Myers Goes Down; Phils Need an Even Better Replacement

myersIn late-April, Bry asked a Question of the Day here on the blog:  How early is too early to be concerned about the Phillies pitching staff?.  My answer at the time was late-May.  Little did I know at the time, that on May 29th news would break that Brett Myers is most likely done for the season with a torn labrum in his hip.  So, Phillies fans, it’s officially time to start worrying about your 2009 rotation.

Even though the Phils won a title with this same staff last year, it was still seen as “Hamels and some question marks”.  Let’s take a quick look at how those question marks have turned out, two months into the season.  Myers?  Done for the year with an injury.  Jamie Moyer?  He’s given up at least four runs in 7 of his 9 starts, hasn’t pitched more than 6 innings in any of them, and has an ERA north of 7.  Joe Blanton?  Despite a great outing this week, his ERA is still hovering over 6 and he certainly hasn’t done anything to show that he’s anything more than a #4 starter.  Chan Ho Park?  He may not have been any worse than Moyer or Blanton, but let’s just say I’m hoping not to see him listed as the Phils’ probable starter any time soon.

This is obviously not a group that the Phillies can move forward with and legitimately hope to win the division again, let alone the World Series.  I mean, J.A. Happ is basically the #2 starter right now.  They need at least one more starter and it needs to be a front-of-the-rotation guy.  Calling up Carlos Carrasco may make sense, but he’s not the answer right now.

Todd Zolecki had an interesting interview with Ruben Amaro a couple days ago, just BEFORE the Myers injury news peavybroke.  Amaro was very candid in discussing the team’s interest in trading for starting pitching and acknowledging the budget concerns they have with a payroll that already sits at $132 million.  As noted in the article, Jake Peavy and Roy Oswalt are attractive options that can probably be had, and the Phils have plenty of minor-league talent to offer.

Frankly, I don’t really care what it costs in prospects, I woud LOVE to see the Phils go and get either one of those guys.  They’re both already signed to long-term deals, and while it’s a ton of money to commit to, at least you know what the number is and you’re not wondering how much it might cost to re-sign the guy.  The Phillies have sold 99.6% of their tickets so far this season, a number only really approached by the Red Sox (who are somehow over 100%?).  I know they’ve raised payroll since last year, but the increase in profits they’ve seen thanks to winning the title must be staggering.  I’m not saying they can go out and be the Yankees or Red Sox, but if you add this one piece, a Peavy or an Oswalt, you put yourself in great position to win another title.  Imagine having a Hamels-Peavy 1-2 combination, with this line-up supporting them?  If just one guy from the group of Moyer, Blanton, and Happ can step up and be a solid #3, that is a team that NO ONE wants to play in October.  Granted, the payroll would be sky-high, but they would hardly have to add anything for the next two years beyond 2009 and know that they have a legit title contender each season.

Amaro’s main job over the next month or so is to make this case to the front-office, and convince them to shell out the money.  Ruben has to say: Let’s not grab a stop-gap “solid veteran”.  Let’s approach this like Matt Stairs does at the plate, let’s try to hit a home run, bring another ace to the team, and then have another parade down Broad Street this fall.

Two Round in the Books (Part Two)

Check out Part One of a French Open update.  This is Part Two…

The Del Potro (5) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH SATURDAY – #5 Del Potro vs. #25 Andreev

In the top of this pod, the 5th-ranked player in the world, Juan Martin Del Potro cruised, untested, in straight sets over Frenchman Michael Llodra and Serbian Viktor Troicki.  Del Potro has been as good as advertised so far in this tournament.

The bottom half is a completely different story for the seeded player there.  25th seed, Igor Andreev, has survived to the third round, but just barely.  He survived, 7-5, in the fifth set against Italian qualifier Fabio Fognini, only to get another test in the second round.  Andreev needed five more sets to take out clay-court specialist Martin Vassallo Arguello, coming back from down 2 sets to 1 to win the last two sets 6-3 and 6-4.  Andreev’s second round match was one minute under 5 hours–that after a 3+ hour first round match, so he’s been on the court for well over 8 hours already.  And, now he gets one of the hottest clay court players in the world.

BSB’s PICK:  Del Potro in 3.  Del Potro is too good for even a well-rested Andreev, but after 8 hours of court time, Igor’s tournament will most likely end on Saturday quickly and mercifully.

The Tsonga (9) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH SATURDAY – # 9 Tsonga vs. Rochus

The top of this draw was supposed to be won by Russia’s Dmitry Tursurov, the 21-seed, in this year’s tournament, but Tursurov was upset by the crafty veteran, Arnaud Clement, a former Grand Slam finalist (2001 Australian Open) and former top 10 player.  That opened the door for Christophe Rochus, a Belgian veteran to finally make it out of the second round in Paris.  He has made the second round three times in his career, which dates back to 1999, but this year he finally broke through to win twice on the dirt.  He is also probably France’s enemy #1 right now, as he has already taken out two Frenchmen–“The Magician” Fabrice Santoro and Clement–and now he has a shot to make it three in a row.

The bottom of this pod was probably the best–on paper–foursome in the draw.  It featured the #9-seed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga taking on countryman journeyman Julien Benneteau in one match and the ever-popular Cyprian, Marcos Baghdatis facing clay-court wizard Juan Monaco.  Well, it did not turn out to be as good as it was supposed to, as Tsonga, though dropping a set, defeated Benneteau and Monaco crushed Baghdatis.  Then, Tsonga won a decent match against Monaco in the second round.

BSB’s PICK:  Tsonga in 4.  The run of knocking off Frenchmen on their home soil probably ends here for Rochus, as Tsonga is just too good of an all-around player.  The only reason I’m not picking a straight-set win is because Tsonga tends to lose focus in the middle of matches, as he did in both his first two matches here.

The Robredo (16) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH SATURDAY – #16 Robredo vs. Gonzalez

Tommy Robredo, a good all-around player whose best surface is here on clay, has cruised to straight set wins over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino and fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver, so he is well-rested heading into the third round.

More American frustration in Paris has gone on this year and it included a disappointing first round loss for 22nd seeded Mardy Fish to 71st-ranked Argentinian Maximo Gonzalez.  Gonzalez’s upset of Fish seemed to clear the way for the solid Italian Andreas Seppi to move into the third round on the back of his first-round defeat of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, but Gonzalez pulled off another upset, with relative ease, in a straight set win over Seppi.  Gonzalez now tries to make it three in a row against the heavily favored Robredo in the third round.

BSB’s PICK:  Robredo in 3.  We here at BSB are not all that impressed with the level of upsets that Gonzalez has pulled off thus far.  On the other hand, we are very impressed by the level of play of Tommy Robredo and fully expect him to cruise into the Round of 16–probably to face Mr. Djokovic, which could be a fascinating match.

The Djokovic (4) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH SATURDAY – #4 Djokovic vs. #29 Kohlschreiber

Philipp Kohlschreiber has always had the game to be a star in professional tennis, but, for some reason or another, has never fully put it together.  And, at not even 26 years old, this certainly could be the year.  He smoked Bernard Tomic in the first round, 6-1 6-2 6-2 and then won a hard-fought 5-set match with former #1 and former French Open champion, Juan Carlos Ferrero.

As good as the Spaniards (Nadal, Robredo, Verdasco, Ferrer) have looked in their first two rounds, no one has had it easier through two rounds than the big Serb, Novak Djokovic.  His first-round opponent, Nicolas Lapentti, retired down a set and a break, and then his second-round opponent, Sergiy Stakhovsky might as well have retired as Djokovic cruised through that match in straight sets.  With only 4+ sets of tennis under his belt, Djokovic is plenty fresh heading into the third round showdown with Kohlschreiber.

BSB’s PICK:  Djokovic in 4.  I like Kohlschreiber and think he might have a nice year, but Djokovic’s game is just too big right now.  It looks like Novak is heading for a long Round of 16 match with Robredo, so it might be good for him if he got out of this match in 3.

The Roddick (6) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH SATURDAY – #6 Roddick vs. Gicquel

Another American nightmare in Paris has been avoided by one man–Andy Roddick.  Roddick, who has never enjoyed a lot of success here on the clay (in fact, this is only the second time he has ever been out of the second round and the first since 2001, when he lost in the third round), has absolutely cruised in two matches.  He beat Frenchman, Romain Jouan, and Czech, Ivo Minar, in straight sets.

The big question about the bottom of this pod is…what in the world happened to Rainer Schuettler?  Frenchman Marc Gicquel–a solid veteran who specializes on the clay courts–won the first two sets from 27th-seeded Schuettler without dropping a game.  Schuettler was down two sets in 51 minutes.  That’s right, Schuettler’s French Open began by being bageled in the first two sets, before bowing out in straights.  Gicquel then moved on to beat Andreas Beck in 4 sets in the second round, setting up a date with Roddick.

BSB’s PICK:  Roddick in 3.  Yes, Andy Roddick will finally make the fourth round of the French Open and should do it easily.  Then again, it is a dangerous thought to have a crafty veteran clay-courter–on his home turf–against a big-serving, confidence-lacking American in the French Open, so anything can happen.

The Monfils (11) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH SATURDAY – #11 Monfils vs. #24 Melzer

The top of this pod has seen Jurgen Melzer, the 24-seed, cruise through two rounds of straight set wins.  He beat Argentinian Sergio Roitman in the first round and then Frenchman Guillaume Rufin in the second round.  He was tested in neither of these matches.

The bottom half of this pod is much the same, with the seeded player cruising without being threatened by either opponent.  11th-seeded Gael Monfils, who may have the largest gap between physical ability and mental stability (dare I say Safin-esque), is right on the edge of breaking through in a major way.  He cruised past Bobby Reynolds and Victor Crivoi in the first two rounds and now gets Melzer.

BSB’s PICK:  Monfils in 5.  Melzer is tough.  Monfils?  Who knows.  But, we may find out on Saturday.  There is no result from this match that would surprise me.  If you told me Monfils won in straights in an hour and a half, I would say makes sense.  If you told me that Monfils imploded and Melzer just methodically took him apart, I would believe that too.  Part of me just wants to see if Monfils can stand the heat of a five-set match, so I am picking that.  I really want this guy to break through, he is exceedingly fun to watch.

The Blake (15) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH SATURDAY – Haas vs. Chardy

There is always one, especially in the French.  There is always one pod that gets blown wide open.  This happens to be it, much to the dismay of American tennis fans (and actually to the joy of yours truly–an admitted Tommy Haas fan).  James Blake, the 15th-seed here in Paris, bowed out, unremarkably, in the first round in straight sets against Argentinian Leonardo Mayer.  That opened the door for Tommy Haas, who smoked Andrei Pavel in the first round, to make it to the third round and continue a nice comeback story, though it wasn’t easy, as it took him five sets to defeat Mayer.

The bottom have of this pod was eerily similar, as 19th seeded Tomas Berdych also lost in the first round, though he did manage to at least send it to five before losing to Italian qualifier Simone Bolelli.  Bolelli then ran out of gas in the fifth set against France’s Jeremy Chardy, who won a straight-set match in the first round against Thiago Alves.

BSB’s PICK:  Haas in 4.  I like Tommy Haas, and I think he manages a solid effort in a third-round win over Chardy.  Interestingly, the winner of this match will have reached the Round of 16 without facing a seeded player.  And, that trend will end, probably abruptly, with a date with Roger Federer.

The Federer (2) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH SATURDAY – #2 Federer vs. #32 Mathieu

The top half of this pod was dominated this week by Jean-Henri Mathieu, the 32nd-seeded Frenchman.  Mathieu made quick work of both Laurent Recouderc and Pablo Andujar (who disposed of Robby Ginepri in the first round).

The bottom half was the half of Federer.  Roger did cruise against Spaniard Alberto Martin in the first round, but actually struggled a good bit against the gritty Argentinian, Juan Acasuso, in the second round.  Federer dropped the first set in a tiebreak, then won the second set 7-5 and the third in a tiebreak, before cruising in the fourth, 6-1.

BSB’s PICK:  Federer in 4.  This will not be an easy match for The Federer, and he better not come out slow, as he has had a tendency to do recently, because Mathieu is solid, experienced and unflappable.  Because of this experience and the fact that he loves the clay and has his home fans behind him, he will not be intimidated by Federer.  I still see Roger prevailing, but it won’t be easy.  Fortunately, for him, an unseeded player (either Haas or Chardy) awaits in the Round of 16 before a possible quarterfinal date with either Andy Roddick or Gael Monfils.

Two Rounds in the Books (Part One)

NOTE:  This was written prior to the start of Round 3 (not that anyone is paying attention to the French Open or, for that matter, even reading past this note now that they realize this post is all about the French Open)

Well, the great tournament that is the French Open is now two rounds complete and, as always, it is getting interesting.  The bracket, itself, is a bit daunting to look at and analyze, but if you break down the first three rounds into 16 eight-team tournaments, you can make a little more sense of the craziness that is the first week.  So, that’s what BSB is here to do.  Each eight-team mini-tournament will be referred to as a “pod” and will be named after the top seed in that pod.

The Nadal (1) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH FRIDAY – #1 Nadal vs. Hewitt

The top half of this bracket is where the top-seed and #1 player in the world sits.  Unsurprisingly, Rafa cruised through the first two rounds, beating two qualifiers (Marcos Daniel and Teimuraz Gabashvili) in straight sets. 

The other seeded player in this pod was 26th seed, Ivo Karlovic, but he ran into one of the all-time great fighters, Lleyton Hewitt, in the first round.  Karlovic won the first two sets in tiebreakers, but Hewitt’s bulldog mentality won him the third set in a crazy tiebreaker and then battled through the fourth and fifth to win yet another 5-setter in a Grand Slam.  Hewitt then smoked Andrey Gobulev in the second round to set up Friday’s matchup with Nadal.

BSB’s PICK:  Nadal in 4.  As much as it hurts me to say it, but Hewitt just isn’t the same player he once was and Nadal is, well, the best tennis player on the planet and quite possibly the best clay-court tennis player of all-time.

The Ferrer (14) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH FRIDAY – #14 Ferrer vs. #23 Soderling

The top of the bracket features 23rd-seeded Robin Soderling, who, if he puts it all together, could have a terrific year this year.  Soderling beat Kevin Kim and Denis Istomin in straights to move into a big third-round match.

The bottom is where “Mr. Fifth Set” David Ferrer has been placed.  Ferrer actually won in straights in his opening round match with Frederico Gil, but Nicholas Kiefer tested “Mr. Fifth Set” in the second round, which is generally a bad idea.  Ferrer, who is clearly the fittest player on tour and who LOVES five-set matches, won another one over Kiefer in the second round to move into a nice second-round match.

BSB’s PICK:  Ferrer in 5.  “Mr. Fifth Set” will do it again against a game Soderling.  Interestingly, this will set up a Round of 16 matchup with Ferrer’s countryman Rafa Nadal, with the winner probably staring at yet another Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, in the quarters.

The Davydenko (10) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH FRIDAY – #10 Davydenko vs. #17 Wawrinka

Nickolai Davydenko cruised in the first round match against Stefan Koubek, but needed four sets to beat Argentinian Diego Junqueira in the second round.  The gritty professional now moves into a tough third-round match.

Federer’s doubles partner, Stanislas Wawrinka, has started to make a name for himself in the singles arena, as well.  Though, he seems to have plateaued between 15-20 in the world now and can’t seem to crack the top 10.  This tournament could be big for him, though it didn’t start that way.  He was down two sets to one in the first round against French qualifier, Nicolas Devilder, but he rallied to win.  He then moved on to the second round where he regained his form and absolutely pummeled Nicolas Massu, 6-1 6-1 6-2 to advance to this third-round tilt with Davydenko.

BSB’s PICK:  Wawrinka in 4.  Maybe I’m swayed by the “potential” of Wawrinka, which he doesn’t seem to be realizing.  Or, maybe I’m just biased against the perpetually over-ranked Davydenko (because he plays EVERY single week), but I like Wawrinka in this one.  However, I think that if Davydenko can get it to a fifth set, he would have the advantage, being the much fitter of the two.  I think Wawrinka needs to win this in 4 or probably face elimination.

The Verdasco (8) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH FRIDAY:  #8 Verdasco vs. #31 Almagro

The top of this pod features perennial under-achiever Nicholas Almagro, the 31st seed here.  Almagro did beat Agustin Calleri in straight sets in the first round, which is a pretty good win, considering that Calleri is a pretty solid clay court player.  He then dropped the first set to Ernests Gulbis, but came back to win in four.

Fernando Verdasco, who has catapulted himself into the top ten with some fantastic tennis recently, has cruised through the bottom of this pod, crushing a tough Frenchman Florent Serra, 6-2 6-1 6-4, and punishing Phillip Pelzschner, 6-1 6-2 6-3, in the second round.

BSB’s PICK:  Verdasco in 3.  He is just playing far too well right now.  Even though Almagro has a really good all-around game , his mental makeup is just not what it needs to be to deal with the consistency and shot-making ability of Verdasco.  Expect a Verdasco-Nadal quarterfinal that should be epic.

The Murray (3) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH FRIDAY – #3 Murray vs. Tipsaravic

Andy Murray, who has established himself as one of the “Big Four” in men’s tennis, enters the French as the least accomplished of the four in clay court tournaments.  And, he got at it right away, with as tough of a first-round match as a seeded player could have, facing unseeded Juan Ignacio Chela.  Murray was up to the task and smoked the clay court specialist 6-2 6-2 6-1, in one of the more impressive results of the tournament thus far.  He did then drop a set to Potito Starace in the second round, but came back to win a tough third set and the 6-4 in the fourth.

Janko Tipsaravic has a big game, but cannot find the consistency to crack the top 20 (which is where his talent suggests he ought to be).  Well, Tipsaravic has put it together so far, beating a tough Spaniard Albert Montanes in the first round and then upsetting the 28-seeded Feliciano Lopez 6-7 6-4 7-6 6-3 in the second round.  The big test remains now for the young Serb here in the third round.

BSB’s PICK:  Murray in 3.  As good as Tipsaravic is, Murray is just too tough and too experienced for him.  Tipsaravic will have some good results this year, and it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see him give Murray a match here, but Murray should prevail and should do it without dropping a set.

The Cilic (13) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH FRIDAY – #13 Cilic vs. #18 Stepanek

Radek Stepanek is the 18th seed in this year’s French Open and he drew a former French Open champ, Gaston Gaudio, in the first round.  Well, Gaudio is not quite the player he was back when he won the title in 2004 or in 2005, when he was #5 in the world, and Stepanek quickly dispatched him in straight sets.  He then moved on to beat a very game Frenchman Mathieu Montcourt, to advance to the third round.

In the bottom of this pod, Marin Cilic, the 13th seed, beat Czech qualifier Jan Henrych in straights and then Israeli Dudi Sela in straights.  He started each match with a 6-0 bagel in the first set and only lost a total of 11 games in the 6 sets, so he cruises into the third round with barely even breaking a sweat.

BSB’s PICK:  Cilic in 3.  Stepanek is a solid all-court player, but Cilic is tough on the dirt and should be able to cruise into the Round of 16, where Andy Murray should be waiting–and should be worried.

The Gonzalez (12) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH FRIDAY – #12 Gonzalez vs. Ouanna

The top of this pod has the hard-hitting Chilean Fernando Gonzalez–who has quickly become a really good all-court player.  Gonzalez cruised by both Jiri Vanek and Rui Machado in the first two rounds, never dropping more than 3 games in any of the 6 sets.

The bottom of the pod had featured 20th seeded Marat Safin, in his swan song (so he says) in Paris.  Safin beat Frenchman Alexandre Sidorenko in straight sets in the first round.  The other first-round match in the bottom of this pod was another Frenchman, Josselin Ouanna against Spaniard Marcel Granollers.  Ouanna won a fourth-set tiebreak to even the match at two sets apiece and then rolled, 6-1 in the fifth to move on.  Safin, trying to eliminate a second straight Frenchman, lost tiebreakers in the first two sets, before winning the third 6-4 and the fourth 6-3 to send it to an epic fifth set.  Ouanna ended up winning 10-8 in the fifth, in the longest match of the tournament so far and ending the French Open career of great Marat Safin.

BSB’s PICK:  Gonzalez in 3.  Ouanna has survived two five-setters, including the most recent against Safin that went 10-8 in the fifth.  Even a well-rested Ouanna would be a heavy underdog against Gonzo, but with all that tennis already under his belt, he is probably out of gas and should get rolled by the Chilean.  Then again, the French crowd can do wonders, but don’t expect it here.

The Simon (7) Pod:
THIRD ROUND MATCH FRIDAY – #7 Simon vs. #30 Hanescu

A relative late-bloomer, the Romanian Victor Hanescu has, at the age of 27, achieved his highest world ranking and is seeded 30th in this year’s French Open, where all the way back in 2005, he reached his only Grand Slam quarterfinal.  He has won two interesting matches so far, beating Belgian Steve Darcis in three straight tiebreakers, then defeating a really tough unseeded player, Mikhail Youzhny, 7-5 7-5 7-5, in the second round.  The true test for Hanescu’s potential breakout tournament is coming up on Friday.

The bottom of this pod is highlighted by the emerging French star, Gilles Simon.  The 24-year old is ready to have a terrific season, leading a truly resurgent French tennis culture, that expects big things in this, their national event.  However, Simon did not start auspiciously, dropping the first set of his tournament and needing five sets just to get out of the first round against South African Wayne Odesnik (ranked 77th in the world).  Simon did recover and play much better, albeit against an exhausted and overmatched American Robert Kendrick, with a straight-set second round win, in which he only lost 1 game total in the final two sets.

BSB’s PICK:  Simon in 4.  Hanescu is playing the best tennis of his career, but Simon is young and hungry.  In front of his countrymen, he should be able to get past Hanescu and into the Round of 16, where a real test should await him, in the form of Fernando Gonzalez.

Live Blog: Phils-Yanks, Cavs-Magic

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, BSB Readers!  In honor of one of the better holiday weekends on the calendar, I’ll do a somewhat half-assed Live Blog this evening.  Really, with summer getting it’s unofficial kick-off, I think half-assed is the right way to do things.  I’ll be doing some other stuff throughout, including packing for a trip to Boston tomorrow morning.  Tonight, I’ll be watching the hot Phillies roll into the new Yankee Stadium to take on the even hotter Yankees.  Also, after rolling through the first two rounds of the playoffs, Lebron James suddenly finds himself with his back against the wall in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  And the side event this evening will be the Mets and Mr. Santana going into Fenway to play the Sox.

7:33 PM:  Ok, the first inning is completed in the Bronx and it was an eventful one.  J-Roll hit A.J. Burnett’s first pitch over the short right-field wall.  Burnett then nailed Utley and gave up a single to Ibanez before settling down to get the next three batters without any further damage.  In the bottom of the first, Myers led off the game by promptly nailing Derek Jeter, leading to a bench warning from the ump.  I guess, this is the kind of thing you get when two, um, “Southern gentlemen” like Burnett and Myers go at it.  The first inning ended when A-Rod hit a double into the left-field corner and Ibanez played it beautifully, relaying it to Rollins, who nailed Johnny Damon at the plate.  The excitement has continued into the second inning, as Carlos Ruiz just hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot, to put the Phils up 3-0.  Ok, now we’re all caught up, I believe.

7:46 PM:  It’s nice watching the Phils make their first appearance in this stadium as the “defending World Champions”, as Yankee announcer Michael Kay referred to them more than once in the pre-game comments.  Also, looks like there’s a lot of Phils fans in the stands.  There’s been a lot of talk all season about how this stadium is so hitter-friendly, and with the short porch in right, you know all those Phillies lefties are salivating.  It plays right into their hands.  The Rollins home run would not have been out of many stadiums around the league.

8:16 PM:  Through 4 innings, it’s still 3-0.  Myers, obviously, looks pretty good, but it still looks like he’s having some of the same problems he’s had throughout the season.  His curveball is great, and the change-up is pretty effective, but he still can’t locate his fastball as well as you’d like to see.  At least he’s aware of the problem though, as shown when he just threw Hideki Matsui a 3-1 curveball with a runner on 1st and 2 out.

8:25 PM:  With two out and one on in the 5th, Jayson Werth absolutely crushes one into the upper deck in left field.  Michael Kay says it was the first ball into the upper deck there at the new Stadium, so you know it was a bomb.  Victorino follows with a triple into right-center, but it is stranded.  5-0 Phightins.

8:48 PM:  A-Roid takes Myers deep a pitch after what looked like the third strike.  Darn.  5-1 Phils through 6.

8:50 PM:  The Cavs have jumped out to a 15-5 lead in Cleveland.  I’m mainly hoping this game stays close so I can see Lebron go crazy in the 4th quarter.

8:59 PM:  Interestingly, Chien-Ming Wang makes his return from the DL as a reliever, and Raul Ibanez welcomes him back with DEEP home run to right-center.  Michael Kay called this one, “Maybe the longest ball we’ve seen hit here”.  We’re pounding these guys!  And by the way, Ibanez moves ahead of a little guy named Albert Pujols for the Major League lead in homers, with 16.  The guy is a beast.  6-1 Phils.

9:29 PM:  In the 8th inning, the Phils get a run on 3 singles (Feliz, Rollins, Utley) and the Yanks get two runs on solo shots from Jeter and Teixeira.  Jeter’s was a bit of a cheapy, but Teixiera’s was the third absolute bomb we’ve seen in this game.  Myers’s night is probably done after 8 strong innings. 7-3 Phils.

10:34 PM:  Ryan Madson pitched the 9th to close out the game.  Nice win for the Phils, especially considering the Yanks had won 9 straight.  In Cleveland, Orlando keeps hanging around, down 10 right now in the 3rd quarter.  Unfortunately, I have to be up at very early tomorrow morning, so this will conclude the live blog.  I told you it would be half-assed!

More Ridiculous Stats – the Clippers

NOTE:  I did a little research on Sterling Hitchcock (see comments from prior post).

I heard this the other day, and I just could not believe it, so this will have to stand by itself in ridiculous stats

1). The Clippers, throughout their NBA existence in three cities (Buffalo, San Diego, Los Angeles) have made 44 first-round draft picks.  TWO of them have ever made an all-star game.  Okay, this would be absolutely abysmal if it was a good franchise that always picked at the bottom of the draft (then again, they probably wouldn’t be good for long with that track record), but the Clippers are ALWAYS bad, which means they are always at the top of the draft.  And, to only get two all-stars with 44 first-round picks is laughable.  Doesn’t bode well for Mr. Griffin, huh?

More Ridiculous Stats

I’ve got a couple post ideas in the hopper, but I just switched jobs, so I have to pretend to do work for at least a week or two.  But, I can throw out a couple ridiculous stats that I heard recently.

1). The Lakers, in the Kobe Era, are 54-6 when Mr. Bryant takes fewer than 24 shots in a game.  FIFTY-FOUR AND SIX!  Stop shooting so much, Kobe.  I have no number to back it up, but I’d be willing to bet that Michael Jordan’s teams were better when he shot more.

2). Sterling Hitchcock faced four consecutive Cy Young winners for the Padres in the 1998 playoffs.  What actually makes this impressive is that he went 3-0 in those starts and the only no-decision is in which he pitched innings and only allowed 1 run, but Trevor Hoffman gave up a 3-run home run to Scott Brosius in the 8th to blow Hitchcock’s fourth straight win over a Cy Young winner.  I was 19-years old in 1998, watching these playoffs and it was only 11 years ago, so you’d think that I would remember anything about Sterling Hitchcock, but I don’t.  Does anyone remember that he won the MVP of the NLCS that year?  I sure didn’t.  Yes, Sterling Hitchcock.

More Ridiculous Statistics

1). Johan Santana has given up less than 2 earned runs in his last 12 starts.  Okay, this is absurd.  The best pitcher on the planet is just ridiculous.  Granted he doesn’t throw complete games, but still imagine knowing that every five days, your team is only going to need 2 runs and a bullpen to win a game.  Plus, with the 1-0 win over the Phils earlier this week, he now has six 1-0 wins in his career, which is pretty good, but nothing compared to…

2). Walter Johnson won THIRTY-FIVE 1-0 games in his career.  THIRTY-FIVE!!!  I think that the 1-0 game is the best game a pitcher can throw because he has to be on for every pitch.  Though it was a much different era, it is hard to say that there has ever been a pitcher as dominant as the Big Train, regardless of era.

3).  If you were to look at a list of the top ten home run hitters since 1980, you will see SEVEN of them lied and were directly linked to steroid usage.  The top 10 home run hitters since 1980 are, as follows: 

  1. Barry Bonds – About to go on trial for lying to a grand jury about his steroid usage
  2. Ken Griffey, Jr.
  3. Sammy Sosa – All of a sudden forgot how to speak English to avoid either admitting steroid usage or perjuring himself to Congress
  4. Mark McGwire – “Didn’t talk about his past” steroid usage.
  5. Rafael Palmeiro – Wagged his finger in denial and then got caught and suspended
  6. Alex Rodriguez – Lied to Katie Curic about his steroid usage, then his failed test came out
  7. Jim Thome
  8. Manny Ramirez – Claims to have a sexual disorder for which he was prescribed a female ovulary medication, also used to end a steroid cycle
  9. Frank Thomas
  10. Gary Sheffield – Claims to have never taken steroids, yet was named in the Mitchell Report

This is actually much more sad than it is ridiculous.  What is does do, however, is really accentuate the great careers of [apparently] clean sluggers Griffey, Thome, and Thomas.

Phils-Mets Thoughts

The Phils lost to the Mets 1-0 in an entertaining game tonight.  It was a shame to see an otherwise great game be decided by a Phillie error, as Pedro Feliz threw a ball away, allowing Carlos Delgado to score from 1st base in the 7th inning.  Some random thoughts I had while watching the game:

chan ho-I still think Chan Ho Park is destined for the bullpen sooner or later, but he delayed that move with six shutout innings tonight.

-There’s only so many times you can say it, but Johan Santana is amazing.  He had everything working tonight and was completely unhittable in his seven shutout innings.  With him pitching in the very pitcher-friendly Citi Field, he could put up some all-time stats over the next few seasons.

-Chase Utley didn’t have a hit in the game, but you still could see how good he is.  Santana threw him a bunch of his ridiculous change-ups on 2-strike counts and Chase didn’t even flinch to swing at them.  His plate discipline and pitch recognition are amazing.  Watching him duel with Santana is a joy for any baseball fan.

-I liked all the moves that Charlie Manuel made in the game.  The Mets announcers questioned the decision to hit for him in the 7th, but I liked it.  He really did not look good in the 6th and was lucky to get out of the inning without any giving up any runs.  He’s struggled all season, so to get him out of the game with out giving up any runs could boost his confidence going forward, and with a runner in scoring position, the Phils had to take a shot at getting a run in that spot.  I also liked that Charlie let Eyre face David Wright, which the Mets announcers also questioned.  With two more lefties up behind him, I think it was the right move.  Of course, it will be nice when the Phils can go to J.C. Romero in spots like that in a month from now.

-Chad Durbin looks really good again.  When he faded down the stretch last season, I thought maybe we were seeing the “real” Chad Durbin, and that his success for most of the season was a mirage.  But his curveball looks nasty right now and he has good velocity.  His ERA is over 4 because of a minor blowup in Colorado a few weeks ago, but opponents are hitting .173 against him for the season coming into tonight’s game.  He could really be the difference between this being a good bullpen and a great one.

-Unfortunately, Frankie Rodriguez also looks really good.  There were reports when the Mets signed him that his velocity was down and he wasn’t the same pitcher, but I’m not seeing it.  I think there were so many claims about him being over-rated because of the saves record, that people actually started under-rating him.  He had some trouble locating his fastball tonight, but his curve and change are so good that it hardly matters.  The K-Rod-Putz back-end looks legit for the Mets.

-Jamie Moyer goes for career win #250 tomorrow night against Mike Pelfrey.