Bloody, But Unbowed

william_ernest_henley.jpgI just left the Phillies clubhouse, where I heard a player quote an English poet in regards to the team’s offensive struggles.

That’s a first.

The Phillies have scored 11 runs in their last six games, including tonight’s 4-0 loss to the Giants at Citizens Bank Park. They have hit .244 overall and .152 (7-for-46) with runners in scoring position in that span. But it has much been much worse than that. The Phillies have hit just .241 overall and just .208 with runners in scoring position since July 26, averaging just 4.1 runs per game after averaging 5.5 runs per game their first 96 games of the season.

If it has been frustrating for you to watch at home, it has been even more frustrating for the players in the clubhouse.

What’s the solution?

Anyone?

“You’ve got to keep grinding and keep fighting,” said Raul Ibanez, who is hitting .133 (10-for-75) in his last 21 games. “I think it was Shakespeare who said, ‘My head is bloody, but unbowed.’ Keep fighting.” 

That was the first time I had heard a player quote Shakespeare, so I gave Ibanez major points. I still do. But I looked up the quote and William Ernest Henley actually wrote those famous words in the poem Invictus, which is Latin for unconquered.

The poem seems to fit some of the team’s offensive struggles. Sister Marion Hoctor, professor of English at Nazareth College of Rochester, New York, talked about the poem after Timothy McVeigh left it as his final message to the world before execution in 2001: “The poem is powerful expression of stoicism — you fall back on your own resources, you don’t fall back on religious resources. If you are going to truly be ‘invictus’ — which is Latin for unconquered — you must be true to your own convictions. So ‘Invictus’ means ‘I have not been conquered.’ … He’s saying ‘I’m in possession of my fate, I have been strong, I haven’t cried, or winced’ in the face of the ‘bludgeoning of chance.’”

There you have it.

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30 Comments

Ridiculous is a much better word than awesome. Ibanez is starting to make me wish for Burrell. It makes me wonder, take out that (actually awesome) July and let’s see the numbers. Any wins lately have been thanks to Howard and an awesome stretch for the pitching staff (starters). Will this offensive futility wreck havoc on the pitcher’s psyches? How does Happ feel when he thinks he has to pitch a shutout to have any chance of winning? The RISP stats are astounding, they had two on and no outs tonight and I said to a friend (as Giants’ announcers talking about trouble for Penny) that Penny had nothing to worry about and so right – Ibanez popup, Feliz strikeout and Ruiz nothing – no damage and they went quietly after that.

thumpbump: You can’t take out the July numbers. I hate that argument. It doesn’t work that way. Take out the his 21 games too, then. It’s called a batting AVERAGE for a reason. Ibanez pretty much carried the team the first half when Rollins was struggling. He’s a big part of why they are where they are.
Then you cite the “awesome stretch for the pitching staff.” Should we take out those numbers too?

muleman, yeah you take in the whole package, but there is no getting around the fact that Ibanez’s season has become Burrellesque. The ups and downs are kind of extreme, to say the least. If that is what he is, I certainly hope he gets hot soon.

Mule and Phan, Ibanez has long been a streaky hitter-like Burrell. However, I never remember Burrell having a first half anywhere near as dominating as Ibanez’s. When he was hot Rollins and Howard werern’t. Now it’s Howard’s turn to carry the team for a while-don’t worry, Ibanez will get hot for the play offs

I was more saying “take out July” for the whole team when they went on a hitting tear. Minus that great stretch, the hitting has been horrible. Go back to last postseason and even season, lots of bad hitting. No, it’s never perfect and World F***ing Champs is great, but I want more and this offense won’t cut it regardless of how good the pitching is or can be. I’m tired of Milt Thompson and isn’t Cholly supposed to be a hitting guru???

“However, I never remember Burrell having a first half anywhere near as dominating as Ibanez’s.”

Sad that you’d forget the first half of 2008 so soon. Especially since it was a World Series-winning one, and all.

Burrell 2008:
49 runs, 86 hits, 23 HR, 57 RBI, .275 BA, .404 OBP, .575 SLG, .979 OPS

Ibanez 2009:
53 runs, 80 hits, 22 HR, 60 RBI, .309 BA, .367 OBP, .649 SLG, 1.015 OPS

As dominating? No. NEAR as dominating? Yes, especially considering that Ryan Howard had a fairly dismal start to 2008 and a much better start to this year.

Basebalcelt: AS I said, I can’t remember a half season like Ibanez’s. There is a huge difference. 10% more runs scored, 5% more more homers, .34 more batting average and he bats 6th.

On a different front, Phillies second move of the expanded rosters: Called up catcher named Hughes. When the monor league season ends the rest will follow

Oops, that’s Hoover, not Huges, my bad (it’s too early in the morning, I guess

Ibanez bats 6th now, but generally hit 5th behind Howard in the first half which is the period represented by these stats. Ibanez also benefits from a healthier and more productive 2009 version of Pedro Feliz, as well as more production out of Jayson Werth (who generally hit 6th in the first half of this year) hitting behind him; as opposed to a platoon of Werth and Jenkins and a less healthy Feliz hitting behind Burrell in 2008.

Thank you for posting those numbers baseballcelt, I was about to do the same thing. Maybe we can just assume Ibanez will get hot for the playoffs, or maybe it’s time to acknowledge that Rube signed a player five years older than Burrell to a 3 year contract, and we will be paying him over $10 MM when he is 40 years old, and have no real gauge on his production, especially now that a groin injury may become a nagging problem. That’s what happens to older players. And we have 2 elite outfield prospects in our system, one who will be banging on the big league door as early as next year. Oops.

Well put, phylan.

Phylan: I know you were against letting Pat go from teh beginning, but let’s get real. You aren’t really saying you’d rather have Burrell than Ibanez this year, are you? Burrell who almost lost his DH posistion in TP; Burrell who is hitting .243 w/ a .330 OBP and a .410 SLg. He who has managed to hit 13 HR and knock in 55 RBIs.

Like anyone else, Ibanez gets hot and then goes cold. I can’t wait until Howard goes cold and you jump on the bandwagon of idiots demanding to trade him or complaining that we gave him a 3 year contract over the off season.

Maybe I’m grabbing at straws…….but Ibanez’s fly ball last night (of course with RISP) I thought was his best “hit” in sometime. It was almost a HR/RBI. Howard continues to impress me with his extra base hits (he’s been hitting doubles almost every game) but unfortunately no one is driving him in.

All this talk for the last few weeks of the post season makes me nervous sometimes as we talk about the Phils lack of offensive numbers. However, the Phils usually respond best when their backs are against the wall.

How cool would it be if 3-time Cy Young winner (and an old goat) were to win tonight against the youngster 1-time Cy Young winner? Keep your fingers crosse :-)

to totally change the topic: This was in Rick Reilly’s piece yesterday on ESPN.com.

Reasons you can abandon your team
Your team folded or left town. In this case, you are automatically an unrestricted fan free agent and can immediately put yourself up for bid. A writer named Scott Soshnick did this recently with every big-four franchise. Only nine wrote back. But one — the Golden State Warriors — had 28 employees send him we-want-you e-mails, mailed him a jersey with his name on it, sent a DVD with rookies wearing that jersey, signed him to a $1 lifetime contract and wrote a mock press release announcing a new fan acquisition

They must be real desperate for fans in the Bay area

For all of us worrying about catchers in the system, this just in: C Travis d’Arnaud (last weeek), 8 hits, 6 RBI; third in Phillies minor league system with 69 RBI

Seems as if we have a catcher who can drive in runs, finally.

Travis D’Arnaud is playing in low A ball and isn’t even on the 40 man roster. Yes, he is their best catching prospect, but he is years away. And remember that just last year Donald, Carrasco and Marson were highly touted prospects, while Michael Taylor and Kyle Drabek were completely off the radar. Prospects are what the name implies, Don’t go counting unhatched chickens.

Oh, I don’t expect to see him in the show for at least two years. I just found it refreshing that after marson, jamillio etc, we finally have a catcher with some ability to hit with RISP. I think he may be the surest prospect in the monors for us, at this point. We have no other catcher with any chance of making the team as either a starter or back-up. Drabek was injured and Taylor plays a posistion where we are very deep. While he made noise last year, as well, Goldson was the prodigy, just as mayberry was at the beginning of this year. Either he or Brown will be the RF in 2011

I don’t want to knock the Phillies management because they have done a stellar job in recent years with the roster, Bruntlett notwithstanding. But they keep missing with the backup catcher situation. Jaramillo and Paulino are thriving in their new digs and, while we traded one for the other, we let Paulino go for a bag of balls. Coste was a nice addition to the bench for a while but was a liability behind the plate.
Maybe their priority is the way the catcher handles the pitcher, I don’t know. But IMO, they can’t get the backup catcher situation right. Bako appears to be nothing but Lee’s designated catcher.

     f_i_j you misunderstand – Obviously Ibanez has been more productive than Burrell this year, and Ibanez had a hell of a streak until his injury. But from a long term perspective, Ibanez’s 3 year $30 million contract does not make a lot of sense considering he’s 37, and prone to things like this groin injury, which could hamper his offense for a long time. Nobody expected him to do what he did at the beginning of the season, and maybe that’s for good reason — maybe he just on a once-in-a-career hot streak coming over from the AL to the NL.
     Ibanez’s contract is not comparable to Howard’s extension, which brings cost-control to what would have been several more expensive arbitration years for Howard. I’m continually critical of Howard’s inability to identify breaking pitches, but obviously I’m not going to want to waive the guy when he gets in a slump. I’m not saying what I’m saying about Ibanez because I think he’s in a slump, I’m saying it because the contract they gave him is going to be impossible for him to make worthwhile at his age, especially next year and in 2011, with Michael Taylor almost ML-ready and Domonic Brown on the way for 2012 or so.

Dont’ we know it. As late as last summer we were saying how rish the farm was with Catchers. Marson, jaramillo, D’Arnaud, etc. We accepted the trade for Jaramillo as we all knew Marson was rated higher and Coste wasn’t going anywhere, unless Paulino beat him out of the job. 2010 was supposed to be Marson’s year to make the team.

Well, we have Cliff Lee instead, and no depth in the farm at C any more. As you said, it seems the Phillies prefer defensive catchers and aren’t worried about their hitting. This said, it’s nice to see that D’Arnaud can knock in runs.

The paulino deal seems to have been a nice act on the Phillies part to allow one of their prospects to make his way elsewhere since he was dead ended here. We needed a #2 catcher and since Marson was going to AAA, and Jaramillo wasn’t ready, the deal for Paulino made sense. When coste beat him out for the job, he was expandable. What I don’t get is the Coste release in order to bring in Bako. He can’t hit, and doesn’t seem to be that much of an improvement over Coste on D either. I guess time will tell, and we’ll be making a deal for a #2 Catcher over the winter

Oh and, f_i_j, now you can tell us all you told us so, the Phillies have called up catcher Paul Hoover. He has hit .253/.329/.339 with 1 home run in 281 plate appearances for AAA this year.

I never said the catcher would be worth a piece of horse SH*T, jut that he would be on the roster–lol.
As for Ibanez, if he gives me another half season next year like the first half this year, and then slides into the 4th OF job in 2011 I’ll be thrilled. Remember, we have Brown and Taylor to bring up in 2011 if we want, and Francisco is a capable alternative as well if we need. With the exception of Abreu, he’s been the best FA pick up (not counting pitchers) of the year. I, like you, I’m sure, hope he finds his swing and returns to the Raaauuuullll we say in April, May and June

Great job finding that post. I remember when it originally was posted. There is no doubt he is a streaky hitter. However, when he’s hot he’s hotter then Burrell ever was, and when he’s cold, he’s still hotter then Burrel when he’s cold. So far I cant be upset with Rube for making this signing. Even if the next 2 years arent as good as the first half of this one

phylan, Ibanez has had similar streaks almost every year since about 2002. They just weren’t as noticeable because they didn’t happen right out of the chute in the beginning of the season.

With thanks to the bleacherreport.com….

Beginning in 2002, Ibanez had a 50-game streak—June 7 to Aug. 2—when he hit .328/.385/.704 with 15 doubles, five triples, and 15 homers. He drove in 54 runs. Few noticed because the Kansas City Royals were abysmal that year, and it was in the middle of the season. But that stretch, you will note, is about as good as the stretch he’s on now. In some ways, it’s even better.
In 2003 he had a 55-game stretch in which he hit .326/.360/.514. It’s not as good, but pretty damn close.
In 2004 he hit .365 over a 54-game stretch.
In 2005 he got off to a dreadful start and then hit .330/.400/.524 over his next 55 games.
In 2006 he hit 18 homers and drove in 57 runs in a 52-game stretch.
Over the last 52 games of the 2007 season, Ibanez hit .363/.425/.652 with 15 homers.
In 2008, for 55 games, from July 12 to Sept. 14, he hit .374/.435/.648 with 17 doubles, two triples, and 13 homers. And that, you might remember, was in Seattle and a lousy hitters’ ballpark.
This is a man who, when he gets hot, absolutely tears up pitchers. He has had a 50-to-60 game hot streak EVERY SINGLE YEAR since 2002.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/199567-steorid-speculation-unfounded-ibanez-has-always-been-a-streaky-hitter

This team has got to stop thinking fence and start thinking contact. Maybe the K’s will be cut in half and runners on base will make it home. Patience is a virtue. Stated by me and not Shakespeare.

phan52, what you posted about Jack Taschner was cold and really not called for. You wrote: “we let Paulino go for a bag of balls.” At the time Taschner was there to cover for J.C., who was serving out his suspension. He’s a decent guy and a great teammate by ALL accounts. And Paulino belongs on a farm, not a contending team.

Not to mention that Taschner aperently went down to LV and got his act in gear, like Myers last year. He posted some very good numbers down there and admitted he stank while with the Phillies earlier. He deserves a change during Sept to show what he can do.

That’s right FIJ. The most important improvement is that Jack is much better against left-handed hitters now. Taschner said that he had to re-learn how to release a pitch. He didn’t fight the suggestion. He listened to his coaches and did the hard work. He could have been released and gone elsewhere, but he accepted getting designated for assignment and having to relearn how to throw his pitches. I can only imagine how humiliating and hard it is to have minor league coaches tell you (a veteran MLB player) your delivery suks and we want you to change it. He took his “assignment ” as a mission and fulfilled it 100%. His reward: He finally gets to return to the Phils as one of the September call-ups. I am a big Jack Taschner fan because he is EXACTLY the kind of guy we all want our kids to grow up and emulate.

he switched to a 3/4 delivery instead of a direct overhead. Said he has better control and better movement on his pitches. This is what Sept is for, to give minor leaguers a chance in the real game to show you what they can do. not many of them (as long as we’re contenders) but a select few. I’d like to see this tracy guy from LV as a possible Stairs replacement as LH PH (he’s too old to be a “real” major leaguer at this point.) as well as seeing what this Berry kid in Reading really has

Sorry guys, but until he proves otherwise, Jack Taschner is no better than a bag of balls. By his own admission. The only reason he’s getting another chance is because Romero and Bastardo are hurt. Hopefully, they won’t need him in a tough spot.

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