which he threw to a 9.39 ERA and Garcia add three of his own in which he threw to a 5.65 ERA.

The offense seems sure to pick things up, especially if they can ever get Howard going.  But they were much more respectable this April than last.   Here's a look at how some of the key Phillies performed in the two Aprils:

 

  April, 2006 April, 2007
                 
Pos Player AB A/O/S OPS Player AB A/O/S OPS
                 
1B Howard 85 306/388/494 882 Howard 77 221/396/390 786
2B Utley 88 273/330/489 819 Utley 98 296/395/582 977
3B Bell 73 247/286/411 697 Helms 81 284/326/333 659
SS Rollins 97 268/318/392 710 Rollins 111 297/366/613 978
LF Burrell 80 300/400/613 1.013 Burrell 72 292/447/403 850
CF Rowand 92 304/354/446 799 Rowand 90 378/462/622 1.084
RF Abreu 80 300/444/550 994 Victorino 96 260/357/323 680
C Lieberthal 54 296/321/407 729 Ruiz 66 288/319/424 743
  Fasano 29 207/258/414 672 Barajas 28 214/371/357 729

At first base, Ryan Howard is struggling hugely.  He didn't exactly start out on fire last season, either.  He did heat up in May last year, though, hitting 13 home runs in the month, although he wasn't getting on base with nearly the regularity he would in July, August and September. 

Utley started out much better in '07 than he did in '06.

Amazingly, using OPS as the measure, the Phillies got less offense out of third base in April of this season than they did in April of '06.

After pronouncing the Phillies the team to beat in the NL East, Jimmy Rollins did more than his share with what was by far the best April of his career. 

Pat Burrell started hot in '06 like he usually does.  He ended this April with some weird numbers as he continues to get on base without hitting for power.  He's one of four Phillies that see regular time who had an on-base percentage higher than their slugging percentage during the first month of the season.  Howard, Burrell, Victorino and Barajas.  Helms nearly makes it five.  He slugged .333 and on-based .326.

Rowand had a good opening month to the season both years.  Better this year.  Using OPS as the measure, April was the best month of his career since August of 2004 with the White Sox -- he hit nine home runs that month and had 24 RBI.

In right field the Phillies are not coming close to replacing the offense they lost with Abreu.  They covered up for it this month with the offensive output from Rollins, Utley and Rowand.  The Phils scored 865 runs last season and after 27 games this year are on a pace to score  792.  Through 27 games last season they had scored 123 runs and were on a pace to score 738.  Permitting me a moment to state the obvious, the Phillies scored runs at a much higher rate after April of last year than they did during April.

The Phillies catchers so far are producing slightly more offense than their counterparts were a year ago at the same time.  Not to be forgotten is that Lieberthal and Coste both went nuts with the bat during the second half of '06.


May 3 2007

After 27 games of the 2007 season Freddy Garcia has yet to get an out in the sixth inning.  Last night he pitched into the sixth for the second time this year, but again was shutdown in his quest for that elusive out, giving up two singles and hitting a batter before getting pulled.

The Phillies finished last season with their biggest challenges being fixing the rotation, replacing Abreu and Dellucci in right and trying to find a solution that has been long-missing at third.  The third baseman they chose is slugging .344.  Their everyday right-fielder is slugging .316.  The two guys they brought in to sure up the rotation, Eaton and Garcia, have combined to throw to a 7.03 ERA in their nine starts.

For me, the problem is that with the exception of putting Victorino in right I thought all of the moves were solid and would work out for the Phils.  I still think they will.  It's kind of ugly right now, though.

The Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves last night, falling 4-3 to drop to 12-15 on the season.  The Braves take the series two games to one. 

Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones drove in three of the four Braves runs, giving them 10 of 13 for the series. 

Freddy Garcia got the start for the Phillies.  He went five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks.  Three of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles.  He struck out two.  After four starts his ERA is 6.05.

In the first he got the leadoff man before Edgar Renteria doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch.  Chipper Jones walked, putting runners on first and third for Andruw Jones.  Andruw hit a ground ball to short and the Phils forced Chipper at second but did not get the double-play as Renteria scored to put Atlanta up 1-0.  Scott Thorman grounded to first to end the inning.

Willie Harris singled with two outs in the second, but Garcia got pitcher Chuck James to pop to short to end the inning.

Kelly Johnson led off the third with a double and Renteria bunted back to the pitcher, but the throw to first was not in time.  With runners on first and third with one out, Chipper doubled to left-center, scoring both of them to put Atlanta up 3-0.  Garcia set down the next three to leave him stranded.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, making his major league debut after McCann was hit in the hand with a bat and Brayan Pena caught one in the back of his head on a backswing, walked to start the fourth.  Garcia put down the next three in order to end the inning.

If interleague play ever affords us all a chance to see Jarrod Saltalamacchia throw out Mark Grudzielanek trying to steal a base, well, in this writer's humble opinion it will have all been worth it.

Garcia threw a 1-2-3 fifth.  Since the Chipper double in the third, Garcia had allowed just one base runner, which came on a leadoff walk in the fourth.  He had throw 79 pitches through five innings.

Garcia returned to start the sixth for just the second time in his four starts this season.  He still hasn't gotten an out in the sixth.  Thorman singled, Francoeur singled and Garcia hit Saltalamacchia to load the bases.  Geary entered the game and Harris singled to right, moving everyone up a base and giving Atlanta a 4-3 lead.  Chris Woodward pinch-hit for the pitcher and hit a ground ball to third.  Helms came home and the Phillies got the first out of the inning as they forced Francoeur at the plate.  Johnson was next and he hit a ball to right.  Victorino, who entered the game with Geary, caught it fairly deep and made a tremendous throw to nail Saltalamacchia trying to score to end the inning.

Geary returned to throw a 1-2-3 seventh and a 1-2-3 eighth.  Great job by Geary but he really doesn't need to go three innings and throw 35 pitches.  Madson last pitched on Friday.  Rosario on Saturday.  Geary is no doubt unavailable tonight in San Francisco.

The Phillies lineup against Chuck James went (1) Rollins (2) Rowand (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Helms (7) Werth (8) Barajas.  Werth starts again in right against the lefty, which is nice to see.  Rowand in the two-hole for the second straight day against the lefty.  The hot-hitting Barajas gets the start with Garcia on the bump for the first time in four outings.

Rollins blooped a double in front of a diving Harris in left to start the first.  Rowand walked to put runners on first and second.  Utley's bat shattered on a ground ball to Thorman.  Thorman fielded and threw to second, getting Rowand for the first out of the inning as Rollins moved to third.  With runners on first and third with one out, Howard struck out.  Burrell followed with a fly ball to center that ended the frame.

Werth singled to left with one out in the second, but Barajas followed and flew to center for the second out.  Amazingly, with the pitcher up, Werth was caught trying to steal second out to set the Phillies down and ensure that Garcia would lead off the third.   Horrid.

Garcia and Rollins singled to start the third, putting runners on first and second with nobody out.  Rowand hit a line drive to center and Garcia totally misread it -- Andruw Jones caught it and easily doubled Garcia off of second.  It was the Phillies' second base-running blunder in two innings.  Utley struck out to end the frame.

Helms doubled to left with two outs in the fourth, but Werth struck out to end the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fifth.

The Braves had a short pen after Redman exited early on Tuesday night and James started the sixth inning having thrown 94 pitches.  Rowand led off with a single and Utley moved him to third with a double off the wall in left.  Howard followed with a three-run homer to center to tie the game.  Bobby Cox was out of the dugout to pull James before Howard had rounded the bases.  Righty Chad Paronto entered the game and walked Burrell, but Helms followed with ground ball to third that the Braves turned a double-play on.  Werth flew to right for the third out.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the seventh and again in the eighth. 

Burrell flew to center to start the ninth.  Helms was next and Harris retired him on a diving catch in left.  Dobbs pinch-hit for Geary and singled to right, but Barajas flew to center to end the game.

Awful job by the Phillies on the bases early in the game.  Howard had a huge bomb late after striking out with a runner on third and one out in the first. 

Rollins was 2-for-4 with a double.  5-for-13 in the series with no walks.  After walking eight times in his first 26 at-bats, Rollins has one walk in his last 94.

Rowand was 1-for-3 with a single and a walk.  4-for-8 with two walks in the series.  381/470/608 in his first 97 at-bats. 

Utley was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts last night.  4-for-12 with two doubles and an RBI in the series. 

Howard was 1-for-4 with three strikeouts and a three-run homer.  2-for-10 with two walks and five strikeouts in the series. 

Burrell was 0-for-3 with a walk.  0-for-9 in the series.  0-for-his-last-17.  He's hitting .269 and was hitting .333 at the end of the game on April 26.

Helms was 1-for-4 with a double.  2-for-9 with two doubles in the series. 

Werth was 1-for-3 last night and 2-for-6 with a walk in the series.  Victorino was 0-for-1 last night with an amazing throw and 1-for-6 in the series.  He's 3-for-his-last-29 with three singles. 

Barajas 0-for-4.  2-for-6 in the series with a home run and two walks.  Ruiz was 0-for-3. 

The Phillies will be in San Francisco tonight for the first of four with the Giants.  Adam Eaton (2-2, 7.71) faces righty Matt Cain (1-1, 1.54) in the opener.  Eaton will be making his sixth start and has allowed at least four earned runs in four of his first five.  He's allowed five home runs in 28 innings.  Righties are hitting .327 against him.  Cain has made five starts for the Giants.  Over the last four he's thrown to an 0.93 ERA and has not allowed more than a run in any of the four.  He's allowed seven hits in his last 29 innings.  Really he has.  Opponents are hitting .109 against him.  He hasn't allowed a longball in his last four starts or one to a lefty all season.  Etc, etc.  He's pitching well.

Tom Gordon has a problem with his shoulder and will head back to Philadelphia to see the team doctor.  This presumably means that Brett Myers is the closer.  The linked article includes a suggestion that the Phillies "misled the public about the pitcher's condition in spring training."  Another article about Gordon here with mostly more of the same but adds that Gordon may still be suffering with the same problem that was ailing him at the end of last season.  The second article suggests Gordon may go on the DL today, which would require a move from the Phils to fill their roster.  Condrey would be my guess.  Even if they wanted to call back Matt Smith, which would be surprising to me, he has been in the minors for less than ten days (sent down 4/26) and can't be recalled unless Gordon goes on the DL.

After complaining about losing a start to Werth in right against a lefty Tuesday night, Shane Victorino says he was shocked to see himself sitting again last night against another lefty.  Victorino is hitting 219/286/313 against lefties this season.  His career slugging percentage overall is .376.  This year he is slugging .316, which is 62nd among the 70 NL players with at least 100 plate appearances.  I think it's hard to argue that he's a weak offensive player as a corner outfielder and likely always will be.  If he's going to play every day it needs to be at center.  Werth still seems like the better choice in right, at least against lefties.

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