Thursday, July 12, 2012


Derby Recap

Congrats to Prince Fielder for winning the competition; he becomes the first player to win for both leagues but is the second player (Griffey Jr) to win it multiple times. I also congratulate the fans for their uninspiring display of hometown loyalty... you took it way too far. Cano deserved better. Classless of KC - just because Butler wasn't invited despite Cano's promise to include a Royal. The players he chose were the top three hitters in the competition. We all remember Prince Fielder getting booed last year for not including hometown Diamondback Justin Upton, but the fans were more friendly in Phoenix than here in KC.

Poll Question: should there now be a forced hometown participant?

Game Recap

The National League shut-out the American League 8-0 thanks to contributions from the San Fransisco Giants' All-Stars. The MVP is Melkey Cabrera, responsible for the first run & a homer later on. Pablo Sandoval broke open the scoring early with a first-inning bases-clearing triple. Both players are Giants. The Phillies All-Stars - Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, and J. Papelbon - participated in the second half of the game. Chooch and Dickey came in as defensive replacements in the 6th inning; Hamels threw a 1-2-3 seventh; and Papelbon recorded the final out, stranding a runner at third in the process.

Next Year: Citi Field - New York Mets' home.

All-Star Voting Proposal

Because the fans voted for Buster Posey instead of Carlos Ruiz, Matt Cain started the All-Star game and R.A. Dickey had to come into the game in the sixth inning along with Chooch. At third base, despite a big hit by Pablo Sandoval, I still think that Mets 3B David Wright deserved the nod. Yes, the Giants came through, but I still feel that many were short-changed. Some changes are necessary to the fan vote… a panel of experts (now referred to as the “selection committee”) should select players and decide whether the fans’ selection deserves to start. Other changes are necessary as well, so let’s dive into my proposed changes to the game.

The fan vote now includes pitchers. The committee must have a 60% majority 27 votes) to change the fans’ selection of hitters from “starter” to “bench player.” The starting catcher will be decided by the manager. The final roster spot doesn’t change but hitters and pitchers are among the choices.

The player vote and managerial selections do not change but all divisions must be represented in the manager’s choices. The selection committee picks alternates and the NL DH. The battery and batting order are decided by the manager. All teams should be represented but one team can be left off the selection show roster. That team must be represented next year if their player is not on the final roster.

Due to the committee needing time to make the roster, the voting would end one week earlier.

Phillies Mid-season Report:

First-Half Grades:

  • Offense: After mid-April, they scored over four RPG on average, despite having year-round problems with bringing home RISP. Most of the players have been either hot year-round (Chooch, Fontenot, & Pierre) or on a recent surge (Mayberry, Rollins, Pence, Polanco, etc.). Victorino is quite a notable exception and is likely to be traded. The return of Utley and Howard had no effect due to quicksand but they can now "start anew." Nix is set to return by this weekend. Perhaps Rube can address the age of these guys on the trade market. GRADE: B-
  • Defense: It was shaky at times, especially after Galvis went down. Pence, Pierre, and Wigginton noticeably struggled. During their recent dominance in the NL East, the defense has been a strong suit. Not so much this year, but it has improved over the past two months. Due to the aforementioned standard they set and that some of the errors led to a few losses, I have to be harsh despite improvements. GRADE: C+
  • Rotation: A sub-par 3.32 ERA through May 27, when Halladay went down and a 4.72 ERA since. Lee had no wins in April, May or June despite pitching well in the first trimester. Blanton started strong but fell victim to the long ball. Kendrick struggled - he excelled in the spot-start/ long-man role last year and got a contract extension because of it. Lee and Worley also missed significant time. They blew leads. The rotation was supposed to be our crutch, helping us to stay at .500 until Howard and Utley got back. I guess the pressure got to them. At least Hamels stepped-up but he may not be here for much longer - more below.  I consider an inevitable regression (102 wins non-repeatable) but still, this is bad. Maybe it's time to call up Tyler Cloyd? GRADE: C-
  • Bullpen: The players had their good days, but bad days dominated: personnel changed numerous times but the bullpen blew 30+ leads or ties. Deikman, Papelbon, and Schwimmer were the most consistent bright spots. The righties (Herndon, De Fratus  & Contreras) were injured. Qualls did well in his first few appearances, derailed, and rarely had a good outing. Yes, after Halladay went down, the bullpen had more work, but they failed even when they pitched the fewest innings. Now for the grade: I take Charlie's poor decision-making, the inevitable regression, and injuries into account but the 'pen is the biggest reason why we've lost so many.... Now, it is up to Rube to find a reliable veteran to stabilize the relief core. GRADE: D
  • Overall Grade: Injuries can only go so far in explaining the first half. They were capable of having a winning record. Nothing clicked. After May 27th when Halladay went down, they certainly "f[ou]nd ways to loose." Perhaps a coaching staff change and calling up some prospects will make a difference? GRADE: D-/F+

Second-Half Outlook:

They are capable of a comeback. Under Manuel, the Phillies have had excellent second-half records. Don't set your sights too high: they are 14 back in their division and ten games behind Atlanta for the 2nd Wild Card spot. They need to win every series from here on to even contend for a playoff berth. Yes - just last year, the Cardinals and Rays came back to win the wild card. And Philadelphia fans cannot forget the 2007 and 2010 Phillies teams. Keep in mind that those four teams had winning records in August and also that historic collapses are rare. There is, however, plenty of time. I am more confident of 79-83 wins this year than 86-92 wins.

As for trading, we need a hitter and reliever. We have trade bait other than Hamels: Victorino, Blanton and Pence are names; heck, Rollins recently surfaced. We should begin to let some prospects loose. Tyler Cloyd (12-1, 6.1 IP/ start, 1.93 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 6.32 K/9, and a .210 BAA in 19 starts (four with Reading) should be granted his first career start. Brown had a recent surge when discovering center field and the knee injury didn't stop his bat or glove: he had an outfield assist and reached base twice in four PA's yesterday. Nix's return within the week should help and De Fratus is less than a month from returning to game action.

Things can only get better from here.


He'll receive an offer worth about $120MM over six years. If he doesn't sign the extension, he'll give every team (including the Phils) a fair shake in free agency this winter even if he's traded. I'd offer him a five-year, $120-130MM, middle-loaded deal with a $24MM vesting option for 2018. If unable to sign, I'd say trade him for a decent package, but you have a better chance of resigning him if he's here all year: CATCH-22.

Rockies Series: 8:40 PM in Colorado. Lee is pitching. Hamels and Worley will pitch in games two & three.

Injury Report:

Halladay (right lat. dorsi strain) & Nix (calf injury) played in Clearwater today. Halladay went three innings (3 H, 4 K, 1 R (unearned)) and Nix went 1-3 with a walk as the DH. For details on the rehab of De Fratus (elbow), Brown (knee) and Gillies (concussion), see this article. Schneider (ankle sprain) will play soon.

Out for Season: Stutes (shoulder surgery), Herndon (Tommy John surgery), and Contreras (TJ surgery & flexor tendon tear).

I am done updating this entry (11:42 PM 17 July). My next entry will be early next week - perhaps they went 4-2 or 5-1 on the road trip and swept the Giants, which will be a good start. Enjoy the games!

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