May 29, 2009

Slice of a Season: Part 5 of 18

JA Happ

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 5
Slice Record: 5-4
Cumulative Record: 25-20
Standing at Slice's End: 0.5 games behind the aching Metropolitans
Opponents that hurt the Phillies: Marlins
Opponents that helped the Phillies: Reds, Yankees
Wins to Remember: Defeating the Yankees 7-3 on May 22, Defeating the Reds 4-3 on May 19
Loss to spill milk over: Losing to the Yankees 5-4 on May 23, blowing a 4-2 9th inning lead.
New York doesn't scare me: JA Happ
Bats do help in general: When facing Burke Badenhop
Nemesis Alert: Chris Volstad
My throne is waiting for me:Cole Hamels
First base, first base...that sounds familiar: Jimmy Rollins
The ex-Phils haunting continues: Wes Helms
Don't you miss the NL?: A.J. Burnett, not enjoying the old divisional rivalry rematch
Welcome to the big leagues: John Mayberry Jr, if only Fox Sports could find your father to react in time.
Promises, Promises: Chan Ho Park reneged on his promise to do well as the 5th starter. Shame on Ruben Amaro for listening to him.
The 9th inning is a call for action: unless you're down by 2 with a runner on 1st base; Matt Stairs, swing away: Shane Victorino, don't run
It had to happen sometime: Ryan Howard committed an error
Hitting Heroes: Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard
Need Adjustments: Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins
Fire Starters on the Mound: Brad Lidge, Jack Taschner, Brad Lidge...again
Holding the Fort Down: Ryan Madson, J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers

It was yet another uneven slice of the season with really few performances to take note. Cole Hamels is back (long live King Cole!), pitching 6 innings in both starts with a 6:1 K:B ratio and less than 1.2 WHIP. Ibanez is hitting better than Albert Pujols; his OPS is still a stratospheric value of 1.109, now with more home run goodness. JA Happ pitched remarkably well in the pressure cooker of Yankee Stadium 3; allowing only 2 runs (with no walks) in 6 innings to that lineup. And most surprisingly of all, Joe Blanton struck out 11 in 7 innings in one start.

The hitting is still keeping pace overall with an .OPS of .790 during this time period, but it seems there are cracks in the aura. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino need to get on base more, period. They both have .OBP below .330 (with Rollins closer to .280). This is unacceptable in the long run; move them down in the order to maximize the power of Utley, Howard, and Ibanez: the lefty brigade. Jayson Werth has slumped, flailing at breaking stuff outside and bailing on fastballs inside; he's like Burrell when he was slumping. Does he need a temporary platoon partner? Pedro Feliz has been the most pleasant surprise of the season so far, upping his walk rate by 50% and hitting over .400 with RISP.

Brad Lidge is worrisome still. The home runs, the high walk rate, the higher contact % (over 1.000 OPS against) all hint at a deeper problem. His velocity is there, but he can;t get the fastball over and his slider can be avoided if there are less than two strikes. It's kind of Manuel to show loyalty, but give him a mental break for a couple weeks; Ryan Madson is a viable alternative. And Clay Condrey is...'nobody expects Everyday Clay Condrey'...he is the stealth good reliever so far.

It was just reported that Brett Myers might have hip surgery (just as the good Brett Myers decided to start pitching). Time to bring on the trade rumors or welcome Kyle Kendrick, Chan Ho Park, Andrew Carpenter, or Carlos Carrasco to the rotation.

They won two series on the road against over .500 teams and lost a series at home against an under .500 team. They're batting stats are also significantly worse at CBP; this does not trend with previous years. There's something intangible that is missing for the home struggles.

The Mets are hurt, the Braves continue to annoy, it's the time of the year to make a move. There is no try,there is only play ball.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I'd be lying if I said Brett's injury doesn't worry me. Based on everything I've read or heard, it appears as if the Phils hope to go outside the organization for his replacement. A weekend with the Nationals should be just what the doctor ordered.