Sunday, October 02, 2005

Too much to ask

The Phillies did their part, sweeping the Nationals and putting themselves in position to play Monday for the wild-card berth.

But it was too much to expect the Chicago Cubs, who had nothing to play for, to sweep the Astros in Houston.

And so it goes. Another baseball season comes and goes with no playoffs in Philadelphia.

Many fans will be happy that the Phils were in it to the end. More of you will be upset that this season ended as so many others have.

In the office tonight, we were looking back to games that the Phillies should have won that could have turned the tide. Obviously, the biggest one was against the Astros on Sept. 7, when the Phillies blew a 6-5 lead in the ninth on a Craig Biggio two-out, three-run homer off Billy Wagner. It completed a three-game sweep and was the Phillies 12th straight loss to Houston.

If you feel like tormenting yourselves some more, send me a list of other games the Phils should have won. If not, tell me what moves the Phillies need to make this off-season and we will do a poll in the Sports section to rank their priority.

In the meantime, the Flyers are ready for your support.


At 10:24 AM, Blogger csik said...

Without question, Monday, September 26th. I was one of the 14 or so people that stuck around after the rain delay to watch that horror show in its entirety. Forget alleged slugger Burrell's mighty check swing to end the game w/ Chase in scoring position. Im still wondering why Manuel used his inept middle-relievers (Urbina, Madson, etc.) in that fatal 8th inning. Billy Wagner one of the top 2 closers in baseball? Use him like he is. Torre has used Mariano in countless 8th innings in critical games when it gets down to the wire. The loss of that very critical game and, for that matter, the season fall square on the shoulders of good 'ol Cholly...not that it matters to me much anyway. It is just part of the automatic disappointment associated w/ this current Phillies team. But what else should I expect from a team whose playoff appearances mirror the frequency of Haley's Commet (8 since 1885)?

At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I said in my Friday post, went to RFK Stadium in Dc to rrot for the Phils. I loved what I saw when watching Rollins, Utley, Howard qand even Burrell. Billy W. struck out the side in the ninth, totally overmatching the offense-challenged Nats. It was thrilling to see these guys show guts and fight until the end. It just goes back to their 0-fer against Houston.

if (a big if) they can get out from under some of those contrcts, I think it is housecleaning time. We can finish out of the money for a lot less money. Keep Chase, Jimmy, Ryan and (i guess) Pat. Make Madson a starter, and for God's sake, don't send him to winter ball. Let Billy go. the sad fact is that this bunch isn't good enough to win 90 and go deep into the postseason.

Oh, and fire Ed Wade.

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A reader brought this game up on my site: the second game of the Nationals double-header in August. Manuel brings in Urbina for the second time that day and the third time in 24 hours. Urbina blows it and the Phils blow a chance to win the series. That was a pretty dumb loss.

At 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know its the trendy pick but the game on 9/7 was the worst in my mind. Painful.

As far as off-season moves, I think it has to be pitching. Hopefully Thome can be traded for a pitcher. I hate to see him go, by all accounts he seems to be a great guy, but I just don't see how he and Ryan Howard can co-exist.

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Justin, Monday, September 26th was the one I felt let me down the most. It was everything I have come to expect from the Phillies over the past 10 years. Bad managerial decisions; bringing Urbina into crucial game and then leaving him in there even though he was completly ineffective (it reminded me of Fergosi bringing in Mitch Williams in the sixth game of the world series when everyone knew (except the manager) his arm was shot); and the non existent clutch hitting from the heart of the line up with runners on base(Abreu and Burrell. And they wonder why the fans have lost hope.

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


1. Fire Manuel, hire Leyland.
2. Trade Jim Thome for a sharp, young 3B, and a quality starter.
3. Cycle Padilla to the pen as a fireman, and see if he can be a closer.
4. Move Madsen to starter. He will augment Wolf, Myers, Lidle, and Lieber. Let Wagner go, as he has no interest in staying here. Keep Urbina as the closer.
5. Continue CF by committee: Michaels, Victorino, and Lofton.
Rollins, Utley and Howard, plus a new 3B, and a new catcher, will cure what ails the Phils.
6. One more starter to help Randy Wolf will ice the cake.

At 5:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Jim Jenks "Moves to Make list:
1) Remove Ed Wade
2) Remove Manuel
3) Let new people get Thome a good job in American League as DH
4) Parley that into a third baseman.
5)Start working Vittorino with Lofton
6) Keep Wagner at all costs
7) Shore up middle relief
And the #1 thing the Phils can do:
Get a starter that is an ACE.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger Steve Baker said...

Remember opening game? Lieber pitched a gem, Worrell blew it. Worrell stuck around to blow quite a few more. They all counted.

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know this was a while ago but games in april count as much as games in september. the phils had a lead on 4/8 to the cardinals. aaron fultz came in and walked in the tying and go ahead runs. that was a painful game to watch.

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the game that hurt the most was the game that the led the mets 4 to 2 going into the 8th and manuel took out Myers and put in I think Madson and the mets scored 4 runs and won the game

I think with utley howard rollins abreau and Burrell micheals the phils have the nucleus ofa good team for a long time

I would trade Thome to the yankees who have the money and can always use a lefthanded dh for the 3rd baseman that is supposedly a top prospect( forget his name)

Get the BEST pitcher available in free agency no matter what the cost

Send bell to kc (as conlin hinted at for another reliuef pitcher

Keep Urbina Madson and Wagner and have your starters pitch 7 yes I said 7 innings

I'm upbeat about the phillioes and can't wait till 2006

Terry Shriver

At 12:51 PM, Blogger JDB said...

About a week ago I started to look back through the schedule for tough losses that would come back to haunt the Phils in the likely event they came up short by a game or two, but I had to stop because there were just too many and I couldn't bear the pain of reliving them. I had forgotten about the early games Worrell had blown, while Charlie kept trotting him out there like a little league coach trying to build up a kid's confidence. Luckily, I fell asleep on the couch on 9/26 when the Phillies were leading in the 8th inning and did not wake up until after the game was over. I think God was sparing me from a certain apoplectic seizure.

The Phils' off-season priorities should be:

1. Re-sign Billy Wagner. Before the World Series. That will signal to everyone that the club is serious about winning.

2. GM. Let go of Ed Wade. If needed to re-sign Wagner, this should switch places with #1 above. I heard Brian Cashman will be looking for a new position soon, and he would be a great addition.

3. Catcher. Championship teams are strong up the middle. Lofton/Michaels was a solid combination (although I think Kenny should have played even more than he did). Add Shane Victorino to the mix in center and coming off the bench and look out. Rollins and Utley - nothing else needs to be said. Lieberthal and Pratt? Not only was Lieberthal hurting the team at the plate until the final few weeks, but he was costing the team in the field by failing to throw out runners (the Phils had to have the worst % of runners thrown out) and by failing to call a good game behind the plate. I recall many games when Phillies' pitchers had their good stuff to blow away hitters, then they would throw something off-speed and let the hitter catch up to them. The best and most recent example is to compare Marlon Byrd's last two at-bats off of Billy Wagner. No way could Byrd touch Wagner's fastball, but on Saturday he managed to hit a double against Wagner' slider. On Sunday, Wagner blew Byrd away with nothing but gas! Pratt is a solid back-up who is a team leader who has played in a World Series, so he should stay for that reason alone.

5. Keep both Jim Thome and Ryan Howard. I love both of these guys. If Thome can produce in the Spring, he should be the starter. He is such a great guy. Howard will be a real threat coming off the bench and will be able to give Thome some rest. Thome will be undervalued until he demonstrates he can still play anyway. Thome came up as a third baseman. Hmmmm. (See below.)

5. Third base. David Bell's fielding was tremendous at times, but he also had some critical errors that left the team down. He struggled at the plate almost all year and hit into so many rally-killing double plays I lost count. When he would come up with one out and runners on first and second or bases loaded, I would pray for him to strike out so someone else would have a chance to drive in runs. He is a tough competitor and was clutch down the stretch, but he was simply too inconsistent. If David Bell stays, he should only be allowed to bat against LHPs. Jim Thome came up as third baseman - can he get in good enough shape to play third next year? If not, there has to be a third baseman available.

6. Lock Chase Utley into a lifetime deal.

7. Keep Kenny Lofton. He showed he can still play well and was clutch all year and even more clutch down the stretch. When he and Jimmy Rollins set the table, the Phils scored runs and won games. Shane Victorino should be up in the big leagues sharing time with Lofton. Manager Gene Lamont (AAA WB-Scranton) says Victorino is the best center fielder he has ever managed - high praise indeed from someone in baseball as long as Lamont.

8. Third base coach. The Phils certainly had to lead the league in runners thrown out at home. But don't forget how Bill Dancy would often make up for those mistakes by holding runners when they should have been sent, no doubt contributing to the Phils' astronomical LOB numbers. You don't realize how much you miss a guy like John Vukovich until he is not there. Gary Varsho has to be a better alternative.

9. Manager. Despite all of the criticism of his managerial moves or sometimes lack thereof, almost all of which I agree with, I can see giving Charlie Manuel one more year to win a championship. I was extremely disappointed when Larry Bowa was fired (instead of Ed Wade). No one wanted to win more than Bowa. I admit that until a few weeks ago I wanted to see Charlie Manuel go. Then something changed. He stuck up for the fans by saying all we want is a winner. We do! Perhaps most importantly to me, the players were very loyal to him. If he goes I will not be heartbroken. But if he does, the Phils had better get somebody proven like Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella or Joe Torre. Because in the end, players -- not the manager -- have to go on the field and win games.

10. Bullpen. The Phils should keep Madson and Urbina as set-up guys for Wagner in the 7th and 8th innings. Rheal Chormier probably will retire - Aaron Fultz has shown he is more than adequate to take his place. What will be the role of Geoff Geary? Eude Brito? Robinson Tejeda? Should Madson move to the starting rotation (he pitched a perfect game at AA Reading a few years ago)? Not unless the Phils can find someone as solid to fill his 7th inning set-up role. Madson's few bad outings down the stretch were likely due to physical and mental fatigue and I do not expect to see any residual effect from them next season.

I am optimistic about the Phils' chances in 2006 if the off-season priorities are handled properly. What "True Believer" wouldn't be? On opening day the Phils will be tied for first place - hope springs eternal!

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