Tag: phillies

Brad Lidge Placed on Disabled List

brad-lidgeThe report is that Phillies closer Brad Lidge has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained knee.

Catcher Paul Bako has been promoted to replace Lidge on the 25-man roster.

I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing for the Mets. On the one hand, the Phillies are without their closer. On the other hand, their closer was blowing games for them, and seemed on the brink of a complete breakdown. I would have felt a lot better about the Mets’ chances down three runs going into the ninth with Lidge looming on the mound, as opposed to Ryan Madson. Madson is no Mo Rivera, but right now he’s a heckuva lot more reliable than Lidge.

If anything, it pushes Madson into the ninth, and out of the “bridge” from innings 6-8. Though, the men left on the bridge have been performing well — Scott Eyre, JC Romero, and Clay Condrey all have ERAs below three. The weak links that could become exposed in the sixth or seventh frames are Chad Durbin, Jack Taschner, and Chan Ho Park, who was recently demoted to the bullpen after failing in the starting rotation.

READ MORE +

Quick Preview: Mets vs. Phillies

phillies-oldlogoNote: this series has importance.

Game One: Johan Santana (7-3, 2.00 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (4-0, 2.47 ERA)

Santana has looked more like a mere mortal over his past few starts, but still has been stellar. J.A. / JA Happ still refuses to put a “y” at the end of his first name, but is much improved in comparison to the rookie the Mets saw last year. His WHIP is a Santana-like 0.98 and he has a 1.16 ERA away from Citizens Bank Park. If Happ can keep his cool, this could turn out to be a pitchers’ duel.

Game Two: Mike Pelfrey (4-2, 4.85 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (4-2, 4.40 ERA)

Big Pelf is coming off the worst start of his career, but I’m not worried — I’m chalking it up to the unusual start time (12:30 PM) and being due for a bad game. Hamels has struggled all spring with a nagging injuries to his ankle and arm, and is not the lights-out guy he was last year. That said, and with Pelfrey looking great prior to his last outing, suggests that this will be a more even matchup than one might expect.

Game Three: Tim Redding (0-2, 6.97 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (4-5, 6.27 ERA)

The finale pits two struggling veterans who offer no clue as to how this game might turn out. Redding is coming off one of his two best performances of the season, but nonetheless seemed ever on the brink of disaster. Moyer was awful in April and May, but was very good in his last two outings, allowing a combined 3 runs on 7 hits and no walks in 13 innings against the Dodgers and Nationals. What worries me is Moyer’s remarkable ability to pull a gem of a game out of nowhere … one of those games that has a quick but uneventful rhythm, where before you know it, it’s the 8th inning and the Mets are down 2-1. The expanse of Citi Field will contain the fly balls of Howard, Utley, etc., but what concerns me more is the Phillies’ ability to put the bat on the ball against Redding, who has not been hurt by the long ball but rather a multitude of line drives and grounders that find holes.

Closing Thoughts

Much is being made of the fact that the Phils are sending three lefties to the mound in this series, but I don’t see it as a major issue one way or the other — if anything, it means that Gary Sheffield will be somewhere in the middle of the lineup, and that’s a good thing for the Mets.

The Phillies are coming off a four-game split Los Angeles, one that could have been a sweep for Philly had closer Brad Lidge not blown the middle two games in heartbreaking, emotionally draining fashion. Lidge’s confidence is visibly shaken, and he’s leaving fat, flat sliders over middle of the plate, and his ERA has swelled to 7.27. In many ways, he resembles the pitcher Houston couldn’t wait to get rid of in 20006-2007, and Charlie Manuel may elect to defer to Ryan Madson in a ninth-inning save situation. If Lidge does remain the closer, this series could be a turning point one way or another for veteran righthander.

More good news for the Mets is that Jimmy Rollins is still struggling — mightily. He’s hitting only .222 with a .261 OBP and is sinking further and further down the lineup. It’s gotten to the point that Eric Bruntlett is taking at-bats from him.

Thus far this year, the Phillies’ success has been due to solid starting pitching, but Brad Lidge has singlehandedly removed that factor from the equation recently. The pitching matchups look pretty even on paper, and if Lidge continues to struggle, the Mets have a definite edge, particularly if these games are as low-scoring as I suspect. Considering the players missing from Mets’ roster, they’re running into the Phillies at a good time, in the right place.

READ MORE +

Was Obstruction the Right Call?

Last night’s obstruction call is getting a lot of attention, but I don’t get it.

First, let’s look at the definition of “obstruction”, according to the MLB Rule Book, section 2.00:

OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.
Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered “in the act of fielding a ball.” It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the “act of fielding” the ball. For example: If an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.

Go to this video to see for yourself (skip to the :20 mark).

Or just look at these three frames provided by MetsBlog:

obstruction

Whether you look at the pictures or watch the video, it’s evident that Jose Reyes is in the baseline without the ball. Unless a fielder is making a play on a BATTED ball, the baseline belongs to the runner. The runner is allowed to flatten the fielder if he is in the way — with or without the ball. You may have seen this happen back in the 1970s when runners attempting to score would “barrel over” the catcher.

So, unless I’m misinterpreting something, the umpire made the correct call of obstruction on Jose Reyes, because Reyes was in the basepath, impeding Shane Victorino.

On the other hand, Victorino’s shoulder-throw into Reyes may or may not be illegal. It doesn’t look good, that’s for sure. There’s a slight possibility the umpire had grounds to eject Victorino for unsportsmanlike conduct — though, I *think* he’d still be entitled to second base.

The rule was invoked against Alex Rodriguez during a Yankees – Red Sox game a few years back, it’s Section 6.1 of the MLB Umpire Manual (which I can’t locate online):

“While contact may occur between a fielder and runner during a tag attempt, a runner is not allowed to use his hands or arms to commit an obviously malicious or unsportsmanlike act.”

The only other possibility is that the umpire might have called Victorino out for running out of the baseline, prior to elbowing Jose Reyes. But he didn’t.

So for everyone whining that Victorino is a “cheater” or that Jerry Manuel is justified for arguing the call, I’m not sure I agree — though I’m open to changing my mind if someone can point us to a rule that I missed somewhere.

Regardless of the what call was correct, it was a hardnosed, mean move by Victorino (some identify this as “edge” or “grit”). Earlier in the game, David Wright was nearly beaned, seemingly intentionally, by Clay Condrey. Both actions were unanswered by the Mets in the contest, but that doesn’t mean someone won’t get buzzed in the next meeting between the two clubs, igniting a good old-fashioned rivalry and perhaps a brawl (I know, I know, wishful thinking).

READ MORE +

Mets Game 27: Win Over Phillies

Mets 7 Phillies 5

The Mets jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the third inning, and appeared on the way to a laugher. However, the offense took the rest of the day off, and the Phillies chipped out five runs the rest of the way to keep it close — and necessitate a fourth straight appearance by Frankie Rodriguez.

Mike Pelfrey pitched very well, allowing three runs on eight hits and 1 walk in seven full innings. Pedro Feliciano, however, did not pitch so well, allowing a two-run homer to Jayson Werth to make things interesting.

Offensively, the Mets exploded in the first three frames, highlighted by first-inning homeruns by Carlos Beltran and David Wright and a second-inning blast by Jose Reyes. Ramon Castro drove in the Mets’ final two runs with a booming, 415-foot double to the centerfield wall in the third inning. Gotta love that “long” swing.

The Mets won their fourth straight, fifth in their last six, and finally are above .500.

Notes

Frankie Rodriguez now has 5 saves in May — he had four in the entire month of April.

Wright went 3-for-3 and in his fourth at-bat, Clay Condrey threw behind his head. It was not a mistake, despite what might have been said by the SNY crew. The Mets did not retaliate, because gentlemen don’t do that.

Gary Sheffield went 0-for-3 with a walk in his first start since May 2 and 7th start of the season. I don’t expect him to be very productive as a starter unless he’s put in there for at least 4-5 games in a row. But that’s not likely to happen unless someone gets injured.

Next Mets Game

The Mets open a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night at 7:10 PM. Jonathan Niese makes his first MLB start of 2009 against Jeff Karstens, who is 1-1 with a 1.50 WHIP and a weak chin.

READ MORE +

Mets Game 26: Win Over Phillies

Mets 1 Phillies 0

Usually, the Mets have trouble scoring runs for their ace because he’s facing the opposing team’s ace. In an unusual state of affairs that should have given the Mets a distinct advantage, Johan Santana took the hill against perhaps the worst starting pitcher in the big leagues (especially considering that Oliver Perez is now officially a reliever) — Chan Ho Park.

Remarkably enough, Park no-hit the Mets through four and a third, and held them to just one hit and no runs in six full innings of work. However, Johan Santana was even better, shutting out the Phillies through seven. Even more remarkably, the game’s only score came when Carlos Delgado scored from first on an infield hit. It may be time to play lotto.

It’s true. Delgado walked to lead off the seventh, and Scott Eyre retired the next two hitters. Fernando Tatis came in to pinch-hit for Jeremy Reed and hit a broken-bat dribbler to Pedro Feliz. Feliz, normally an excellent to outstanding fielder, barehanded the ball and threw it wide of first base. As the ball rolled up the right field line, Delgado chugged toward third and ran through Razor Shines’ stop sign. Phillies rightfielder Jayson Werth picked up the ball and was in such shock to see Delgado rounding third that for a moment he forgot to throw the ball. When he came to his senses and realized it wasn’t a dream, Werth fired to home, a split-second too late to get Delgado, who slid in safely with the only run of the game.

Pedro Feliciano pitched a scoreless eighth and Frankie Rodriguez set down the Phils in order to record his 8th save in as many chances.

Notes

The Mets are now 13-13. Is that lucky, or unlucky? Guess it depends on which part of the world you’re from.

Johan Santana had absolutely hellacious stuff, and great command, yet he walked opposing pitcher Chan Ho Park — not once but TWICE. Crazy.

Do the Mets hate Johan? I mean really … one hit and no runs against Chan Ho Park? CHAN HO PARK?

Do not be swayed by the pregame catching practice sessions held by Sandy Alomar, Jr., nor by Ron Darling’s gushing over Omir Santos’ receiving skills. Santos is not very good at catching the ball, and does not trick any MLB umpire with his feeble attempts at “framing”. In fact, he continues to lose close pitches that might be strikes because he’s jerking (aka “framing”) the ball into the strike zone, rather than catching it when it’s a strike and “sticking it”. That’s not to say Santos is a poor catcher — merely setting the record straight.

Further to the point, a “framed” pitch might look really good from the centerfield camera. However, it’s an entirely different viewpoint BEHIND the plate, which is where the umpire stands. Next time you go to a little league or high school game, stand behind the backstop and you’ll see what I mean.

For about the 800th time this year, the SNY announcers mentioned the “curveball drill” instituted by Jerry Manuel during spring training BP. As if on cue, Carlos Beltran struck out looking at a yellow hammer almost immediately after the words fell out of Ron Darling’s mouth.

Prior to the game, Jerry Manuel said Santana would get pushed to 115 pitches. As it was he threw 101. Manuel also said that both J.J. Putz and K-Rod would be unavailable. Putz was held out, but Rodriguez obviously closed out the game. WFAN’s Wayne Hagin suggested that Jerry made these statements to play head games with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. C’mon, now, seriously? Someone needs to remind Mr. Hagin that the Wilpons do not sign his paycheck.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Phillies do it again at 7:10 PM on Thursday night. Undefeated Mike Pelfrey goes against Jamie Moyer. No, Moyer is NOT twice Pelfrey’s age (25) … but he’s close (46). If Jonathan Niese (22) came up to make the start vs. Moyer, we’d have a story.

READ MORE +

Link Roundup

Adam Rubin has a Mets-Phillies series preview chock full of stats.

Toasty Joe reworked an open letter to Mets fans originally written by a Philly journalist. Joe wrote it last Saturday but it is still relevant … and hilarious.

Another link I’m late to, but is remarkably also relevant, is a video of Chan Ho Park’s first pitch as a Met, posted by Loge 13. Sends chills down my spine.

Phillies Flow points out that the Philly offense is so far averaging 5.87 runs per game — about a run better than they did in 2008.

The Fightin’ Phils posted a video of a not-so-nice “Meet the Mets” remix. Caution: not for all audiences.

Rowland’s Office notices, as I did, that this year’s Braves are not what you expect from a Bobby Cox team, and asks if it’s time for the iconic manager to go.

READ MORE +

Mets Game 23: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 6 Mets 5

It was another poor outing by Oliver Perez, and it appeared the Mets would eradicate it with their bats.

Perez allowed four runs on five hits and six walks before being removed from the game with one out in the third inning. Newest Met Ken Takahashi did his best Darren Oliver impression in relief, holding the fort until the sixth inning.

And for once, the Mets did not give up. The bats kept coming back, matching the score, and even took a brief lead in the top of the sixth.

However, their one-run lead lasted only minutes. Pedro Feliciano came on in relief of Takahashi in the bottom of the sixth and gave up a homer to a LH batter for the second time in as many days.

The two teams remained deadlocked through four more frames, with the Mets holding an apparent advantage — they still had closer Frankie Rodriguez at the ready, while the Phils burned through Brad Lidge in the top of the ninth.

Unfortunately, the Mets couldn’t leverage that advantage.

They mounted a rally in the tenth that was quickly extinguished by a stellar double-play turn, and then put the game in the hands of Sean Green. However, those hands proved to be below the challenge. Green got a quick groundout from Jimmy Rollins, but Pedro Feliz followed with his second cheap swinging-bunt hit in the game. Green then hit pinch-hitter Matt Stairs, induced a flyout from Greg Dobbs, and walked Chris Coste to load the bases for Shane Victorino. Victorino worked the count full before watching ball four drop below his knees, forcing in Feliz to end the game.

Game Notes

J.J. Putz was remarkably efficient, expending only 17 pitches in his scoreless, two-inning stint. Though he’s pitched in both games of this series, and three times in four days, he probably will be available if needed on Sunday.

Someone check Alex Cora’s Wheaties, because he’s hitting like Rod Carew lately.

Ryan Church ripped what could’ve been a key pinch-hit single to chase Alex Cora to third base in that tenth inning rally off Jack Taschner — who happens to be a lefthanded pitcher — but a double play grounder by Carlos Beltran killed the rally.

I was dead wrong on Raul Ibanez. The guy hits lefties and righties, is clutch, can run the bases well enough, and can play the field a lot better than advertised.

Brad Lidge is not nearly the lights-out closer we saw in 2008. His fastball was topping out at 92 MPH and his slider is missing its bite. It looks like he’s worried about that right knee and staying too stiff, not getting good push off the rubber nor good downward leverage / bend in the back.

Danny Murphy must love Citizen’s Bank Park. If it were his home field, he might have 15 homers by now.

Jerry Manuel’s rebuilt and vaunted bullpen has now lost six times in seven chances, and has blown two saves in the last three games.

Next Game

The series finale takes place at 1:35 PM in Philadelphia, with John Maine taking the mound against Joe Blanton.

READ MORE +

Phillies Fan Booted From Citi Field!

Reed Frazier, the camera operator for St. John’s University’s Office of Athletic Communications, who happens to be a Phillies fan, was asked to leave Citi Field during Sunday’s game — because he was wearing a Phillies jacket.

… I, along with the Office of Athletic Communications, was to help in broadcasting the game online via St. John’s University’s sports website.

The weather was less than desirable; mist was coming down which created a cool dampness outside. We had been advised to wear St. John’s University polo shirts, provided for us, to the game as well as rain proof jackets. Because of this, I wore my Phillies jacket to the field.

… It was after the ceremonial first pitch (John Franco) and the national anthem that I was approached by another co-worker who insisted that I put on the jacket. He informed me that he is a Mets fan and he understands where I am coming from, but that I have to put on the jacket. I told him that in no way did it affect how I was to do my job, therefore I could not justify doing so. I said, “If I was wearing a Mets jacket, would this even be a problem?” He told me everyone had to wear the jackets. I pointed out that two of my fellow student workers were wearing their own jackets. I even offered to compromise by wearing the St. John’s University jacket beneath my Phillies jacket. He dismissed the idea and left.

I returned my attention to my camera. Moments later, the head of the department rumbled up the platform and stood beside me. I looked to my side.

He said, “You have to take off your jacket.”

I replied, “In no way does it affect the job I am doing. It is a nonissue.”

He responded by saying, “It is an issue with the Mets. You can either put on the jacket or leave.”

“Then, I’m leaving.”

I walked over to Paul, shook his hand and told him it was a pleasure to meet him. In doing this, the head of the department reaches from behind and yanks my press pass out of my free hand. I exited the platform and began to walk to the doors to leave. The head of the department followed me.

“Are you really going to do this?”

I replied, “Yes.” Then, I left the building.

If you read the entire article, you can get the gist that this fan was not looking to intentionally tick anyone off, but at the same time wasn’t about to be told what he should or shouldn’t be wearing. I can’t really blame him — especially considering that this was a college game, with no actual Mets players in sight.

There’s a possibility that people were just yanking his chain, and that no Mets official actually insisted that he take off the jacket. Indeed, I’m sure if this creates a storm (pardon the pun … St. John’s Red Storm, get it?), the Mets will say they never did such a thing and someone must have been playing a prank.

In any case the kid was pretty calm and collected about the entire ordeal.

Because I was not informed of the Mets organization’s disapproval of my attire firsthand, I can only speculate if there really was an issue with the Mets, or if it was St. John’s Athletic Department’s last ditch efforts in forcing me to remove my jacket. Every Mets staff member that I spoke with was very pleasant and accommodating. I appreciated their courteousness and lack of judgment.

The fact that I was removed from Citi Field for not removing my jacket is absurd to me. I was working at a NCAA baseball game, not even a Mets game. There should never have been an issue in such a setting. I highly doubt an event similar to this would occur at Citizen’s Bank Park at a Phillies, or a non-Phillies game.

I did not wear the jacket to incite people. By no means am I a confrontational individual. I am proud of my baseball team, just as the Mets fans are of theirs. I would have acted in the same way regardless of my attire. I stood my ground for what I believe in, and did so without anger or hostility.

Hat tip to John Fitzgerald for this story.

READ MORE +