Phillies’ Charlie Manuel: A Class Act

September 30, 2009 by jim mc  
Filed under Fan News

With two outs in the top of the 9th, Charlie Manuel emerged from the top step of the dugout.

The Phillies, sporting a 10-3 lead over the Houston Astros, stood poised to claim their third straight division title.

Scott Eyre, returning from the disabled list, had quickly recorded the first two outs, getting former Phillie Michael Bourne and Miguel Tejada.

But here comes Uncle Charlie, waving for the bullpen.

There goes the Philadelphia faithful, waving the white rally towels.

And out comes Brad Lidge to collect the final out.

The fans loved it.

The bullpen loved it.

Even Eyre loved it.

And one pitch later, the Phillies had gained admittance into the 2009 playoff dance and a chance to repeat as World Series Champions.  And the man who closed out that last victory last year was the on the bump again to collect the final out.

The way this season has gone for Brad Lidge, you would have excused Manuel if he had just left Eyre in there.

After a perfect 2008 -- both regular season and postseason -- Lidge's 2009 season has been a perfect nightmare, blowing 11 saves to lead the majors.

But Charlie Manuel stuck with Lidge through most of the season, giving him every chance to regain that dominant form that propelled the Phillies to its first championship in 28 years.

It never happened.

So a week ago, with time running out on the season, Manuel made the tough decision to remove Lidge from the closer role.

It wasn't Manuel's first difficult decision this season.

With the emergence of vintage Pedro Martinez bolstering the Phillies rotation, Manuel had to tell Jamie Moyer that despite leading the team in wins he was heading to the bullpen.

It was a difficult decision to make.  Manuel is fiercely loyal, and he has the utmost respect for Moyer, whose season just ended last night with a just-awful-sounding tendon tear in his groin and abdomen.

Ouch.

Last season, Manuel won a World Series, and lost his mother during the campaign.  But you never saw him get too high or too low.

Through the tough decisions, Manuel has remained unflappable.

Through the losing streaks, Manuel maintained a steady hand.

And whether the gesture tonight helps Lidge to reclaim his masterful form remains to be seen.  But what was seen is a man that's been around long enough to know how to play the game.

And play it with class.

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Jamie Moyer Out for Rest of the Season

September 30, 2009 by schmitters  
Filed under Fan News

After leaving last night's game against the Houston Astros with an injury, it has been revealed that Jamie Moyer will be out for the rest of the season.

The 46-year-old pitcher tore a groin after making a pitch last night. He will have surgery at some time next week.

He will be ready for spring training next season.

After losing his job in the starting rotation in August to Pedro Martinez, Moyer has been completely dominant out of the bullpen, used primarily as a long relief man.

During the 2009 season, Moyer had a 12-10 record with a 4.94 ERA.

Even if he hadn't been injured, he would have most likely been used out of the bullpen during the post-season.

Next season, Moyer will have some competition in the rotation. With Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, J.A. Happ, and Joe Blanton taking the first four spots, Moyer will have to battle Kyle Kendrick, Drew Carpenter, and possibly Pedro Martinez for the fifth spot in the rotation.

Also, top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek is expected to break into the rotation at some point next season

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BREAKING: Moyer Out For Season

September 30, 2009 by shay roddy  
Filed under Fan News

PHILADELPHIA—This just in. Jamie Moyer's MRI results have come in and they don't show good news for the Phillies.

The MRI shows tears in three tendons—two in his groin and one in his lower abdomen.

He will not pitch again in 2009.

Recovery time is reportedly 10 months, but Moyer is expected to be ready for the start of Phillies' spring training in February.

According to team physician Michael Ciccotti, Jamie Moyer will have a surgery to repair the tendons in the next seven to ten days. According to Ciccotti, 90-95% of players who undergo the surgery return to the Major Leagues.

"Given the fact that much of what a pitcher generates velocity-wise is from their legs, and given the fact that has he injured two of those adductor tendons and also his lower abdominal muscle, it's not the type of injury that you can really treat non-operatively to get back and pitch at the level he would want to be pitching at," Ciccotti said. "It's really best treated surgically."

According to Ciccotti, 90-95% of players who undergo the surgery return to the Major Leagues, however you must factor Moyer's age into the equation. Given that he is 46, his chances to return to the big league level are clearly slimmer than a young player.

Ciccotti doesn't seem worried. "Jamie has all the qualities you need to get back in terms of focus and dedication to a rehab program," he said. Ciccotti expects he'll be ready for the spring.

More coming...

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Philadelphia Phillies Look To Clinch NL East Title With Win Tonight

September 30, 2009 by christian karcole  
Filed under Fan News

On September 30, 2007, the Philadelphia Phillies began what has become one of their best three-year runs in franchise history. On that day, they defeated the Washington Nationals 6-1 to clinch the National League Eastern division crown.

Almost a year later, the Phils reclaimed their title as division champions by once again defeating the Nationals.

Moving to 2009, we see this same opportunity once again.

The thought-to-be insurmountable eight-game lead over the Atlanta Braves had taken a considerable hit, shrinking to as low as four. For days, the Phils' magic number seemed to be at a standstill.

Tonight, exactly two years after their first division title in 14 years, the Phillies can clinch their third consecutive NL East championship with either a win or an Atlanta Braves loss.

Jamie Moyer started each of the clinchers  in '07 and '08, but it will be Pedro Martinez taking the ball tonight against Houston.

For the Astros, Brad Moehler will make the start. Moehler is 8-11 with a 5.21 ERA. His last outing lasted just 2.1 innings when he allowed seven runs and eight hits.

Martinez is 5-1 with a 3.32 ERA in a Phillies uniform and 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA in September. Pedro missed he last start due to a neck injury, but is set to make his return tonight.

Cliff Lee was originally slated to be the starter, but was given an extra day of rest by manager Charlie Manuel. Instead, Lee is set to start tomorrow.

In the bullpen, Brett Myers appears to be ready for his return. Pitching coach Rich Dubee has stated that Myers is available to pitch in relief tonight if he is needed.

With the return of Myers comes the queston of who will finally become to team's official closer.

Ryan Madson has been strong as of late in the role, but still has yet to prove he can consistently produce in the ninth inning. Myers converted 21-of-24 save opportunities  in his first stint as closer in 2007, and may be the most reliable option.

All we know for certain is that Brad Lidge will not be the one taking the mound in save situations, especially in the postseason.

For now, the Phillies will throw aside their closer woes and turn their focus into winning games. The division title is most important in the minds of the Phillies right now. If they happen to find their closer over the last week of the season, it will only be icing on the cake for what has been yet another special season.

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Arms, Bats Wake Up to Claim Stake to NL East Crown

September 30, 2009 by scott eisenlohr  
Filed under Fan News

He sure doesn't look like Superman, but Ryan Madson sure is pitching like him.

With a fastball reaching 97 to 98 mph in the ninth inning, Madson pitched a two-inning save to preserve the Phillies 7-4 victory Tuesday over the Houston Astros.

Phillies rookie left-hander J.A. Happ improved to 12-4 with the win.

Coupled with the Florida Marlins' 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies' magic number dropped from three to one.

A victory tonight and the Phillies will capture their third-straight NL East crown.

A closed-door meeting called by manager Charlie Manuel rallied the troops to an important win.

After the loss Monday to Houston, I feared the worst could happen.

I read Rich Hoffman's blog Tuesday afternoon on the Phillies being tired and read the comments. In retrospect, the one that made the most sense said something like this: "I truly expect Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer to be starting this weekend."

Meaning, it should be wrapped up by then.

Sure, the Phillies could lay an egg, or the rain could knock out the game. Figures, Pedro Martinez is scheduled to pitch for the Phillies.

The worst case, for tonight, is if Martinez pitches four great innings, there's a rain delay, then Tyler Walker comes in and gets shelled.

But as doubtful as I am as a longtime Phillies fan, the Phillies have responded when they had to over the past two years.

Listen to what Charlie Manuel said following Tuesday's game, courtesy of the story by David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News:

"You've got to be tough, and you've got to be mentally tough. I think that's one thing in common I've got with Philadelphia. They always say how mentally tough, or how tough they are, how rough they are? I belong here, then. Because I've been tough, and ever since I've been in baseball, I've been a fighter, and I come to whip your (butt) every day. If I can beat you 100-0, I will everyday."

Spoken only as Charlie can say it. But if you read between the lines, Manuel thinks his team is going to win every night.

It helps that Pedro Feliz broke open a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning with a grand slam, the seventh of his career, giving the Phillies a 5-1 lead.

Jayson Werth followed with a two-run jack the next inning and the Astros' Kazuo Matsui closed the score to 7-4 in the sixth.

Madson got out of a two-on, one-out ninth inning jam by striking out Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence. He's got the stuff and he's found the fire, often pumping his fist when he closes a game.

I know Madson has blown six saves, but that was either when Lidge was hurt or he was recently auditioning for the role. I think if you make Madson the sole closer, he will do the job. Some nights you will have to spell him with another reliever.

What do you do with Lidge? I don't know, and at this point, considering what's on the line, I don't care.

Going into the playoffs, I can see Madson challenging Albert Pujols with a 97 mph fastball down the pike.

Wanna know what that is like?

Just ask Brad Lidge.

 

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Happ Is Phils’ Best Option at Closer

September 29, 2009 by shay roddy  
Filed under Fan News

Consistency has been the main topic on Phillies manager Charlie Manuel's mind lately as he sits and watches his team struggling atop the NL East. After dancing around reporters' questions for months, Charlie was finally willing to answer for his closer this week.

After a perfect season en route to a World Series title last year, Brad Lidge has been inconsistent, to say the least, this season, blowing a league worst eleven saves. And after another blown save last Wednesday, it appears that Brad Lidge's days are unceremoniously over as Phillies' closer. 

Without Lidge, Manuel and company are left with one obvious question: Who is the closer in the playoffs?

General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. spoke on the situation this week saying, "Our best club is to have Lidge pitch the ninth. Right now, he hasn't been doing it effectively, and we'll have to make an adjustment off that. ... No decision has been made officially. Charlie is going to bring people in to pitch in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning that he feels will be most effective. That doesn't necessarily mean that Lidge isn't one of those guys. He still could be one of those guys. It could be (Ryan) Madson. It could be Lidge. It could be a host of guys. Obviously it will be different if we get some of the other guys back."

Let's examine what Amaro said and throw a few different options out there:

You can go with a closer by committee setup, using whoever matches up best with the opponent's lineup. This could work and seems to be what Manuel has elected to go with so far. It allows you to test a variety of people like Chan Ho Park, Tyler Walker, and J.C. Romero in the position to see how they deal with the intensified situations. The drawback is that no one  knows when they'll be used, so they can't prepare as well as if they know their situation.

You could also name your most consistent relief pitcher Ryan Madson closer. Madson, however, has struggled in the ninth this season. He is also a huge asset to the bullpen as a setup man. He has been among baseball's best there, and moving him from that spot could turn for the worse.

Some talk has been made about putting Pedro Martinez in the closers roll. This however seems to be a recipe for disaster, as Pedro hasn't spent much time in a bullpen roll and has lost much of his velocity. He is also getting up there in age so pitching on back-to-back nights could prove problematic.

What seems to be one of the best options would be using J.A. Happ in the closers roll. Happ will likely end up in the bullpen anyway, after a rocky route to a win on Tuesday. You won't take five starting pitchers into the playoffs, and provided Pedro Martinez is healthy, he'll probably be the forth pitcher in your rotation.

If Happ is in the pen, using him as closer would free up the rest of the relievers to do what they do best.

Happ has recent bullpen experience too, he started just this season out there. If he could muster up the stomach to deal with the ninth he could save the day, as this Phillies team stumbles into the first round of the playoffs.

Closer certainty is crucial to winning another World Series, and Happ is the best person to provide just that.

 

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Fantasy Week In Review (Sept. 21-27)

September 28, 2009 by Adam Bernacchio  
Filed under Fan News

This is it, kids—the final week in the regular season and of course, the final week in fantasy baseball. For those of you playing for your league championship this week, good luck.

Here were the fantasy studs and the potential pickups from the fantasy week that was September 21-27.

Fantasy Studs

Ryan Howard: .375/2/14. It seems that the big man always heats up down the stretch. A hot Howard spells trouble for opposing teams in the playoffs.

Marlon Byrd: .320/3/11/.433. Byrd is having the best year of his career and is a free agent at the end of this season — convenient.

David Ortiz: .280/3/10/.419. Despite everything Ortiz has been through this season, he still has 27 home runs and 94 RBI on the season.

Alex Rodriguez: .350/3/8 with three SB’s. Rodriguez and Ortiz on the same list. It’s like a PED festival here at The Ghost of Moonlight Graham.

Joey Votto: .560/1/8. Votto had 11 runs scored and 10 doubles last week. In five years he will be on the ballot for entry into the Paul Molitor Hall of Fame for players who, if they played in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles, would be superstars.

Adrian Gonzalez: .321/2/8/.441. Six months into the season and still haven’t figured out why opposing teams pitch to him.

Zack Greinke: 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 13 K’s in 13 IP. Hasn’t Greinke been on this list every week? If you have a vote and don’t vote for him for the Cy Young, you should have your voting privileges revoked.

Joe Blanton: 2-0 with a 3.55 ERA and 13 K’s in 12.2 IP. Blanton has quietly been the Philadelphia Phillies most consistent pitcher this year.

Tom Gorzelanny: 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 16 K’s in 12 IP. Gorzelanny is going his best to win a spot in the Chicago Cubs’ rotation in 2010. Remember, he did win 14 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007.

Gorzelanny could be a nice sleeper in 2010.

Rafael Soriano: Three saves with a 0.00 ERA and six K’s in 3.1 IP. Soriano had 16 career saves coming into 2009. In 2009, Soriano has 27 saves and has the highest K/9 rate of his career (11.9/9).

Potential Pickups

Paul Bako: Need a catcher for the last week? Take a look at Paul Bako (something I never thought I would write). He hit .381/1/3 last week in 21 AB’s.

Ronnie Belliard: Belliard is getting regular playing time in Los Angeles. Last week, he hit .409/1/3 with seven runs scored.

Jay Bruce: For those of you who dropped Bruce after his injury—shame on you. Bruce has keeper potential and has turned it on as of late.

Bruce hit .500/2/7/.611 last week in 14 AB’s.

One last thing. If you are looking for a New York Yankees iPod protective case, or a Boston Red Sox cell phone holder, or even a Los Angeles Dodgers Blackberry case — check out Accessorygeeks.com.

Good site with a ton of inventory. They have cell phones, cell phone accessories, iPod accessories, headsets, and more.

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N.Y. Mets Cook Florida Marlins for Philadelphia, Need Atlanta to Finish the Dish

September 28, 2009 by scott eisenlohr  
Filed under Fan News

How important was it for Ryan Madson to strike out Mike Cameron to preserve the Phillies' 6-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday?

The Mets' 4-0 victory over the Florida Marlins officially eliminated the Marlins from overtaking the Phillies for the National League Eastern Division championship.

The Phillies finish up the season with a three-game series against the Marlins, and if the Marlins were even one game from elimination, they would swarm the bloody Philadelphia waters.

The Marlins still have a chance to capture the Wild Card but have to pass the Braves and the Rockies. Not likely.

The Phillies' picture becomes that much clearer. The magic number is three, and while the Phillies open a four-game set at home against the Houston Astros, the Marlins play the Braves.

Back to the Mets: Jeff Francouer, who hit his 14th home run in the fourth inning, is hitting .279. He has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal, lost season for the Mets. Injury has been at the forefront of the Mets' woes.

Now with the Fish gone, the Braves are the Phillies lone concern as far as clinching the division. The Phillies are 29-10 at home since July 1.

Phillies ace Cole Hamels (10-9, 4.11 ERA) faces Yorman Bazardo (0-2, 9.55) in the series opener.

A win would go a long way in reaching the finish line. Now Phils fans have to hope Florida takes one or two from the Braves.

If the Braves get hot and sweep the Marlins, which is likely in the way the Braves are playing, the Phillies still have destiny in their hands.

Just win, baby!

Last year, the Phillies used Ryan Madson as "the bridge to Lidge."

Brad Lidge, in 2009, is in serious disrepair. "Mad Dog" Madson is left as the Phillies primary closer.

I am just fine with that. It is the Phillies best option as they set to defend their World Series crown.

I am worrying about the playoffs later this week. The goal right now is to close thins out in the NL East.

With their win yesterday, the Phillies collected their 90th win of the season. A total of at least 93 wins should wrap this thing up nicely.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Lidge Needs to Be Closer to Not Being The Closer

September 25, 2009 by claire reclosado  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have been a focal point for many reasons—they are the reigning World Series champions, they are on pace to win the NL East, and they have a menacing lineup, just to name a few.

Within that jovial clubhouse, one would find an assorted cast of characters. There are jokers, superstars, leaders, and perfectionists.

Phillies manager Charlie Manual has that country charm, that candid disposition, and boy is he fiercely loyal. His unwavering loyalty has been on display all season as he has continued to keep a struggling Brad Lidge in as closer while he leads the Major Leagues in blown saves with 11.

It’s understandable that Manual, a player’s manager, would want to show his closer trust that Lidge will pull out of the funk. “Lights Out” Lidge is in there, and good ol’ Chollie has been holding steadfast to the belief that the perfect closer from the 2008 season will resurface.

But when does one say, “enough is enough”?

While the Phillies flaunt a potent offense, it is not feasible to depend on the bats erupting against every opponent they face. Fans can wish, hope, and pray for Philadelphia to score 15 runs on a nightly basis, but it’s just not going to happen.

What has been happening is the once-untouchable Lidge has been unreliable. With every appearance, memories of his impact on the 2008 championship season becomes diminished—instead fans’ groans amplified by rattled nerves take their place.

The Phillies can’t afford to wait any longer. Patience is one thing, foolishness is another. Lidge may be psychologically affected if he loses his job, but what have all these blown saves done for the entire team’s psyche?

The 2009 playoffs is not the stage to watch it play out. The star’s spotlight has burned out: It’s time to bring in the understudy.

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Manual Would Have Been Wise to Address the Closer Situation Sooner

September 25, 2009 by Ken Marone  
Filed under Fan News

With the postseason quickly approaching, skipper Charlie Manual has a major issue looming over his head.

Or maybe it's more of a headache.

If he has the lead in the ninth, who does he call on to save game come playoff time?

Manual and the Phillies now find themselves using a "closer-by-committee" to finish games with a little over two weeks until the NLDS begins.

And while Philadelphia holds its collective breath over which poison Manual will go with on any given night (Madson or Lidge), it would seem the entire situation could have been avoided.

Midseason it was evident that Brad Lidge was not in his 2008 form.  His ERA was at least four runs higher than the year prior, his strikeouts were down, and his hits and walks were up, and more importantly, he was blowing games.

Not only had Lidge lost his "lights out" status, his bridge, the "Mad Dog" Ryan Madson, didn't perform much better in the role after Lidge was sent to the DL with a sprained right knee.  The set-up man translated horribly to the closer as Madson was nearly a carbon-copy of Lidge in the ninth.

Manual however, stuck with his guy, hoping he'd iron out his problems, hoping he'd turn it on.

That's where the problem lies.

Manual, a noted players manager, supported his guy for too long. 

Had he addressed the problem then through either a trade, position movement, or even through sheer trial and error, the Phillies might be focused on who is going to pitch what day in the playoffs instead of who is going to close games.

Benching Lidge in early August would have given him a chance to test Tyler Walker, or JC Romero (before his injury) in the closer role.  We could have seen a trade for an established reliever who was looking for a role with a contender.

Instead he waited, and now it's too late. 

The Phillies are stuck with a closer who can't close, a set-up man who can't don any better, and no time to send them anywhere to tweak their arm slot, motion, etc.  And with Myer's shoulder injury and Martinez pitching well in the starting rotation; it doesn't look like we'll see a major change anytime soon.

Jamie Moyer and Chris Coste were both casualties of baseball moves (different moves, respectively) why wasn't Lidge?

Sometimes it's better to cast feelings aside and do what's best for the team, something Charlie Manual should have done a long time ago with Brad Lidge, when there was time.

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