Phillies, Not Eagles, Are City’s Gold Standard

July 31, 2010 by Matt Babiarz  
Filed under Fan News

It’s been six years since Jeffrey Lurie armed the Philadelphia media and fans with one of the most explosive pieces of ammunition possible.

Fresh off four straight NFC Championship berths and a trip to the Super Bowl, Lurie kicked off the 2004 season by declaring that the Eagles were the “gold standard” for NFL franchises.

Although the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots didn’t seem overly offended by Lurie’s declaration, his description was carefully filed away by Philly fans and media members, to be used whenever the franchise fell short of its own precious metal ideal.

Fortunately for Lurie, the city’s love for football and the Eagles’ consistent success over the next few years would maintain his team’s first class status among Philadelphians, but looking back to that summer of 2004, it is now evident that was when the Phillies began gaining on the Eagles in the hierarchy of Philadelphia sports franchises.

That spring, the Phillies left Veterans’ Stadium and moved to Citizen’s Bank Park, and renewed the city’s love for their baseball team.

The Eagles, of course, had moved into their own new playground a year earlier, but Lincoln Financial Field lacked the magical atmosphere of the ballpark across the street.

The Phillies’ stadium is the envy of Major League Baseball, and is currently approaching its 100th consecutive sellout crowd.

Sure, the Eagles are also playing to capacity crowds and securing season ticket renewals at a rate of 99 percent, but the rowdiness of a game at the Linc can not match the overall experience of a trip to Citizens Bank Park.

It should be noted that baseball and football franchises do not always market to the same target audience, but the wholesome atmosphere of a Phillies home game now appeals to a much greater audience than just the hardcore fan (are you listening Eagles management?).

Another trait of a “gold standard” franchise is its image around the league and among its own employees. This is another decisive win for the Phillies over the Eagles.

The Eagles have earned a reputation around the NFL for their cold and impersonal business model.

Their tendency to view players strictly as depreciating commodities has affected their image among current and prospective players.

Even their most beloved veterans are quickly cut loose the moment their price-to-value ratio drops.

The Phillies, on the other hand, are now viewed as an ideal destination. So much so, that their own players have become some of their best recruiters of star quality talent.

The recent acquisition of Roy Oswalt was helped along by Brad Lidge’s personal endorsement of the franchise.

Other players, such as Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard have publicly commented about the level of class exhibited by the Phillies front office.

Speaking of class, the Phillies show plenty of it in their commitment to players and also their willingness to respond to the media and fans. The roster is full of players that fans can identify with and root for.

General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and Manager Charlie Manuel are also respectful of questions from media and fans, even when they have unpopular answers.

Can the Eagles match this level of class? Well, ask yourself this: Would the Phillies sign a bench player with the character of Michael Vick, just because they thought he might provide some pop as a pinch hitter?

And how many times have you sat through the smugfests known as Eagles’ press conferences (think Andy Reid or Joe Banner) and came away thinking, “These guys really respect my intelligence and loyalty as a fan”?

Maybe none of these factors have anything to do with what makes a team the model for all other organizations. But there is one quality that surely does matter: success on the playing field.

After all, can a team be considered the “gold standard” without outstanding performances on the field?

Let’s compare the results achieved by the Eagles and Phillies over the past three years. Since 2007, the Eagles have made the playoffs twice. They reached the NFC Championship game in 2008, but were blown out in the wild-card round in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have built the best three year resume of any team in major league baseball (including the New York Yankees). They have reached the playoffs each season, and played in two World Series, with a championship in 2008.

Go ahead and name the top teams in the NFL over the past three years. One would be hard pressed to put the Eagles in front of any of the following: Steelers, Saints, Giants, Colts, Patriots.

Now, list the teams in baseball that have been better than the Phillies over the last three years.

Exactly.

Over the past three years, the Phillies have assumed the role of the city’s gold standard and it didn’t happen during a press conference. It happened through a series of events that made them more than just locally significant.

Certainly, the city has fallen in love with the Fightins, but the organization is nationally relevant on a level traditionally reserved for only the Yankees and Red Sox.

This reversal of roles may dawn on Jeffrey Lurie and company on Sept. 12, when the Eagles open their 2010 season at home against the Packers.

If the new look Birds fall behind or look sluggish, the Eagles brass may hear the name of the baseball team across the street being chanted in the stands.

Then, it may dawn on them that there is a new standard to which they can aspire.

 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Make Another Blockbuster Move, Acquire Roy Oswalt

July 31, 2010 by Adam Bernacchio  
Filed under Fan News

Another year and another trade deadline dominated by the Philadelphia Phillies quest to acquire a starting pitcher. Last year the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee near the trade deadline, and this year they have acquired another front-line starter.

The Phillies acquired Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for JA Happ and minor leaguers Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar. The Astros will pick up $11 million on Oswalt’s contract and the Phillies will not pick up Oswalt’s 2012 option, which was a sticking point for a while.

With the acquisition of Oswalt, the Phillies now have a one-two punch that, in my opinion, is the best in baseball. I don’t think there is a team out there that can rival Roy Halladay and Oswalt as a one-two punch.

With this trade, Ruben Amaro Jr. has finally solved something that has been an issue for the Phillies the last three years—the quest for a legit No. 2 starter. The Phillies have always had an ace for the last three seasons, but their No. 2 starters were more like No. 3s.

With Oswalt, the Phillies have One and One-A.

Oswalt had a 3.42 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and a 8.37 K/9 rate (second highest of his career) in 20 starts for the Astros. He is consistently touching 93 on the gun with his fastball and his curve is as good as it’s ever been.

He will make his Phillies debut on Friday against the Washington Nationals.

For the Astros, they get Happ, who I've always liked. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2009, but has suffered from an injury plagued 2010. Happ isn’t a No. 1 type starter by any means, but he should be an above-average starter for the Astros for the next several years. He is under team control until 2014.

Villar is a 19-year-old shortstop who was hitting .272 with 38 stolen bases in 100 games for Single-A Lakewood this year. He is not a power guy, but with 82 career stolen bases in three minor league seasons, it looks like he has speed to burn.

Gose, who was the third player received in the deal, was immediately shipped off to the Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Wallace. Wallace, if you remember, was in the Matt Holliday trade last season. In the past three years, Wallace has been traded three times and has been on four different organizations.

I guess it’s better to be wanted than nobody wanting you at all.

Wallace becomes the Astros first baseman of the future. He was hitting .301 with 18 home runs and had a .359 OBP in 95 games for Triple-A Las Vegas this season. He was ranked the 27th best prospect in baseball according to Baseball America prior to the season.

I think it was an okay haul for the Astros. The key to this deal will be the development of Wallace. If he can turn into an All-Star caliber first baseman for the Astros then this trade will look solid for them in the future.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Oswalt Disappoints in Philadelphia Phillies Debut

July 31, 2010 by bob cunningham  
Filed under Fan News

If there's anyone like me who wasn't a true fan of the move to bring in Roy Oswalt, you're probably hoarse from screaming at your TV all night long.

Oswalt was incredibly erratic in his Phillies debut as he and the team fell to the Washington Nationals, 8-1.

Of those eight runs, Oswalt allowed four earned, five total. He also allowed seven hits, two walks, and struck out only four in six innings of work.

Is it just me, or could J.A. Happ have done that?

The Phils had better hope that Friday night was an aberration for Oswalt, and that he'll come back strong in about five days or so, because if he has another showing like that, the Philly police might have to set up a border around Ruben Amaro Jr.'s home and keep watch for crazed fans.

But on a more positive note, Jayson Werth did hit a home run.

And back to the negative: the Phils offense once again looked anemic as they were only able to muster six hits, most of them meaningless, and struck out eight times.

It's tough to get too down on them after the run they've been on recently, but it's hard not to see the cycle starting again.

Especially when the guys had two errors in the field to go along with their poor showing at the plate.

Joe Blanton takes the mound for game two, so there's no telling how this game will turn out.

If he gets into trouble early and starts walking guys, it's going to be a very long night. However, if he's placing his fastball, it should be fairly easy to hold down this Nationals lineup.

Oh, and if Jimmy Rollins could get a hit and stay healthy for more than a couple games at a time, that'd be great.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Trade Rumors: Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt? Roy Oswalt

July 30, 2010 by harold friend  
Filed under Fan News

Who is the better pitcher, Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee?

Based upon the opinions of the "experts," the answer is Cliff Lee, but based on career performance, that is not the right answer.

Lee has pitched most of his seasons in the American League, which means that he didn't have the luxury, at least in most instances, of facing the opposing pitcher.

Oswalt has spent his entire career in one of the few professional leagues that still plays the game the way it was meant to be played. The pitcher is part of the batting order.

Cliff Lee has had some outstanding seasons.

In 2008, he was a Preacher Roe-like 22-3, with a 2.54 ERA, a 168 ERA+, and a WHIP of 1.110.

In 2005, Lee went 18-5, with a 3.79 ERA, a 111 ERA+ and a WHIP of 1.218, which was not as good as his 2008 season, but it was still a very good year.

Cliff Lee has had some pretty bad seasons.

In his first full season, which was 2004, Cliff was 14-8, but as we all know, a pitcher's won-lost record often doesn't tell the rest of the story.

To go along with his 14 wins, Lee had a 5.43 ERA. His ERA+ was a minuscule 80, and his WHIP was 1.503.

In 2006, Lee again won 14 games, but he gave up 224 hits in just over 200 innings.

The following season was worse, in part due to injury. Cliff worked only 97 and one-third innings, won five, lost eight, and had a 6.29 ERA.

The point is that Cliff Lee has had some of the best seasons of any pitchers in the 21st century, but he has also had some terrible seasons, which is not befitting a pitcher who ranks behind only Roy Halladay in the "experts" estimation.

No pitcher has won more games since 2001 than Roy Oswalt, who has a total of 143 wins as a Houston Astro.

Oswalt has two 20-win seasons. Lee has won 20 once.

Oswalt has a lower lifetime ERA (3.24 to 3.81), a better ERA+ (134 to 113), which helps to statistically control the designated hitters Oswalt never faced, and a lower WHIP (1.196 to 1.258),

As a National Leaguer, Lee's ERA is 3.39, his ERA+ is 126, and his WHIP is 1.130.

Roy Oswalt has been much more consistent than Cliff Lee.

Even this season, pitching for a bad Houston Astros team, Oswalt has a 3.42 ERA, a 120 ERA+, and a 1.109 WHIP. His won-lost record should improve now that he works for the Philadelphia Phillies.

On any given day, or in any given playoff series, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt give their teams a tremendous advantage.

While it may be foolish and impossible to definitively conclude that one is a better pitcher than the other, Oswalt has been more consistent, but a disclaimer is necessary.

As New York's other team discovered (they probably already knew from his days with the Cleveland Indians) in the 2009 World Series, Cliff Lee can dominate a team as well as Sandy Koufax (seventh game of the 1965 World Series), Bob Gibson (first game of the 1968 World Series), and Christy Mathewson (entire 1905 World Series).

The Phillies traded Lee last December. He won the only two games the Phillies won against New York's other team. Now they have Roy Oswalt. Let's see what happens.

Do you really think the Texas Rangers will meet the Philadelphia Phillies in November?  As Mr. Spock used to say, "fascinating."



References:

Roy Oswalt at Baseball Reference

Cliff Lee at Baseball Reference

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Oswalt to Make Phillies’ Debut Against Washington Nationals Tonight

July 30, 2010 by Josh Dhani  
Filed under Fan News

Things couldn't get better for the Philadelphia Phillies.

They just landed the best pitcher on the trade deadline market in Roy Oswalt. And now they have a nice saying for their farm system: Two Roy's are better than one!

Ruben Amaro Jr. continues to make some solid trades and finally made another great one.

It all started when he traded for Cliff Lee in last year's trade deadline. Lee performed well and helped the Phillies land a spot in the World Series against the New York Yankees. Sadly, the Yanks won to get their 27th World Series title.

Then the offseason came, and Roy Halladay was available. He traded Lee to the Seattle Mariners for the best pitcher in baseball. So far, the Phils have not been let down or unsatisfied.

Halladay has pitched well, including that perfect game he had earlier in the season.

The Phils are also coming off a great win against the St. Louis Cardinals, winning their eighth straight game along with their eleventh straight at home.

And what could make things better as they face a bad team where their star pitcher can perform well in? I think Oswalt can get a no-hitter in his debut with Philly.

Okay, yeah, you're right.

I'm taking it too far right there.

But, if you haven't noticed, things couldn't get better for Roy Oswalt either.

He was the best pitcher and player on the trade deadline market, and many teams wanted to go after him.

And now he went from joining a bad team like the Houston Astros to the hottest team in the league with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies can now easily pass the Atlanta Braves in the National League East division if they can keep their consistency going.

Oswalt can also fix his ERA along with that 6-12 record during the rest of the 60 games of the season. Then, once the playoffs hit, we might see Oswalt getting real hot.

But let's start it off slow with the Washington Nationals. I say the Phils win today's game as well as this series. What do you think?

The only thing that could make this better is if Stephen Strasburg were starting tonight.

Enjoy tonight's game!

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia Phillies from Houston Astros: Fantasy Impact

July 30, 2010 by Nick Kappel  
Filed under Fan News

In one of the most anticipated deals of the summer, the Houston Astros traded pitcher Roy Oswalt to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday in exchange for J.A. Happ and two minor league prospects.

Oswalt will make his Phillies debut Friday night against the Nationals.

From a fantasy perspective, Roy Oswalt ’s value should receive a slight boost. Despite a 3.42 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 129 innings with Houston this season, Oswalt owns a 6-12 record. With the NL’s third best offense in terms of runs scored (as opposed to the Astros' 15th best) behind him, Oswalt has a great chance to double his win total in the last two months of the season with Philly.

On the surface, it may seem as though Oswalt’s new home ballpark may hinder his fantasy value. A closer look, however, says otherwise.

In four career starts at Citizens Bank Park, Oswalt is 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA. In 77.1 innings (12 starts) this year at Minute Maid Park, he’s just 2-9 with a 3.96 ERA (2.61 ERA on road this season).

If that’s not enough to sell you on Oswalt in Philly, consider this: The 32-year-old is one of the best second-half pitchers in baseball, sporting a career ERA of 3.08 following the All-Star break.

Oswalt’s fastball remains in the low to mid 90s, and his hammer curve has been very effective this season. Though his strikeout rate has been uncharacteristically high (8.37 per nine innings this year, 7.42 career), his walk rate remains low (2.37 per nine), and his xFIP (3.45) suggests similar success in the near future.

J.A. Happ breezed through the Philadelphia farm system, posting a 3.52 ERA and 9.2 K/9 in 565.2 innings (six seasons).

His 89 mph fastball has been no match for big league hitters, however, as Happ’s K/9 fell to 6.45 during his 2009 rookie campaign. While his 3.11 ERA in 217 major league innings tells one story, his career 4.65 xFIP suggests another.

Happ is an extreme fly ball southpaw, a combo that screams disaster in Houston. The 27-year-old may be a key piece in the eyes of Astros management, but his fantasy value is very limited.

Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar are the two minor league players heading from Philadelphia to Houston.

Gose is a 19-year-old outfielder who grades as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale for his arm, his defense in center field, and his speed. Baseball America ranked Gose as the Phillies’ sixth-best prospect before the season, noting that some scouts compare his offensive upside to that of Carl Crawford. His bat pales in comparison to his other tools, however, suggesting Michael Bourn is a more realistic comparison.

In a separate deal, the Astros traded Gose to the Blue Jays in exchange for 23-year-old Brett Wallace. The former St. Louis, Oakland, and Toronto farmhand is batting .301/359/.509 with 18 homer runs and 61 RBI in 385 at-bats with Triple-A Las Vegas this season. His arrival opens the door for a possible Lance Berkman trade, meaning Wallace could be playing first base with the Astros by this weekend.

Villar is a 19-year-old infield prospect with good upside. His natural position is shortstop, though some scouts believe he’ll eventually end up at second base. The switch hitter has good speed (38 steals at High-A this season), though his power potential is limited. Villar is likely three years away from the majors.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: FANTASY BASEBALL INSIDERS

Follow Fantasy Baseba ll Insiders on F acebook & Twitter

More from Fantasy Baseball Insiders:

Fantasy Baseball Insiders’ Prospect Report:

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia Phillies is Like a Do Over for Ruben Amaro

July 30, 2010 by Gary Suess  
Filed under Fan News

Exactly one year from his first blockbuster trade, Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro pulled off another high profile trade to acquire an ace hurler. And, like a year ago, the acquisition of Roy Oswalt seems to push the team to the front of the contending pack in the National League and possibly all of baseball.

Despite being under fire at times, the young executive has demonstrated a clear willingness to make bold moves in the quest of bringing another World Series Championship to Philadelphia. It might be best summed up—no regrets, no fear. 

Last July's acquisition of Cliff Lee propelled the Phillies to a second straight National League Pennant and brought them to the brink of a repeat of winning it all. This year's deal could prove to be exactly what the current team needs to overcome the NL Eastern Division deficit. 

And, perhaps even more importantly, a pair of righty Roy's split up by lefty Cole Hamels would make the Phillies a highly daunting postseason opponent for anyone. 

It also stands to reason that the best starting pitching trio in the "Bigs" will be like a non-narcotic Valium for hitters who have been pressing a bit for a couple months. Last season's team seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief when Lee displayed his dominating presence and the team took off. 

Just like last year's trade, Amaro seemed to come away with the better end of the deal and a huge boost for the Phillies' lofty aspirations. Short of re-acquiring Lee or getting a do-over on the December deal that sent him to the Pacific Northwest, landing Oswalt was the next best thing. 

And, what makes it especially impressive is that RAJ was able to get his old boss Ed Wade to pay more than half of the salary owed to the hard-throwing right-hander over the balance of this season and next year. 

Parting with 2009 Sporting News Rookie-of-the-Year pitcher J.A. Happ is difficult considering his fine performance thus far and his low price tag, but otherwise Amaro did not have to part with any of the team's most prized prospects. 

The team had been very high on young speedster Anthony Gose, but concerns started to surface about his plate discipline. The ability to retain top prospects such as Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Trevor May, and of course, Dominic Brown make this a coup. 

Besides the psychological boost that the acquisition of Oswalt provides throughout the Phillies clubhouse, it may also have an equally deflating effect on the competition—specifically the Atlanta Braves. 

At the end of yesterday's action, the Braves find their once commanding lead narrowed down to 2.5 games. Oh, and by the way, the team breathing down their necks featured a splashy debut of baseball's number one prospect on Wednesday and then added one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past 10 years yesterday. 

Thursday's deal goes a long way towards erasing the lingering unrest associated with the trade of last year's postseason hero for three prospects rather than taking a shot at greatness in 2010. 

The consensus still tilts heavily towards the opinion that the Phillies would have been better off hanging onto Lee, but Amaro deserves a lot of credit for swinging this deal to corner the market on stud starters named Roy while having the Astros foot half the bill. 

Besides the unknown of how young players will fare in coming seasons, the only concerns center around Oswalt's health and the financial implications going forward. The All-Star hurler has had some history of back problems and some believe that Oswalt's additional salary burden will negate any chances of the team resigning Jayson Werth. 

Apparently, Amaro and the Phillies' medical consultants are confident that Oswalt's back will be fine and all will get a chance to render their own assessment when he takes the mound tonight in Washington. As far as Werth goes, it appears the club will have the rebounding slugger's services for the balance of this season, so all will defer that issue until this chapter is closed. 

 

This all comes at a time when Phillies hitters seem to be catching their stride. Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, and Jimmy Rollins have all elevated their performances in the second half, which has played a big part in the team's current eight-game winning streak.  

Just a week ago, hopes for the 2010 season seemed to be fading quickly. One stellar home stand and one masterful trade later has the Phillies suddenly looking like the team to beat again. 

Surely, they still have work to do as they currently sit behind the Braves in the NL East and others in the Wild Card race. With Chase Utley and Shane Victorino still on the DL and Jimmy Rollins nursing a foot injury, they will not be at full strength for the foreseeable future. 

Although the fear factor may have jumped up a bit around the league, other teams will certainly not rollover for them. But injuries and current record notwithstanding, the Phillies now certainly appear to have the fire power to surge ahead. 

The Oswalt deal would seem to signal acknowledgement that both Amaro and organization executives realize that the thought process behind last winter's transaction might have been flawed. Another bold, masterful move on July 29th once again is about as close to a "do over" as it gets, though. 

Props to RAJ.

 

 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The Roy Oswalt Trade Benefits Both the Astros and Phillies

July 30, 2010 by Collin O'Connor  
Filed under Fan News

Every year, there's always one move around the trade deadline that affects the rest of the MLB season or even the playoffs.

Much like last year when the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee in July, they made a move for this year's best available pitcher: Roy Oswalt.

Adding Oswalt to a rotation with Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay means the Phillies have the best rotation in the Nation League. Despite being currently 2.5 games behind games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, they are now the team to beat in the NL.

This trade turned the Phillies from a team who could miss the playoffs to a team that could make it to their third straight World Series.

But this is a good deal for the Houston Astros, too. Being 17 games under .500, it's obvious that they need to move on without Oswalt's $16 million contract.

They were able to add J.A. Happ and two minor leaguers that can help them rebuild during the offseason.

While the immediate results may not prove it, over the long run this deal can help both teams out equally. The Phillies have a great chance of getting in the playoffs, and are  talented enough to win a seven game series with Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt at the top of their rotation.

As for the Astros, the rebuilding process has now started. The question is, how long will Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee be in Houston?

Only time will tell.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies Must Become Road Warriors To Win NL East in 2010

July 30, 2010 by Jamie Ambler  
Filed under Fan News

In sports, being able to take care of business at home usually separates the bad teams from the good ones. But being able to win on the road is ultimately what separates the good teams from the very best.

It’s no secret that the Phillies’ uncanny ability to consistently win away from home has helped make them of baseball’s best teams in recent years.

Winning on other teams’ home turf has been a staple for this club ever since 2004 and is also a huge reason why they’re three-time defending NL East champions.

The 2007 Phillies won their last SIX games in Shea Stadium against the Mets.

The 2008 Phillies won ALL NINE of their games in Turner Field against the so-called division rival Braves.

The 2009 Phillies averted disaster by starting the season 24-9 on the road, despite beginning the year 13-22 at home.

Yet, it’s been a much different story so far in 2010.

The Phillies are 22-28 in games played outside of Citizens Bank Park.

It gets worse.

This month, the Phillies have lost three-of-four to both the lowly Cubs and Pirates. Remember that Chicago would have swept that four-game set if catcher Geovanny Soto could have just handled that perfect one-hop throw to home plate…

Since starting the season 13-7 on the road by mid-May, the Phillies have lost 21 of their last 30 road games. The last time the Phillies have suffered through that bad of a prolonged stretch on the road was back in 2003, as that team lost 24 of its final 33 road games en route to coughing up the Wild Card on the season’s final week.

But thankfully there’s now a renewed sense of optimism here in 2010, with these Phillies embarking on their next road-stint as both the winners of eight straight and the rightful owners of Mr. Roy Oswalt.

This upcoming six-game road trip against the Nationals and Marlins is a great place for the Phillies to start improving their play away from home. Recently, the Phillies have enjoyed playing in these two cities, as the Phils have gone a combined 16-5 in Miami and Washington since the beginning of 2009.

Twenty-one of the Phillies final 28 road games this season will come against the NL East, so playing well against the division will be pivotal, as usual.

The Phillies will also catch a few lucky breaks this week, as they will not face Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg nor Marlins’ ace Josh Johnson. Strasburg is on the 15-day DL while Johnson is slated to pitch the day before the Phillies arrive in Miami.

But winning on the road ain’t easy.

So far this season, 21 of the 30 ML teams have winning records at home, including all four of the Phillies NL East adversaries, but only eight have winning records on the road.

Can the Phillies turn it around away from home? You bet they can. They have the talent, the tradition, and right now they surely have the confidence.

After all, this great era of Phillies baseball has been partially defined by this group’s knack for performing well in enemy territory…especially when it matters most.

The fate of the 2010 Phillies hinges on their ability to start doing it again, and this upcoming trip down the East Coast is the perfect place to start….

 

Phillies Yearly Road Record (Since 2004)

Year                Record              ML Rank

2004                44- 37              Tied 5th

2005                42- 39              Tied 6th

2006                44- 37              Tied 5th 

2007                42- 39              Tied 5th

2008                44- 37              2nd     

2009                48- 33              Tied 1st

2010                   22- 28                 17th      

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The Bobby Abreu Trade and the Phillies: Four Years Later, No Regrets

July 30, 2010 by Asher B. Chancey  
Filed under Fan News

On the homemade page-of-the-day calendar that I made my wife as a Christmas present, today's page reads as follows:

"On this date in 2006, Bobby Abreu was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the New York Yankees for, well, not much. Although the deal was heavily criticized at the time, the Phillies have since enjoyed the winningest period in their history, winning three division titles, making two trips to the World Series, and winning the 2008 World Championship.

"More relevantly, it was the day we moved to Philadelphia."

For Philadelphia fans, that day meant the end of the misery known as Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia Phillie.

What only fans who watched him day in and day out could appreciate was that Abreu, while accumulating impressive numbers in the home runs, stolen bases, and bases on balls departments, could be a spectacularly bad fielder and could, at times, give the impression of not trying all that hard.

Or so I've been told. Frankly, I thought the move had been a mistake. I was wrong.

The Phillies have had no regrets.

If that day marked the end of the Bobby Abreu Era in Philadelphia, it also marked the end of the Chancey family's own personal hell, a hell that had begun 11 months earlier with Hurricane Katrina.

As we loaded our moving van four years ago today, I was reminded of the one thing my wife and I told each other just before we evacuated the City of New Orleans with my mother and brother in tow and with the massive hurricane looming in the Gulf of Mexico:

No regrets.

We had lots of choices to make that day: whether to leave, when to go, where to go, and how to get there. We had three choices of places to evacuate to because we had people waiting for us in Dallas, Texas, Tallahassee, Florida, and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

We had no idea what lay ahead of us, and so we thought it was important that we not end up playing the "what if?" game should things turn out poorly for us.

And so we didn't. No regrets.

What followed that evacuation, of course, was the worst natural disaster—from a financial perspective—in United States history. The Chancey family spent a brief couple of months as nomads-turned-squatters before ending up in Alexandria, Virginia just in time for Thanksgiving and the longest, most dreary winter these New Orleans folks had ever endured.

We spent roughly a year feeling out of place and out of touch, feeling as though our world had been turned upside down and we had no control over it. Don't get me wrong: Alexandria, Virginia is a lovely place, but we didn't chose to live there, and it wasn't home to us.

And so it was that eight months, a law school graduation and a job offer later, that we found ourselves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As we arrived with a moving van full of stuff we'd found on craigslist over the previous year, we looked at each other, and one truth became astonishingly clear.

For the first time since the hurricane had forced us from New Orleans, we were once again in control of our own destiny. We were back on track.

We were finally home.

So, too, did the Philadelphia Phillies finally come home that day in July, 2006.  

As it turns out, the Chancey family had moved to Philadelphia on the very day that the Phillies became a National League dynasty, and the ride has been nothing short of magical.  

After trading away Bobby Abreu (I'll never forget my first ever purchase of the Philadelphia Inquirer , which featured a column titled "Wait 'till the Year After Next"), the Phillies went on an improbable run, and Ryan Howard won the NL MVP on the strength of matching Jimmie Foxx's record for home runs by a Philadelphian with 58.

The following year Jimmy Rollins told the world that the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East and then backed it up, winning his own NL MVP on the strength of becoming the fourth player ever with 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs, and 20 stolen bases.

I believe it was Shane Victorino's grand slam against C.C. Sabathia in the 2008 NLDS, two batters after Brett Myers' Epic Walk, when I started saying "we" when referring to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phils got us a world championship that year and then went to the World Series again the following year.

To tell you the truth, I have no problem whatsoever considering the Phillies' run to be my own personal reward for past ills suffered, both the acute trauma of Hurricane Katrina as well as the chronic lifetime condition of being a Chicago Cubs fan.

As I've said in the past, if you spent your life rooting for the Cubs and then moved to a new city and the team in that city suddenly started going to the World Series every year, you'd switch allegiances too.

And so it continues.

Tonight, on the fourth anniversary of Bobby Abreu's departure from Philadelphia, the Phillies are two days into the tenure of Domonic Brown, the player we hope will be the next Phillies superstar. Meanwhile, newly acquired Roy Oswalt takes his first turn in the Phillies' rotation against our NL East neighbors to the south, the Washington Nationals.

Will this be the beginning of a third run to the World Series? Will Oswalt and Brown be the pieces we need to win our second championship in three years?

We'll see.

For my part, I could not be more pleased with this team or this city.  

Becoming a Philadelphian has meant, to me, making "Our Nation's first..." jokes (this is the site of our Nation's first microwave dinner, etc.), figuring out where the best cheesesteaks really are, and making fun of people who take their picture in front of the Rocky statue.

Meanwhile, my wife, my kids, and I have found ourselves in a wonderful West Philadelphia neighborhood surrounded by the best group of friends we could have ever hoped for, living a life I don't think we could have imagined four years ago.

True to our word, we have no regrets.  

As one of my favorite movie lines goes, I'd rather be with the people of Philadelphia than with the finest people in the world.

As for the Phillies, it's been a great run, and while all good things must come to an end, I hope that this Phillies run doesn't end for a long, long time.  

It is crazy to think it all started by trading away what appeared to be their best player, but here we are. Now, as we watch Roy Oswalt take what we hope will be the first step towards our next World Series appearance, hopefully a couple of months from now the Phillies will be able to look back on this deal and, once again, have no regrets.

 

Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia and is a co-founder of BaseballEvolution.com .

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Next Page »