May 20, 2009

Slice of a Season: Part 4 of 18

Since the baseball season is long (a marathon, not a sprint they always say). Let's keep track of the Phillies 2009 season in digestible bites. A weekly wrap-up doesn't give justice to the ups and downs that a team goes through because it's so uneven.Therefore, I've decided to summarize the season in 9 game swaths, the equivalent of 3 series, barring rainouts and schedule unevenness. Plus, 9*18=162...I like even numbers.

Slice of a Season: 2009, Slice 4
Slice Record: 5-4
Cumulative Record: 20-16
Standing at Slice's End: 0.5 games behind the surged Metropolitans
Opponents that hurt the Phillies: Dodgers, Braves
Opponents that helped the Phillies: Nationals (mostly their pitching staff and fielders)
Wins to Remember: Sweeping the doubleheader against the Nationals on May 16. Beating the Dodgers 5-3 on May 12 with Werth's gutsy baserunning.
Loss to spill milk over: Losing 4-2 to the Braves on May 10 both outplayed and outmanaged in that game.
Lord, I was born a walking man (I swear): Pedro Feliz
I will run for Congress because Washington has been good to me: Raul Ibanez
It's a good thing train tickets are usually round trip: Andrew Carpenter
One appearance, one win in the books, undefeated forever?: Sergio Escalona
Every hitter's best friend: The lost Daniel Cabrera of Washington
Look who's coming soon: J.C. Romero now in the minors on rehab assignment
Bats do help in general: When facing Kenshin Kawakami
Nemesis Alert: Brian McCann and the ex, Randy Wolf
Most Notable Feat: Jayson Werth stealing 2nd, 3rd, and home in the same inning against the Dodgers
Hitting Heroes: Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth
Need Adjustments: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, the bench
Fire Starters on the Mound: Brad Lidge, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, Chan Ho Park
Holding the Fort Down: Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre, J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers

This was a trying part of the season. 4 wins in a row at the conclusion of it sure look nice and pretty, but they were really ugly wins. I mean, the games themselves were aesthetically ugly. The good news is that they beat a team that they were supposed to in the Nationals. Unfortunately, they haven't been able to play up to the other competition, losing series to the similarly mediocre Braves and first-place Dodgers.

There are signs for optimism heading into the quarter pole of the season.
  • Jayson Werth has turned into a legitimate right handed force, complementing the left handed hitting lineup nicely.
  • Raul Ibanez has played like an MVP candidate so far this season, leading the league in total bases and OPS.
  • Ryan Howard is striking out less, making less errors, has decent stats, and is primed for a mid-summer power surge.
  • Brett Myers and Cole Hamels have both pitched two quality starts in a row.
  • Ryan Madson's changeup is whiff-magnetic.
  • Clay Condrey, 7th inning man...what a revelation.

Unfortunately, the team still has a balance of negativity to draw upon; this only means more opportunities for improvement.

  • Jimmy Rollins has a lower OPS from the leadoff spot than the Phillies' ninth position in the lineup.
  • This is grievously poor because the pinch hitters and bench for the Phillies have been especially feeble this year. (Small Sample Size Alert!) Greg Dobbs has a negative OPS+ relative to the league, which I didn't think was mathematically possible (an OPS+ of 100 is considered average).
  • Brad Lidge needs to stop giving up runs and baserunners; a WHIP of 1.89 and a BB/9 of over 4 will not cut it as a closer.
  • Jaime Moyer and Joe Blanton need to stop runners from getting on base. For Moyer, he is allowing nearly 3 HR/9 IP. It's nearly a 17% HR/FB percentage, which is way above normal.
  • Chase Utley looks hurt; I don't want to think about it or dream about it. He needs to play at 100%.

The foundation is there, it would be nice to beat the Mets and Braves head-to-head to establish ultimate authority over the division. It would be nicer to start winning at home and give the fans what they always want to see, a winner. We are now at the point of the season where slumps are not fluky anymore. The Phillies are well-positioned to remain in the race and bash opposing pitching staffs back to the bullpen purgatory.


Jim said...

Another great analysis. Jamie Moyer pitched well tonight, and I'm anxious to see how Happ does in Yankee Stadium this weekend. I still think this team isn't playing it's best baseball yet.

Dan said...

I agree with you; all aspects of the team have yet to hit on all cylinders. It really seems the pitching staff for the most part has decided to give the ultimate challenge to the these games, we'll allow 5 runs every 6 innings.

I hope that game with Happ is televised on the West Coast. He will definitely be better than Park in the short and long term

Brad said...

It'll be a home run derby in Yankee stadium. 7 in the first game!