Friday, May 29, 2015

Phillies Making Moves While Taking The Day Off

GAME RECAP: No Loss To Report
Phillies enjoyed the rest after being obliterated by the Mets.

  • Hamels went 7 1/3 innings and gave up one run on six hits in his May 18 start vs. Colorado. Hamels also recorded seven strikeouts in the outing.
  • Hamels has been his best during night games this season, posting a 4-1 record and 2.09 ERA in seven starts.
  • Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has a .321 batting average in 56 career at-bats at Citizens Bank Park. That includes four home runs and eight RBIs.
  • When Bettis has started for Colorado, the Rockies are 3-0 on the season. That includes a 6-5 victory over Philadelphia on May 19.

The Phillies will host the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park on Friday to kick off a three-game weekend series between the two National League foes. The opener will mark the fifth meeting between Colorado and Philadelphia this season, with the two splitting a four-game series last week. Cole Hamels is scheduled to get the start for the Phillies, and he has been impressive, posting a 5-1 record and 2.23 ERA in his last seven starts. Colorado will send out right-hander Chad Bettis after pushing back Jordan Lyles' scheduled start. In his previous start against the Giants on Sunday, Bettis went 8 1/3 innings and surrendered only two runs on six hits for his first win of the season.


Now Is Not The Time – Ruben Amaro Jr. made the type of comments no general manager should make, embattled or otherwise. He criticized the customers. Amaro apologized this week for his harsh comments about Phillies fans in a story, but of everything he said in a nearly 20-minute interview with beat reporters on Tuesday at Citi Field, he got this much right: Amaro's comments detracted from the fact that what he said about the organization's prospects is 100 percent correct. It makes no sense to rush them to the big leagues. "Listen, I'm as excited about seeing these guys -- the [Aaron] Nolas, the [Zach] Eflins, the [Roman] Quinns, and some of the other players who are having a lot of success right now -- as any of [the fans]," Amaro said. "But there's a process they have to go through. There's a process and a plan in place." Of course, it has been difficult to trust the Phillies' plan after the past few years. The Phils won a franchise-record 102 games in 2011, but despite one of the highest payrolls in baseball, they have trended downward since. They finished 81-81 in 2012 and 73-89 in each of the previous two seasons. This year's Phillies are on pace to finish 63-99. The Phils' plan in recent seasons was to add complementary pieces here and there and hope that Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz could turn back the clock. But the sentimentality for 2008 died last August, when Pat Gillick became team president. Gillick, who is in the Hall of Fame partially because he built the Blue Jays from the ground up as an expansion team, said the Phillies would rebuild. Gillick also said it would take time. The Phils, he said, would not compete again until 2017 at the earliest. What is happening this season is what rebuilding is. It is a lot of frustration. It is giving players extended opportunities to prove themselves because the organization has nothing to lose by letting them play. It is watching players on one-year contracts like Jerome Williams, Sean O'Sullivan and Chad Billingsley pitch in the rotation while Nola, Eflin and others learn their craft in the Minor Leagues. Amaro got heated this week probably because he has been asked incessantly about Nola, whom the team selected in the first round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. When is Nola coming up? Why don't the Phillies ever promote their prospects when they are young? Nola has made 20 starts in the Minor Leagues. Compare that to the number of Minor League starts made by other former first-round picks out of college before they became established big leaguers: 2006: Tim Lincecum (10th pick, 13 starts); Max Scherzer (11th pick, 30 starts); Ian Kennedy (21st pick, 43 starts); 2007: David Price (first pick, 27 starts); Tommy Hunter (54th pick, 36 starts); 2008: Brian Matusz (fourth pick, 19 starts); Andrew Cashner (19th pick, 39 starts); Wade Miley (43rd pick, 73 starts); 2009: Stephen Strasburg (first pick, 11 starts); Mike Minor (seventh pick, 41 starts); Mike Leake (eighth pick, zero starts); 2010: Matt Harvey (seventh pick, 46 starts); 2011: Gerrit Cole (first pick, 38 starts); Sonny Gray (18th pick, 53 starts); 2012: Michael Wacha (19th pick, 26 appearances, 17 starts). The average of that group is 32.4 Minor League starts. If you remove Leake from the equation because he is an anomaly, the average is 34.7. Sure, Strasburg made just 11 starts in the Minors before his promotion, but no scout has compared Nola to Strasburg (or other aces like Lincecum, Price or Harvey). Many scouts see Nola as a solid No. 3 starter someday. And in regard to the Phillies being slow to promote other young prospects, quite frankly, there has not been a single player in the Phils' system over the past 10-plus seasons that can compare to Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton or Bryce Harper. Besides, the Phillies do not need Nola or Quinn or J.P. Crawford right now. They are not a pitcher or player away from competing for a National League Wild Card spot. If they were, one of those prospects might have been called up already. This season is about the long term. This is about a sustained run of success. Calling up Nola, Eflin, Quinn, Crawford and others before they are ready would not help the Phils achieve that. "Aaron Nola used to pitch at LSU once a week, and he never pitched in the summertime," Amaro said. "When we first drafted him, he wasn't on a five-day rotation; we had to gradually work him in from seven days to six days to five days so he could get used to that routine. "It takes its toll. It's a process, just like anything else. There's a rhyme to the reason. That might not jibe with everybody the way that we're doing it, but I think we're doing it in the best interest of the club and the player." Amaro was right, even if nobody heard it.

Remembering Perfection – A Roy Halladay gem was unlike any other. Most of the dominant pitchers of the mid-2000s -- the Lincecums, Verlanders and Sabathias -- worked like an avalanche, but Halladay was death by 1,000 impossibly precise cuts: eight innings of called third strikes and weak dribblers and exasperated hitters. The phrase "Maddux 2.0" should not be thrown around lightly, but when he was on, Halladay came closer than anyone. And in Miami on May 29, 2010, Doc wasn't just on -- he was perfect. 2010 was Halladay's first season with the Phillies, and he wasted no time terrorizing the National League: In his first two months, he put together four complete games, including two shutouts, while pitching to a 2.22 ERA. A date with the struggling Marlins already seemed like a mismatch on paper ... and then, well, Halladay just decided to make it unfair. To demonstrate, let's play a quick game of "How often will Carlos Ruiz have to move his glove?" (Note: It is not a lot). Doc sat down 11 Marlins in all, and six of those were backwards K's. It was the Platonic ideal of a Halladay start: so ruthlessly efficient that he needed more than 12 pitches in an inning just twice, reaching only seven three-ball counts all night. "I felt like [Ruiz] was calling a great game up until the fourth or fifth, and at that point, I just felt like I'd let him take over," Halladay told after the game. "I'd just go out, see the glove and hit it." The old saying goes that every bid for a perfect game at some point needs that one Great Defensive Play, but in Halladay's case, he was so good that his defense was the only thing that threatened to derail him. In the bottom of the third, both center fielder Shane Victorino and right fielder Jayson Werth started tracking a lazy fly ball in the gap ... and kept tracking it, kept tracking it, and LOOK OUT, GUYS. From there, Doc just put it on cruise control, missing barrel after barrel. Pinch-hitter Mike Lamb gave everybody a scare in the bottom of the ninth, driving one to deep center -- but Sun Life Stadium was a pitcher's dream, cavernous between the gaps, and Victorino tracked it down with relative ease. And at that point, it was all over but for the celebrating. Halladay tossed his perfecto just twenty days after Dallas Braden threw his in Oakland, the shortest such span since the first two in 1880 (!). Amazingly enough, though, baseball would come awfully close to another one just four days later: on June 2, when Armando Galarraga came one missed call short. For Doc, though, it was the cherry on top of a remarkable multi-year run. His time in Philly (and, ultimately, his career) came to an end far too quickly thanks to shoulder problems, but at the height of his powers, he was the very best in the game -- and one of the most uniquely gifted artists the game has seen. 

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now near the bottom of the NL east at 19-30. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance this spring, don’t expect their competitive place in the standings to last. All time, the Phillies are 40-56-0 on this day.

Remembering Roy’s perfection and letting young players develop in the minors… 

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