Posted tagged ‘JA Happ’

Phillies Bullpen Woes

September 25, 2009
Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson

Brad Lidge, the perfect closer from last season, has 11 blown saves.  Yet, Charlie Manuel keeps giving him opportunities to regain his form, because there isn’t anyone else to fulfill the role.  Ryan Madson has thrived as a set-up man last season and currently.  Brett Myers isn’t healthy enough to perform the closer role that he successfully manned a few years back.  Tyler Walker, a former Giants closer, could hold down the fort, but I really haven’t seen him close a game or pitch a tight inning since he has been with the Phillies.  None of the other relievers on the roster have the mentality or the power to close out games.  In fact, there is a rumor flying around that J.A. Happ could be the closer.  I’m sure Happ can close games, but a promising starting pitcher with some nagging injuries doesn’t the mental games that being a closer would bring. The hole at the closer position is going to be a huge problem come playoff time.

Quite frankly, the pressure is now heavily upon the starting pitching to provide at least 7 full innings of work.  Also, the offense will feel the pressure to provide significant run support for the starting pitching knowing that their bullpen is faltering.  Conversely, the opposing teams will do everything they can to get to the much maligned Phillies bullpen.  Having this glaring weakness on this Phillies team could not only be an issue dealt with each game, but could be extremely detrimental to entire psyche and mental state of this Phillies baseball team.

A simple solution, that I am not sure is the right one, would be to install Madson as the closer.  I think he could easily handle this duty if he is afforded the opportunity to prepare like a closer from the physical to mental aspects of the game.  Each game the Phillies go out and play without a designated closer, it supports each member of the bullpen to NOT have the mentality to close a game.  By designating Madson the closer, he’ll know and the rest of the team will know that Madson is their guy and each player can prepare for their roles appropriately.  Will it happen?  I doubt, I think we are stuck with some significant bullpen issues heading into a tough playoff field.

Happ “Wows” the Crowd in Philadelphia

August 6, 2009
Phillies Pitcher, JA Happ (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)

Phillies Pitcher, JA Happ (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)

Phillies rookie pitcher JA Happ comes through with a dominating complete game shut-out of the Colorado Rockies.  He gave up only 2 walks and 4 hits, while striking out 10 batters.  He also got his first career extra base hit.  This performance was all while the rumors swirl that Happ will be in the bullpen come next week to make room for Pedro Martinez.

JA Happ, a soon to be PhilaTude favorite, is in the top ten in the National League among ERA leaders and has thrown two shut-outs in his rookie year.  Even more impressive than his stats is that he was throwing fast balls over 90 miles per hour last night deep into the 9th inning.  It worries me that the Phillies will allow Jamie Moyer, with his over 5 ERA continue to have a regular spot in the rotation in favor of Happ.  I’ve read and heard that Moyer isn’t a strong option out off the bullpen.  So, don’t put Moyer in the pen, place him on the DL and then reactivate when you can expand the roster.  Hopefully, Condrey and Romero will be back soon to solidify the bullpen.  

I hope to see JA Happ remain in the rotation.  Of course, this argument could me moot if Pedro doesn’t come through.

The PhilaTude Favorites

August 6, 2009
PhilaTude

PhilaTude

Mentioned over many of my blog post are Philadelphia athletes that are our favorites.  How does one become a PhilaTude favorite?

Here are the criteria: 

1)       Be a current member of a Philadelphia sports team (under contract, disabled list is acceptable)
2)       Always put the team first over personal goals (as judged by me)
3)       Always compete at 100% or better (as judged by me)
4)       Never get into any trouble off of the field or embarrass themselves or team in public (Chase Utley broke this rule, otherwise he would be a perennial PhilaTude favorite)
5)       Exhibit PhilaTude – they must love their Philadelphia team and be proud of Philadelphia

The current roster of PhilaTude favorites are: 

1)       Mike Richards of the Flyers
2)       Stewart Bradley of the Eagles
3)       Dan Klecko of the Eagles
4)       Shane Victorino of the Phillies
5)       Ryan Howard of the Phillies
6)       Nick Cole of the Eagles 

Potential PhilaTude Favorites:

1)       Ryan Parent
2)       Chris Pronger
3)       JA Happ
4)       Andre Iguodala

Previous PhilaTude favorites were: 

1)       Brian Dawkins
2)       Sheldon Brown until he went crazy about his contract
3)       Derian Hatcher
4)       Hugh Douglas
5)       Troy Vincent

Thoughts on the criteria?  Thoughts on the current roster of PhilaTude favorites?

Leave a comment or send us an e-mail philatudeblog @ gmail.com

Phillies Grab Cliff Lee

July 30, 2009
Cliff Lee (McIsaac, Getty)

Cliff Lee (McIsaac, Getty)

The trade of Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson and Jason Knapp for the 2008 Cy Young award winner, Cliff Lee, and an outfielder, Ben Francisco, should easily stabilize the Phillies pitching rotation and almost make them a lock to come out of the National League and play for the World Series.  Most people wanted Roy Halladay as opposed to Cliff Lee, but the cost for Lee was significantly less and he brings almost as much as Halladay would have.  

Jason Donald, a shortstop, wasn’t going to crack the Phillies line-up for a few years because of Jimmy Rollins, making him dispensable.  Carlos Carrasco, a strong pitcher who lacks intensity and consistency, became expendable with the emergence of young pitching talent Kyle Drabek, Kyle Kendrick and JA Happ.  Jason Knapp is a hard throwing 18 year-old prospect that could develop as a solid reliever or even starting pitcher, but the Phillies could grab another one of those type prospects next season.  Finally, Lou Marson may have been the only player that could cause a hole in the Phillies organization.  Marson, a catcher, was the heir to the duties behind home plate for the Phillies.  Keep in mind; the Phillies have done a solid job filling the catcher hole with a middle talent veteran, Carlos Ruiz.  The Phillies will be all right at catcher without Marson.  From my perspective, the Phillies gave up nothing to get Cliff Lee, so this trade was a no brainer.  In fact, the Phillies kept their three best minor league prospects – Dominic Brown, Michael Taylor and Kyle Drabek. 

When I saw the Phillies put together the package for Cliff Lee with the Indians, I thought they were trying to get the Blue Jays to drop their asking price for Halladay.  I guess I was wrong OR the Blue Jays are very stubborn, pricing themselves out of the market for moving their high salaried player.  Regardless, the Phillies got a high level pitcher.

With the acquisition of Lee, this does bring up some issues with the Phillies current pitching rotation.  Obviously, Cole Hamels remains your number 1 starter with Cliff Lee assuming the number 2 spot.   This leaves a few pitchers for three spots – Pedro Martinez, JA Happ, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, Rodrigo Lopez and Antonio Bastardo.  Looking at this list, Bastardo either goes back to the minors or pitches out of the pen.  Lopez can make his last start tonight and return to pitching out the pen or head to the triple A.  Moyer leads the Phillies in wins and is a solid veteran presence.  Joe Blanton has excellent experience and has pitched well.  JA Happ, a rookie, has pitched some impressive games and looks like he should be a rotation guy.  Who knows what to do with this rotation?  With a four man rotation heading into the playoffs, assuming that Pedro gets his form back, you send out Hamels, Lee, Martinez and Blanton and I guess if I needed a fifth starter, it would have to be JA Happ.  I think Jamie Moyer is just going to break down by the end of the season and players will figure out how to hit his junk.  Luckily, I am not the pitching coach or manager of the Phillies, so I won’t have to deal with these decisions.  However, I do get to complain or comment on the decision.

The Phillies went out and made a great move to help their ball club.  I look forward to all the great things to come this season.

Weekend Home Runs

July 27, 2009
Chase Utley Goes Yard

Chase Utley Goes Yard

After a disappointing start to the Phillies’ series with the St. Louis Cardinals, the “Fightins” came back with two powerful wins, including a 4 homerun outburst in yesterday’s game.  In fact, Jimmy Rollins, void of anything resembling his former self of the last three seasons, went yard in back to back games, with a grand slam just to prove he still has it.  Of course, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez got their turns to hit the long ball. 

Regardless of all the homeruns and power hitting, it is quite satisfying to know that the Phillies can bounce back from a tough loss.  Equally comforting is that the bottom of the pitching rotation got the job done over the last two games.  Even the bullpen has slightly steadied – of course with big leads, it really doesn’t matter. 

The Phillies are still in negotiation with the Blue Jays for the Roy Halladay services.  It appears the Blue Jays are asking for the farm, when the Phillies want to only give up the barn.  Our take here at Philatude is – you have to do whatever it takes to win another World Series.  I’d be satisfied giving up prospects now to win another championship.  If it means overpaying with prospects to get a pure number 1 pitcher, I would do it.  Imagine a rotation of Hamels, Halladay, Moyer, Blanton and a shadow of his former self, Pedro Martinez heading down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs.  I am assuming that JA Happ has to go to the Blue Jays for Halladay.  It would be a tough rotation to get any traction on and put together decent consecutive games.  Simply put – the Phillies should get Halladay to give them the best shot at winning the Series.

Unless a monumental collapse occurs, the Phillies should be in control of their destiny.

Pedro – Is this a good thing?

July 16, 2009
Pedro Martinez (Photo by:  ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS)

Pedro Martinez (Photo by: ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS)

If you said to me 6 years ago that Pedro Martinez signed with the Phillies, I would have been ecstatic.  It would be the first time the Phillies would have a number 1 starter since Kurt Schilling.  If you told me Pedro signed with the Phillies 3 years ago, I would have been mildly pleased knowing we got a pitcher that can throw 7 solid innings and win 15 games. Now that the Phillies signed Pedro at age 37 in 2009, I’m indifferent.  

You see, I don’t think he is an upgrade, pitching wise, to the Bastardo or Lopez slot in the rotation.  His experience and apparent desire to put his failures with the Mets behind him do give him an added sense of motivation and provides the Phillies with some additional leadership.  The knocks on Martinez are that he loves the limelight and could be a thorn to a very tight Phillies locker room.  The current Phillies will be happy to allow Martinez the spot light, while they also won’t let him hurt their locker room.  They are too proud and tough. 

Here’s the problem – I don’t think the Phillies can rely on Pedro to plug the hole in their pitching rotation.  He is going to make a few minor league starts to get back to game playing mode and then appear for the Phillies in August.  What if Lopez and/or Bastardo have great outings between now and then?  What if Martinez falters in his return?  There is too much unknown – but the important thing is that the Phillies use the best pitchers, not necessarily the big time name or the one with the biggest paycheck.

An interesting thought I had a few days ago during the Pedro Martinez courting was that with the addition of Pedro, does that mean that JA Happ is now available in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays for Roy Halladay?  I saw this thought a few times in yesterday’s and today’s paper and on Philly.com.  This could get interesting – however, I think the current Phillies staff, bolstered by a revived and strong bullpen, could easily provide the necessary fire power to get the Phillies back to the Series.

Phillies Head into the All-Star Break Winners in 8 of 9

July 13, 2009
JA HAPP

JA HAPP

Surprisingly, the inconsistent Phillies won 8 of their last 9 and returned to their tough, resilient and determined style of playing ball.  This weekend’s sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates featured strong pitching, both from starters and relievers, a come from behind victory and offensive prowess from all players, including their lower line-up hitters.  

Still impressive is J.A. Happ.  I was concerned he would be inconsistent and timid during some of his starts.  He has been one of the Phillies best pitchers and a guy that should be trusted on the mound.  He pitched a solid game yesterday and got the needed run support from his teammates.  Happ will be a mainstay in the Phillies rotation.

So, now that the All-Star break is here, the Phillies have a chance to reflect on their “up and down” first half of the season.  Granted, they are in first place by 4 games, but imagine if they didn’t have that ridiculous home field slump – they could be up by 10 games in the division and have the best record in baseball.  There is nothing wrong with striving more.  Jimmy Rollins’ play is still concerning.  He has hit better, but still doesn’t have his game back to last season’s form.  I think he is on cruise control and relying too heavily on the fact that he has been a MVP.  He needs to play with the same style and determination that got him to the MVP level.  With a revamped Rollins, a healthy Ibanez and a rested and relaxed team after the All-Star break, the Phillies have the opportunity to repeat as champs.

Of course, if the Phillies sign Pedro Martinez (so the rumor goes), all bets are off.