-Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero

-Pro Football Prospectus 2006

-Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

-Break Point!: An Insider's Look at the Pro Tennis Circuit

-Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold'em

-How I Play Golf (Tiger Woods)

-The Last Season


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September 13 2006

Arthur Rhodes looks done for the year, according to the Phillies web site he has a small tear in his flexor tendon.  It was a brutal year for Rhodes, who will be 37 in October.  He came into the 2006 season off of a year where he had been tremendous.  With the Indians in 2005 he had thrown to a 2.08 ERA, allowing just 33 hits and 12 walks in 43 1/3 innings. 

His first appearance of the year for the Phillies didn't come until the third game of the season.  With the 0-2 Phillies trailing the Cardinals on the day in which J-Roll's 38-game hitting streak would come to an end, Rhodes came in to pitch the ninth inning with the Phils down 4-2.  He kept the Cardinals off the board that inning but didn't look real solid, allowing singles to the first two batters he faced before striking out the next two and ending the inning on a ground ball back to the pitcher.  He threw another scoreless inning on April 9 as the Phillies got their first win of the season, beating the Dodgers to improve to 1-5 on the year.  The next day in Atlanta the Phillies went into the bottom of the seventh in a 3-3 tie, but Ryan Franklin gave up a solo home run to Marcus Giles to put the Braves up 4-3.  Rhodes came in to pitch the ninth and gave up his first run of the year, allowing a double to Adam LaRoche and a two-out single to Wilson Betemit to put the Braves up to stay at 5-3.  The Phillies used him to get a single out in his next three appearances, and he did so without being charged a run.  On April 18 in Washington, he relieved Cory Lidle in a game the Phillies trailed 4-3 in the eighth and got hit hard again.  He allowed two runs, allowing a single to Jose Vidro, a walk to Marlon Byrd and an RBI double to Ryan Zimmerman before intentionally walking Royce Clayton (really!) to load the bases.  He then hit Brian Schneider to force in a run and extend the Nats lead to 6-3. 

Rhodes would appear in three more games in April, allowing runs in two of them.  He ended the month with an ominous 5.87 ERA, having allowed nine hits and eight walks in 9 2/3 innings.  The eight walks are particularly befuddling -- he had walked just 12 for the entire season the year before in Cleveland.

Rhodes seemed to pick things up in May, and the most optimistic of us were willing to write off the awful first month as a coincidence.  He roared through his first five appearances, throwing 5 1/3 innings without being charged with a run.  He allowed just four hits and two walks.  On May 17 he took his first loss of the year in Milwaukee.  After the streaking 22-16 Phillies scored three times in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 7-7, Rhodes came on to pitch the bottom of the ninth.  Jeff Cirillo led off with a walk and moved to second on a bunt.  With two outs, Geoff Jenkins, who has hit .440 against Phillies pitching this year, crushed a ball to center for a game-winning single.  Rhodes was hit hard in his next appearance as well.  On May 21 against the Red Sox he struck out the side in the eighth, but allowed two runs on four hits and his ERA for the year puffed to 4.91.  Rhodes finished off the month with three more appearances where he wasn't charged with a run, going 2 1/3 innings over three games. 

May was the best month of his season.  In ten games he threw to a 2.79 ERA, allowing 11 hits and five walks in 9 2/3 innings.  Again, even in his good month he was allowing more than a hit an inning after allowing much less than a hit and inning last year and walking too many batters.

He struggled in June.  His first appearance of the month came on June 2.  Pitching in the eighth inning of a game in which the Phillies were beating the Dodgers 8-5, he gave up a run on doubles to Olmedo Saenz and Sandy Alomar, Jr.  The Phillies would go on to win the game 8-6.  He allowed just one run over his next seven appearances, throwing 6 1/3 innings and giving up just six hits.  On June 20 he was pitching on his third straight day and he got blown up.  On June 18 he got hit hard by the Devil Rays, allowing a run on three hits while getting just one out.  Even with that bad outing, he had his ERA down to 3.80 after the June 18 game.  On June 19 he threw a perfect inning against the Yankees as the Phillies got back to .500 at 35-35.  His ERA was 3.65, but there was no place to go but up for the rest of the season.  On June 20, Manuel brought him in for the third straight day against the Yankees in Philadelphia to start the eighth inning in a game the Phillies led 7-5.  The inning started when Williams was safe on a ball to Bell that was first called an error and later changed to a single, and things went down hill from there.  Walk, RBI-single, two-run triple and Rhodes was out.  Franklin came in and allowed the runner Rhodes had left on third to score.  His ERA went from 3.65 to 5.11 that day.

The June numbers for Rhodes wound up looking awful.  A 5.79 ERA and another 12 hits and five walks allowed in just 9 1/3 innings.  That game against the Yankees where he got lit up when he was called on to throw in three games in three straight days may have been the turning point of his season.

Rhodes would only appear in eight games in July after ten in April, ten in May and eleven in June.   He threw on back-to-back days only once, July 25 and 26.  He allowed runs in four of the eight games he pitched.  The worst of them came on July 18 against the Padres.  He started the bottom of the eighth with the Phillies down 7-5.  Single, double, fly out, intentional walk, loaded the bases, and he again hit a batter to drive in a run.  Dave Roberts followed with a two-run double to bring in two more runs and the Phillies were down 10-5.  It could have been worse for Rhodes, but Fultz came in with one out and runners on second and third and kept the Padres off the board.  Rhodes was out of the game with a 6.07 ERA and didn't pitch again until July 25. 

July wound up being the worst month for Rhodes.  He threw to an 11.12 ERA, allowing six hits and five walks in just 5 2/3 innings.  At the end of July he had a 5.85 ERA on the year and still had not allowed a home run.

If the Phillies tried to rest Rhodes in July, they had no choice but to use him in August.  He was lights out to start the month.  In his first seven games he was not charged with a run, allowing just two hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings.  He struck out eight and had his ERA down to 4.89 after throwing a scoreless inning on August 20.  He got hit by the Cubs on August 21.  Trying to knock down the save in a game the Phillies led 6-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, he gave up two runs on three hits, including his first home run of the year, a two-run shot to Jacque Jones.  Rhodes held on to finish the inning and earn a save, his third on the year.  Manuel tried to pitch him three days in a row again on August 31.  After Rhodes had gotten one out on August 29 and thrown a scoreless inning on August 30, Charlie brought him in again on August 31.  Again it didn't work.  With the Phillies leading the Nationals 4-2, Manuel brought Rhodes in to pitch the bottom of the ninth.  Rhodes allowed a single and a double to lead off the inning, then struck out Bernie Castro and got Henry Mateo to ground out to first with the runners holding at second and third.  The Phillies intentionally walked Soriano to load the bases, and Felipe Lopez hit a two-run single before Rhodes struck out Zimmerman to end the inning in a 4-4 tie.  The Phillies would go ahead 5-4 in the top of the tenth and lose 6-5 when the Nats put up two against Fultz in the bottom of the tenth.

The numbers for Rhodes in August after seeing little action in July proved to be good overall.  He threw to a 3.27 ERA, allowing eight hits and four walks in 11 innings. 

He appeared only three times in September, charged with two runs on just one hit but three walks.  The hit he allowed was a two-run home run to Adam LaRoche on September 2 that put the Braves up 4-3 in the ninth.  On September 9, Rhodes was in obvious pain and removed from the game after throwing his second wild pitch of the inning, this one to Alfredo Amezaga. 

The Phillies were counting on Rhodes this season and it obviously didn't work out.  For much of the year the Phillies pen was terrific, but as we reach the end of the season it has broken down.  Rhodes was hit hard by lefties this year, they tagged him at a .290 clip while righties hit just .240 against him.  Lefties hit both of the home runs he allowed.  Over the last two years Rhodes has now allowed just four home runs in 89 innings while striking out 91.  Rhodes was definitely hurt but the walk this season, walking 30 batters in 45 2/3 innings for a rate of 5.91 per nine innings, which is his highest rate walk since 1999 and second-highest of his 16-year career.

Charlie Manuel has to share some of the blame for the wretched production the Phillies got out of Rhodes this year.  There's a good chance Rhodes won't ever pitch for the Phillies again.  Hopefully his injury isn't so bad he won't be able to pitch for anyone.  If he does, here's some advice for his next team:  Don't pitch him three days in a row.  The Phillies tried that twice this year and twice it was a disaster.  Pitching on his third consecutive day, Rhodes went on June 20 against the Yankees and August 31 against the Nationals.  His combined output for those games was that he went one inning, allowing six earned runs on six hits and two walks (54.00 ERA).  Doing it once was a bad idea.  Doing it twice after the first time had been a disaster was a worse idea.  For Rhodes this year those two outings were the difference between a 4.32 ERA (21 runs in 44 2/3 innings) and the 5.32 ERA (27 runs in 45 2/3 innings) he posted.

In better news, a lot of things went right for the Phillies yesterday, as the Padres and Marlins lost and the Phillies picked up a half game in the Wild Card standings.

The Reds beat San Diego 5-4 when Jason LaRue connected for an 11th inning home run off of Doug Brocail.  The Mets magic number is down to three after they topped the Marlins 6-4 yesterday.  The Mets went into the top of the seventh down 4-0 but came up with six runs in their last three at-bats to take the game.  The Giants beat the Rockies 10-6.

The Phillies start the day at two games back in the Wild Card, trailing the Padres and a half a game behind the Giants.

This afternoon's double-header with the Braves is big.  If the Phillies get swept their season is close to over.

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