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November 17 2006

Let's take yet another minute to step back, ignore all the talk and look at what the Phillies have actually done this off-season.  Their two most important moves have addressed the two areas where they were weakest.  The re-signed Jamie Moyer and look to have reached a deal with Wes Helms.  Whether you're disappointed in the Helms gamble or not, it shouldn't be lost on any of us that despite the endless discussion of Sheffield and Ramirez and Soriano the two moves the Phillies made gave them a boost in the areas where they needed help the most. 

Let's hope it's enough to get them past the Washington Nationals.

Coming into the 2006 season the popular thinking was that there were two wretched teams in the NL East, the Nationals and the Marlins.  The popular thinkers were half right.  The Nationals went 71-91, a little better than some had expected.  The Marlins, on the other hand, were a force in the division.  The team picked by virtually everyone to be hundred game losers and the laughing stock of baseball was in it to the end and finished with a 78-84 mark.

The Phillies couldn't beat the Nationals when they needed to, however.  The biggest blow they suffered all season was losing two of three to Washington in a series at the end of September that took them from Wild Card leaders to virtually eliminated from playoff contention.

Here's a look at what the Phillies did against teams in the NL East:

 

Team G W-L ERA RA RA/G R R/G
NY 19 8-11 4.71 105 5.53 92 4.84
WAS 19 9-10 4.91 100 5.26 106 5.58
FLA 19 13-6 4.19 85 4.47 120 6.32
ATL 18 11-7 4.42 84 4.67 104 5.78

Overall the Phils went a very respectable 41-34.

Over the 162 games of the season the Phillies score 865 runs, or about 5.34 a game, and allowed 812 runs, or about 5.01 a game.

The Mets were just better than the Phillies last year.  The Phillies defense absolutely abandoned them against New York as well, the Mets scored 17 unearned runs in the 19 contests between the two clubs.

The Phils absolutely dominated the Marlins.  On the year, Florida pitchers as a group threw to a 5.98 ERA against the Phils.  It's no wonder Scott Olsen wanted to ruin their season.

The Phillies also had a lot of success against the Braves.  They were able to both hold the strong Atlanta offense, which scored the second most runs in the league, in check and do some damage against the Atlanta hurlers.

Most curious, perhaps, is how the Phillies failed to take advantage of a weak Washington Nationals team.  The Nats pitchers allowed the most runs in the NL last season but were able to handle the Phils, who fared much better against the better pitchers on the Marlins and Braves.  The Nationals batters also feasted on Phillies pitching, despite being near the bottom (tied for tenth) in the NL in runs scored.  As a team the Nats hit 262/338/418 for the year but a much more impressive 290/356/462 against the Phillies.

And if you've got your to-do list handy, after the Phils figure out how to beat the Nationals maybe they can figure out how to beat the Brewers and the Red Sox.  The Phillies combined to go 2-10 against Boston and Milwaukee.

The regular season in the Arizona Fall League is over.  The Saguaros won their final game yesterday, beating the Mesa Solar Sox 5-0 to finish 15-17 and a game behind the Grand Canyon Rafters in the AFL West.  Gio Gonzalez was excellent again.  He threw 3 2/3 scoreless frames, striking out four while allowing two hits and three walks and lowering his ERA to 2.81.  Kyle Kendrick followed Gonzalez and was not charged with a run in 1 1/3 innings.  He allowed one hit and lowered his ERA to 6.75. 

The Phillies met with Alfonso Soriano yesterday and either did or did not make him an offer.  Just for humor value I'm hoping the Phils land Soriano and trade him and Carlos Monasterios to the Yankees for Abreu.

The Devil Rays either did or did not offer Rocco Baldelli for Cole Hamels.  Depends who you ask.  I would say the chances of a trade in which the Phillies send Cole Hamels to Tampa Bay for Rocco Baldelli are really, really slim.

This article claims that David Dellucci says he has been contacted by 11 teams and his preference is to return to the Rangers.  This article claims the Rangers may try to trade for Aaron Rowand if they can't re-sign free agent Gary Matthews, Jr.

Oodles of folks are interested in Joe Borowski, including the Indians, Giants, Blue Jays and Red Sox.  Were I going to be a stick in the mud type I might say that Borowski is going to be 37 and the only time he pitched to an ERA under four in the past three seasons was last year at vacuous Pro Player Stadium.  In 2004 his ERA was 8.02.  It's probably nothing. 

Tomo Ohka, a free agent starting pitcher you never hear talked about as a possibility for the Phils, has been talking with the Diamondbacks.  The righty Ohka is 30 and threw to a 4.82 ERA in 18 starts with the Brewers for about four and half million dollars last year.  It was his worst season in the past five, so apparently he's not up on the thing where you put up your best numbers the year before you become a free agent.  Maybe it doesn't translate into Japanese as well as it does into Spanish.  He had shoulder and hamstring problems this past season, but I say lets get him a uni.

Rod Barajas and the Blue Jays talk it out.  Rod is one-for-eight in major league seasons at on-basing over .300.  In the one year he did, 2005, he on-based .306 and hit 21 home runs.  Still.

Catcher Miguel Ojeda signs with the Rangers.

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