A Laboring Weekend

phillies 090609.jpgLabor Day weekend is summer’s last hurrah.

If you’re reading this, hopefully you’re reading it from your phone on the beach, your laptop on your porch or just before you head to a barbeque this afternoon. Today is a day to relax and have fun before work begins again tomorrow.

But if you’re the Phillies you’re just hoping to leave Houston with a win. It has been an ugly weekend for the Phillies, who have lost the first three games of this four-game series against the Astros:

  • Brad Lidge blew his Major League-leading 10th save Saturday. Charlie Manuel has expressed his confidence in Lidge throughout the season, but the postseason starts exactly a month from today. Manuel has a big decision coming if Lidge continues to struggle. I have agreed with Manuel that as long as the Phillies continue to win and as long as there is time, he should stick with Lidge because a good Lidge gives this team its best chance to win. But time is running out. If Lidge continues to struggle, Manuel will have to push his loyalties aside and go elsewhere.
  • Chase Utley fouled a ball off his foot and missed Saturday’s game. He returned Sunday.
  • Shane Victorino has been bothered with a knee injury and missed Sunday’s game.
  • Raul Ibanez went 2-for-4 in Sunday’s loss, which he hopes is a sign of better things to come. His struggles have resembled Jimmy Rollins‘ struggles earlier this season, when Manuel benched Rollins four consecutive games. Rollins hit .205 in 307 at-bats in 70 games through July 1. His average was the fifth-lowest average out of 100 qualifying players in baseball. His .250 on-base percentage ranked second lowest and his .319 slugging percentage ranked eighth lowest. Ibanez has hit .217 in 166 at-bats since he returned from the DL on July 11. He has the 10th lowest average out of 171 qualifying players in baseball. His .301 on-base is 26th lowest and his .386 slugging is 33rd lowest.
  • Because Pedro Feliz plays such great defense and because he hits seventh in the lineup he gets lost in the shuffle. But he has hit .197 since July 27.


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unfortunately we work on Labor day here. It seems as if the Phillies don’t work Labor Day weekend, though. What a pitiful series. NO hitting, no relief pitching, and the starters, while not awful, weren’t anything special either. WHile Lidge gets credit for last year’s WS win, I can’t help dreaming of an outfield with Bourne in RF, Vic in CF and Werth in LF. Imagine a batting order of Bourne, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Werth, Rollins, Feliz, Ruiz and Myers as closer.

I guess that trade qualifies as one where both teams came out happy, I want to see Myers close a game just to see if he still has it. It’s time to settle Who the F our closer is for the post season already

Agree with your view of Lidge as the closer because he does give you the BEST chance, at THIS point. However, if Brad continues to falter, Charlie needs to phase Myers ( the only other successful closer ) into the equation and not worry about hurting someone’s feelings. I’m NOT sure Charlie can do this without Ruben’s intervention. It’s MORE important to be loyal to the other 24 guys by giving THEM the BEST chance to win , than to worry about ONE player’s feelings who may not be pulling his share of the load. I LIKE Lidge, BUT he’s getting his 13 mil a year, whether he pitches or not, so it’s difficult for me to feel badly if his feelings are hurt.

I agree – feelings should be put aside here…Lidge obviously has a problem and the Phillies cannot wait for him to figure it out. Myers is back and looks good; they should use him as the closer. Imagine if we had those 10 games back? Or even 5 of them? This team would be a lock for the playoffs. But now, if they keep up this landslide and continue to let Lidge hurt them, those blown saves are going to come back to haunt them.


f.i.j.: Lidge gets credit for a lot more than last year’s deciding WS game. Only you could “dream” of that lineup with the team 6 and a half games up. Who would have been closing games in your lineup nirvana when Myers was on the DL?
dolfan: Agreed that Lidge will get his money whether he’s on the bench or pitching, which is why you always have to go with the best available players regardless of salary. I wish the team had always been run that way, but I still remember David Bell and his $5.4 mil when they let Polanco go.
Jenn: The schedule shows 6 games against Florida in the last 2 weeks. Neither Florida or Atlanta has been good enough to catch them during their “landslide,” so it will likely come down to head-to-head. If Florida is less than 4 out with those 6 games remaining, then I’ll start to worry.

All teams have a little hiccup.. .so do players. Ibanez is a high quality player that just needs to get back to doing what he does best. Fortunately the Phils have a nice cushion and should just concentrate on getting healthy and prepared for a WS push!

Buz – http://buzblog.mlblogs.com/

fan_in_jerusalem if you didnt know but last year Bourne was hitting like .220. He would have never developed the way he is now if he was with the phils. your an idiot if you or anybody else thinks that Lidge gets to much credit for the WC win. If Lidge blew 1 or even 2 saves last year than we might of had to play the mets in a 1 game playoff. And who knows what would of happened. Lidge HAD to get every save in order for the phils to win the NL east. Lidge deserves every credit for the wc win. it was a good trade despite how awful he has been this year.

Good to see Ibanez picking up his production a little bit. Hopefully this is a sign that the injury won’t be such a long-term nagging affair.

I’m not saying I dont do the Bourne for Lidge trade today again, I was just saying how things could have been different if the trade hadn’t happened. As to the question who closes while Myers was on the DL, who closed when Lidge was on teh DL last year and this year?? Bourne’s not great season last year equals out with Lidge’s not great season this year. As I said, a good trade for both teams.

Moyer has been very good since his move to the pen. Hope Happ is back for next start–we need him

This team seems to operate best when their backs are against the wall. They seem to be so blaise and since they know they have a somewhat comfortable division lead. However, in the playoffs they’ll need their “A” game which I hope will show itself soon. Nothing like a series against the Nats & Mutts to hopefully do that.

Nice to RAUUL have a good series and finally hit a HR. Also Howard continues to be so impressive. Nice small ball he’s been playing (unfortunately he continues to get stranded on base!)

I know Madson has been hurt, but I wonder if Myers appearances in the 8th are gearing him up to possibly be used in the closer role. He’s looked good. Moyer has been very good out of the pen.

OK, so we’re comparing outfielders and closers now? Bourne’s season doesn’t “equal” Lidge’s. Saying you’re “dreaming” of a lineup sure sounds like you wish it were so.
As far as last year, Lidge started the season on the DL, retroactive to March 31 and Gordon closed for a week or so. Not comparable to any of the time Myers has spent on the DL or in the minor leagues.

I was venting on our lack of small ball as apposed to how well Bourne plays it. That said, you can’t count Myer’s time in minors last year, as we don’t know if he’d have had the problems he had if he’d been closing. The comparrision is Myers time on the DL this year as apposed to Lidge’s time on DL last year and this year, and his total inefectiveness this year.
All in all, I still like the trade and am hopefull that Lidge comes back to form if not this year, then next.

I have to say, of all of the things I figured ya’ll would be talking about after the Phillies drop 4 straight to the Astros, Michael Bourn vs. Brad Lidge wasn’t really high on the list.

Bourn won the game on Saturday by himself by disrupting Hamels to distraction. They scored all their runs in the two innings that he led off by getting on base. Bourn has turned into a nice player, but that is water under the bridge and Lidge has already paid the highest dividend possible. If he never has another save in a Phillies uniform it was still a good, worthwhile trade.
Now it is up to Charlie to be practical and pull the plug. Loyalty can only go so far and he shouldn’t go down with the ship as long as he has another option. Myers is definitely another option.

agree Phan.Phylan: we all know whjy they got swept, no hitting, no bullpen, and no luck. What’s to discuss?

There’s no such thing as luck.
It isn’t just Bourne who distracts pitchers. Juan Pierre used to do the same thing, and still does to a degree. Any speedster who can get on base is a distraction. Who’s the last one the Phillies had?
karen: Going into Pittsburgh fans thought the Phils could get fat off the hapless Bucs. How’d that work out for them? The Phils have great pitching in this 3-game series, and you’d like to think that they could take 2 of 3. Coming off a sweep by the mediocre Astros however, I’ll wait until all the scores are in.

actually Mule, Victorino had a pretty good series against the Dodgers last year doing that. His dance off 2nd in the playoffs still stays in my mind.

Don’t know about the rest of you folks, but I’m a bit nervous about Happ’s injury. I hope its something that subsides before his next start and that they were just being cautious. Hate to see him not be able to finish the season.

I didn’t know an ‘oblique’ injury was contagious.

f.i.j.: Stop. Victorino isn’t a leadoff hitter. VIctorino isn’t the distracting force that Bourne, Pierre and others are. You cite one example, where guys like Pierre have made a career out of being a pain in the butt on the basepaths. One series is not a good example. Geez.

The Phillies don’t have anyone like Bourn. Rollins and Utley are probably better, smarter baserunners but they don’t have Bourn’s disruptive speed.
The last guy I remember the Phillies having like that was Lonnie ‘Skates’ Smith, but he probably ran into as much trouble as he created.

Mule and Phan, you’re making my point about why I was dreaming of Bourn in our lineup for me. I agree that Voctorino isn’t a lead off hitter (though he’s better suited for it then Rollins). The last guy we had who created havoc on the bases was….Bourn. Before that we had another minor leaguer named Jeff Stone who could run, and I think we had another one who was also traded while still in AAA. We could definately use a leadoff hitter who is a true threat on the bases. What are the thoughts of going after Friggins during the off season and not resigning Feliz? (I’m leaning towards resigning myself)

phan: There’s a fine line between running and running into trouble, hence the “Skates” nickname. Phillies history is not full of great base stealers. The ones who did recently didn’t last and it’s difficult to maintain that pace for very long, so a guy has to have other skills that will keep him around, like Bowa and Rollins.
f.i.j.: They “had” Bourn for about 5 minutes, so I throw him out of the discussion as I would Ryne Sandberg as a “former Phillie.”
I assume you’re talking about Chone Figgins, since Friggins is another topic entirely. I’m not a big Feliz fan, but the way this club is constructed, fielding at third has a higher value than smashing the ball.
I wonder how a pure base stealer would fit in with this bunch and how one of those future phenoms in the minor leagues would do.
But, it’s really not about that now. They have a series against the Nationals that they are supposed to win – so let’s keep our eye on the ball.

I was wondering the same thing. We have two base stealers in teh minors. One at AA and one at A. Aperently the guy at A ball is something to watch, has nearly 100 SB this year. I would like to see them get a real baserunner, or train Victorino to be one. he has the speed, just seems to lack the knowledge of when to go, and the brains to know when not to go. Same for Werth. Neither, however are pure stealers. Would be nice to see what one did to our lineup

Victorino plays brain-dead a lot of the time. Sometimes it looks as though he doesn’t understand the game. I thought I read that Charlie wanted them to call up one of those speedsters to use as a pinch runner.
They’re fun to watch when they know what they’re doing, but frustrating when they don’t. I’m not sure, as a hitter, that I’d want a guy dancing around first or second when I was trying to hit. That’s almost as much an art as the stealing.

Let’s face it. The Phils are a streaky team. The last time the Phils were swept on the road (at Atlanta 6/30 ~7/2), they went on to win the next 14 of 15 games (7/3~7/21) and distanced themselves from the rest of the NL East pack. After being swept at home by the Fish (8/7~8/9), the Phils went 11-2 over their next 13 games (8/11~8/24) to be in a comfortable position to get into the playoffs. If the Phils have to slump before they wake up on go on a winning streak, NOW is better than in the post-season. Let’s stay positive. We know that when this team is gellin’ no one, not even the Yankees, can beat them. GO PHILS!!!!!!!!!

Bourn was never the player he is now when he was with the Phillies. I think in the entire 2007 season he might have started 5-6 games. He was a defensive replacement and a late-inning baserunning replacement for Burrell and he never was able to be the disruptive player he has become. He was on a tight leash. If any young guy comes up now to fill that role, he would be on the same tight leash and he certainly wouldn’t ever play and lead-off.

Rollins is the kind of runner the Phillies prefer, very smart and selective and a high percentage of success.

phan: Rollins suits Lopes’ style of high-percentage base stealers. I remember Maury Wills (showing my age) talking about how he’d rather have a guy who was successful a high percentage of the time rather than a guy who just ran. I guess it permeated through the Dodger organization, since Lopes picked it up. Also, I can’t say I could argue with his success. They’re a better baserunning team since Lopes has been here. As coaches go, he’s an MVP – or is it MVC?
Bourn had 119 ABs in 109 games in 2007, so it wasn’t exactly a fair test of his skills. Although, one wonders what the coaches in Houston said to him to encourage the improvement this year over last. He’s a valuable part of their club, and I can’t say he would have been as much so here.

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