Losing Their Lead, Losing Their Cool

victorino 0810.jpgIt’s not that the Marlins swept the Phillies this weekend.

It’s how it happened that bothered Charlie Manuel the most. So he held a 20-minute team meeting following Sunday’s 12-3 loss at Citizens Bank Park.

You can bet Manuel did most of the talking.

“Today’s game got me a little bit,” he said. “I’ll be very honest with you. Today’s game, how we played, things that happened in the game, how we went about it and things. It was not about how we played yesterday or nothing like that, and not because we lost three games in a row.

“I was upset kind of with how he played today. I felt like we lost our composure and we did some things that we usually don’t do, and we didn’t play like we usually play. … We’re not the team that you saw on the field today. I think that we definitely can be much better than that. We are better than that.”

What was said? 

“Whatever I said is my business,” Manuel said. “I hope my message was sent.”

This was a bad weekend for the Phillies. They had a chance to step on Florida’s throat. They had a chance to kill its spirit. If the Phillies had taken 2 of 3, they would have had an eight-game lead in the National League East with a little more than a month and a half to play. But now it’s down to 4, giving the Marlins a feeling they could actually upset the Phillies.

That’s the last thing the Phillies wanted.

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The Phillies have lost eight of their last 11 games. They’re averaging 2.9 runs per game in that stretch, which is the worst average in the Majors.

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Shane Victorino‘s ejection in the seventh inning might have been the most bizarre ejection I’ve ever seen.

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I would expect Pedro Martinez to start for the Phillies sometime this week. An announcement could come Monday because I don’t see how the Phillies can wait to announce their pitching probables until Tuesday, when they open a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Jamie Moyer might get pushed out of the rotation at this point. Signs just point that way.

“When I need to be addressed or spoken to, I’m sure I’ll be spoken to or I’ll be told what’s going on,” Moyer said. “We don’t make the decisions here. We just work here.”

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41 Comments

Ugly weekend! Lackluster offensive, so-so pitching. I guess the Phils like a bit of a challenge coming down the stretch. Being 7-8 games up on the Marlins/Braves might have been “too easy” for them.

In regards to the pitching rotation dilemma, I like Jim Sailsbury’s take in his column in Sunday’s Inky taking a look at the difference btwn the two PA teams after the trade deadline and how the Bosox feel after losing out on a chance for Halladay: “Meanwhile, the Red Sox move on, looking more and more like a team that could use Halladay as they try to catch the Yankees in the AL East standings and hold off Texas and Tampa Bay in the wild-card race. Wonder if they’d have any interest in trading for Pedro Martinez?” http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20090809_On_Baseball__For_Pirates__better_times_might_be_ahead.html

I agree with Todd about the Victorino ejection. I’ve never seen anything remotely like that. The umpire cannot be that touchy, especially when he KNOWS that he made a call that may have cost the Phillies a big inning. Players are expected to let it go, but umpires are not? He says that he ‘gave Victorino a chance to not do it again.’ Is that a serious statement?
Absurd.

Too often, umpires think they’re the show. They bait players and confront them when what they should do is walk away and let the player scream at himself.
They sometimes itch for a fight, and the weather conditions yesterday did nothing to help that.

Otherwise, it was a lackluster effort by the Phils. Rollins’ run shouldn’t have counted. The replays showed that he probably was late touching the plate after loping in from third base. Fortunately, Rapuano wasn’t looking at it. Werth appeared to be half asleep in center field (up too late at the UFC event?) and generally they looked like they would have rather been watching the game instead of playing.

Besides the ejection, another thing I’ve rarely seen is a player who isn’t on the active roster, in uniform, in the dugout for two weeks. Meanwhile, they’re 1-10 when Cliff Lee doesn’t pitch.

Well yesterday’s game confirmed two things. 1) Lopez is not cut out to be a relief pitcher. 2) Pedro will get a chance to win the #5 rotation place from Moyer.

I;ve been against Pedro from the start. However, let it be known (Phan and Joed) that if he pitches for us, he gets my backing.

As for the awful play by Werth in CF, that is why we were all taught to field the ball first and then throw it. Knowing runners were going to be trying to score, he was coming up throwing before he actually had the ball. Stupid play. “A ball” play. Play that should have resulted in him being shown a piece of wood for the rest of the game if Victorino hadn’t been thrown.

Let’s hope we can take a few from the CUbbies. We need to change the momentum quickly

http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/news/probable_pitchers.jsp?c_id=phi

I don’t understand why they would consider Martinez over Happ tomorrow (see attached link). Happ should not lose a turn considering how he has pitched recently. Pedro should get one more rehab assignment today or tomorrow in the minors and pitch this weekend against Atlanta. I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out.

As bad as I feel for Moyer, it does appear he may be out of a job soon. Unless of course Pedro gets destroyed in his start. If not, maybe Jamie can coach? He is such a nice guy and a great presence and mentor to the younger guys that I hope we can keep him around if indeed, he gets bumped from the rotation.
And yeah, “bizarre” is one word for that ridiculous ejection. A few others might be childish, self-indulgent or just plain stupid. Ugh.

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

According to Seth Everett this morning on WIP, Rapuano will be fined for his actions yesterday. Umpires are reviewed daily and (again according to Seth) the fines aren’t disclosed. Interesting, since players’ fines are made public.
My guess is that Shane got his goat over the play in right field, where he umpired instead of running back to first and again after the Howard strikeout. Rapuano probably had enough of listening to him whine (he does whine) and ran him the next chance he got, albeit from 300 feet away.

I think that Dave (the Cheeseman) has a decent idea on the rotation. Basically he suggests pitching Lee tomorrow (his 5th day) and then going Pedro, Blanton, Happ, Cole. The reasons being:
1) keep lee on his regular shedule
2) Allow Pedro to pitch on his regular day (he threw a pen session on Sunday)
3) Give Happ 2 extra days after he threw 127 pitch shut out
4) give Hamels a bit of rest to get his *** in gear and prove he’s really an ace.

The Phillies web site is reporting Lee Wednesday and Blanton Thursday, with the famous TBD Tuesday and Friday.

Hopeful this means Happ is pitching on Tues, and not Pedro. I wouldn’t want his first start in 1+ years to be one where we need a stopper after being swept. This means that Fri is should be Hamels., and Pedro gets his first start against Atlanta. TIme will tell

Pedro is definitely a fly in the ointment. He’s disrupting the rotation, and at this point in the season, I’m not sure that’s helpful. He’d be nice to have if there was a hole to fill, but unless Moyer is being left out he may be more trouble than he’s worth.
For my money, either Jamie’s out or in. If he’s out then Pedro fills his spot and everybody stays on their day.

After yesterday I think it’s safe to say that Moyer is out. The issue is who needs an extra day’s rest, and trying to keep certain people, (Lee, Pedro) on their days. Hamels definately needs to get it together, and Happ may need an extra day after his last start.

More importantly is when are our hitters going to start hitting. Poor Lee thought he was coming to a team where offence is king, we havn’t seen any real run production in ages already

Wow, ugly weekend on all fronts. The starting pitching problem is really starting to annoy me. The answer could not be any easier. Jamie, we love you but it’s time to go.

The hitting with RISP was abysmal this weekend. Just a really bad job with fundamental baseball. They were lucky to get that run in the first yesterday. Everyone should be alert and running hard at all times. This has been one of the worst seasons in recent history for boneheaded baserunning that I can ever remember. Far too many mental lapses on the basepaths.

These umpires love to get noticed. They all have short fuses and it’s ridiculous. I don’t know if it is little man syndrome due to the fact they are working in a game amongst guys (the players) who are making 20 times their salary or what. But please just make yourselves invisible.

So now fij is on board with having Pedro throw with the big club?

The Phils are blessed to be in such a crappy division, where their current lousy streak still finds them 4 games up. I don’t think the Marlin are going away. Getting Nick Johnson was a nice pick up for them, and their starters should keep them in the race for a while.
The Phils starters are one thing, but Lidge’s continued struggles are disconcerting. Just when it looks like he’s back in form, he coughs up a few more runs the next time out. That stuff won’t fly in the playoffs or even down the stretch if it stays close.
Six games against Florida in the last two weeks of the season.

Joed, FIJ is willing to watch Pedro get hit hard and loose while rooting anyone in a Philly uniform on. I do wonder how much all this talk about rotation, etc has effected the team. notice their latest tail spin began after getting Lee and everyone starting to talk about who the odd starter out would be.

As many have already said, we may have been better off if Rube hadn’t gotten us this insurance policy named Pedro

The way to do this is to put Moyer on the DL for 15 days and send him to do a few rehab starts. He obviously is having trouble with mechanics and needs to work them out. This way Pedro gets his two starts. If he is is no better then Moyer’s been, then when Moyer is eligible he takes his spot back and pedro goes fishing in the Deminican Republic. If pedro is as good as Joed thinks (prays) he’ll be, then Moyer is either released or traded or offered Dubee’s job. Speaking of coaches, when do we get a real hitting coach? How hard is it to tell Howard to bunt down the 3rd base line the next time a team puts the shift on for him?

My only concern with the strating rotation is, if Moyer goes to the pen or somewhere else, and Martinez bombs in 1,2, 3 starts, what then, hands and knees time and ask Moyer back into the rotation, and why is everyone all over Moyer for his start yesterday, compared to the rest of the rotation it was on level par (Lee)excluded of course. Maybe martinez should pitch a couple of long reliefs out of the bull pen see what he has against the big boys

f-i-j, how can you call Pedro a distraction when he hasn’t pitched an inning in a Phillies uni?
The distraction was the addition of Lee and the big lead that they had, which caused the team to lose focus. They started taking the division for granted and it came back to bite them. Lee can’t pitch every day so they are 1-8 in games not pitched by Lee since they made the trade and it is decidedly the fault of the offense. They have to get their act together and start hitting with RISP.

f.i.j.: Opposing teams would PAY Howard to bunt down the third base line, and any hitting coach who advised him to do so would be fired on the spot. Get serious.

muleman: you are so wrong. If he were to bunt down the line once, he would be on base for werth, Ibanez, Pedro etc. it would also cause the team to stop putting on the shift, which is designed not to stop Homers, but line drive singles/doubles. A bunt single is as good as a line drive one. Also, bunting helps players “remember” (should I say learn?) to make contact gently and not swing thru the ball. over the past 2 weeks Howard is back to striking out nearly 1/3 of his at bats (11K’s in 31 AB in Aug.)

Phan: all the talk about Pedro, who, as you say, hasn’t even pitched to 1 batter yet, is the distraction. Is he taking Happ’s place? Is he taking Moyer’s? Will he be the Pedro of last two years, or the Cy Young winning Pedro? What happens with Lopez? all these questions, which you can be sure the players hear and think about as well, are distractions from going out and winning ball games. Either play him or cut him, but the team needs to get on with it already

f.i.j.: I’m not wrong.
In fact, asking Howard to bunt is an idiotic suggestion. He doesn’t earn his money hitting singles and getting on base. He’s an RBI power hitter. Ted Williams didn’t bunt against the shift and neither should Howard.
I feel stupid even responding to such nonsense. Learn about the game before you make comments like that.
Nobody in their right mind would ask any power hitter to start bunting. God sakes, man. Think.

Todd – phan – joed — SOMEBODY help me deflect the f.i.j. nonsense about having Howard start bunting.

fij is impressive. I guess this blog would be pretty boring if he wasn’t on it. Howard bunting and Rodrigo Lopez as a better option than Pedro. Dude makes Ed Wade look like a genius. All Howard should be doing is getting more selective. If he would just spit on 90% of the breaking pitches he sees his OBP would go up 20-30 points. He just has terrible pitch recognition when he’s ice cold. And when you are ice cold you have to take a walk here and there and then maybe it will click in the opposing pitchers head that he isn’t going to chase anymore.

And the argument about Howard “striking out too much” is so tired. He gets paid to drive in runs and hit bombs. And that’s what he does. Would you like him to warp into Ichiro? It annoys me when he strikes out but it annoys me more when people get so worked up about it. Have you seen the man’s swing? It’s not exactly a prototypical contact hitter’s swing. I just wish he would take more walks, ala an Adam Dunn. Dunn gives you the pop while still getting on base consistently. That’s why he is one of the more underrated players of this era.

Mule, he’s not earninghis money in August knocking in runs or hitting HRs either. He needs to make contact. Once he can do this, again, his HR’s will come. I’m not saying turn him into Larry Bowa, but to lay one down to prove he can do it and break the shift forever. Once done a team can’t risk having the 3B play him 2 feet from 2nd base anymore

He’s actually hitting over ,.300 against righties this year. He hits lefties under .200. Partially because he can’t take a breaking ball, partially because he can’t hit a slider, and partially because when he hits a line drive he pulls it right at the shifted defense. If you break teh shift his average will soar 20-30 points easily. You don’t need to do it all the time, just once in one game to get the message across. Same idea as when a player who never steals takes off when he’s not being held on. Keeps the other team honest

For all of the striking out Howard is doing, his BB/K ratio is about the same as it was last year. Honestly, as long as his OBP stays around league average (which it is right now) and he pushes the SLG over .550 (currently .522), I’d say the Phils are getting sufficient production out of him, especially now that his first base defense has improved so dramatically. Still, it’s scary to think about what a great hitter he would be if he were able to identify breaking pitches and be more patient at the plate.

I’m not sure Howard could even get into the bunting stance, never mind actually hit the ball with a bunt, but it would be nice to see him adopt some of his batting practice swings, i.e. line drives down the left field line, or at least towards left field. He spends a lot of time swinging line drives to all areas of the field in batting practice yet once the game starts everything is targeted to long balls to right and right center, it’s pure early or late swings that get him his homers to left center.

As for Pedro’s distractions.. okay i know they like to stay a little loose and light hearted on the bench, but while we were getting our butts handed to us on a plate yesterday, martinez was joking around and generally dicking off with Rollins on the bench, maybe he should be made to log pitches etc, while his on the bench, so he can get to know some of the batters he maybe facing at some point. The object being get him to do something constructive while he’s on the bench, if he stays on the bench, who knows he may be off to triple A, while the Phils are in Chicago and Atlanta

muleman, I’ll help….FIJ, You can bet your life Ryan doesn’t even practice bunting when he takes batting practice. Power hitters don’t bunt because the act of bunting messes with their swings. They are paid to hit the ball hard, so check swinging a ball, angling it toward the opposite field would also mess up their swing. You can call them babies, prima donnas, whatever, but they are a sensitive breed that should not be asked to depart from their daily routines of swinging for the fences.

hmmm… got a too many comments error, weird… its the low and away pitches he just waves his bat at aimlessly that he needs to quit, but thats what dork Ed, called him out on yesterday, so there’s no winning really, it all depends on the umpire and what his strike zone is at the time

Hey fij, he doesn’t need to bunt to beat the shift. He can just let the ball get deeper instead of being out in front of everything and just smoke line drives into left like devil said.

And he should walk so much more than he does. I’m sure you don’t understand that though. 2 BBs in the last 2 weeks for the types of pitches he sees is an absolute joke.

so Happ will go Tuesday against the Cubs.. good!!

Martinez Wednesday,,hmmm

Asking Ryan Howard to bunt is ridficulous. He needs to recognize the spin on a ball earlier and lay off the breaking stuff for a while. Chollie mentioned it after his abysmal performance on Friday and he went 4-4 the next day. That is how his OBP will go up, not by bunting against the shift.

I recall Chase bunting against the shift last year in the first inning of the WS. Fortunately it went foul and he ended up hitting a 2-run homer. You don’t want players like that to ever bunt.

Why didnt Ed see J-Rolls reaction and throw him out too…

Getting back to Shane’s ejection from yesterday’s game, I think part of the blame has to go to Charlie. HE should have been the one who got ejected. What I mean is that he should have gone out and argued that pitch-call that Ryan got called out on. He didn’t cover his players’ back. The same with Lopez. I think Shane was getting sick of watching every call go the FISH’s way and that’s why he expressed it too much and that’s why he got ejected. Charlie at least should apologize to the team for not seeming to care as much as others like Ryan and Shane did. Shane won points with Ryan, Lopez (and the rest of the pitching staff), and every Phan who recognizes that he did it because the status quo was not working. He demonstated the very character that is needed to captain this team to another WSC.

Shane lost his head because that UFC stuff got him fired up.

joed21, don’t you think that a manager needs to get tossed out once in a while just to let his players know that he’s got their backs covered? Charlie didn’t let that ump know that he was sick of seeing calls go the other way. Shane did. Charlie looked bothered. Shane was visibly indignant. I like Shane even more than before, if that were possible. In 3 months, I hope we all look back at this moment as the turning point when the Phils got their act together and never looked back.

Thanks everyone for your support.

f.i.j.: Ryan Howard is a cleanup hitter. He’s paid to drive in runs, specifically Rollins, Victorino and Utley – not “set the table” for the 5, 6 nd 7 hitters. It’s simple baseball. Too simple, I guess.
Just stop with the bunting nonsense.

He’s hitting .170 against lefties and not hitting HRs to the opposite field like he used to. His swing is screwed up, and it doesn’t have anything to do with bunting. It’s a Hell of a lot different than a guy stealing a base when he isn’t being held on.
Amazing the junk that comes up in this place.
Name me another power hitter IN THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL that started bunting to “break the shift.”
You can’t.

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