Remember The Phillies? An Early Inning Live Blog.

Your 2013 Phillies.

I haven’t posted in a while.  I happened to be in negotiations with the Dodgers.  They were going to buy my blog, but in the end, I would have felt bad taking their offer of 347 million dollars.  I have a conscience.  The truth is, with my curtailed blogging schedule, sometimes I debate over what is, and what is not, post-worthy.  With Labor Day coming up, I know I’m going to be coming back next week pretty heavy into the NFL.  With that in mind, it felt like the time to revisit our beloved Phils.  I’m sure at this time last year we were talking about setting up the rotation for the playoffs, but now when I look at the team, I see people with two main questions:

1.  Do the Phillies actually have a shot with 34 games left?

2.  Is there any chance the Phillies could pull of a salary cleanse over the winter like the Red Sox pulled off last week?

My answers?  To question one, the Phillies still just have that outside chance.  If they can go 27-7.  Is there any indication they’ll hit that number?  No, but until the Phils lose those 6-8 more games, you can allow yourself that tiny bit of hope.  The more likely scenario is the Phillies continue to pick up some wins down the stretch, but finish around .500.  As far as off-season moves the Phillies will certainly be active.  I don’t think they’ll be able to dump salary like the Red Sox, though, because the contracts of guys like Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard aren’t that attractive.  I could see them moving one veteran–maybe Rollins, but it’s also easy to see them keeping their pitching staff together.  The easiest way for the Phils to contend in 2013 will be to get back to pitching better.  That’s been the story since the All-Star Break.

With that out of the way…let’s blog a few innings, see what happens.

***

Vance Worley is starting for the Phillies tonight and he’s been a guy who hasn’t performed as expected.  The question is, has pitching through his elbow injury been the sole reason for his regression?  There was always a concern about the league catching up to Vance, and it makes it harder to trade an “ace” when you have two spots in the rotation (Worley and Kendrick) that come with such varied production.  Some days these guys look great and others they can barely get out of the third or fourth inning.
***
For those wondering, the Mets have been terrible for the past six weeks.  They aren’t hitting much at all, and it’s the amount of games the Phils have left against some bad teams that gives people hope.  When you sweep the Nats, you expect to beat the Mets, but New York has owned the Phils this year and their first three men single to give them a quick 1-0 lead.
***
Worley gets a double play to end the inning.  That was 3 hits, 1 run, and double-play on 10 pitches.  Weird.   The Mets are countering with Chris Young, who once paired with Jake Peavy to give the Padres a deadly 1-2 combo. Of course, that was ages ago and I can’t think of any reason the Phillies shouldn’t clip the Ivy Leaguer for a few runs.
***
Here’s Kevin Frandsen, who has become a bit of a darling thanks to his multiple defensive gems and .30o+ average.  Fans have a way of getting obsessed about guys like this, and also guys in the Minors.  They want to promote everyone who ever hits a home run at Reading.  The harsh reality is: most of those guys can’t play.  Frandsen looks to be a decent utility man option, but there’s no way you can go into 2013 with him as the starting 3B.  But tonight, Frandsen is a better option than Polanco and gets plunked to give the Phils two early base runners.
***
Chase Utley hitting with two men on, clobbers three HRs foul before walking to load the bases.   Utley seems to be hitting the ball harder more often than last September and by my observation is hitting into a lot of bad luck.  Saberheads would quote his batting average on balls in play and line drive rates right now, so let me go peruse for a second….Utley has a career low .250 BA on balls in play, but is hitting line drives at his highest rate since 2008.  Me and my old scout’s eyes feel VINDICATED.
***
Grand Slam for Ryan Howard who was just cut in my fantasy baseball league.  Whoops.  Phils up 4-1, and here’s a classic situation where Worley needs to keep the Mets down for a while.  The Phillies have given up too many leads this year, sometimes more than one a game.  The pitching has sucked the life out of the building and dugout too much this year.
***
Worley gets out of the 2nd without any damage.  Exactly what the Phillies needed.  Eric Kratz is leading off the inning for the Phillies and he’s another guy who the fans adore.  Kratz has hit some big HRs and has obvious power.  It’s also pretty evident he can be pitched to, especially by right-handers.  That said, the Brian Schneider experience, which has gone on for too long already is certainly over.  Kratz singles to left–he loves hitting at home–according to Wheels and T-Mac.
***
Around the league the Cardinals and Nationals are both losing early.  Stephen Strasburg on the wrong end of a 5-0 score against Miami.  I’m not sure how the Nats can shut down Strasburg and not totally lose the clubhouse.  Not every player in there is going to be around for this “era”–if it happens.  Hard to not put your best team on the field every night.  The fact that it’s partially the brainchild of Scott Boras is no surprise.  Boras gets paid when Strasburg cuts a new deal–he doesn’t get a ring or a World Series share.
***
Dom Brown has been lauded for his approach at the plate since his return from AAA, but he’s always gotten his share of walks and had a decent OBP.  The biggest change I see is that Brown looks more comfortable.  He’s yet to show much power, but when he hits them–they go.  It’s difficult to project what Brown could be at this point.  You could maybe see Shane Victorino type offensive production (.275/18 HRs/40 2Bs) without the defense.  Brown brings a tremendous arm to the OF, but may never play either corner like a natural.   Dom flies out to end the 3rd, and with that I’m going to end the live blog while we’re ahead, 4-1.  Hopefully the Phils can hang on and run the winning streak to five.
***
Probably going to squeeze in a Labor Day Mailbag on Thursday, but if you’re making it a six day weekend, I’ll see you next week to tackle the NFL and these Phils if they keep tacking on wins.
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