Brad Lidge Slides Back into Familiar Role

August 31, 2009 by Andrew Sexton  
Filed under Fan News

Armed with a shaved head and a devastating slider, Brad Lidge restored the Phillies’ eight game lead in the NL East Sunday night. More importantly, he restored Philly’s confidence in him as a closer.

With each passing day, Brett Myers gets closer to coming off the DL. When that happens, Charlie Manuel will have a decision to make. If Brad Lidge continues embarrassing hitters like he did Sunday night, it won’t be much of a decision at all.

The game-ending strikeout was particularly spectacular. Lidge threw a down-and-in slider on Greg Norton, and Norton literally lost his bat as he tried to hold up.

Hopefully this will finally put an end to the ridiculous closer controversy in Philadelphia. Sunday night wasn’t an anomaly, it was the culmination of what has quietly been Brad’s best month yet. Lidge is back, and he’s been back for quite some time now.

This begs the question: Why was Ryan Madson closing for the Phillies less than a week ago? The answer: Philly swapped sanity for statistics. The Phillies saw the ballooning ERA and ignored the reality of the situation.

An appearance-by-appearance analysis reveals what actually happened.

 

Aug. 4 and 6
2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, Sv

Aug. 9
1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER
When Lidge came in, the score was already 9-3. He is notoriously bad in blow-outs, but Manuel will still use him from time to time to give him work. This was one of those times.

Aug. 11
1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 ER, BlSv
No excuse for this one, but it was his first blown save since coming off the DL.

Aug. 14
1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 0 ER, Sv

Aug. 15
0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 2 R, BlSv
Pin this loss on poor glove work, not Brad Lidge’s pitching arm. Utley and Lidge committed costly errors, but Lidge the pitcher looked fine.

Aug. 16, 22, 23, and 24
3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 R, 3 Sv

Aug. 25
0.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3R, BlSv
This was Lidge’s fourth appearance in as many days.  When a guy pitches that many days in a row, it doesn’t matter who he is, it’s only a matter of time before he gets shelled. Chalk this one up to overwork.

Aug. 28 and 30

2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 Sv

Conventional wisdom says that Brad Lidge had a terrible month of August. That simply isn’t true. There were three bad outings, but one was a result of a couple of costly errors and another was the product of a tired arm. Bottom line, Lidge had one inexcusably poor outing, some bad luck, and tons of saves in between.

That doesn’t seem like such a bad month anymore. The ERA, WHIP, and saves to blown saves ratio are all through the roof, but a game by game breakdown tells a completely different, and far more accurate story.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies Have a Hold on the N.L. East, But Need To Tighten Up For Playoff Run

August 28, 2009 by scott eisenlohr  
Filed under Fan News

There has been a lot of talk about the Phillies changing their closer, but that situation is just one of a few situations the team must deal with if they hope to get far into the playoffs.

Sure, Brad Lidge has been terrible, going 0-6 with a 7.33 ERA, and nine blown saves among his 25 saves.

Here are a list of a few situations that the Phillies need to "tighten up" heading into the 2009 baseball playoffs.

Oh, yes, with a little more than a month left in the season, the Phillies could blow a seven-game lead in the National League East, but for the purpose of this story, I am assuming they will win the NL East:

 

1) The back end of the bullpen

As Phillies fans can attest, when the Mets' John Maine or Johan Santana left the game with a one-run lead in the seventh inning, we began licking our chops for the Phillies to get two good shots to win the game.

Well, your Philadelphia Phillies are getting that way, too. How about Hamels' 1-0 lead against Pittsburgh earlier this week. J.A. Happ? Ryan Madson can't close, either.

The best solution is bullpen by comittee and deal with Lidge next year. The Rays had that type of bullpen last year.

 

2) The bench

Ben Francisco has been a nice right-handed addition and much better offensively than John Mayberry, Jr.

Left-handed hitting bench support? Greg Dobbs is hitting .257 with five homers and 15 RBI.

Matt Stairs? The darling of last year's playoffs has not had a hit since July 11, hitting a pinch hit home run in a 8-7 win at home against Pittsburgh. Otherwise, he is hitting .200 in 85 at bats, with four home runs and 13 RBI.

If the Phillies can find a better left-handed hitter off the bench, they should do it, even at the expense of a home run threat. Stairs says he wants to play one more year and retire, but I think that decision, from the Phillies end, should come sooner.

 

3) The flip side of power

The Phillies 181 home runs as a team leads the National League and is third among all teams, including the designated-hitting American League teams. Surely, Ryan Howard can carry a team on his back for two weeks.

But the flip side of home runs is strike outs, and Howard leads the team with 153 strikeouts, followed by Werth, with 111.

Ultimately, with low scoring games in the playoffs, players like Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley will have to lead the Phillies to show that they can be a base-by-base team when needed.

 

Back to the bullpen and Lidge.

If not for the Eagles' Michael Vick, Lidge would be the most vilified player in Philadelphia. Blow a save at home, and the boos will cascade. There will be more negative signs for Lidge than Vick at that point.

It is not perfect, but bullpen by committee seems the best option for now.

The Phillies did not pick up Billy Wagner from the Mets (a temporary solution since he won't waive his option) or probably won't get Trevor Hoffman, who was let go by the Brewers after an ineffective performance. Brett Myers could be in the closer mix, too, when he comes back.

If not bullpen by committee, you still have Brad Lidge with another year left on his contract. If you strip him of his closer role now, are you going to eat the last year of his contract? Make him the set up guy? After going 48-for-48 in the closer's role last year? I don't think so.

Finding a better alternative than Matt Stairs off the bench is a bigger concern for me.

Lidge's last blown save in Pittsburgh was proceeded by a 1-2-3 save and the triple-play save.

You've got to live with this guy the rest of the year.

How he does will determine how far this team will go in the postseason.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Houston’s Ed Wade Knew What He Was Doing When He Traded Brad Lidge

August 27, 2009 by scott eisenlohr  
Filed under Fan News

When Houston Astros General Manager Ed Wade traded closer Brad Lidge and utility player Eric Bruntlett to the Phillies for Michael Bourn, righthanded reliever Geoff Geary, and third-base prospect Mike Costanzo in 2007, he must have known what he was doing.

When talking to reporters recently, one reporter noticed the absence of 2008 calendars in Wade's office.

"We got a quality center fielder in Bourn," said Wade, noting the speedy outfielder's .291 average and 46 stolen bases.

"Brad Lidge did a fine job for us and I know he is going through some hard times, but this was a quality for quality trade," Wade said, wryly smiling.

"But what about Lidge's 2008 season?" said a Houston reporter.

"2000 and what?" Wade said. "He pitched for us in 2007, then has...um, er, not been as good this year as 2007."

"But Bourn hit .229 in 2008, while Lidge ..." the reporter said, but was cut off by Wade.

"2000 and what?" Wade said. "I don't know what you are taking about. OK, it's 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009."

"But the Phillies' World Series?" the reporter said.

"Yes, yes, indeed," Wade said. "Dallas Green did a good job of whipping those boys into shape and beating Kansas City in the World Series."

"But, why," Wade continued, "Are you talking about the past?"

"Do you think the Phillies will continue to pitch Lidge in the closer's role?" the reporter asked.

"Why the Albert Pujois are you talking about a player not on our team?," Wade demanded. "How about that Michael Bourn?"

"Yes, he is having a nice year," the exasperated reporter said.

Having enough, the reporter started to exit the room.

"Eh, excuse me," Wade said to the reporter. "How is President George Bush doing these days? He is doing a fine job running our country."

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Case Closed: Trevor Hoffman to Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen Just Makes Sense

August 27, 2009 by Doug Rush  
Filed under Fan News

Citizens Bank Park could be hearing "Hells Bells" before the end of August.

On MLB Trade Rumors website, NBC Sports Bob Harkins reported that Trevor Hoffman was placed on waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers and that the Philadelphia Phillies would be a good fit for Hoffman.

Hoffman is 41 years old and the current all-time saves leader with 581. After spending 16 years with the Padres, 2009 is Hoffman's first year with the Brewers, and it has been a good one. He's 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA and has 27 saves, plus he appeared in the 2009 All-Star Game.

However, the Brewers are 61-65, 12 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central division, and don't appear to be headed back to the postseason, which is why they put Hoffman on waivers.

The Phillies are on top of the NL East division at 73-51 and seven games in front of the Marlins. The Phillies have had a great offense and good starting pitching, but their bullpen has been a mess all season.

J.C. Romero, Clay Condrey and Antonio Bastardo are all on the disabled list.

Brett Myers was a starter but needed surgery, which only allowed him to make 10 starts.

Jamie Moyer was demoted to the bullpen after posting a 5.22 ERA.

The Phillies traded for Cliff Lee and signed Pedro Martinez, both moves that have worked out for Philadelphia.

But the worst of their problems has been closer Brad Lidge.

Lidge is 0-6 with a 7.33 ERA and 25 saves, but has blown nine saves for the Phillies. After a dominant 2008 where he was 41-for-41 in saves, Lidge has been awful and has cost the Phillies a lot of games in 2009.

If this trend continues for Lidge, the Phillies could find themselves bounced out of the postseason.

The Phillies will more than likely need help before September to ensure their spot in the postseason and make their bullpen stronger.

Hoffman could be the experienced veteran the Phillies need.

Now, Hoffman hasn't had the greatest success in big games in his past (in 1998, Scott Brosius of the Yankees hit the game-winning home run off Hoffman in the top of the ninth inning in the World Series). But the Phillies can't keep giving the ball to Lidge and play roulette with his control.

If the Phillies are able to make a claim for Hoffman, they should get him off waivers and straighten out their mess of a bullpen.

Their October plans for baseball might depend on it.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies’ J.A. Happ Making Strong Case for N.L. Rookie of the Year Award

August 27, 2009 by cody swartz  
Filed under Fan News

There remains just over a month to play in the 2009 baseball season, and it is time to start looking at the potential candidates for major league baseball's most prized individual awards.

 

Albert Pujols seems to be a lock for the MVP award and the Cy Young award will most likely come down to a battle of Giants (Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain) or Cardinals (Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright).

 

The Phillies' own J.A. Happ seems to have the edge on the rest of the National League for the Rookie of the Year award.

 

Happ currently leads all rookies with 10 wins and his 2.59 ERA is fifth best among all major-league starters, first among rookies by close to half of a run. His .833 winning percentage and two shutouts are tops among all NL pitchers.

 

And this is a man who wasn't even supposed to be a starter when this season began.

 

For the Phillies during their World Championship season of '08, Happ hurled 31.2 innings as a relief pitcher and occasional spot starter. He posted a solid 3.69 ERA with an adjusted ERA of 117.

 

There were rumors that Happ would be given a chance to start in '09, and he was given every shot to win the job.

 

Happ lost a well-publicized battle at the beginning of the season for the Phillies' fifth starting spot. The competition seemed to be among Happ, Chan Ho Park, Carlos Carrasco, and Kyle Kendrick.

 

Kendrick appeared to be the favorite, with 24 big-league wins under his belt, including a key role in the Phillies' 2007 NL East division championship, but he never got it together like the club wanted. Kendrick struggled to pitch consistently in spring training, which led to his demotion to Triple-A.

 

Same with Carrasco.

 

A once promising prospect with a strong future ahead of him, Carrasco has been inconsistent in Triple-A this season, posting a 10-10 record with a so-so 4.80 ERA thus far.

 

Park, a former starter with 15 years big league experience and 117 wins to his credentials, beat out Happ for the spot.

 

Park pitched poorly however in his seven starts, posting a 7.29 ERA and .311 opponents' batting average. He failed to pitch consistently and after getting rocked for five runs in one and one-third innings in a May 17 start against the Nationals, Park lost his job to Happ.

 

And Happ pitched to keep his spot.

 

The young left hander has been arguably the Phillies' best starting pitcher this season, far outperforming the two veteran lefties, Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer.

 

Happ has been dominant this season, pitching a quality start in 11 of his last 12 starts. He won his first seven decisions of the year. And he appears to be a key factor for a Phillies team looking to contend for a second straight World Series title.

 

If Happ wins the Rookie of the Year award, he will be the second Phillie—Ryan Howard in 2005—to win the award in the last five seasons.

 

Happ's main competition appears to be either pitcher Tommy Hanson of the Atlanta Braves, outfielder Dexter Fowler of the Colorado Rockies, or outfielder Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

Hanson is having a fabulous year himself, although he is not quite in Happ's class.

 

Since being called up to the majors in June, Hanson has a 9-2 mark with a 3.12 ERA for the Braves. He has been vital to the Braves' hunt for the wild card spot, as he has pitched a quality start in each of his last four starts.

 

Fowler leads all rookies in at-bats, hits, doubles, runs scored, stolen bases, and walks. He has swiped 26 bases this season for a Colorado ball club that is hanging on in the N.L. wild card race.

 

McCutchen is a speedy center fielder who looks to be a future All-Star for years to come for the Pirates. At age 22, he is already a five-tool player and a .284 hitter with 14 steals in 15 attempts in his first taste of big league action with the Pirates.

 

McCutchen is also a talented fielder, with just two errors in 69 games in center field for the Pirates and a solid .988 fielding percentage.

 

While those three players have been excellent for their teams this season, they haven't been Happ. And barring a sudden drop in his performance, Happ appears to be the prime contender for the N.L. Rookie of the Year award.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Brad Lidge Deserves Another Chance, But Not In 2009

August 26, 2009 by christian karcole  
Filed under Fan News

The air went out of the balloon Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, and it's not because of the Pirates' walk-off home run.

PNC Park, rarely even half full, consisted of just as many Phillies fans as there were for the Pirates. Being one of those numerous Philadelphians, it was a rough night.

Surprisingly, Pirate fans are some of the grumpiest people I've ever met (this coming from the grumpiest group of all). I won't go into specifics, but the single row of Pittsburgh fans behind the Phillies' dugout wasn't the greatest bunch of fans.

But that's beside the point.

Largely responsible for the disappointment laid upon Phillies fans was Brad Lidge. This is nothing new.

We've all gone over the difference between the Lidge of '08 and the Lidge of '09. The fact that he is an ineffective closer, to say the least, has been covered.

The argument against replacing him is that fans want to give him a chance, due to the success he had in 2008. The problem? This isn't 2008.

I agreed with this philosophy in June. Not anymore.

There comes a time when a player becomes so terribly bad, that every fan cringes at the sight of him on the field. Right now, that's Brad Lidge.

Last night, the Phillies were down 3-2 with one out in the top of the ninth inning. Carlos Ruiz was at the plate, with a pinch hitter expected to follow.

With Matt Capps on the mound for the Pirates, Ruiz slammed the ball down the left field line for a double. Ben Francisco was called on as the pinch hitter, and he also doubled, this time to deep left-center.

The game was tied at 3-3, but was far over.

After Jimmy Rollins struck out, Shane Victorino hit a line drive to center field that was misplayed by Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates. After taking a step in, he realized the ball was going over his head and Francisco was allowed to score.

With the lead, in came Brad Lidge.

He threw six pitches; three were hits, and one was a wild pitch. None of them were outs. His final line was a pathetic 0.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER.

When will Lidge lose his job? Are the Phillies simply waiting for Brett Myers to return?

He has been given the chance to fix himself for all this time, and yet he has only become worse. He shouldn't be granted any more chances, because more likely than not he'll just blow the game.

Next season, Lidge can return to the closer role. Hopefully, he may be able to fix the train-wreck he currently is during the offseason.

For now, he shouldn't appear in any one or two run games. He cannot be trusted to keep a lead intact.

Believe me, I still love Lidge for what he accomplished last season. I hope he can fix himself and return to form next year.

But the time has come when Lidge is hurting the Phillies and their attempts to win more than he is helping.

Nine blown saves would lose any other closer their job. Lidge should be no different.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies Have a Lidge Problem

August 26, 2009 by Adam Bernacchio  
Filed under Fan News

During the course of a 162-game season, every team faces a huge decision that could potentially shape the course of their season. These decisions can come from about 100 different areas.

For the New York Yankees, it was the decision to put Phil Hughes in the bullpen. For the Colorado Rockies, it was the decision to fire Clint Hurdle in May. Both decisions have come from opposite ends of the spectrum, but both changed the course of each of franchise for the better.

I think the Philadelphia Phillies are about to face a huge decision that might have a direct impact on whether or not they repeat as World Series champs.

Last night Brad Lidge blew his major-league-leading ninth save in a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lidge came into the game trying to protect a 4-3 Phillies lead, and just three batters later, the lead was gone and the game was over.

Lidge now has a 7.33 ERA, which amongst relievers with at least 40 innings pitched, is dead last in baseball. Everyone knew Lidge would blow a couple saves this year after going perfect in save opportunities last year, but a 7.33 ERA?

That is inexcusable.

"He’s our closer," Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said. "I've said it all over the place. That’s the guy who we’ve got."

I appreciate the loyalty Charlie, but at some point you have to realize there is a massive problem here.

I keep wondering how different Manuel would feel if the Phillies were in a dog fight to make the playoffs.

Perhaps Manuel is waiting for Lidge to turn it around, but in late August/early September, you are what you are.

Right now, Lidge is the worst closer in baseball.

If the Phillies decide to make a change, they have a couple of options. They could decide to use Ryan Madson, who filled in nicely for Lidge when Lidge went on the DL (four saves), or they could use the soon-to-be-returning Brett Myers, who closed for the Phillies in 2007 (21 saves).

The Phillies have the offense, and with the addition of Cliff Lee they have the starting rotation. Now they just need to get their Brad Lidge problem straightened out.

If they don’t, they might not make it back to the World Series.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

For Philadelphia Phillies, Success Leads to Uncertainty

August 25, 2009 by Will Holt  
Filed under Fan News

As the Major League Baseball season enters the final month of the season, there are plenty of teams who will wonder if they can sneak into the playoffs through the Wild Card (Tampa Bay Rays) or hold on to dear life and preserve a division lead (L.A. Dodgers).

The Philadelphia Phillies will not have such concerns.  Their commanding seven-game lead in a rather weak division makes the Fightin's a lock to make the playoffs.  Not even the New York Mets could blow a lead like this.

Well, maybe they could, but that's not the point.

The point is the Phillies will have to answer questions about their bullpen and starting rotation as the playoffs draw near.

You will hear people say, "This is a good problem to have.”

I don't buy into good problems.  If it is a problem, it's not good.  There may be a silver lining, but it is still a situation that must be handled correctly if the Phillies want to continue their success into the postseason.

Here are some of the decisions Charlie Manuel will have to confront as the Phillies try to become the first NL team to repeat as World Series Champions since the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds.

 

1) Who is going to step into the closer role?

As of right now, you have to give Brad Lidge one last shot at this.  Lidge has earned the right for a final chance despite his ineptitude to close out games this year.

If Lidge doesn't pan out, Manuel is going to have to pull a rabbit out of the hat to make this work.

A lot of people will want to go with Brett Myers because he’s closed games before, and with him returning from injury, there is no use for him in the starting rotation.

But how good of an option is he considering he hasn't pitched since May 27?  You don’t go on that long of a break and come back to start closing meaningful games if it is not your normal role on the team.

If Lidge struggles, I would feel more comfortable having Myers than Lidge, but it doesn’t mean that is the best option for the Phillies.

Next in line would be Ryan Madson.

The Phillies went down this road earlier in the year and it was not pretty, as Madson blew four saves and let a tied game slip away in the ninth.

Manuel may be forced to go to the dreaded bullpen-by-committee and roll the dice.  One night it may be Myers, the next it could be Madson.  There is nothing certain about this approach, and it is the perfect recipe for disaster.

Manuel could also turn to Chan Ho Park, who has been nothing short of stellar in the bullpen for the Phillies.  In fact, Park is sporting a 1.59 ERA in the month of August, which is nearly an entire run higher than his 0.68 ERA he held in July.

And what about J.C. Romero?  He has the stuff be a closer and he is a little bit of a loose cannon, which seems to be a signature mark of most closers.

And then there is always Pedro Martinez.

Think about this: The Phillies are going to have to send Pedro to the pen once the playoffs begin because you have to go to a four-man rotation.  If he is going to pitch in relief, I would not mind seeing him close games if Lidge cannot get the job done.

Pedro can hit over 90 m.p.h. on the gun, so why can't he do it for one inning and use his experience as a pitcher to close out games?

We've seen plenty of starters go into the closer role and pitch very successfully; John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley come to mind.  So why not Martinez?  Yes, he is old, but age isn't as big of a factor when you are a closer as opposed to a starter.  If your stuff is good and you're mentally tough, you can last a long time as a closer.

The biggest downside to Martinez is that he only has three career saves.  That can’t give Philadelphia fans too much confidence.  But if Lidge doesn’t return to form, Manuel may not have much of an option.

Ultimately Charlie better pray Lidge gets out this up-and-down routine and find some consistency, otherwise this first problem is not going to be good no matter how you break it down.

 

2) Should Manuel give some of the starters rest?  And if so how much rest does he give them?

This becomes a huge question if the Phillies open up a double-digit lead in September.

You can't let the starters lose their edge and you can't give them too much rest.  At the same time, you want them to be rested headed into the postseason.

Perhaps the Phillies can go to a six-man rotation.

This would allow the starters to get some extra rest while still staying sharp.

The only downside to this is that pitchers are creatures of habit.  If they are not pitching on their normal schedule, it can cause them to go haywire.

I would not be too concerned about that with this staff, though.  I actually think a pitcher like Cole Hamels would benefit with some extra time off the mound.

More importantly, Cliff Lee seems like the kind of guy you can toss the ball to on any given day and he is going to baffle batters with ease.

 

3) Who are your starters in the postseason?

We all know Lee, Joe Blanton, and J.A. Haap are starting.

Is it possible that the reigning World Series MVP gets sent to the pen in the postseason?

I would say the chances of that are slim.  You can't shelf a guy like Cole Hamels for Martinez or Jamie Moyer.  You just don't do it.

Luckily for the Phillies, Manuel is loyal to his players, so this should never become an issue.

 

4) What is the order for the pitchers in the postseason?

If Manuel goes with Lee, Blanton, Haap, and Hamels, he needs to figure out the order they go in.

I don't think anyone will debate Lee as the ace of the staff and a must-start in Game One of any series.

The real debate begins with the Game Two starter.  Some will say you have to go with Blanton because he's been consistent.  Others will side with Haap because he finds ways to win and has a great ERA.  And yet there are those who believe you give the nod to Hamels because of what he did last year.

I think Manuel will go with Blanton because he is the perfect blend of Haap and Hamels.  He is pitching well this season and he pitched well last year in the playoffs.

Things get very interesting in Game Three.  I think Manuel will side with Hamels because of his loyalty to players, especially those who came up clutch for him in the past.  Manuel can't ignore the fact that Hamels has done this before, while Haap is the great unknown heading into the postseason.

This leaves Haap as the Phillies fourth starter, even though there are some who would say otherwise.

These are all interesting decisions that lie ahead for the Phillies.  And they are decisions that can significantly impact the Phillies post season.

Manuel pushed all of the correct buttons last year, but then again, he really didn't have much of a choice.  He had a clear-cut ace, a dominant closer, and no one to push the fourth man in the rotation.

This time around, Manuel is going to have to earn his keep if the Phillies want another parade down Broad Street.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Reminiscing the Rocky Saga of Brett Myers

August 24, 2009 by Brian Mahoney  
Filed under Fan News

Ever notice that the local sporting goods stores in the decade that carried Howard, Utley, Hamels, (even) Gordon jerseys seemed to not have too many No. 39s on the shelf?

I loved Myers from his first start on July 24, 2002. I thought he was the second coming of a young Curt Schilling with plenty of spice left in between each pitch. Looking back seven years later, what's left on the table for this former first round pick?

Myers was General Manager Ed Wade's stallion coming into the new century. The Jacksonville native climbed his way to elite status and earned a lot of attention in such short notice. With a decimated Phillies' rotation that needed reviving, Myers catalyzed an abysmal staff to lead a group that ultimately won the World Series in 2008.

Before I get ahead of myself, Myers' story was far from glorious. Aside from showing worth in 2003 with a 14-9 record (and his first career shutout against the vaunted Red Sox), the following year showed signs of stark reality. Barely any run support plagued the starter to a mere 11-11 record with a 5.52 ERA. Hitters found their spots off him, tallying more hits (196) than his innings (176).

2005 was a minor transformation for Brett. He notched 208 strikeouts in 215 innings pitched. He carried a playoff contender to a few games away from the real deal, and he boasted a career best in ERA (3.72).

Everyone in Philadelphia knows by now that Myers ran into legal trouble in June of 2006 when he was arrested and charged with assault on his wife in Boston. Heavy media coverage and angry fans fueled the fire as he took a leave of absence, still managing a decent season statistically.

2007 became a year unlike no other. In rare cases does an Opening Day starter actually pitch the final out of the season as a closer. Myers did that in fashion, shutting the door on the Nationals with his 21st save of the year. It was his biggest, too as the Phillies celebrated what was to be their most adrenaline-pumping yet.

In 2008, Myers had a tale of two seasons. After struggling with only one win between April 22 and June 27, the plug was pulled on as he was sent down to the minors.

Called up on July 20, Myers was a man on fire with a 7-4 record and 3.20 ERA in 13 starts. He also contributed in the NLDS with a legendary at bat against CC Sabathia of the Brewers. 

Then in Game 2 of the NLCS, Myers embarrassed the Dodgers going 3-3 with 3 RBI's. It was the first time in LCS history a pitcher accomplished that feat.

Fast forward to 2009, late August. He endured a nagging hip injury in May and is hoping for a return to the bullpen sometime before the playoffs begin (if the Phillies clinch a spot).

He becomes a free agent after this season, and on an unlikely return (by some), how will Myers go down in Phillies' history? He's been there since 2002 until now, when such journeymen like Jon Lieber, Freddy Garcia, Eric Milton, Cory Lidle, Kyle Lohse have come and gone. Is Myers a hero or just another guy on the mound? A wife beater or bounded potential? A hearty ace or a forgotten number?

 

 

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies 2009 Championship Gloat Tour, Part III: New York

August 24, 2009 by Kevin Lagowski  
Filed under Fan News

The 2009 Gloat Tour makes its final stop in the Big Apple at brand-new Citi Field, the home of the amazing(ly far out of first place) New York Mets.

Taking in a game between fierce rivals such as the Philadelphia Phillies and Mets loses some of its luster when one team is so far ahead in the standings, while the other is forced to field a minor league lineup because of huge injuries. However, it's always fun to stick it to New York, so no mercy will be shown.

After boarding a series of trains and subways to make it to the ballpark, my four traveling companions and I exit the platform and are greeted by the new facade, an homage to Ebbets Field.

As we enter the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, my awesome streak of promotional giveaway item luck continues as we are handed small replicas of Citi Field. I guess I will have to start smoking because it will make a fine ashtray.

We soak in the ballpark. I can see design elements from Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, and PNC Park on the concourse. The place seems fairly wide open and pleasing to the eye, but slightly on the generic side. The seating bowl also strikes me as very similar to PNC Park's.

After I devour a Nathan's hot dog and some very good fries, the Phillies come to the plate and immediately put up three runs against Oliver Perez on a colossal Jayson Werth home run to left field following a 15 pitch at-bat.

By the time Ryan Howard flies out for the first out, Perez has already thrown over 30 pitches. Four hitters later, Carlos Ruiz sends another three-run bomb into the seats. It's 6-0 in the top of the first. The many Phillies fans are going wild. This is great.

Pedro Martinez gets a good round of applause from his former home fans as he comes to the plate before taking the mound. Several hundred Mets fans have decided to wear their old Pedro t-shirt jerseys, which is pretty idiotic. Spring for a new shirt, guys.

The count goes to 3-0 on Pedro, and Perez is unceremoniously yanked from the game right then and there. I think he has thrown his last pitch as a Met. Former Phil Nelson Figueroa, a critical piece of the Curt Schilling trade, comes on and gets Pedro to finally end the top of the first.

Things get strange when Angel Pagan leads off the bottom of the inning with an inside-the-park home run that shouldn't have happened. The ball barely sticks below the padding in center field and Shane Victorino throws his hands up to call for a dead ball. But the umpires, seemingly out to get the Phillies however they can this year, let Pagan circle the bases.

Pedro doesn't have his best stuff, but he has an 8-2 lead going into the bottom of the third before he serves up a more traditional home run to Pagan. The Mets tack on another run to make it 8-4.

An incredibly annoying, drunken, and red-faced (from booze and the beating sun) Phillies fan behind me continues to yell "Pedro!" and other inane things, but he thankfully passes out for a few minutes and then stumbles out of our section, never to be seen again.

Pedro exits with the 8-4 lead after six innings. Chad Durbin comes on and gives up one run in the seventh to bring it to 8-5.

Matt Stairs then puts on a clinic in the top of the eighth. After he walks, he advances to second on a wild pitch, moves to third on a groundout, and scores on another wild pitch. It's 9-5 and we're all very comfortable. Mets fans have hardly made a peep.

Ryan Madson makes it a lot more interesting in the bottom of the inning by allowing a run and making it a save situation. Brad Lidge time.

Charlie Manuel is ejected in the middle of the ninth inning for arguing after the umpires again give the Phillies the short end of the stick. I think he did it just so he didn't have to see Brad Lidge.

The inning begins, and it's a nightmare. Back-to-back errors on Ryan Howard and Eric Bruntlett bring across a run to make it 9-7. Daniel Murphy singles to put men at first and second with still no outs and Jeff Francoeur coming to the plate.

Citi Field is getting loud. The Mets fans haven't had much to cheer about this year, but they are hoping their team can play spoiler. Lidge looks headed toward another blown save, even though this one is not his fault.

You won't believe me, but at this point, a thought goes through my head—the thought of an unassisted triple play. I can remember watching as a kid when Mickey Morandini turned one. I usually talk too much, but this time the thought does not pass to my mouth, and I don't say anything.

Francoeur works the count to 2-2. Lidge delivers and the runners take off. I will remember the next part for the rest of my life.

Bruntlett moves toward second base to cover, only to find a line drive coming directly at him. In one motion, he catches the ball and steps on second base. Murphy, the runner from first, tries in vain to elude him but can't.

It was an unassisted triple play to end the game—the most ridiculous, miraculous, unbelievable ending to a baseball game that I have ever seen in person.

I will probably forget the final score was Phillies 9, Mets 7, but I will never forget how my first trip to Citi Field ended.

So now, for the rest of my life, every time I walk through the gates of Citi Field, this day will be frozen in my mind—the World Champion Phillies finding a way to deal the already downtrodden Mets and their fans a thoroughly demoralizing loss.

I think I may just have a smile on my face every time I lay eyes on that ballpark over the next couple of decades.

As for the quality of the park itself, I would rate Citi Field higher than Nationals Park. But it's still no Citizens Bank Park. Maybe it was hard to be objective given the team that plays there.

It's a decent park and certainly worth a trip for the serious baseball fan, although be careful not to sit in one of the many sections where your view will be badly obstructed.

The Gloat Tour is over. What a success. Three trips into enemy territory with a sparkling 4-0 record.

I hope to write about, and I hope that you will join me for, the 2010 Championship Gloat Tour.

Let's all keep our hopes high for the rest of 2009.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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