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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Game 119: Lannan throws a 2-1 fastball to Howard, Phils win (78-41)

The Washington Nationals were absolutely dreadful tonight defensively, Ryan Howard homered, and Roy Oswalt looked much better than last week. The result was an 11-3 victory.

Oswalt threw 7 innings, and Mike Stutes pitched the last 2, throwing 31 pitches. Stutes did not pitch last night, and since there was an off-day Thursday (and one tomorrow), he should be available to go at least one inning tomorrow. No complaints for Manuel tonight.

Ryan Howard's first at-bat came in the first inning with a runner on first and two outs. Lannan fell behind with a 2-0 count, then threw the next pitch nearly over Howard's head. This did not prevent Howard from swinging, who missed. The count was then 2-1, and any Phillies fan who pays a lick of attention realizes that Howard guesses fastball in this count almost every time. Any self-respecting pitcher knows to throw Howard a breaking ball in this situation, because if it's anywhere near the plate, it'll be a 2-2 count.

Lannan threw a fastball right down the middle. Home run, 2-0 Phils lead.

Given the way the Nationals played defense the rest of the night -- 7 of the first 8 Phils' runs were unearned -- the game was over pretty quickly.

The Phillies go for their fifth consecutive series victory when Roy Halladay faces RHP Chien-Ming Wang at 1:35 pm.


Robby Bonfire said...

Oswalt, in his second start back from the infirmary is asked to throw 96 pitches in a rout; Ibanez with his sub .300 composite OBA starts in LF vs. a LHP; and, not the manager's fault, but there must be some availabe AA 3B who would represent an improvement over the trailer trash 3B's with no power and limited on-base consistency, the Phillies are throwing out there every night.

At some point in time (spelled: Playoffs) this enormous ability deficit could come back to haunt the Phillies by way of some opposition 3B actually making a difference in a game with his bat. What a gigantic crater at this critical position this club can never seem to fill. I mean, from Mike Schmidt's all-time best at the position to almost always having the WORST player in the major leagues at the position? I say find a decent 2b and shift Utley over there, you know, a 3B who can hit.

Andy Musser said...

You're right about Ibanez. We've stated multiple times that Ibanez should be in a platoon situation in left field with either Ben Francisco or John Mayberry. Given Mayberry's production and his good defense, a Mayberry/Ibanez platoon is probably the right decision in left field.

Also, when the Phils demoted Dom Brown after the Pence trade, we strongly disagreed with the decision. Brown has been better offensively than Ibanez and is projected to be better in the future, yet he was never given enough PAs this year to allow his BABIP to normalize.

As for the third-base situation, it seems like the Phillies are gambling that Polanco will be healthy by the time the playoffs start. He's had a bad year at the plate, but I don't think there are any third basemen available who would be an upgrade offensively. Defensively, Polanco has been one of the best at his position since the start of 2010 according to UZR.

If the Phillies are convinced that Polanco will he 100% by mid-September, they should be okay at the position. If not, they still have until August 31 to figure it out. In the meantime, I'm just happy that Michael Martinez isn't batting second anymore.

Robby Bonfire said...

Is there a disconnect between the GM and the Mgr? I mean, the GM goes out and acquires Hunter Pence's right-handed bat, as though he has a clue that baseball is a game of percentage strategies and match-ups. But the Mgr. apparently has no idea that he has another right-handed hitting option for LF when a lefty is starting for the opposing team, so that he prefers sticking with his regular lefty-hitting guy out there, washed-up, career brick wall, and all.

Doesn't the GM have any input with his own manager, as regards the obvious and embarrassing gaffs that are going on with the Mgr, like every damnable time the Phillies take the field? What the hell do these two talk about, when they get together? Jennifer Lopez, the stock market, the weather?

Tell you what, I'm the GM, I tell the manager where to make basic adjustments which will help the club win. If the manager complies, he at least gets to finish out the season. If he is bull-headed about taking direction and does not make the recommended positive adjustments - he is GONE, he is NOT rewarded with a two-year contract extension at the age of 67!

I am starting to get really concerned about this GM who is great for the big, center stage contract-signing strokes, but who, like his Mgr., is missing some serious refinement marbles, starting with the fact that it is he, the GM, who is in charge of the day-to-day operation of the ballclub. Frankly, Bruce Ismay did a better job running the Titanic through that ice field.

Scott Graham said...

I think a lot of the problem lies with GMs not wanting their huge contracts sitting on the bench. It makes them look bad. Raul Ibanez's contract is a large reason why this team is "up against their budget". People would clearly be able to point out how bad of an idea it was to sign Raul Ibanez to a three year deal worth so much money after the 2008 season. I mean, Mr. Musser and I, as well as many other people, pointed that out immediately, but that's my reasoning as to why he's still playing.

It's clearly wrong. Ibanez has been pretty dreadful with the exception of some pretty good stretches this season, and there's no way that Dom Brown shouldn't be getting starts over him. I don't necessarily want Brown platooned, but at the very least a Brown/Mayberry or Francisco platoon in left puts a decent outfielder out there, and helps the younger guys progress.

I'm always an advocate for putting the best collection of players on the field, and often wish that RAJ would swallow his pride and let the best players play. However, he's trying to protect his job although I believe it's pretty transparent what he's doing.

Robby Bonfire said...

For a mid-rung team, that would be understandable, Scott. But for a team which just traded some good young prospects for a RHB in a push to win it all this year, it seems to me that the all-out commitment to winning, regardless of any contract situation, should be in place. Is Ibanez so much better vs. righty starters than Mayberry is vs. righty starters? And why cannot LF be a L-R Brown-Mayberry platoon, with Ibanez the "pinch-hitter deluxe," starting right now?

You mean to tell me that RAJ and Manuel get together and actually have discussions along the lines of: "Well, if we farm out Brown, playing Ibanez every day won't make us look so bad where his contract is concerned." So this, it appears is the REAL reason Brown was sent down - for management to cover its back side re Ibanez's contract, nothing to do with Brown "Learning how to play left field" and give us a break with the condescension, Mr. Amaro.

Before RAJ came along, Tom Gordon got a three-year deal, and David Bell got a four-year deal, and got to gum-up 3B all four years with no accountablility descending upon him or the front office for his ineptitude. The stumblebum approach never ends with the Phillies brass, whoever it is.

Long-term contracts to go with short-term thinking doesn't mesh.