July 31 2006

The promised return to greatness for Jon Lieber didn't start this afternoon.  He got absolutely shelled, so Gillick will no doubt only be able to trade him for a couple of low level prospects now. 

The Phillies made another move today, calling up right-handed reliever Brian Sanches to take Rheal Cormier's roster spot.  Sanches has been great at Triple-A, throwing to a 1.89 ERA in 38 1/3 innings while allowing just 21 hits and striking out 45.  It would all be fabulous if only he weren't 27.  Sanches had appeared in six games for the Phillies this season prior to today's callup, allowing six hits and seven walks in 7 2/3 innings, so you can expect him to be moved into the Phillies rotation at any time now (not really, I'm just bitter).

The Phillies were mauled by the Florida Marlins this afternoon, losing the game 15-2.  The loss drops their record on the season 49-55.  The Phils take the five-game marathon of a series, winning three of five.

Jon Lieber got the start for the Phillies.  He went 4 2/3 innings, allowing nine runs on 13 hits and a walk.  Six hits went for extra-bases, three doubles and three home runs.  Lieber ends the day with a 6.09 ERA.  He hasn't had a season where he posted an ERA above 4.50 since 1995.  In his last two starts he's allowed 24 hits in 11 2/3 innings.

Lieber got the first two in the top of the first before Jacobs doubled and Cabrera homered to put Florida up 2-0.

In the second, Lieber got the leadoff man before Ramirez singled and Olivo homered.  4-0 Florida.

Lieber gave up a two-out double to Cabrera in the third, but got Willingham to foul out to third and end the inning.

In the fourth, a one-out single to Ramirez and a two-out double by the pitcher Johnson made it 5-1 Florida.

Lieber started the fifth and got the first batter before allowing another double to Jacobs.  The Phillies then walked Cabrera intentionally, setting up the three-run homer, which came off the bat of Hermida after Lieber struck out Willingham.  Hermida's blast made it 8-1 Florida with two outs and nobody on, but the next three Marlins singled, bringing in another run and it was 9-1 Florida with runners on first and third.  Castro, who must think this is all some type of elaborate practical joke they play on new guys from the Dominican Republic, entered the game yet again and got Amezaga on a line drive that Howard made a nice play on to end the inning.

Castro returned to throw a 1-2-3 sixth.  He also pitched the seventh, hitting the leadoff man but retiring the next three batters he faced.  He's now thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings since joining the Phillies, clearly demonstrating the mad genius of Pat Gillick.  Just you wait till 2011. 

Brian Sanches entered the game in the top of the eighth with the score 9-1.  He walked two of the first four he faced and had two outs with runners on first and second when Cabrera doubled, scoring one and making it 10-1.  Reggie Ambercrombie followed with a triple, scoring two more runs and making the score 12-1 Florida before Helms flew out to end the inning.  Sanches had to throw 43 pitches in his inning of work. 

Rick White pitched the ninth, starting the inning with the Marlins up 12-2.   Hanley Ramirez led off and reached on another throwing error by Nunez.  An Olivo double made it second and third before Borchard struck out for the first out of the inning and Amezaga followed with a ground ball to short that scored Ramirez from third.  It was 13-2 with one out and a runner on first.  Uggla followed and hit a two-run homer to make it 15-2 and White walked Jacobs before getting Matt Treanor to end the inning.

The Phillies lineup against the righty Josh Johnson went (1) Rollins (2) Dellucci (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Rowand (7) Nunez (8) Coste.  This is the same lineup as the Phillies fielded in last night's game, with Coste catching again in the day game following a night game due to Lieber's abnormal fear of pitching to Mike Lieberthal. 

It wasn't much of an offensive showing from the Phillies. 

They had one hit in the first two innings, a single from Rowand.

Coste led off the third with a solo home run, his third on the year, which made the score 4-1.  They got a two-out single from Dellucci in the inning but Utley flew to right to end the frame. 

The Phillies mananged just two singles in innings four through seven.  One was a sixth inning single by Chase Utley, which extended his hitting streak to 32 games.  Utley was replaced in the top of the seventh defensively by Danny Sandoval, a nice move by Manuel to get Utley at least a few innings of rest during the streak.  Sandoval is primarily a shortstop, but with Nunez at third base as a full-time gig there's not a lot of other choices unless you're stoked to see Lieberthal out there.  We'll have to wait and see if Manuel is willing to play Sandoval at second in games where the score isn't 9-1, but I expect he is.

In the eighth they got a two-out double from Dellucci and an RBI-single from Sandoval, which made the score 12-2 in what looked like a devastating blow to those who had the Marlins -10 1/2. 

Rollins was 0-for-4 in the game and 1-for-9 with a home run in the series. 

Dellucci was 2-for-4 with a double today and 4-for-16 in the series. 

Utley 1-for-3 today and 8-for-19 with four extra-base hits in the series. 

Howard was 0-for-4 today and 5-for-13 with three home runs and eight walks in the series.

Burrell 0-for-4 with a strikeout and 3-for-10 with two home runs in the series.

Nunez was 0-for-3 with a walk.  In the series he was 4-for-17 with four walks.  He made two errors in the series, both throwing.

Coste was 2-for-4 with a home run.  5-for-12 in the series and caught three of the five games.  He threw out Amezaga trying to steal second in today's game, and now has caught 4-for-12 (33.3%) trying to run on him (Fasano 8-of-37 (21.6%), Lieberthal 8-of-28 (28.6%).

The Phillies start a three-game series in St. Louis tomorrow night with Scott Mathieson on the hill.

July 31 2006

No truth to the rumor that the Phillies will be changing their motto from "Red Means Go" to "As-much-fun-as-you-can-have-watching-a-four-month-salary-dump."

When you look at the Phillies deadline moves from the past few days I think it's important to differentiate between the plan and the execution of the plan.  In terms of the execution of the plan, I don't think you can fault Gillick on the Abreu and Lidle deal -- once it was decided that the Phillies were going to dump as many big contracts as they could I'm willing to believe that he got as much as he could.

The plan, on the other hand, astounds me.  That the Phillies would come as close as they did last season and decide to knock it all down instead of trying to get over the hump.  I think they decided that a long time ago, before the season started.  I have a hard time believing that the Phillies were deciding up to a week or so ago if they were buyers or sellers.  Pat Gillick told us before the season started he didn't think the Phillies were going to the playoffs, just like he told us yesterday that they weren't going to the playoffs in 2007 either.  And then he and the Phillies made sure of it.  They started the season with Floyd and Madson in the starting rotation, and when they got hammered over and over they let them pitch until the Phillies' rotation was the worst in the league, nearly the worst in baseball.  They traded for Fabio Castro and told us that despite the fact he would be on the roster for the entire season, he wasn't good enough to pitch at baseball's highest level.  I don't think you do those things if you're looking to win this year.

The Phillies have a long road back now, even to get to where they were at the beginning of the year.  What have the Phillies done this season that puts them in a better position for next year?  They got some payroll flexibility that they don't need if they're not trying to compete.  They got some experience for guys like Hamels, Madson, Victorino, Mathieson, Coste and maybe some other guys who's future's don't look so promising right now like Sandoval and Bourn.  They saved a lot of money and got some bodies for their farm system.  The point is, however, that right now I don't know if what they got from this year is a lot or a little.  I don't think we're going to know for a while.

I would have liked to see those guys, Abreu and Bell and Lieberthal and Burrell and Rollins, make it to the playoffs together, even just once.  I don't believe they weren't good enough to do it this year with one more starter and about 40 fewer starts from Floyd, Madson and Hamels.

The Phillies won again last night, taking the night game in the double-header 9-2 for their third straight win.  The win improves them to 49-54 on the year and they are back in second place in the NL East, 13 1/5 games behind the Mets.  They are five games out in the Wild Card hunt and trail five teams.

Before last night's game the Phillies made two moves to replace Abreu and Lidle's roster spots.  They called up right-handed pitcher Scott Mathieson and speedster lefty outfielder Michael Bourn.  Bourn spent most of the year at Double-A and was not real impressive, posting a 274/350/365 line in over 300 at-bats.  He did steal 30 bases, but had just 15 extra-base hits in 318 at-bats at Double-A.  The 23-year-old  was curiously promoted to Triple-A in early July and fared much better there, hitting 333/425/467 in 90 at-bats with another 11 steals but with more power, seven extra-base hits in 90 at-bats.  Between the two levels he stole 41 bases and was caught just five times.  Mathieson had also been pitching at Triple-A after spending much of the season at Double-A.  He was awesome at Triple-A, In three starts he had thrown to a 3.40 ERA and allowed just 16 hits in 21 2/3 innings while striking out 23.  It looks as if he will pitch out of the pen for now, unless Lieber is traded or Madson loses his spot in the rotation, which seems less likely with the Phillies out of it and Madson coming off of a nice start.  Mathieson has been up with the Phillies already this year, appearing in four games, three of which he started.  He looked very good in his last outing, a July 8 start against the Padres in which he went eight innings, but has thrown to a 5.48 ERA overall.  Righties are hitting .340 against him and he might need to improve that number to be consistently successful. 

Ryan Madson got the start for the Phillies and pitched well.  He went six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits.  He didn't allow a walk and struck out six.  Two of the eight hits went for extra-bases, a triple and a home run.

Madson kept the Marlins off the board through the first four innings, allowing a single hit.  He started the fifth with a 1-0 lead before Josh Willingham led off the inning with a solo home run.  He allowed another hit in the inning, a one-out single to Hanley Ramirez, but got out of the inning without further damage. 

He got hit harder in the sixth, which started with the score tied at 1-1.  Amezaga led off with a triple and Uggla followed with a single that put the Marlins up 2-1.  Cabrera flew out and Uggla was caught stealing (great idea, Dan!) for the first two outs of the inning.   Jacobs and Willingham followed with singles, but Madson got Hermida to line to center to end the inning. 

The Phillies scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to lead 7-2.  Apparently it was enough for Manuel to call on Rick White, who pitched the top of the seventh and allowed the first two men to get on base before getting the next three to end the inning.  After getting shelled with the Reds, White has pitched to a 3.27 ERA in 11 games with the Phillies.  

Rhodes pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.  Fabio Castro, appearing in his second game in two days, pitched a scoreless ninth.  He allowed a one-out double to Hanley Ramirez but got out unscathed.

The Phillies lineup in the post-Abreu ERA against Brian Moehler went (1) Rollins (2) Dellucci (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Rowand (7) Nunez (8) Coste.  Rollins returns to the lineup and the leadoff spot.  I expect we'll continue to see Dellucci in right with Victorino playing against left-handers.  Utley moves down to third and Howard hits cleanup with Burrell hitting fifth, giving the Phillies three straight lefties.  Coste catches Madson.

Dellucci has gotten just 140 at-bats on the year and he has been allowed to hit almost exclusively against righties.  In those 140 at-bats, however, he's created 7.52 runs per 27 outs compared to 7.39 runs per 27 outs created by Abreu.

After going 1-2-3 in the first, the Phillies got on top in the second when Burrell hit a one-out home run to put the Phillies up 1-0.

The Phillies got just one hit, a single from Howard in the fourth, in innings three through five.  They started the bottom of the sixth down 2-1.  Rollins hit a one-out homer, tying the game at 2-2, and Dellucci followed with a triple.  Utley singled and the Phillies were up 3-2 before a two-run home run from Howard made it 5-2.  Burrell followed and lined to right for the second out of the inning.  With two outs and nobody on, the Phillies loaded the bases on two singles and a walk and Victorino singled to center, driving in two to put the Phils up 7-2. 

In the seventh, with the score still 7-2, Utley homered to put the Phils up 8-2 and Howard followed with a double and was knocked in by Burrell to extend the lead to 9-2. 

Rollins was 1-for-5 with an RBI.

Dellucci was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Utley extended his hitting steak to 31 by going 2-for-4 with his 21st home run.  In the cleanup spot, Howard went 3-for-4 with home run number 35 on the year.

Burrell was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI.  Burrell is 4-for-his-last-10 with two home runs and three walks.

Rowand was 1-for-4.  Nunez 0-for-3 with a walk.  He's 5-for-18 with five singles since Wednesday.

Coste was 1-for-4 with a single.

The Phillies made yet another deal today, sending one of their many lefties, Rheal Cormier, to the Reds for 23-year-old-right-handed pitcher Justin Germano.  Germano appeared in seven games with the Padres in 2004, making five starts and getting hit hard to an 8.86 ERA.  He appeared in two games for the Reds this year, throwing to a 5.40 ERA.  In Triple-A this season he was 8-6 with a 3.69 ERA, allowing 124 hits in 117 innings.  He struck out 67 (really!).  On the other hand, the Phillies don't need Cormier and I'm pretty sure he's done, 1.59 ERA or not.

Jon Lieber faces Josh Johnson this afternoon.

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