Monday, September 22, 2008
Clearly Howard is turning into a clutch player down the stretch for the Philadelphia Phillies and he has homered his way into talks now for the NL MVP. Fortunately for him though it might be easier than he thinks to win the award for the second time.
Most of his critics argue that he is only hitting .249 on the season and that his defense is less than desirable even at this point in his career, but can we discount the fact that he single handily has put this team on his back and carried them to what appears to be a playoff berth.
Howard is currently hitting .348 in the month of September with 9 homers and 27 RBIs. Not bad in 69 at bats.
His contenders for the MVP award on the other hand, might have much better overall numbers but they are struggling to stay in contention if not out of it already.
Albert Pujols is having a stellar year. Hitting .349 for the season with 34 home runs and 106 RBIs. How can we dismiss the fact though that his team in a mere 5 games over .500 and out of the playoff hunt sitting 14.5 games back.
Carlos Delgado is having a monster end to the season as well. Hitting .361 in the month of September with 7 homers and 17 RBIs, he has managed to come up big in some clutch situations for the Mets as they continue to fight for a playoff spot.
David Wright is another name that looms in the MVP race. Hitting .297 on the season, Wright has a respectable 32 home runs and 118 RBIs but will probably fall short once again because his numbers aren't as glaring as Delgado's at this point in the season.
So why will Howard win the MVP?
Ryan Howard should and will win the MVP for the following reasons.
1. Howard leads the league in Home Runs by 8 and by the end of the week could break 50.
2. Howard's 141 RBI's is 23 higher than any of the MVP contenders.
3. Despite Howard's poor batting average, he has managed to turn it on when his team needed and is hitting .282 since July 1st.
4. Howard has picked his entire offense up and carried them towards what appears to be a NL East title baring the outcome of the last 6 games of the season.
5. Finally Howard continues to be a team player despite the fact that the foolish Philadelphia ownership refuses to acknowledge the lasting potential of this offensive phenom. Howard has continued to play the good guy as Philadelphia Execs have yet to extend his contract.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Well in the midst of an All-Star break, the Phillies acquired Joe Blanton from the Oakland Athletics, demoted and then brought back up starter Brett Myers, and shaken up the lineup on more than one occasion to try to spark the offense. Unfortunately none of this has worked so far.
Chase Utley has all but disappeared from the lineup with a .243 batting average and only 5 RBIs this month, it looks like the MVP three peat could be in jeopardy if he doesn't snap out of it quick.
Jimmy Rollins is slowly becoming a poor MVP as he was benched for the second time this season because of his inability to take the game seriously. Especially after being ridiculed heavily for his inability to score from first in Sunday's loss to the Marlins.
Manager Charlie Manuel has managed to get his team in such a funk that they seem to be disinterested in competing. At this point he appears to be over-managing the games in hopes of getting lucky. Unfortunately for the fans, Manuel isn't all that good at managing regularly, so the idea of over-managing is scary.
He's appears to be so lost that after benching Rollins for the game on Thursday, he had him pinch hit against Billy Wagner who Rollins has never connected off of. If he was planning on using Rollins at all as a pinch hitter, the appropriate time would have been in the eighth against Aaron Heilman with two men on instead of Jason Werth who struggles against right handed pitching.
Manuel is floundering at this point and appears unable to motivate a team that appears to have let MVP awards and a first place lead get in their heads. The Phils need to snap out of it quick, and it's up to Charlie to make it happen.
The only bright spot would be Ryan Howard who has officially swung his way out of his slump. With a .308 BA so far in July, Howard has hammered 9 home runs and 20 RBIs, bringing his season average up to .234.
Needless to say, this weekend's series against the Atlanta Braves is key to getting the team back on track. With the Mets heading to St. Louis and Florida over the next week, the Phils should have the opportunity to take back the NL East lead, but they will have to earn it. Anyone who is banking on another Mets collapse is out to lunch and should probably come back to reality.
Only time will tell..
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
After a pitiful showing at the end of June against the American League teams. The Phils hoped to bounce back from their 3-9 interleague stint and looked forward to getting back to playing National League teams. Last week they amazed us with a strong showing in Atlanta, sweeping the Braves in convincing fashion. Friday night continued to run as they took the first game from the Mets in their four game series. Then things turned once again.
The Phils have lost four straight after last night's shutout loss to the Cardinals. That game marked the third time the Phils had been shutout in their own building this season. Losing ground in the standings to both the Marlins and the Mets, the Phils now cling to a 1.5 game lead in the NL East over both Florida and New York.
So what is the problem in the City of Brotherly Love?
On June 1, the Phils had a commanding lead in the NL East with a record of 33-25. Eight games over .500 and looking dominant over divisional rivals. A little over a month later, they stand at 48-43, only 5 games over .500 and watching their control of the division slowly slip away.
Is it lack of control by the manager?
Charlie Manuel seems to have been unable to control not only Brett Myers pitching but also his mouth, as he spouted off about not being committed to starting after being sent to the minors. Manuel seems to have lost something with the players as well this season. As the team seems to be in la-la land most of the time and not truly having fun as the game should be played.
And who can forget the hypocritical move he made this week by packing it in against the Mets on Monday, and pulling his all-star second basemen in the sixth while down by eight. Unfortunately the Phils came one run short of tying that game maybe Manuel should bench himself for giving up, just as he did with his MVP earlier this season.
Is it the players?
No one thought that Chase Utley would be able to maintain the numbers that he was posting at the beginning of the season all year. After a long hitless streak, he seems to have worked out whatever ailed him in June and looks to be back to form in July.
The rest of the team though seems to be leaking like a siv.
- Pat Burrell's number have slowly started to drop off as the season progresses. At the end of April Pat stood with 25 RBIs and has only 29 in the 2 plus months since.
- Jimmy Rollins seems to be stuck on the idea of being the MVP and not focusing on what got him there. While his steals are remaining steady. His average and power numbers are down from last season, and has only 29 RBIs thus far.
- Ryan Howard seems to be the all or nothing player for the Phils. His average is up from earlier in the season, and his on base percentage is climbing back but he is on pace to destroy the strikeout record as he has 124 a week before the break. Howard appears to either strikeout or score runs, no middle ground.
Is it the GM?
Phillies fan love to point fingers at the General Manager in these types of situations, especially this close to the trade deadline so it's not possible to let Pat Gillick off without a second look.
The Phils in obvious need of another starter have send C.C. Sabathia and now Rich Harden, both get dealt to teams before the All Star break. This race for starting pitching will only heat up as the trade deadline draws near and if Gillick doesn't do something soon, the Phils could wind up with another third or fourth starter on their team instead a solid two to back up Hamels.
There are many things that we can look to for the Phils recent struggles. A collection of all isn't going to win any championship and is now threatening to stop them from winning the division. It's time to right this ship, and the All Star break couldn't come at a better time.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Opening up their week against the AL East leading Boston Redsox proved only that the have one prominent pitcher in their five man rotation as Cole Hamels shut down the Red Sox offense. Hamels allowed 8 hits and 2 runs as the Phils offense hit early and often and put up 8 runs against Bartolo Colon who had to leave the game after four innings because of back spasms caused by a ridiculous looking at bat. Rollins connected for a first inning home run and Howard connected for two in the 6 run rout of the AL leading Bosox.
Tuesday night, the Phils faced one of the Red Sox top young pitchers in Jon Lester and it proved to be to much for the Phightins. The Phils managed 7 hits off Red Sox pitching but no runs. Boston on the other hand managed to score 2 runs off starting pitcher Jamie Moyer and tacked on one more run later in the game to cap off a 3-0 win to tie the series at one.
The Phils would send Kyle Kendrick to the mound on Wednesday to try and win the series. Kendrick though wouldn't bring his best stuff to the afternoon rubber match. Boston managed to tag Kendrick for four runs in the first and after allowing two more runs in the third, Kendrick was pulled and the rout was on. The Phils managed to fight back just a bit, but fell short and lost the series and the game by a score of 7-4. Chase Utley played all three games of this series and went without a hit.
The Phils would have on off day on Thursday and would host the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim. Unfortunately for the Phils they seemed to be in space throughout the weekend as the dropped all three games to LA. The Phils only managed to score five runs in the series and allowed 15. This week has proven that the Phils will need to look to the trade market to improve if they will look to win a World Series against one of these AL opponents.
In losing five straight the Phillies have managed to continue to cling to a one run lead in the NL East. The head on the road for the rest of their inter league stint and they visit Oakland and Texas. The Phils will have to have a positive west coast road trip, as they head down to Atlanta before the come back to Philly to face the Mets for four games over fourth of July weekend.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Last night the "Nation" invaded it's latest city as the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox opened a three game set of inter-league play in Philly on Monday night. The game featured the Phils ace, Cole Hamels against an obviously out of shape Bartolo Colon.
The Sox have been facing the injury bug as of late and entered the series without Big Papi, Daisuke, Curt Schilling and Kevin Youklis so the idea that the Phils were facing the "real" Sox would be brought up numerous times throughout the night.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the Phils offense put everyone's mind to rest as it took off right from the get go.
Jimmy Rollins started the game off quick with a lead off home run that quieted many of the visiting Red Sox fans who tried to out cheer the Philadelphia natives. Three batters later, Ryan Howard hit an opposite field shot to extend the lead to 3-0 before the end of the first. The Phils would add another run in the third inning off Ryan Howards second home run of the night.
Hamels proved to be a strong ace for the staff and didn't allow a run to the Sox potent offense until the fifth inning when Dustin Pedroia and JD Drew went back to back bringing the score to 4-2. That would be all the Sox would muster against Hamels though who went 7 strong innings for the Phils.
Philadelphia's offense would all but put the game away in the sixth as the Phils put four more runs on the board against Mike Timlin and capped off a series win in what many are calling a potential World Series Preview.
Although the Phillies probably won't face the "real" Red Sox during this home stand as many of their stars face injuries, they are making a strong statement for their push to the playoffs. Of course they still have two games left against the Sox and then take on the Angels in the weekend series, so time will tell if this team has what it takes.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Friday night, the Phils not only continued their offense streak from the week that saw them average 12 runs a game against Rockies, but also saw a shed of light from pitcher Brett Myers. After giving up three runs in the first inning to the Marlins, Myers settled down nicely and pitched eight strong innings striking out 11. The Phils offense managed 10 runs against the Marlin's starter Mark Hendrickson, and two more against the pen. Friday moved the Phils into first by a half game over the fish. Unfortunately the lead would only last a day.
Saturday, Cole Hamels looked to recover from potentially his worst start of his career the earlier in the week, in which he only went four runs. The Marlins had other plans and in five and two thirds innings of work scored seven runs off Hamels. The Marlin's Ricky Nolasco became the first pitcher in a week to hold the Phils offense in check and only allowed two earned runs in six and two thirds. The Phils would only manage one more run and dropped their first game in five and relinquished the NL East lead once again.
Luckily for the Phils, Sunday would prove to be a step back in the right direction. Jamie Moyer took the mound for the Phils as they honored Mike Lieberthal at Citizen's Bank Park, who became a Phillie for one more day, just long enough to retire. Moyer, struggled early for the Phils and by the third innings was in a 5-1 hole. The Phils managed to crawl back into the game though with home runs by Chase Utley, who now extends the league lead to 20, and Geoff Jenkins who hit his fifth dinger of the season. It was in the seventh inning though that Pat Burrell's two RBI double would score the eventual game winning runs and secure first place once again for the Phils.
The Phils will host the Cincinnati Reds this week for four games. Ken Griffey Jr. comes in with 599 home runs as he looks to break into the 600 club, while Chase Utley leads all NL Allstar vote getters and looks to continue his home run lead.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Although they managed to get solid starting pitching out of both Adam Eaton and Brett Myers, the offense couldn't muster more than three runs a game.
Friday, Eaton went deep into the game and it cost the Phillies as he pitched 8 innings giving up two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth after earlier coughing up a fifth inning home run to Hunter Pence. The Phils offense managed to come within one run in the top of the ninth, but Shane Victorino flied out to end the game with runners on second and third.
Saturday's game ended in even more disappointing fashion as Brett Myers gave up four runs to the Astros again only going six innings for the Phils. For the second night in a row the Phils struggled to crack the pitching but in the ninth inning managed to plate two runs to bring the game within one run. Unfortunately for the Phils, the game ended with another Victorino fly out, except this time it was with only one out but Pedro Feliz attempted to score the tying run on the fly out and the game ended in a double play off a excellent throw by Darin Erstad.
Fortunately for the Phils, the offense showed up on Sunday. With Cole Hamels on the mound, the game appeared to be a lock as Hamels was ridding a 19 inning scoreless streak. Hamels though didn't bring his best stuff to Houston and was rocked for six runs in four innings. It looked like there would be no way to crack this Houston team until the fifth inning as the Phils started an eleven run two inning rally and piled on 15 runs total. The bullpen pitched strong, not allowing another Astro to score thus completing the series for the Phils with a 15-6 win.
Monday the Phils head home and face the Colorado Rockies for three games. The Rockies have placed key players on the DL as of late, including just recently Matt Holliday.
The Phils now sit 2.5 games back in the NL East still tied for second with Atlanta behind the surprising Florida Marlins.