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Archive for December, 2009

Halladay/Lee Trades: Will Phillies 3-Peat to World Series?

Friday, December 25th, 2009

The Roy Halladay and cash for 3 prospects deal between the Phillies and the  Toronto Blue Jays, and the Cliff Lee for 3 prospects deal between the Phils and the Seattle Mariners (with the Mariners flipping a prospect each with the Oakland A’s) was actually two trades but historically, the huge 4 team deal will be seen as one and will rank high in the MLB all-time trade records.

A lot of ink has been spilled as to why the Phils foiled all of our dreams by trading lefthander Lee.  Our dreams of a Halladay, Lee top of the rotation all went for naught over an alleged ceiling on the Phils payroll budget and perceived need to replenish a Minor League system depleted by last season’s trade for Lee and the deal for Halladay.

Lee, whose short stint surely will go down in MLB annals having won his first 5 starts, completing 2 of them, going eight innings in a 3rd and seven innings each in the 2 others.  He struggled a bit in September, but then went undefeated in 5 post-season starts winning 4 of them, including a sensational 6 hit, 10 strikeout World Series opening win over the Yankees in the Bronx.  I can’t recall a pitcher in my 50-some years of baseball consciousness who accomplished what Lee accomplished in a mere 2 months of regular season and in the post-season.

It would have been a sight to behold; Halladay, Lee, a hopefully rejuvenated  Cole Hamels with Joe Blanton and lefthander J.A. Happ providing the balance of the starting rotation.   The prospect of Halladay joining Lee at the top may well have eased the pressure on the bullpen immensely allowing for flexibility regarding the set-up and closer spots.  Both Halladay and Lee are capable of complete games with every start.  Halladay’s got 49 CG in his 12 season career, 25 of them in the past 3 seasons alone.  Lee notched 10 CGs over his last 3 seasons, 13 for his career.

In looking at the respective careers of Halladay and Lee, Halladay looks on paper to be the superior pitcher.  But the Philies fates in 2010 ride to a large extent on whether Hamels recovers his 2008 magic, whether Happ can at least equal his rookie year performance, whether Blanton can continue to pitch effectively, whether Brad Lidge’s efforts in 2010 more closely resemble 2008 than 2009 and whether the Phils can add some further depth and efficiency to the bullpen.  If Hamels falters, the second-guessers will have a field-day ripping Amaro Jr. for trading away Cliff Lee.

We eagerly anticipate spring training and the 2010 season.  It’s great to be a Phillies fan and know that we’re not hoping futile hopes and pipe-dreams.  Checkout this Phillies Nation piece on Phillies fans’ perspective on the coming 2010 season — makes for enjoyable reading.

Phillies Shut Out of Major Post-Season Awards

Friday, December 18th, 2009

As I continue housecleaning on the blog after the 7 week layoff, one cannot pass on the post-season awards and the absence of NL pennant- winning  Phillies from winning any of them.  One could say, however  that the Phils’ success in making a 2nd consecutive trip to the World Series was the result of the sum total of all of their parts.

However, I was expecting young lefthander J.A. Happ to have won NL Rookie of the Year honors which were ultimately won by Florida Marlins leftfielder  Chris Coghlan.

While Happ mainly sparkled finishing with a 12-4 record and 2.93 ERA with 3 complete games, including 2 big shut outs, he was pounded in a couple of outings down the stretch.  It seems obvious that Coghlan trumped Happ with a consistent .321 BA in his rookie season breaking .300 and driving to his ending .321 average through the September stretch getting 162 hits in 504 at bats over 128 games and going 6 for 13 with 3 doubles and 3 RBIs in 3 games in the NL East division series with the Phillies.

I was also expecting Charlie Manuel to win NL Manager of the Year having guided the Phils to 3 straight division Championships, 2 consecutive World Series and a World Championship in 2008.  But it was not to be as Colorado Rockies Manager Jim Tracy chapped the honors.  I’m not sure I understand the logic here, but one could probably say that Tracy rated the edge by hitting the ground running after his promotion in late May from bench coach to manager in wake of Clint Hurdle’s firing.  The Rockies went 74-42 with Tracy as skipper.  Tracy got 29 of 32 1st place votes while Charlie garnered no first place votes — figure that one out!

Two Phillies, shortstop Jimmy Rollins and centerfielder Shane Victorino, managed to nail down Gold Glove awards while a Silver Slugger Award went to 2nd baseman Chase Utley so that the team was not totally shut out.

For those who were hoping for an MVP award for 1st baseman Ryan Howard,  St. Louis Cardinals 1st baseman Albert Pujols notched the award for the 2nd straight season based on out-and-out merit.  Check this out:

  • 2009       AB      Hits     HRs    RBIs     BB     K    BA
  • Howard  616     172     45     141       75    186   .279
  • Pujols     568     186     47     135     115     64   .327

Enough said??  Howard’s got to cut down on strikeouts — Big Time!

Finally, I can’t let this post go by without commenting on the AL MVP award going to Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer.   Mauer caught in 138 games in 2009 hitting 28 HRs with 96 RBIs and amassing a .365 BA.  This after catching in 146 games in 2008, driving in 85 runs with a .328 BA.  Checking out his 6 season career, he’s caught in-excess of 130 games in 4 of his last 5 seasons and is in the midst of a career, both offensively and behind the plate, which recalls to memory Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” era Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, although so far, Bench holds a decisive margin in HRs and RBIs.

Below are reports with more detail on the Post-Season Awards:

Phillies Off-Season Action: Who’s Here, Who’s Not

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

      Placido Polanco           Roy Halladay         Cliff Lee

After blogging straight through from the inception of this blog in April, 2006 through the end of the 2009 World Series, I decided to take some time off with the end of the Series on November 4.

While resting from blogging, I did try to keep on top of the Phillies’ frenetic off-season action leading up to the recent vintage “Mother of Blockbuster Deals” — where super-star pitcher Roy Halladay was acquired from the  Toronto Blue Jays for 3 top prospects while trading last year’s ace and post-season undefeated lefthander Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for 3 Mariner top prospects.  Phillies fans, who had fond visions of a monster Halladay/Lee top of the rotation had those dreams dashed.  But more about the Halladay/Lee moves in a subsequent post.  But for now, here is a pretty comprehensive list of reports following the ebb and flow of the Halladay/Lee Deal:

To begin, it appears that the Phils have parted ways with erstwhile starter/ reliever Brett Myers and let reliever Clay Condrey go to free agency. 

They signed free agent infielder Placido Polanco, who incidently preceded current incumbent Chase Utley at 2nd base.  Polanco  played some 3rd base during his stay with the Phillies and the consensus is that the Phils acquired an important cog here.  In my estimation, Polanco’s offensive stats reflect an offensive upgrade over Pedro Feliz at 3rd base.  Their respective 2009 offensive production in homers and RBIs are close to even, although career-wise Polanco averages more games played per season than Feliz while striking out less and drawing more walks.  Polanco’s career batting average is 50 points higher than Feliz and is  although, career-wise Feliz has 45 homers more than Polanco.  Defensively, they are both on a par.  I like the flexibility of Polanco in the lineup availing the Phillies consisted small-ball possibilities as well as the power of Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Utley and Jayson Werth.

The Phils also signed utility players Ross Gload and Juan Castro as well as  Brian Schneider to spell 1st string starting catcher Carlos Ruiz.

The top 4 of Phillies starting rotation shapes up at this early point as Halladay as the ace with lefthander Cole Hamels followed by Joe Blanton or young 2009 Rookie of the Year contender lefthander J.A. Happ, depending on manager Charlie Manuel’s preference as to the #3 and #4 spots.  It appears that ageless lefthander Jamie Moyer, youngster Kyle Kendrick and possibly Chan Ho Park battling for the 5th spot.  Here’s hoping that Hamels is able to comeback to his 2008 form which won him MVP in both the NLCS and the World Series and that Halladay’s work ethic has a positive rub-off on the rest of the pitching staff.

Consensus has it that Moyer has the edge due to the size of his contract and so it may well be that Kendrick and Park may again join Ryan Madson, a hopefully healthy and straight J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, closer Brad Lidge and some young hopefuls. 

The big challenge for the Phils will be ascertaining of Lidge is able to return to something approximating his 2008 form rather than his disastrous 2009 and making an insurance move to spell him should he again falter.  A steady, consistent bullpen, with Halladay completing games often enough to keep the ‘pen rested spells a 100 win season and a sure 4th straight trip to the post-season.  Go Phillies!