GRADING THE PHILLIES

Just some grades for the end of the year report card. there were highs and lows and in betweens. Anywho, here go the grades.  1) Manager–I was going to give him a D minus since the players play for him, but isnt that their job anyway. Sorry Charlie, you are a nice man and I love your fire(he was ejected as often, maybe more than Bowa for arguing) but the only way he will ever have a clue as manager is if someone buys him the board game. Grade–F.  2) Catcher–Leeby was, well, Leeby. Chris Coste was a nice surprise. sSal Fasano was a bust as a backup. Carlos Ruiz should have been given more of a chance in the last 2 months so the team would have a better idea if he could handle the big leagues everyday heading into next year. Coste saves them here for a passing grade. Grade–D  3) 1B–What can you say about Ryan Howard that hasnt already been said. I’ll say it one more time–MVP!! Grade–A+  4) 2B–Chase Utley proved he can handle everyday life in the big leagues–32 HR–102 RBI–.309 AVE–.527 SLG–132 RUNS–.908 OPS. Phenominal!! Slumped for a time in the second half, but came to life again the last couple of weeks. Grade–A-  5) SS–Jimmy Rollins is two different players–the first half player and the second half player. He looks ordinary in the first half each year, but tears it up in the second half. If he could put together two halves in a year like what his post all-star performances are like the Phillies would easily be in the playoffs. He still is not a leadoff hitter in my book, but 127 runs, 25 HR, 83 RBI, .277 Ave is nothing to shake a stick at. The good, only 80 strikeouts this year. He has cut down on those each year. The bad–57 walks for leadoff guy, not great. Also, the .334 OBP is not what you need from your leadoff hitter and catalyst at the top of your lineup. That said, he gives you impeccable defense. Would be a fine 6 or 7 hitter. Grade–B  6) 3B–David Bell started to play solid offense and defense before being traded. Abe Nunez was a disappointment at the plate, though provided good defense. The Phillies have many other needs this offseason and there is only so much $$ to go around, so I think he will be back if they can trade Burrell and add protection for Ryan Howard. I can live with him in that case. In a perfect world, they will find someone else who better serves at the plate while giving good defense. Grade-C-  7) LF–Pat Burrell’s final numbers: 29 HR, 95 RBI, .502 SLG, look good, but he has some of the most hollow stats of anyone in baseball. It would be interesting to see how many of those came when it mattered. There is a reason a man with those stats is being offered around, with Gillick begging someone to take him. He easily led all of MLB in third stike calls. Jeff Conine was supposed to give the team bench help, but due to Burrell’s lack of production, or quality production, Manuel felt the need to play him more regularly. That didnt work out so well. Grade-F  8) CF–Aaron Rowand was playing a fine defensive CF and hitting a bit over .300 when he did the famous run in to the wall vs the Mets in May. He never reagined form after coming off the DL from that before his season ending injury. Shane Victorino proved he can play in the bigs, though I still like Shane better as a fourth OF who will get 400 AB per year than 550 to 600. Still in all, more than adequate job. Grade B-   9) RF–Bobby Abreu lost his power here this year, but was still a very good offensive player before the trade. David Dellucci was great until August and September, just so happens thats when they could have used him most. Shane Victorino did a nice job in right when there. Grade–C   Bench–This to me looked like at the beginning of the year one of the things Pat Gillick really improved. However, Alex Gonzalez failed then retired. Abe Nunez didnt adjust to a bench role. Sal Fasano, as stated before, didnt pan out. David Delucci for Vinny Padilla was a solid move. Dellucci was great off the bench most of the year, especially the first half. Victorino also was a superb bench player. Afetr the late July trading flurry depleted the bench, Gillick did his best to replenish the bench for minimal to no cost when he got Jose Hernandez and Jeff Conine. Rowand’s injury hurt the depth, as did the Abreu trade. At the time he wasnt trading for a pennant run, little knowing they would take off after that. In the end the bench did hurt, having to use the Red Barons statring lineup as pinch hitters,etc. Grade-D+  Start ng pitching——-Cole Hamels emerged, Brett Myers was solid, but still to me needs to go to another level(mentally not physically) Jamie Moyer was great, Lieber disappointed. Gavin Floyd showed to me he will never be what they hoped. All in all, in the first half they were bad, second half much better. Grade–C–  Bullpen—Tom Gordon proved he could close, just that he needs to stay healthy all year. Geoff Geary emerged as a reliable middle innings man. Arthur Rhodes showed he is finished. Flavio Castro has good stuff, but needs more seasoning. Aaron Fultz, Rick White, and the others are gone. Ryan Madson is inconsistent to a maddening degree. He needs to become consistent. Overall they were OK mainly because of Gordon and Geary. Grade–B.   Overall team grade–C. They were 85-77. Bad first half, good second half. Couldnt beat the Nats (1 out of 3) in the last week of the season when it counted. Until they learn to put together more first halves each year like their second halves each of the last two years,they will always be in this position. Anyway, thats my grades of the team this year. Coming in the future will be discussion about offseason moves, etc. Oh grading the GM(almost forgot) He did well to get guys for the pennant drive after announcing the season for this year and next were over. He admitted mistakes where he made them, was aggressive to do what the previous GM didnt have the stones to do and shake things up. Gillick recognized, unlike Ed Wade, this team as constructed at the beginning of the year, needed a shakeup to the nucleus. Wade always said "If we play up our potential" yadayada. Gillick saw they were playong to their potential and shook things up. Though some of his moves can be questioned last offseason, the main thing this team needed was a breakup of the Wade gan d era and its nucleus, and he did and is doing that. That was the most important factor they needed to move forward, and that is why I gice Gillick a solid B. Now Im done. Do you agree or not wuth my grades? Thanks for reading.

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WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR(AAARRGGGHHH)

Dissappointed? Absolutely! Not just in thefact the Phils missed the playoffs, but in the fact of (again) how they lost it. Losing three of four to start the week, two of three to the lowly Nats at that. I know people are talking about the new era, the young nucleus of the future, etc. yet it was the same result as the old era, old nucleus, etc. It just seems to me, as I have stated before, no matter who the players are for this franchise its always the same result in the end. Losing games when it matters most, often to teams they should not lose to. I have always said with Gillick in charge the Phils will be in the playoffs in 2 to 3 years tops under his reign. I now wonder, given the reasons above, are we ever going to see playoffs around here? I am sure its my frustration and disappointment talking, but I think there is validity to my point too. This group of ownerships reign has brought me no confidience or hope to believe were about to launch into another golden era ala the late 70’s and 80’s. I dont trust them one bit they wont screw with payroll, actually pay a little money to get a real manager here, or ultimately go the extra mile in an effort to try to bring in a winner here. Yes there are encouriging signs with some of the young nucleus, Pat Gillick, etc. but ownership has ultimate control, and thats what scares me. I am tired of wait until next year, because next year never gets here. Its always the same ol-same ol. I am 36 years old and for 2/3 of my life this ownership group has been in control. This is mainly what I am used to and it stinks!!! This offseason will tell me what kind of committment they are willing to make, to see if they go the extra mile, etc. Until then call me Thomas, I will have to see it to believe it. As for the players, they are to balme too for losing three of four to begin the week and essentially lose their playoff chances, or hope of them. In the next day or two I will blog to talk about offseason needs, year in review, etc. Until then, on behalf of Phrustrated Phillies fans as myself, later.

HOLDING OFF THE FAT LADY ONE MORE DAY

Incredible that the Phillies dont end up blowing that game!! They gave the Nats every chance to win. Just about every concern I wrote about in my blog yesterday came to pass. But hey, at least for one more day they stay alive. If they lose tonight to the Nats they are cooked. It doesnt appear the Dodgers are gonna lose to the Rocks, so the Phils cant afford to go down 2 with three to go. Just some thoughts on last nights game: 1) Is it me or was that home plate umpire a joke last night? Pitches that were balls he called strikes, and vice verca. On several occasions(both teams mind you) pitches that were back to back in the same spot he called differently. At least if your gonna be bad, be consistent about it so pitchers and batters know what the deal is. 2) How obvious is it now that Ryan Howard has absolutely no protection. I know some Phillie fans were mad at Frank Robinson, but I dont blame him. His job is to win whether they are 1 out or 23 out. I promise that will NOT happen next year. There will protection for Howard. Some names on my list are a) Carlos Lee, free agent from Texas. 2) Aramis Ramirez, 3B Cubs. It would take some good prospects, but the Phils would fill their third base need AND protect Howard. 3) Alsonso Soriano, OF Nats. Not my top choice, but if it comes down to it he is 1,000 times better than what they have now in the fifth spot. 3) Nice to see Chase Utley this week pick his game back up to all-star level. Lets see what happens tonight.

NOT LOOKING GOOD!!

Uh Oh, here we go again?? Are the Phillies going to tease us once more into hanging around and getting thisclose before pulling out the rug on us once more? Some things to consider are 1) history—-I know they have a new nucleus, and I am excited about those guys too, but hey, they are still the Phillies. History says they will find a way to blow it, and after the last two games in which they blew 2 run leads in each game, and the fact they lost to a team they cant afford to lose to(the Nats) it feels like deja vu again. 2) Out of the teams they are fighting with for the wild card(LA, SD, and themselves of course) guess which team has the worst one run record of the three. (Hint–LA and SD are not the answer to the question) 3) Bullpen—anyone trust anyone beside Tom Gordon to get a big out? Geoff Geary has been good this year I will say, but even him I have to see it to believe it as far as getting a HUGE out. 4) Uncle Elmer—again, does anyone trust him to make a crucial managerial decision in a big game with a pennant on the line. 5) No protection for Ryan Howard—hey, he does so much without protection, but imagine if Pat Burrell was actually a real major league hitter capable of getting a big hit and providing protection for Ryno. (OK he did have a GS off the rocket the other week, thus proving the theory better lucky than good sometimes) Since I already bought my playoff tickets just in case, thats another reason I am sure they will miss out. Impossible? No. Likely—this opinion says not this year. (yawn–what a familiar refrain) Lord, please let the Phillies prove me wrong!

THIS JUST IN……

How far has Pat Burrell fallen? In todays game he was pinch hit for by NOT Ryan Howard, NOT Chase Utley, but JOE THURSTON——-WOW!!!!!!! On the other hand Pat is leading all of MLB in one category, unfortunetly its looking at strike three—-he has 54 of them. 9 ahead of the next man on his trail. On the bright side at least Pat will never get hurt by getting hit by a pitch–he is great at avoiing them. Again today he jumped back from a brushback pitch right down the middle from Roger Clemens. on three lets chant–ya ready—one, two, three——–O-VER-RATED(dunt dunt dunt dunt dunt)

DE JA VU PART II

So the bulpen does it again in game one of saturdays doubleheader. Can somebody get anyone out please!!!!!!! I am becoming convinced Ryan Madson is not going to be the pitcher he was two years ago. He is so up and down, more down than not anymore. Arthur Rhodes plain and simply stinks. I have been saying they need a healthy and effective Tom Gordon if they are going to make the playoffs. While thats true, is it going to make a difference if these other guys cant get anyone out? You still need a strong middle relief corps to get in and then win in the playoffs. For all the noteriety the Yankees offense got during their world series run in the late 90’s, remember they had a shut down bullpen in Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson, and Mariano Rivera. That bullpen won lots of games for the Yankees during their title winning years. The Phillies bullpen almost blew it again in sundays first game before the offense came to the rescue. Rick White did great for two innings in game 2’s DH on Sunday, but that about it this past weekend. I know they were 60-0 when leading into the ninth inning before last thursdays game vs. the Nats and thats great, but now is not the time to be imploding–even without Tom Gordon. I cant fault Flavio Castro for sunday game one’s blown save. He has done great in the role they have asked of him so far, but he hasnt been exposed much yet either until now. He is still a minor league pitcher. In the same way I cant blame Manuel too much for going with him in that situation, given that nobody else is stepping up. Personally I would have went with Geoff Geary or Rick White in that situation, and if they blew it then try Castro the next time, but I cannot fault uncle Elmer there. Castro had the hot hand so why not try? Bottom line is if this does not change and QUCKLY, its gonna be a long September and again…..NO PLAYOFFS!!!!!

DE JA VU!!!!!!

WELL HERE WE GO AGAIN PHILLIES FANS!! I STATED IN A PREVIOUS BLOG THAT I WAS WORRIED ABOUT THE BULLPEN WITH GORDON HURT COMING BACK TO BITE THEM. BOY DID IT EVER LAST NIGHT. I WILL SAY ONE THING–ELMER BEFUDDLED(A.K.A.–CHARLIE MANUEL) HAD A HAND IN THIS TOO. THIS WAS THE THIRD OR FOURTH GAME IN A ROW ARTHUR RHODES HAS PITCHED. NOT THAT IT WAS WRONG IN AND OF ITSELF LAST NIGHT TO BRING HIM IN. THE PROBLEM LIES WITH THE NIGHT BEFORE. WITH A 5-1 LEAD IN THE NINTH, HE BRINGS RHODES IN. WHAT??? HE HAS DONE THAT SEVERAL TIMES WITH TOM GORDON THIS YEAR IN A NEEDLESS SITUATION. WHY WASTE AN OLDER PITCHER IN A 4 RUN LEAD GAME WHEN HE HAS PITCHED IN CONSECUTIVE NIGHTS ALREADY? ITS NOT LIKE THEY HAD THE NEXT DAY OFF. ELMER HAD TO KNOW HE MAY NEED HIM THE NEXT NIGHT. RHODES IS NOT A CLOSER ANYWAY, HE IS SHAKY ALL SEASON, AND NOW IN HIS THIRD OR FOURTH GAME IN A ROW HE IS TIRED. AARON FULTZ HAS NOT HELPED MATTERS THE LAST COUPLE GAMES EITHER. MAYBE A RAINOUT OR TWO THIS WEEKEND IS WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERS TO REST A TIRED BULLPEN. HOPEFULLY TOM GORDON COMES BACK 100% HEALTHY AND EFFECTIVE. IF NOT WERE SCREWED. AS FAR AS DE JA VU GOES DIDNT I MENTION ALSO IN AN EARLIER BLOG THE PHILLIES WILL MISS THE PLAYOFFS. ONE OF THE REASONS IS WE HAVE BEEN DOWN THIS ROAD BEFORE AND THEY ALWAYS FIND A WAY TO MESS IT UP. SORRY, LAST NIGHTS GAME REINFORCES MY FEARS OF HERE WE GO AGAIN. SOME WILL SAY I AM OVERREACTING. ITS ONLY ONE GAME–RELAX. TRUE, BUT IF YOU WANT TO BE A PLAYOFF TEAM YOU MUST WIN A GAME LIKE THAT AGAINST A TEAM LIKE THAT!!!!!!!!!! I TOLD YOU EARLIER IN THAT BLOG TO ENJOY THE RIDE, JUST PLEASE KEEP YOUR SEATBELTS ON. IF ANYONE WHO READ THAT BLOG IS NOT READING THIS ONE, I WILL KNOW THEY DIDNT HAVE THEIR SEATBELT ON.