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Congrats Soul!! Sunday July 27th, 2008

Posted by Sean in Off-topic.
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I have nothing to say except WHAT A GREAT F*CKING GAME!!

For a while, I’m going to have this site donned in blue in honor of the team.

GO SOUL!!!

GO SOUL!!!

GO SOUL!!!! Sunday July 27th, 2008

Posted by Sean in Off-topic.
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Today at 3:00 Eastern time, your Philadelphia Soul are going to play in Virgin Mobile ArenaBowl XXII down in New Orleans against the San Jose SabreCats. The game can be seen on ABC (WPVI, channel 6). SabreCats are favored.

GO SOUL!!!

GO SOUL!!!

GO SOUL!!!

J.A. Happ Sent Down to Start During All-Star Break Thursday July 10th, 2008

Posted by Sean in JA Happ, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Mike Cervenak, Phillies.
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It was announce on the Phillies game today that the team sent J.A. Happ outright to AAA Lehigh Valley.  They did this because they want him to start while the big team is on the All-Star break.  To replace him, they brought up infielder Mike Cervanek, who will wear number 24.  I doubt he will get many bats.

Scot Rolen Trade Lines Tuesday July 8th, 2008

Posted by Sean in Clearwater Threshers, Detroit Tigers, Phillies, Placido Polanco, Reading Phillies, Scot Rolen, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Trade Lines.
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This is the second edition of a series of posts called “Trade Lines.” For the first edition (and what they are all about, go here).

With the Cardinals coming to town today, I decided to do the trade lines from the last major deal we made with the St. Louis Cardinals, which was shipping out disgruntled third baseman Scot Rolen and nobody pitcher Doug Nickle for infielder Placido Polanco, and pitchers Mike Timlin and Bud Smith. Rolen first came up with the club at the tail end of the 1996 season, and won the Rookie of the Year award for the National League the next year (his first full year). He lasted in Philadelphia until July of 2002, when he was shipped out.

Doug Nickle was somewhat of a journeyman throughout his career. The Phils got him from the Angels in the ’98 offseason for outfielder Greg Jefferies. He did not last long at all for the Cards, because the San Diego Padres claimed him off of waivers in August of 2002. After the Padres, he has pitched for the Angels (again), White Sox and Dodgers AAA teams. He has not appeared in the majors since 2002.

Placido Polanco was the Phillies third baseman immediately after Rolen’s departure, and slid over to second when Doug Bell was “imported” from the Giants in 2003. He lasted until the 2005 deadline (a.k.a. Year 1 of the “Utley Experience”), when he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers for reliever Ugueth Urbina (pronounced oo-GET), and infielder Ramon Martinez. Neither made an impact on the team, nor returned in 2006 (Urbina went to jail, and Martinez left for the Dodgers). So, 3 years after he left, we have nothing left to show for Polanco, though Urbina’s sticky situation is no one’s fault but his own.

Mike Timlin was a solid, 12-year veteran pitcher when the Phillies obtained him (if somewhat unpopular). He had a decent season (giving up a career-best 14 walks), but left as a free agent to the Boston Red Sox after the season, where he rejuvenated his career. We have nothing left to show for him.

Bud Smith (the final player in the deal), never saw the light of the major leagues again after the Cardinals traded him. The reliever was, putting it nicely, one of the majors biggest disappointments this decade. His no-hitter as a rookie in September of 2001 against the Padres is most assuredly his biggest achievement in life. The highest he pitched for the Phillies was AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2002 and 2004. He was largely hurt throughout his short Philly tenure, and pitched sparingly in 2003 for both AA Reading, and High A Clearwater. After 2004, he departed for the Twins, and has since pitched in the Golden Baseball League (independent ball) in 2006 and 2007 for the Long Beach Armada. We got nothing out of him, except for a few minor league strikeouts.

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Where are they now?

Rolen went on to win the 2006 World Series with St. Louis, before being dealt to Toronto after 2007 for fellow third baseman Troy Glaus, where he is currently. Rolen has been hurt several times in his career, and, at age 33, is at nearing the end of his illustrious career.

Nickle retired after 2004 after having being largely anonymous in his brief career.

Polanco, as mentioned, was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 2005. He is still playing for them, and won the 2006 pennant. Earned a place in the all-star game in 2006 as the starting second baseman.

Timlin, now 42, is still pitching for the Red Sox and has been an integral part of the World Series-winning 2004 and 2007 Boston bullpens.

Smith is now out of baseball after pitching in the indy leagues, trying to salvage his once-promising career.

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Trivia Section

Who was the last Cardinal to wear 51 (the former number of fan favorite Willie McGee)?

What the Sabathia Deal Means to the Phillies Monday July 7th, 2008

Posted by Sean in Brad Penny, Bronson Arroyo, C.C. Sabathia, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Greg Maddux, Joe Blanton, Los Angeles Dodgers, Major Leagues, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, Phillies, Randy Wolf, Rich Harden, St. Louis Cardinals.
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If you haven’t heard, the Milwaukee Brewers traded Matt LaPorta and three minor leaguers to the Indians for LHP Carsten Charles Sabathia (better known as C.C.). The main point of this post is to point out how this deal affects the Phillies, and what the team should do about it.

First off, the Brewers picked up one heck of a pitcher, and added him to their already superb rotation, without giving up a major cog. As of writing (7 July, 2008), the 1998 June first-rounder is 4-8, with a 4.34 ERA, 87 K, 28 BB, and a 1.35 WHIP in 91.1 IP. Not his best start, but the 6′ 7″ giant will surely play better in the senior circuit. Traditionally, pitchers switching leagues end up with better stats when they jump to the NL. This is due, in part, to having the pitcher fend for himself at the plate (which is a whole other issue unto itself).

The following graphic is taken from a January 2007 NY Times article, regarding the same topic:

A nice graphic from NY Times depicting a pitcher\'s ERA+ when switching leagues.
A nice graphic from NY Times depicting a pitcher’s ERA and ERA+ when switching leagues.

Also from the same article: “A statistic called E.R.A.+, presented on the Web site baseball-reference.com, adjusts for (league, home ballpark dimensions and other factors) and presents a pitcher’s percentage, either above or below a league’s average. For example, Zito’s 3.83 E.R.A. (in the 2006 season) in Oakland — a good pitchers’ environment — translates to a figure of 116, or 16 percent better than the A.L. average.(…)

Of the 29 pitchers moving to the N.L. from the A.L., their E.R.A.+ figures increased to 110 (10 percent above league average) from 97 (just below average). This smaller shift than in E.R.A. is nonetheless more significant: It indicates that starters of equal caliber are more successful in the less suffocating National League.(…)

Pitchers found moving to the A.L. from the N.L. correspondingly unpleasant — the E.R.A.+ scores of the 28 pitchers decreased to 100 from 113, or to absolute average from healthily above. (The fact that the two groups moved 13 percentage points in opposite directions was purely coincidental.) A fair interpretation, then, is that moving to the A.L. is such a challenge that pitchers, at least temporarily, regress. Take the case of Boston’s Josh Beckett, whose 5.01 E.R.A. rose faster than the homers he allowed.

This proves that Sabathia (already incredibly successful (he won the Cy Young last season, after all)) will only increase his excellent numbers.

___________________________________________________________________

PART II- What does this mean for the Phillies?

The Phightin’s only play the Brewers in one more series this year (Sept. 11-14, in Philadelphia), but that does not mean that they will go unaffected. This will most assuredly affect them in the standings. If, somehow, the Phillies don’t win the division (see ’07 Mets, and the ’64 phold), they can still fight for the wild card. With the Cubs sitting comfortably in first in the Central for the moment, the Wild Card may come down to Milwaukee, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and New York. With their current rotation (as mentioned earlier), Milwaukee has the tiebreaker here. I believe (along with several members on the internet, I’m sure) that, to stay afloat in the volatile NL, that the Phillies need a starting pitcher. And by this, I don’t mean a solid #3 or #4 starter like Kyle Lohse last year. I mean a decent #2 pitcher, or perhaps even an ace (providing the team can afford it).

Over on MLBTradeRumors.com, Bronson Arroyo, Joe Blanton, A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny, Greg Maddux, Randy Wolf, Rich Harden, among others, are listed as potentially available, with Wolf especially linked to the Phillies. Perhaps, if the Phils are willing to part with several prospects, we could see some of these pitchers in red pinstripes?

==UPDATE== (July 8th, 8:15 pm) The Cubs just traded for A’s starters Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin.  The Phillies definitely need to make a move like this NOW.

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Trivia section:

C.C. Sabathia is the reigning AL Cy Young winner. When was the last time a pitcher of this quality (MVP/Cy Young, All Star, and/or Rookie of the Year nomination) was traded away during the season (as always, include the name)?

Happy 4th of July! Friday July 4th, 2008

Posted by Sean in Off-topic.
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Short one today.  Joey Chestnut won the Hot Dog Eating Contest in a “dog-of” (sudden death match), and there were no “reversals of fortunes” that I saw.

Reigning Nathan\'s Hot Dog Eating Contest winner.

J.A. Happ to Start Tomorrow Thursday July 3rd, 2008

Posted by Sean in JA Happ, Johan Santana, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, New York Mets, Phillies.
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J.A. Happ pitching at AA Reading, 2006.  Taken by the author.

J.A. Happ pitching at AA Reading, 2006. Taken by the author.

Comcast SportsNet has announced that the AAA southpaw has been recalled and will be given the ball tomorrow night against the evil Mets. This will be J.A.’s (pronounced “Jay”) second start in the majors. He pitched one game last year going 4 innings, allowing 3 earned runs and struck out 5 batters before being sent back down to AAA Ottawa following the game.

Happ, a third round selection in the ’04 draft, has slowly pitched his way up the organizational ladder, starting with then Rookie affiliate Batavia Muckdogs. Perhaps his best season came in 2005, when he pitched for both Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws and AA Reading Phillies (for only one start). He had a record of 5-4 (getting the win in Reading), a combined ERA of 2.30, combined WHIP of 1.13, 78 strikeouts (eight coming from Reading), and only 28 walks in 78.1 innings.

Happ has been a constant success for the Iron Pigs this season, where success is often hard to find. He owns a record of 5 wins and 6 losses, an ERA of 3.54, 1.27 WHIP, 104 strikeouts (one more than Mets’ starter Johan Santana, by the way), and 38 walks, all in 101.2 innings. He has easily been the ace of the staff. He is the team leader in K’s, second in wins (one behind leader Brian Mazone), sixth in ERA (well behind team leader Stephen Randolph) and WHIP (only .1 points away from Mazone), but is also tied for staff-lead in walks surrendered with Travis Blackley.

TRIVIA SECTION
This is a new thing I’ve decided to do. I’m going to ask a trivia question on every post (hopefully–you guys know how I am with fulfilling promises). The winner will be the first person the correct answer in the comment section.

How many (and name them) current Phillies played for the previous three AAA franchises (Lehigh Valley, Ottawa, and S/WB) at some point in their career (not necessarily with the Phillies)?

Brett Myers loses Pig Debut Thursday July 3rd, 2008

Posted by Sean in Brett Myers, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
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As you may know, Phillies righthander (and former ace) Brett Myers was optioned down to AAA Lehigh Valley this week. His first AAA start since 2002 resulted in a loss to the Keystone State rivals Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Here’s the official news report, courtesy ironpigsbaseball.com:

Brett Myers allowed just three runs on five hits in his first start as a member of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs but the home team suffered a 5-3 setback against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees on Wednesday night. While the length of his time in the Lehigh Valley remains unclear, Myers is expected to take the mound again for Lehigh Valley on Monday, July 7 against Louisville Bats. The Phillies’ Opening Day starter took the loss but looked extremely sharp during his 5.0 inning stint against the second-place Yankees.
The right-hander only allowed two hits over the first four innings of the game. After allowing a lead off double to Yankees 1B Eric Duncan (Ed.’s note: No longer a prospect) in the 2nd, Myers struck out the next two batters he faced and got RF Greg Porter (Not a prospect, either) to ground out to strand the runner in scoring position. At one point, the former 14-game winner retired nine Yankees in a row using his breaking ball primarily as his out pitch.
Brandon Watson gave the latest addition to the IronPigs starting rotation a run in the 4th by drilling his first home run of the season against Scranton/WB starter Jeff Karstens (prospect). It was his first blast since July 23, 2007 in Norfolk while a member of the Columbus Clippers. The Lehigh Valley LF had gone 383 at-bats between homers over the last two seasons.
Myers’ lead though however, would not last more than a half inning as he allowed three runs on a trio of hits in the Yankees’ half of the 5th inning. JD Closser (NP) led off with a walk and would then reach third on a passed ball and a throwing error by Jason Jaramillo. Porter then delivered a single through the pulled in infield to tie the game at 1-1. Justin Christian (NP) then laced a double to right that put two runners in scoring position with only one out in the inning.
Chris Basak (NP) would then drop a softly hit ball into shallow left that gave Scranton/WB their first lead of the game and the visitors still had a speedy runner in Christian standing at third. The centerfielder’s quickness came into play when Myers’ uncorked a wild pitch that got away from Jaramillo and allowed Christian to come home and make it a 3-1 Yankees advantage. The former Phillies closer would retire the next two batters on fly balls and would not come out for the 6th after a 100-pitch outing.
Mike Cervenak helped Lehigh Valley pull to within one in the 6th on single to left to score Rich Thompson who had a ground rule double to center and a stolen base in the frame. Cervenak also stole his 5th base of the season in the inning but was stranded in scoring position after Karstens struck out Andy Tracy and Jon Knott to keep it a 3-2 game.
Then poor defense pushed Lehigh Valley even farther behind as Christian stole a pair of bases in the 7th and then scored on Jaramillo’s second throwing error of the ballgame. A similar play happened in the 8th with Jason Lane (NP) who walked and then took second on a base on balls issued to Duncan. On ball four to Duncan, reliever Stephen Randolph threw a wild pitch and the veteran Lane took off and headed to third base. Jaramillo then over threw Cervenak at the hot corner and Lane trotted home to make it a 5-2 Scranton lead.
The Lehigh Valley catcher tried to atone for his mistakes in the field by pounding an RBI double in the 9th that scored Knott from first base. But Yanks’ lefty Billy Traber retired Oscar Robles and Mike Rouse to end the game and hand the IronPigs their fifth straight loss against their in-state rivals.