Posted tagged ‘Pedro Martinez’

Phillies Clinch

October 2, 2009
Philadelphia Phillies Clinch the N.L. East

Philadelphia Phillies Clinch the N.L. East

It should feel great that the Phillies clinched another playoff birth.  Though, for some reason, I’m just a little anxious.  I guess the only thing that would make me feel great is if I was confident in the Phillies winning a playoff series.

I have significant questions about the Phillies, specifically, their starting pitching and closer slot.  The Phillies boast a solid roster of starting pitchers, especially on paper.  However, the likes of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Pedro Martinez aren’t really pumping out the dominating performances we need to get over the playoff hump.  Lee has been mediocre at best since his strong start here in Philadelphia.  Hamels is wildly inconsistent and hasn’t gotten any run support.  Pedro has pitched ok, but he doesn’t have the ability anymore to crush opponents and win games on his own.  Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ both have looked good, but aren’t top of the rotation guys right now.  In fact, Happ is battling a little bit of the injury bug.  Further complicating things is that the old stand-by, usually good for a solid start and long relief, Jamie Moyer is done for the season with some groin and hamstring issues.  They key to this situation is that the starters need to pull it together.  We need the dominating performances out Lee and Hamels.  Pedro and Blanton need to step it up.  There is nothing else that can be done.  We have to rely on our starting pitching.  If these guys want it bad enough and they should, I think that Lee, Hamels and the crew will prove they are capable of providing dominating playoff performances.

Even scarier is the closer situation.  Brad Lidge, Tyler Walker, Ryan Madson and even Brett Myers will be on the post-season roster.  Yet, we’re not sure who will show up as the closer.  As discussed in previous posts, we think Ryan Madson should be handed the role and be able to prepare like the closer.  Keep Lidge off the post-season roster and let Walker and Myers battle it out for the set-up role.  Whatever happens, the Phillies post-season relies on the bullpen, specifically the closer role.

As I look forward to the playoffs and the determination of the match-ups, I sit and wonder – which Phillies pitching staff will show up for the defense of the World Series title?

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Cliff Lee’s First Loss with the Phillies

August 31, 2009

I guess it had to happen.  He isn’t invincible, I like to think so.  But Cliff Lee was really due for a loss.  After pitching gems to begin his career with the Phillies, Cliff Lee had a horrendous 6th inning this past Saturday night against the Braves.  He pitched well through 5 innings.  My guess is that after pitching deep into his last 5 starts his arm got tired.

A few weeks ago, it was proposed, in a few media outlets, that the Phillies go to a 6 man rotation to help prevent the pitchers from getting tired.  Perhaps, it could be argued that the Phillies are using a 6 man rotation.  Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer have been splitting starts due to rain delays.  I don’t think Lee was tired or anything was wrong.  He just had an off night, it happens. 

Regardless, Cliff Lee has been pitching well and I fully expect that to continue as the Phillies head towards the post season in defense of their World Series title.  

In other Phillies news, Ryan Howard is having his standard end of August/beginning of September “heat-up.”

Victorino Ejected – While in the Outfield

August 10, 2009
Victorino getting his argument on (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

Victorino getting his argument on (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

In a strange twist of events, Shane Victorino was ejected from yesterday’s game against the Marlins, while standing in centerfield.  I don’t get it.  Forget the fact that the Phillies got swept by the Marlins and lost some of their lead in the NL East; it is a bigger problem that it looks like the umpires may be picking on the Phillies.  Standard Philadelphia treatment – it happens to the Flyers and Eagles, why not the Phillies?

Anyway, I would think that since Rodrigo Lopez was about to deliver a pitch, that the umpire would be focused on the pitcher, catcher and batter, not what Victorino was doing in the outfield.  Obviously, Victorino didn’t say anything to the umpire that could be heard, it was a sell-out in Philadelphia, so he probably made some sort of gesture.  If the umpire was doing his job, he wouldn’t have seen it.  Even more interesting is that the other umpires on the diamond were clueless when the home plate umpire went through massive gyrations to throw someone out of the game from 300 feet away.  Maybe Victorino was edging on the umpire earlier in the game and this “gesture” just put it over the edge to warrant an ejection.  The way I see it, the umpire wasn’t doing his job and this ejection is a ridiculous abuse of power.

Now, the aftermath of the ejection, Victorino charging towards the umpire to do some yelling may have been inappropriate, but if he was already ejected, he might as well earn it.  I guess Paul Bako is going to think twice before trying to step into Victorino’s way when he chases down an ump.  Bako was forearmed out of the way.

Lost in this mess of Victorino’s ejection and the Phillies losing streak is that Phillies pitching rotation is in a bit of flux.  Has Jamie Moyer lost his slot in favor of Pedro Martinez?  We’ll find out soon.

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.

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.