Getting Hot Bodes Well

Thumbnail image for manuel.jpgThe last time the Phillies saw the Nationals, Charlie Manuel expressed his frustration that his team played down to the competition.

“We’ve been getting outplayed by second division teams,” Manuel said last Thursday. “Our guys, especially the guys who were on our team the last couple years, know exactly what we’ve got to do. They know exactly how to get it. We’re playing right to the beat of basically who we’re playing. We’re just playing right with them. That’s how we played Pittsburgh. That’s how we played Houston. That’s how we played these guys.

“We don’t put anybody away.”

And that was after the Phillies won two of three from Washington.

But there is a good reason for the Phillies to start playing better in their final 20 games. Seven of the nine National League champions this decade were playing great baseball entering the postseason:

  • 2008: The Phillies finished a MLB-best 13-3 and won the World Series.
  • 2007: Colorado finished a Major League-best 14-1.
  • 2005: Houston finished an NL-best 13-5.
  • 2003: Florida finished a league-best 15-6 and won the World Series.
  • 2002: San Francisco finished an MLB-best 10-1.
  • 2001: Arizona finished a league-best 8-3 and won the World Series.
  • 2000: The Mets finished an MLB-best 9-2 in 2000.

Only the 2004 and ’06 Cardinals have bucked the trend. (Tony La Russa‘s genius?) The ’04 Cardinals lost five of their final seven games and went just 12-12 down the stretch. The ’06 Cardinals finished 3-9 before winning the World Series.


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“We don’t put anybody away.” That’s ultimately Charlie’s responsibility. He’s got to motivate the players to NOT play down to the competition. I have faith that he’ll pull the guys together and clinch early enough to setup the rotation for the Rockies or Giants.
Next week’s series in Florida is paramount. The Phils have won every game down there this year so far.

Magic # is 13

My biggest fear (like I’m sure everyone elses) is the back end of the bullpen. That’s the shakiest part for the Fightins. The starting pitching, offense and defense have had the ups and downs, but I think its been more ups than downs. I hope some of our injuried pitchers return and can give some much needed assistance.

I firmly believe that the better teams make the playoffs, but the hottest team wins the playoffs.

I don’t think the Phils were the best team to make the playoffs last year, but they were easily the hottest.

sully: I don’t know if it’s necessarily Charlie’s job to control a players’ state of mind. Jimmy’s comment (on this blog) saying that all they had to do was “win by one” is a symptom of how some guys think. Like last-minute Christmas shopping, there’s no surprise in when the end is. A coach or manager can’t control how 25 guys think or feel. The best hope is that the guys who lead by example (Utley, Ibanez, Moyer etc.) can have an influence on the guys like Rollins who seem to have a more cavalier attitude to the stretch.

I think it’s unfair to say that JRoll is ‘cavalier’. He is a leader on this team, which is obvious if anybody remembers him calling out Burrell in game 5 of the WS (it was on the one of the 2008 season videos). I think he happens to be one of the players who won’t fall prey to complacency because he is able to turn it on when he needs to. The rest of the team knows who he is. He doesn’t let external things effect his mindset. Pedro is like that. He is a fun-loving clown for four days and then turns into an assassin on game day. Some guys need to have their game face on all the time, others don’t.
25 guys in the locker room and Charlie knows whose buttons need pushing. JRoll isn’t one of them at this point. He got past that last year when he got benched for loafing.

Rollins’ commant was fair-in the end, it doesn’t matter by how many you win, as long as you do win. at the same time, going intot he playoffs hot is the most important thing. Mommentum takes you far. I am worried, too, about the Pen. I like Charlie’s comment as quoted in the Inky today by Parrillo. “”It’s always good for a guy to kind of know what his role is,” he said. “The public likes it. You guys [the media] like it. Me, I don’t like it. I think if I’m the manager, I ought to be able to put you in the damn game when I want to, if you want to know the truth.”

We should go into the playoffs with Lidge, Madson, Myers, Park, Eyre, Tyler, Romero, and either Pedo or Happ in the Pen. one of these guys will step up and become the closer we need–just like Myers stepped up last year to be the batter we needed.

The division is over. But getting hot right now would be a good thing to at least take a stab at HFA. We have the same number of losses as the Cards, and are one back in the loss column to the Dodgers. We have more games to play which could be an issue, because while getting in a groove would be nice, you don’t want it at the expense of wearing out the regulars.

I hate to say it but I don’t see the Phils catching the Cards, unless Smoltz and Pineiro’s injuries keep them out for a significant length of time and they’re forced to run garbage out there down the stretch. I don’t think that’s such a big deal though, the Phillies match up pretty well against the Cardinals and can beat them on the road if they need to in the playoffs.
I pretty much agree with Karen, the bullpen is the biggest concern. The most reliable pitchers there right now, I think, are Madson, Park, and Myers. I have a tough time trusting the other ones.

Forgot to add, I would like to see more of Escalona down the stretch.

Phylan: I’d add Tyler Walker to your list.

Just my opinion, but I’m not sold on Walker. We picked him out of the scrap heap and his low ERA, while nice, is a bit deceiving.

Walker was a reclamation project but he has had success at the back of a bullpen before. I think they have to at least see what he can do, especially if Condrey can’t come back. He had a nice stint on Saturday, the only guy who got anybody out in the last two innings. I’m not suggesting he close, but it might come to that.

Everyone thinks I’m insane I know but I’m still fine with Madson closing.

Everyone KNOWS I’m insane because I’m still betting on Lidge.

Everybody thinks I’m insane because I think it will work itself out before the postseason. Just don’t ask me what it will be.

I must be insane because I hope all of you are right in some shape or form!


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