Thursday, July 2, 2009

I Hate Apologists

Today, Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote a column titled, "Believe it or not, Phillies doing fine". Allow me to get my FJM on, if you will.

YOU SEE BAD things arising. You see trouble on the way.

Yes, yes I do.

You see the Phillies as a team still hung over from the intoxication of last year's championship, unable to hold teams down early or hold onto leads late. You walk away from the television set muttering "This never happened last year."

I do see a team that's unable to hold teams down earl or hold on to leads late because, uh, that's exactly what the Phils are doing. I never, ever once have uttered "This never happened last year," because I actually watched the Phillies last year and left them for dead when they were trounced by the American League. I remember last year, and that the Phils were a mess at times, especially with Brett Myers sucking and Adam Eaton sucking even more.

I see a lot of memory loss out there.

Oh, do you, you pompous ass? I see a columnist who is going to make some sort of arbitrary comparison to last year that means absolutely nothing to this season.

The Phillies were 39-35 heading into last night's game against Atlanta. A year ago, with better weather and a tighter schedule, they were 44-39. Five more wins, four more losses, and the similarity does not end there.

Oh, hey, look at that! This year's team is exactly like last year's team because the records are almost the same! Nevermind that last year the bullpen was awesome, the bench was hitting and they weren't the worst home team this side of the Nationals! It's identical to the last year, when, you know, the Phillies won the World Series!

You see a team that can't seal the deal like they did last year, a team that seems to lose all the close games. But here are the numbers on that. In 2008, the Phillies entered July with a 13-16 record in one-run games and a 19-23 record in games decided by two runs or fewer. The Phillies entered this July with a 9-10 record in games decided by a run and an 18-13 record in games decided by two runs or more.

OK, but last year, they also lost exactly zero games when leading after 8 this time last year. This year, they've already blown infinitely more saves than that. But it's the same! Same numbers!

They had lost nine of 11 and 13 of 18 entering July of 2008. Here's the postseason media guide entry from their final game in June, a 5-1 loss to the lowly Rangers: "Despite losing six straight series, the Phillies were still in first in the NL East by a game over Florida."

OK, that does sound like this year. I have to admit.

The Phillies entered last night's game in Atlanta having lost five of their last six series but ahead by one game . . .

Over Florida.


You keep talking about injuries, and how healthy everyone was for all of last year. Hell, guys keep writing it, keep saying it on the radio too.

No, no I don't. Except for the Myers injury, I haven't really talked about it. I barely even talk about Raul's injury, and he was the best hitter in the NL when he got injured. But yeah, the Phillies do have injuries to a starter, key members of the bullpen and their starting left fielder. Maybe that's why some people are talking about injuries. You know, because guys are injured.

Hello? Anyone remember Adam Eaton? He was still taking his regular shift this time last year. Anyone remember that yesterday marked the 1-year anniversary of Brett Myers being furloughed to the minors? Remember what a basket case he was? Would you rather have that guy pitch every 5 days, or someone, anyone, else?

What does that have to do with injuries?

As human as Ryan Madson has been lately, does anyone remember that Tom Gordon was shelved at this point last year, about to be shut down for the rest of the season.

Oh, there's the injury connection. Tom Gordon sucked for the Phillies. No one cared that he was lost.

That sure seemed like a significant injury at the time!

Not to any rational fan who saw that Gordon was not that good.

OK, I'm sorry, I'm way over my exclamation mark quota for the season. But if one more guy writes/says/concludes how much healthier they were last year, how different this year is from last, I'm going to urge that we re-sign Eaton and promote Kyle Kendrick from the minors.

They are different from last year. Namely the bullpen, which was a major key to the run to the World Series. Convenient that you haven't mentioned the bullpen yet. Funny how that works. I see a lot of memory loss …

You remember Kendrick, right? He "came to the rescue" read some headlines last July 1, pitching six scoreless innings in an 8-3 victory over the Braves. At that point, the Phillies record when he started was 13-4.

Yes, he was good for the Phillies early last year. Your point, exactly?

Kendrick wasn't officially injured in the second half of the season just as Myers wasn't physically hurt in the first half. But the premise that the Phillies cruised to a championship last season with little of the problems that ail most teams is just such baloney, it boggles the mind every time someone purports it. Jimmy Rollins might have been hitting .267 at this time last year, but Ryan Howard was batting a not so lusty .218. I love Raul Ibanez as much as the next guy, but Pat Burrell was hitting .275 with 20 home runs at this point last season.

Oh, so you're acknowledging the Phillies weren't injured last season, as they are this season. And again, you haven't addressed the bullpen. And who the hell thinks the Phillies cruised to the championship last year? They needed anther hot September and Mets collapse to even make the playoffs. Remember that?

The Phillies are averaging slightly more runs scored this season, almost 5 1/2 a game. Their team earned run average is almost a run higher, and clearly that is a concern, really the concern. But it is reasonable to expect Madson to stabilize after an All-Star break rest, reasonable to expect Brad Lidge to be strong in the second half, albeit not infallible. It should be expected that J.C. Romero will be strong, as little used as he is up to this point.

It's also reasonable to expect Madson to return to the player he was prior to the end of last season. You know, not that great. And it's reasonable to expect Lidge not to rebound, because he's done this before. And Romero, as much as I love the guy, should be strong, but he's always had control issues. I see a lot of memory loss here.

Lidge blew six saves before he went on the disabled list. Madson may yet be a closer, but he assumed the job already over-taxed. On the whole, the bullpen hasn't pitched poorly. They've just played poor situational baseball. Madson's five-pitch walk the other night with two outs and no one on - in a one-run game - is just about concentration. The pickoff try was poorly executed, the 1-2 pitch to Martin Prado too hittable, the way his 0-2 was to Rod Barajas a few weeks before.

The team has lost a ton of games in the 8th and 9th innings, along with extra innings, because the bullpen is nowhere near as good as it was last season. And poorly executed play is bad play. Oh, and saying a bullpen has played poor situational baseball is the same as saying it has pitched poorly. Bullpen pitchers do nothing but play situational baseball. Idiot.

And Cole Hamels? He was 8-5 a year ago, with a 3.38 ERA. He had pitched seven innings or more in 14 of his 17 starts. After last night, he is 4-5, and his earned run average is about a run higher. He has pitched seven innings or more three times in 15 starts.

Which is to say Cole Hamels is nowhere near as good as he was last year. And that's reason for concern. Suddenly, Cole is not pitching well.

It is reasonable to assume this will change for the better. It is reasonable to assume that Ibanez will return sometime soon, and return to form sometime sooner after that. It is reasonable to assume that Rollins has at least one hot streak in him this season, and that with Lidge, Madson and Romero now healthy, the bullpen will stabilize and protect leads better than it has.

It is reasonable to assume Cole will get better, but he hasn't so far, meaning it's no guarantee. Ibanez will return, but is it reasonable to ask a 37-year-old returning from injury to continue to put up the best numbers of his career? Maybe, and I certainly hope so, but probably not. It's reasonable to assume Jimmy wouldn't suck this bad this far too, but he has. Again, no guarantees. And the bullpen could stabilize, but it also could continue to be shaky, seeing as all three of those guys have had shaky seasons in their careers.

It's also reasonable to assume that J.A. Happ will have some bumps, that Antonio Bastardo will pitch like an inexperienced rookie, that Joe Blanton will win a few and lose a few. It's cause for concern, just as Myers, Kendrick and Eaton were at times last year. The Phillies overcame their share of nasty weather then, too, had more than a few bad moons before a 17-8 September, and 11-3 postseason run delivered a second world championship.

Again, this has nothing to do with this season, especially with the fact that last year, the Phillies never lost a game when leading after 8. It's not the same team as last year, so last year doesn't freakin matter to this year.

It is reasonable to still believe that can happen this season.

But it's more reasonable to believe it won't happen again. Winning the World Series is hard. Proven by the fact that Phillies have only won two of them ever in their long history. And no team has repeated since the Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000. It's a hard thing to do. So it is reasonable to believe last year was great and all, but it's unlikely the Phils will win it again.

Does that mean the Phillies won't win the World Series? No. They can right the ship and make another run. But the reason people are complaining is because they're shitting the bed right now. They have the worst record of any first-place team in baseball, and they are playing horrible. That's reason to complain, to be concerned. 2008 has nothing to do with 2009. It's a different team, a different season. So forgive us fans who care that the team looks like poop right now, Mr. Donnellon.

For fuck's sake, you sound like the Phillies' version of Dave Spadaro with this piece of shit column.

BallHype: hype it up!

No comments:

Post a Comment