Monday, September 1, 2014

Sept. 1 Update: Combined No-No, Roster Expansion

Wow! What a game! Not many good things happening in a loosing season, but Phinally, Cole Hamels has his no hitter. It wasn't a pretty outing for him with 108 pitches in 6 innings, one hit batsman and FIVE walks, but he kept the hitters from making hard contact, except for the 3rd inning fly ball snagged by a diving Marlon Byrd. The bullpen - Diekman, Giles, and Papelbon - did its job, striking out five in three consecutive 1-2-3 innings. It was the first combined no-no for the team and the eleventh (11th) combined no-hitter in MLB history (first since the Mariners in 2012). It was the Phillies first no-hitter since Roy Halladay's NLDS no-no vs. the Reds at CBP. The Phillies won the game 7-0 and the team dedicated a game ball to recovering President Dave Montgomery, who's taking a leave of absence.


Another awesome story are the Taney Dragons, who were the third-best team in the LLWS this year. I'd like to congratulate them on their spectacular season and wish them all the best in the future! I'm sure we all hope they stick with baseball, but I certainly will be happy if they're happy with their choices, whether they stay with the sport, go to another sport, or do something on the academic side of things.



The Phillies went with a 25-man roster in that game as the Ironpigs had one more game to play. The Phillies have been preparing for the expansion by trading 1B-OF John Mayberry, Jr. to the Blue Jays (one of his dad's former teams) and transferring Cliff Lee to the 60-Day DL. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer has at least two sources confirming our suspicions that the Mayberry trade was to free up a roster spot for 1B-3B Maikel Franco to be promoted Tuesday. Moving Lee to the 60-Day DL allows the Phillies to promote Tony Gwynn, Jr., who was released then re-signed to a minor league contract shortly after returning from his dad's funeral. May your dad continue to RIP, Tony.

Other call-ups will likely include: Mike Adams (60-Day DL), P Miguel Gonzalez, C Cameron Rupp, and IF Cesar Hernandez. It is possible that than P Etan Martin, P Hector Neris, and OF Aaron Alther will be called up after their cups of coffee earlier this year.

Also, Amaro hinted at a probable start of a long rebuild with clever roster moves like the trades that sent Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers and Mayberry to Toronto in order to free up space for "new blood." Speaking of a rebuild, I would like to revise my estimate from a two-year process to a by-mid-2017, especially considering that J.P. Crawford won't be ready until Sept. 2016.



There have been many mistakes made by Ryne this year, which is normal for a 1st-year manager. I had hoped he'd be able to squeeze every possible win out of this roster, but his decisions have been questioned by almost every player on the roster and also by fans & media. He has been making a lot of bad decisions, very similar to decisions that Manuel made late in his career: playing certain players (mainly the aging veterans) too much over the younger guys, pulling starting pitchers early, keeping them in too long, using the wrong guy out of the bullpen. This is normal, but it's hard to blame Sandberg for the loosing record: I blame Amaro and the stone-age-of-stats front office. So, what went wrong for the Phillies? Let's grade four "groups":

Ruben Amaro, Jr.: F+. Largely a failure, but his signings of Jon Papelbon, Marlon Byrd, & Carlos Ruiz are panning out as expected (hence the plus). I'm glad he finally has come around to the idea of a rebuild, but despite the clever trades mentioned earlier, I (and most fans) don't trust him to rebuild smartly.

Ryne Sandberg: D+/C-. He would still have a loosing record even if he'd made better decisions, but that's no reason to pull the plug on him. It's too early for that, so FIRE RUBEN!!!

Starting Line-Ups: F+/D-. Inconsistency has been the story this year, especially considering the lack of offense. However, the team continues to show flashes of brilliance. While they've limited the no. of errors this season, most games with errors have resulted in losses. New blood and 130 starts for the "everyday" players will greatly benefit the team in 2015.

Pitching: C/C-. The team's 3.92 ERA is 10th-worse in MLB & 3rd-worse in NL, but most of the bad stuff happened in the first quarter. Most of the personnel on 9/2 roster, which had been largely successful during this span, will return next year. I predict continued success for most in 2015.

Enjoy the rest of the season. Future entries: individual grades, roster moves for 2015, top moments, a mid-month update (poss.), big news items, etc.

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