Sunday, July 28, 2013

Uplifting...Or Not

What do you want me to write? A post about how fiscally savvy Amaro is by investing nearly $10M a year for 6 years on an unproven Cuban that hasn't pitched much over the last two seasons. Maybe this dude will rock the baseball world and become a stabilizing figure in the Phillies rotation. Or maybe he will stink and be nothing more than an overpaid long reliever that can barely get AAA batters out. Perhaps I should twirl an inspiring tale about a team down on its luck, decimated by injuries, and filled with highly compensated but under performing veterans that rises from the ashes like the Phoenix and wins it all during one last hurrah. Nope. Eff that noise. Sometimes I truly hate being so negative and so right at the same time. I wish I lived in a fantasy land of marshmallow clouds, jelly bean rain drops, and dogs pooping Snickers bars, but I don't. Reality is that our beloved Phillies are a team of diminishing "goods" that will continue a downward spiral unless some wholesale changes are made, and those changes might not be possible due to the prohibitive contracts our genius GM is doling out. But by all means continue cheering for this team, just be expect to be let down, for longer rather than shorter.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Series Preview- Tigers

Philadelphia Phillies (49-53) @ Detroit Tigers (56-45)

Pitching Match-Ups:
Friday, 7:08 - Ol' Girl Parts vs. Doug "He likes to" Fister
Saturday, 7:08 - Cliff Lee vs. Max Scherzer
Sunday, 1:08 - Petite Bone vs. Rick Porcello

Tigers Bats:
R - 509 (2nd)
AVG - .279 (1st)
OPS - .780 (2nd)

The Phillies went from the NL leader in batting average (Yadier Molina) to the AL leader in Miguel Cabrera/3B (.358/1.120, 76 R, 31 HR, 96 RBI), but he's currently day-to-day with a bum hip.  The rest of the lineup is formidable too, with Prince Fielder/1B (.267/.810), Torii Hunter/RF (.308/.808), Jhonny Peralta/SS (.302/.806),  and the returning from the DL Omar Infante/2B (.309/.787).  Their only weaknesses are in left field and at catcher.

Tigers Arms:
ERA - 3.82 (15th)
WHIP - 1.26 (9th)

Detroit's pitching staff strikes out nearly a batter per inning (904 K in 912.2 IP), so expects some whiffs this series.  The 3 starting pitchers are having decent years, especial Scherzer with his 14 wins.  The bullpen is a bit tattered, as Jim Leyland is currently using Joaquin Benoit as closer (after Jose Valverde and some others failed earlier this season).

Roster Move:
Dom Brown to the 7-Day DL with concussion like symptoms.  Steve Susdorf called up from AAA, who was a 19th round pick back in 2008 and has hit .304/.802 while playing left and right fields over the past 6 seasons.

Tigers sweep the plummeting Phils.  Sad, but true.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Amaro Attempts for Worst Offense Ever

Michael Martinez is back.  I just threw up a little in my mouth.  Why?  Hell, I don't know.  Really, I have no f'n idea.  Just when I thought Amaro couldn't do anything dumber, he turns around and does something like this and totally...shows he's dumber than I originally thought.  Mini-Mart's career OPS is .509, which ranks 4th worst (426th out of 429) in MLB since 2011 (his debut, minimum 350 plate appearances).  The three players below him (Chone Figgins, Drew Butera, and Reid Brignac) might never appear in the Majors again, as should be the case with Martinez.  Yet, here he is wearing a Philadelphia Phillies uniform.

But wait, it gets worse.  Mid-season acquisition, John McDonald, is ranked 417th out of 429 players over the same time frame with a .590 OPS.

Ask any baseball analyst, fan, or bum and they'll tell you the Phillies problems are with the bullpen and the OFFENSE.  Why then, would Amaro put two of the worst offensive players on the same team at the same time?

Oh, and to fix the bullpen, he recalled Raul Valdes the other day.  He of a 7.59 ERA.

Three cheers for Ruben Amaro Jr. for 2013 GM of the Year!!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Ugly Truth (Why I'm So Negative)

Carlos Ruiz has a .583 OPS over 43 games.  Start a Google search for black market Adderall.

Jimmy Rollins current OPS of .669 and 9 stolen bases are the lowest of his career, and he's not getting any younger.

Michael Young, who Sir Alden proclaims to be "great in the 2 hole", has hit into 17 double plays.  If by making extra outs and squashing scoring opportunities is great, then, yeah sure.

Laynce Nix, who has appeared in 72 games, has a .192 average and .532 OPS.  The 2 year pact that Amaro inked him to was the first guaranteed contract of his career (which began in 2003).

Rumor mill is saying the Phillies are after Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins.  He's currently batting .202/.650, so I'm not sure why they are seeking his services.  Probably because Amaro is an idiot.

The Phillies bullpen is so horrible in both Philly and Lehigh Valley that the "best" option to be called up when Joe Savery hit the DL was Raul Valdes.  MLB bullpen ranks: 4.34 ERA (27th), WHIP 1.49 (29th), and 120 walks (6th worst, despite pitching the least amount of innings). WTF?!

Jonathan Papelbon has blown 5 out of his last 12 save opportunities.

Cole Hamels has a 4.16 ERA and 12 losses.  Get your shit together Ol' Girl Parts!

The Phillies have the worst batting average and OPS (.190/.505) in baseball with the bases loaded.

Ryan Howard's contract is horrible!  I know he's on the DL, so this is a bit out of place, but I felt like adding it anyway.  It's my blog after all.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Series Preview- Cardinals...Uh, Oh!

Philadelphia Phillies (49-50) @ St. Louis Cardinals (59-37)

Pitching Match-Ups:
Tuesday, 8:15 - Petite Bone vs. Shelby "Isn't That a Girl's Name?" Miller
Wednesday, 8:15 - John Lannan vs. Jake Westbrook
Thursday, 7:15 - KK vs. Lance Lynn

Red Birds Bats:
R - 477 (4th)
AVG - .276 (2nd)
OPS - .751 (6th)

They Cardinals offense is loaded- NL batting leader Yadier Molina/C (.336/.867), elderly, but still awesome Carlos Beltran/RF (.306/.865), the underrated duo of Matt Carpenter/2B (.325/.903) and Allen Craig/1B (.332/.863), and the steady Matt Holliday/LF (.268/.800).  Their bench is solid too with Matt Adams/UTL (.301/.876) and Daniel Descalso/UTL (.276/.762).  Their only true weakness is shortstop, where Pete Kozma (.237/.576) gets most of the at bats.

Red Birds Arms:
ERA - 3.42 (4th)
WHIP - 1.21 (4th)

The Phillies are lucky enough to miss possible Cy Young Adam Wainwright's turn in the rotation, but the 3 other starting pitchers going at them aren't slouches.  Miller (2.92/1.12) is making good on all his prospect hype.  Westbrook (2.88/1.40) continues to keep a low ERA with smoke and mirrors.  Lynn (4.13/1.27) is inconsistent, but can be a shutdown pitcher at times.  Their bullpen created a closer this year when the incumbent Jason Motte was lost to Tommy John Surgery, as Edward Mujica (2.11/0.75, 25 SV) stepped in to do an admirable job.  The rest of the relief corps make scoring difficult once the starter has been lifted, with Kevin Siegrist, Keith Butler, Trevor Rosenthal, Randy Choate, and Seth Maness has rocking ERAs of 2.48 and lower.

What do you get when you take a juggernaut offense with a good pitching staff versus a team with a putrid offense and sack of shit pitching staff?  A sweep!  Phillies are not a good team.  Reality bites.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Series Preview: 2nd Half Kickoff

Philadelphia Phillies (48-48) @ New York Mets (41-50)

Pitching Match-Ups:
Friday, 7:10 - KK vs. Jeremy Hefner
Saturday, 1:10 - Cole Hamels vs. Zack "Not Chris" Wheeler
Sunday, 1:10 - Cliff Lee vs. Matt Harvey

Mets Bats: 
R - 376 (19th)
AVG - .235 (28th)
OPS - .680 (28th)

Their offense is horrible, but have managed to outscore the Phillies, despite playing 5 fewer games.  Marlon Byrd/RF (.271/.818) and David Wright/3B (.304/.903) are the only real threats with established track records.  Eric Young Jr./CF (.308/.782 in 24 G) has hit well since joining the Mets out of Colorado.  Ike Davis is no longer the starter at first base, that now belongs to Josh Satin (.361/1.044 in 22 G). 

Mets Arms:
ERA - 3.85 (13th)
WHIP - 1.32 (19th)

Their 3 best starting pitchers take the mound this series.  Hefner may not have the wins (only 4 in 18 GS), but his ERA/WHIP combo is deserving of better fate (3.33/1.15).  Wheeler is the much hyped prospect getting a chance to impress and has 3 wins in 5 starts with a 3.54 ERA.  All-Star Matt Harvey and possible NL Cy Young and , Matt Harvey, is having one helluva season (7-2, 130 IP, 147 K, 2.35/0.92).  In the bullpen it's Bobby Parnell (17 SV, 2.30/0.91) securing the fort with in-season additions David Aardsma (2.55/1.13) and Carlos Torres (0.79/0.88) providing quality late inning relief as well.

The Phillies veterans (Chooch, Michael Young, Lee, Hamels, J-Roll, KK, Utley, Papelbon) know they need to win over the next 2 weeks, so that Amaro doesn't decide to implode the squad.  Therefore, I'm picking them to take the first 2 games with a loss to Harvey on Sunday.

What I'm Drinking:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. out of Cleveland, Ohio.  I've heard great things about them over the past few years from craft beer aficionados, but was unable to attain any of their libations due to distribution limitations in my area.  No longer!  Great Lakes is finally in my region of PA and I am excited.  They produced some fantastic brews.  They're celebrating 25 years of microbrewing. Check out a variety case of the following to believe what you're reading.

Burning River Pale Ale- dry, crisp, a bit of spicy hops with earthy undertones and a touch of citrus.  This one is a winner.  It has a refreshing quality to it that you don't get in all pale ales.  With 6% ABV and 45 IBU, this will please the hop-heads, but not overwhelm those who are not. score- 96.  

Eliot Ness- rarely an I impressed with a lager, but damn this one is good.  This Vienna style lager has a reddish hue, smooth and sweet malt profile, and has just enough hops to be noticeable (ie- enjoyable).  It is named after Cleveland’s most respected safety directors, who frequented the brewpub’s bar during his tenure from 1935-1941 and, according to popular legend, was responsible for the bullet holes still evident today. score- 95.

Edmund Fitzgerald- easily one of the best porters out there.  Chocolate malt aroma hits the nose instantly upon pouring. Chocolate and coffee in the flavor. Deep sweet malty taste with a bit of smoke. Great stuff. score- 99.

Dortmunder Gold- hazy gold in color with thin bubbly head.  Nice soft carbonation mouth feel with bread and nuts in the aroma/flavor.  Smooth and easy drinking. score- 94.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mid-Season Report Card

The Phillies are the definition of average, having played .500 ball over the first half of the season. Yes, I know technically the season is past the mid-point, but the All-Star break serves as an easy divider, so don't go getting all numerically uppity on me. Important baseball awaits the Phils in the second half, with Amaro planting his feet on the side of the "we are in this" camp. Meaning he's going to be a "buyer" rather than "seller". Cool. Anyway, let's take a look back on stage 1 of the 2013 season and hand out some grades.

48-48, 3rd in NL East, 6.5 back of the Braves, 5.5 back of 2nd Wild Card.

Ryan Howard/1B (.266/.784, 0.7 WAR), Carlos Ruiz/C (.268/.613, 0.2 WAR), and Jimmy Rollins/SS (.258/.662, 0.9 WAR) have all played below careers norms and need to have bigger 2nd halves in order for the offense to produce more runs.  Howard will be out at least another month and a half, so Darin Ruf will see the majority of at bats at 1st base until then.  When The Big Piece returns, it would be wise to have him only start against righties, that way his hobbled body gets a rest and he will be more effective not having to deal with his nemesis known as LHP.  Erik Kratz is fresh off the DL and might be worth starting 2 out of every 5 days, with Chooch concentrating on 3 starting pitchers and possibly staying fresher in the brutal summer heat.

Michael Young/3B (.288/.759, 1.2 WAR) and Chase Utley/2B (.272/.825, 2.2 WAR) are gritty players that despite their aching bodies and being long in the tooth, will grind it out and leave it all on the field.  They're leaders by example and have played commendably so far.

Overall Grade: B-

Domonic Brown/LF (.273/.856, 2.9 WAR) and Ben Revere/CF (.305/.691, 1.4 WAR) have played above expectations.  Each started slowly, but came on strong from May onward.  However, Revere is now out for roughly 2 months, leaving the Phils without a true center fielder, unless you count John Mayberry...which you shouldn't.  The other starting outfielder has people fooled into believing he's actually a decent ball player, but he can't dupe me!  Delmon Young/RF (.263/.723, 0.0 WAR) has started to hit of late, but his defense remains appalling and his bat isn't that wondrous.

Overall Grade: B

Kevin Frandsen/UTL (.297/.835, 1.1 WAR) has been outstanding in a reserve role.  Erik Kratz/C (.229/.726, 0.4 WAR)  handled duties behind the dish admirably before his injury. Humberto Quintero/C (.250/.700, 0.2 WAR) even contributed some, although he's likely Triple-A bound with Kratz now back.  John Mayberry/OF (.249/.740, 0.5 WAR) is a quality 4th outfielder, but nothing more. Freddy Galvis/UTL was with the club most of the season, but was sent down to the minors to get regular at bats once John McDonald/UTL was acquired.  Laynce Nix/OF/1B (.200/.552, -0.5 WAR), has been the only major disappointment off the bench.  I'd like to see him waived, allowing someone like Steve Susdorf (minor league career- .305/.806) or Cody Overbeck (minor league career- .261/.771, 101 HR) to try and do a better job in the same role.

Overall Grade: B+

Roy Halladay (8.65/1.46, -1.1 WAR) was horrible this season.  Hopefully he can return late in the reason and redeem himself.  His fill-in fared much better, Tyler Cloyd (3.41/1.51, 0.8 WAR).  Cole Hamels (4.05/1.22, 1.3 WAR) has crapped the bed thus far, but I expect big things from him in the 2nd half.  Cliff Lee (2.86/1.00, 4.3 WAR) has been the staff ace.  Kyle Kendrick (3.68/1.26, 2.5 WAR) continues to prove his worth.  Rookie, Jonathan Pettibone (3.89/1.39, 0.9 WAR) has been a pleasant surprise.  Hell, John Lannan (3.76/1.26, 0.6 WAR) has even strung together a few quality outings recently.

*Little known fact, Lannan is still under team control next season should the Phillies decide he's worthy of tendering a contract.

Overall Grade: B

This is the wasteland where pitchers go to die.  Nobody is trustworthy.  Papelbon (2.33/0.91, 1.1 WAR) is paid like an elite closer, but his 5 blown saves suggests otherwise.  He can still get it done though, and the Phils can only hope he's finished surrendering leads for the remainder of the year.  Antonio Bastardo (2.62/1.40, 0.8 WAR) is awesome at times and maddening with control problems at others.  Jacob Diekman, Phillippe Aumont, Justin DeFratus, Michael Stutes, Mike Adams and Joe Savery have all been up and down or DL bound (like the rhyme), and overall very ineffective.  The Terrible Trio of Raul Valdes, Chad Durbin, and Jeremy Horst are thankfully gone, as they nearly ruined the season.  New additions, Luis Garcia and JC Ramirez haven't pitched enough yet to praise or bitch about them.

Overall Grade: D- 

All-Star Break: Drink Starr Hill
Star Hill Brewing is another producer of craft beers that is newer to Pennsylvania.  They come out of Virginia bearing "the gift of great beer".  I've recently picked up a variety pack and have been enjoying four of their brews.
Grateful Pale Ale- is one of the best pale ales I've had in awhile.  Perfect balance between hops and malts that is highly consumable with a 4.7% ABV.  The citrus notes are alluring and with a bubbly carbonation that gives it a refreshing mouth feel.

The Love- is a hefeweizen, which means unfiltered wheat beer.  Its cloudy yellow color with banana and clove in the nose entices the sense and quenches the thirst for a quality summer brew.   They use an authentic Bavarian wheat beer yeast, which sets this beer apart from its other American counterparts.

Starr Pils- a no frills, straight-forward, crisp and clean pilsner.  This is the type of beer that goes well with any food, at any party, at any time of the year.  I like to refer to this as a good lawnmower beer.

Northern Lights IPA- yeah, hops!  With 52 IBUs and a 6.5% ABV, this beer won't crush you pallet, but it will make it happy.  Burnt orange in color with a joyful hoppy aroma and juicy citrus flavor, this beer is a winner.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Discussion Points

I am on vacation and blogging with my smartphone is difficult. I will return to computer use on Sunday. Until then, here are some discussion points : 1) assuming the Phillies are buyers, what/who should they target? 2) Would you move Ruf to right field and Dom to left field upon Howard's return? 3) Should Amaro look into signing KK to an extension? 4) Even if the Phillies aren't sellers at the Trade Deadline, would you consider dealing Michael Young and letting Frandsen handle 3rd base while calling up Cody Asche? 5) How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

I Freakin' Told You So!

Ryan Howard has been a complete bust since signing his extension. Injuries, inability to hit lefties, plummeting OPS, shoddy defense, albatross of a contract, base-jamming "speed", etcetera. His latest ailment will keep him out of action for 6-8 weeks (at least we get to watch Darin Ruf). WSBGMs warned everyone of this upon Amaro's jumping of the gun to sign Howard before it was necessary. He's a large bodied man and swift decline and nagging injuries are a common theme among other like bodied individuals. I know as Phans it is difficult to hear/read the truth, but dammit we told you so! In other news, the Phillies won again and John Lannan didn't pitch like a steaming pile if poop. Go Phillies!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Ruf Times Ahead

Amaro is taking this home stand to figure out if the Phillies should be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline. The answer is simple- sell! Trade chips: Chooch, Papelbon, Lee, both Youngs, and Utley. Personally, I keep Utley unless the package is ridiculous and Lee, because they need an ace. Chooch is old and worn down. Michael nor Delmon can field their position. Papelbon is unnecessary on a losing team. The writing is on the clubhouse wall and it reads "SELL", but I am not sure if Amaro is literate. Also, Howard hit the 15 day DL, which is about the only thing he's hit this season. Ruf has been summoned from Lehigh Valley to take his place on the roster. Things are stuck in mediocre mode and the Phillies will remain like this until big changes are made. Might as well start making those changes now.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Series Preview- NL East Leading Braves

Atlanta Braves (49-36) @ Philadelphia Phillies (41-45)

Pitching Match-Ups:
Friday, 7:05 - Tim Hudson vs. Cliff Lee
Saturday, 7:15 - Paul Maholm vs. KK
Sunday, 1:35 - Kris Medlen vs. Petite Bone

Politically Incorrect Moniker's Bats:
R - 363 (13th)
AVG - .248 (20th)
OPS - .733 (10th)

Justin Upton/RF started the season as a man-on-fire (12 HR/19 RBI in April), but has cooled off to the point of nearly becoming an iceberg (3 HR, 19 RBI in May/June/July).  Freddie Freeman/1B is the offensive force of this squad (.313/.860, 52 RBI) and Chris Johnson/3B is hitting well too (.333/.856).  BJ Upton/CF has been a tremendous waste of resources (.175/.582) and Dan Uggla/2B continues his downward spiral (.199/.717).  Brian McCann/C is back in the lineup since last time the Phils faced the Braves, and he's back to his old self (.268/.871).

Politically Incorrect Moniker's Arms:
ERA - 3.23 (2nd)
WHIP - 1.20 (3rd)

Pitching is this team's strength, both in the rotation and bullpen.  They've had the same 5 starting pitchers all season long so far (an abnormality in today's game).  Hudson is the staff's elder statesman, but can still get the job done.  Maholm has reinvented himself in Atlanta and Medlen is their young ace.  Elite closer, Craig Kimbrel, is setup by Jordan Walden, Anthony Varvaro, and Luis Avilan.  With Eric O'Flatherty and Johnny Venters both out for the season, they haven't skipped a beat in churning out quality arms, something Atlanta has made a trademark of theirs.

Phillies take series opener, but then lose to close it out.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Series Preview- Pirates (Best Team In Baseball)

Philadelphia Phillies (39-44) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (51-30)

Pitching Match-Ups:
Tuesday, 7:05 - Petite Bone vs. Jeff Locke"down"
Wednesday, 7:05 - John Lannan vs. Jeanmar Gomez
Thursday, 1:35 - Ol' Girl Parts vs. Gerrit Cole

Buccos Arms:
R - 320 (tied for 20th along with the Phils and Yankees)
AVG - .241 (24th)
OPS - .699 (20th)

Pittsburgh has the best record in all of baseball, but their offense still isn't all that good.  Andrew McCutchen/CF (.292/.822) and Starling Marte/LF (.288/.810) are doing well atop the lineup.  Pedro Alvarez/3B swings a mighty bat, but needs to make more contact (20 HR, 94 K).  Russell Martin/C, Garrett Jones/1B/RF, and Neil Waker/2B are serving as quality role players.  Jordy Mercer has taken over for the all-glove no-hit Clint Barmes at shortstop and looks to continue with a regular gig for the time being.

Buccos Bats:
ERA - 3.11 (1st)
WHIP - 1.19 (3rd)

The pitching staff is what sets the Pirates apart from other team.  They have a solid rotation and a dominating 1-2 punch for the 8th/9th inning.  Mark Melancon (0.89 ERA/0.84 WHIP, 23 HLD) and Jason Grilli (1.72 ERA/0.85 WHIP, 27 SV) are freakin' awesome!  They've allowed on 11 earned runs all season between the two of them, covering 77 innings.  The Phillies bullpen is good for at least that many run in a 3-game series.

Locke sports a sparkling 2.06 ERA going into tonight's start and is a near lock for the All-Star team.  Gomez was depth acquisition from Cleveland that has paid off nicely (2.76 ERA/1.14 WHIP in 13 G, 8 GS).  Cole is the ballyhooed prospect that has won all 4 of his MLB starts.

What I'm Drinking:
Finch's Beer Company beers from pounder cans (16 oz)!  They are located in Chicago and have been a family owned business since their origin (Pennsylvania respects that- America's older brewery, Yuengling, has been family owned for nearly 200 years).  Finch's is new to the midstate and have sent three of their bubbly concoctions over for introduction.  Their first impression has been good!

Threadless IPA- winner in its style category at the World Beer Expo, and for good's freakin' delicious!  Burnt orange in color with sticky/foamy head that has hops billow from the can upon cracking it open.  Wonderful bitterness, juicy citrus hops, and a tolerable 6-pack a-ok 6% ABV. score of 92.

Golden Wing Blonde Ale- it's the season of hot weather, and my go-to style for this time of year is a nicely hopped blonde ale.  Some breweries do a "summer ale" with lemons and other fruity flavors, but that's not for me.  I enjoy a straightforward American blonde, tall and pretty in all her glory with a lovely fragrance and slightly sweet malt backbone.  Sexy.  Yum!

Cut Throat Pale Ale- this beer lands in between the blonde and the IPA with enough malts and hops to satisfy, but overwhelm the pallet. For those that dislike the over-the-top hops of an IPA, I recommend drinking this gateway pale ale to the hoppier side of the beer spectrum.

The Phillies are a bad team.  The Pirate are a good team.  Good teams beat bad team.