And Then There Were Two: NLDS Predictions

Filed Under (Command Center, NL East Chatter) by Chris Comando on 04-10-2010

Tagged Under : Atlanta Braves, Bobby Cox, Chase Utley, Cincinnati Reds, Cole Hamels, Derek Lowe, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Howard, San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum

While the Marlins, Mets, and Nationals hit the golf course and start to make their plans for 2011, the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves will be playing in the postseason.  The Phillies comfortably took the NL East, and it took the Braves until Day 162 to earn a playoff berth, but both will be battling to reach the World Series.

So what are their chances?  Here is my take on Round 1.

Phillies vs. Reds

The Phillies have the home field advantage against the NL Central Champion Cincinnati Reds.  The Phillies are clearly the better team, and to me, the question isn’t if the Phils will win this series, but rather how many games it will take.

The Phillies battled through injuries throughout the 2010 season.  Now they are healthy, and thanks to clinching the division title early, they were able to set up their pitching rotation.  With the Roys (Halladay & Oswalt) and Cole Hamels pitching the first three games, the Reds will have their hands full.  The Reds had the chance to set up their rotation as well, but with three righties (Volquez, Arroyo, & Cueto) facing Utley, Howard, and company, Cincinnati’s pitchers will have their hands full.

So, will the Reds take a game?  The Command Center says…..no.

Prediction: Phillies in 3.

Braves vs. Giants

Both the Braves and Giants stamped their tickets to the playoffs on the season’s final day.  Both teams are also built on pitching.  Will one team’s staff let them down?  Will one offense catch fire at the right time?

The Giants will throw out “The Freak,”  Tim Lincecum, against Atlanta’s Derek Lowe in Game 1 on Thursday night.   Every game is important in a short series, but the winner of the first game of this showdown will have a huge leg up on their opponent.   A Giants win, and San Fran will be feeling good and looking to go on a roll with Cain & Sanchez to follow.  If the Braves can defeat San Fran’s ace, it could be a major blow to the Giants’ psyche and a big momentum swing in Atlanta’s favor.

I expect a bunch of low scoring games and teams looking to scratch and claw to put runs on the board.  Will the Braves rally behind their skipper and extend Bobby Cox’s managing career one more series?   I could see this series going either way, but the Command Center can only declare one winner.

Prediction: Giants in 5.

Did the Command Center get these right?  There’s only one way to find out.  Play Ball!

NL East Recap 8-13

Filed Under (Daily Recap, NL East Chatter) by Chris Comando on 14-08-2010

Tagged Under : Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Billy Wagner, Brooks Conrad, Carlos Beltran, Chipper Jones, Cincinnati Reds, Cole Hamels, David Wright, Edinson Volquez, Florida Marlins, Hiroki Kuroda, Jay Bruce, Joe Saunders, Joey Votto, John Lannan, Josh Johnson, Los Angeles Dodgers, mike hessman, Mike Stanton, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, R.A. Dickey, Ryan Zimmerman, scott rolen, Sean Burnett, Tim Hudson, Washington Nationals, Wil Nieves

Phillies vs. Mets

R.A. Dickey and Cole Hamels locked up in a pitchers’ duel Friday night at Citi Field.  Both pitchers went the distance, but the night belonged to Dickey as the Mets defeated the Phillies 1-0.

mets-813Dickey’s knuckleball baffled the Phillies hitters all night long, and as he cruised through five hitless innings, Mets fans wondered if this might be the first no-hitter in franchise history.   But it was the opposing pitcher that spoiled that bid as Hamels hit a clean single to right field with one out in the sixth inning.   Meanwhile, Hamels kept the Mets off balance and off of the scoreboard.  It looked like the Mets had taken a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Mike Hessman hit a drive to left field that the umpires called a home run.  However, after a lengthy replay review, the umps ruled fan interference on the play and placed Hessman on third base.   Despite being on third with no outs, the Mets stranded Hessman and let a golden opportunity slip by.

In the sixth, the Mets finally broke through.  With two outs and no one on base, David Wright and Carlos Beltran hit back-to-back doubles to plate the game’s first – and only – run.  Dickey (8-5) didn’t allow a base runner after Hamels’ single, finishing with seven strikeouts in his nine innings.  Hamels (7-9) took the hard-luck loss for the Phils.

 

 

Braves vs. Dodgers

Pitching also stole the spotlight in Atlanta on Friday night as the first place Braves defeated the Dodgers by a score of 1-o.

braves-813The Braves’ Tim Hudson and the Dodgers’  Hiroki Kuroda matched zeroes for six innings.  The game’s lone run came in the seventh, when Brooks Conrad, playing third base in place of the injured Chipper Jones, homered to center field off of Kuroda.  

Hudson (14-5) allowed just 3 hits over eight innings of work, striking out six.  Kuroda (8-11) took the loss despite allowing just three hits in his seven innings.  Braves’ closer Billy Wagner came on in the ninth and locked down his 29th save of the season.

 

 

Nationals vs. Diamondbacks

The Nationals scored early and let their pitching do the rest, as the Nats defeated the Diamondbacks 4-2 in Washington.

Diamondbacks Nationals BaseballThe Nationals scored three runs in the first off of Arizona starter Joe Saunders (1-2), highlighted by a Ryan Zimmerman two-run single.   Wil Nieves extended Washington’s lead to 4-0 with a solo home run in the second.  The D-Backs cut the Nats lead in half with two fifth inning runs off of starter John Lannan, but managed just one hit after that.  Lannan (4-5) allowed just four hits over seven innings, striking out five.  Sean Burnett pitched two perfect innings, striking out four, to pick up his second save on the season.

 

 

Marlins vs. Reds

The Reds roughed up Marlins’ ace Josh Johnson Friday night as they cruised to a 7-2 victory in Cincinnati.

Marlins Reds baseballThe Reds jumped on Johnson in the first inning, scoring three runs courtesy of RBI singles by Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, and Jay Bruce.  Bruce later homered as the Reds built a 7-0 lead.   The Marlins’ only offense came off of the bat of rookie Mike Stanton, who hit solo home runs in both the sixth and eighth innings. 

Edinson Volquez (3-1) scattered eight hits over six innings of work, allowing just one run and striking out six.  Johnson (10-5) lasted just 3.2 innings in the loss, allowing six runs and ten hits.

NL East Recap 7-9

Filed Under (NL East Chatter) by Chris Comando on 10-07-2010

Tagged Under : Adam Dunn, Andres Torres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Arthur Rhodes, Atlanta Braves, Billy Wagner, Cincinnati Reds, Clay Hensley, Cody Ransom, Cody Ross, Dan Haren, Dan Uggla, Eric O'Flaherty, Florida Marlins, Francisco Cordero, Greg Dobbs, Joe Blanton, Jonny Gomes, Leo Nunez, Matt Cain, Melky Cabrera, Mike Leake, New York Mets, Omar Infante, Philadelphia Phillies, R.A. Dickey, Ricky Nolasco, Ryan Howard, San Francisco Giants, Stephen Strasburg, Tommy Hanson, Washington Nationals

Braves vs. Mets

The first place Atlanta Braves opened up a three game series in New York against the second place Mets on Friday night.  Behind strong pitching and timely hitting, the Braves defeated the Mets by a score of 4-2 to extend their lead to four games in the NL East.

braves-79Braves starter Tommy Hanson and Mets starter R.A. Dickey pitched well, with each allowing only two runs over the first six innings.  The Mets threatened to break open a 2-2 tie in the sixth and put runners on second and third, but Bobby Cox called on reliever Eric O’Flaherty, who retired pinch hitter Jesus Feliciano on a ground ball to keep the Mets off of the scoreboard.  Despite throwing over 100 pitches, Jerry Manuel left Dickey in to pitch the seventh inning.  The knuckleballer retired the first two batters in the inning, but then allowed back-to-back home runs to Melky Cabrera and Omar Infante which gave the Braves a 4-2 lead. 

The Braves bullpen did the rest, shutting down the Mets for the final three innings.  Billy Wagner pitched a 1-2-3 ninth against his former club to pick up his 20th save on the season.  O’Flaherty (3-1) earned the win in relief, while Dickey (6-2) suffered the loss for the Mets.

 

Phillies vs. Reds

The Phillies and Reds played the wildest game of the night on Friday in Philadelphia.  The Reds appeared to be cruising to a victory, but the Phillies exploded for six runs in the ninth and used a walk-off home run in the tenth to defeat the Reds 9-7.

phils-79The Reds jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning off of Phils starter Joe Blanton, thanks to a three run homer from Jonny Gomes.  The Reds scored three more runs off of Blanton over his 5 1/3 innings, and added another run in the top of the ninth to take a commanding 7-1 lead.  Meanwhile, Reds starter Mike Leake was cruising, holding the Phillies at bay while helping out his own cause with three hits and an RBI.  However, it all came apart in the bottom of the ninth.

After a Ryan Howard RBI single with one out, Leake allowed a three run homer to Greg Dobbs which cut the lead to 7-5.  Leake departed and the Reds brought in their closer, Francisco Cordero.  Cordero retired his first batter, but after walking Ben Francisco, Cordero allowed a game tying home run to pinch hitter Cody Ransom to send the Phillies crowd into a frenzy.   Reliever Ryan Madson pitched a perfect tenth inning for the Phillies. Arthur Rhodes came on to pitch the bottom of the tenth for Cincinnati, and Raul Ibanez greeted him with a leadoff double.  Ryan Howard followed with an opposite field home run to give the Phillies the improbable victory.  Madson (2-0) picked up the win, while Rhodes (3-3) suffered the loss.

 

Nationals vs. Giants

It was the Strasburg and Dunn show Friday night in Washington as the Nationals defeated the Giants by a score of 8-1.

Giants Nationals BaseballRookie phenom Stephen Strasburg allowed a leadoff home run to San Francisco’s Andres Torres in the first inning, but settled down after that.  The Nationals tied the game in the bottom of the first off of Giants starter Matt Cain, and took the lead in the fourth inning on an Adam Dunn solo homer.  The Nats added two runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh, highlighted by a three run homer from Dunn.  Dunn’s second blast put the nail in the coffin for Cain (6-8) and the Giants.

Strasburg (3-2) allowed only three hits over his six innings of work, walking just one while striking out 8.  Three Nats relievers combined to shut out the Giants over the final three frames to close out the victory for Washington.

 

Marlins vs. Diamondbacks

After falling in the series opener in Arizona, the Florida Marlins bounced back to even the four game set by defeating the Diamondbacks 3-2 on Friday night.

Marlins Diamondbacks BaseballMarlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco and D-Backs starter Dan Haren each pitched into the seventh inning and did their best to keep their opponents off of the scoreboard.  The Marlins broke through with two runs in the third on RBI singles from Dan Uggla and Cody Ross.  After Arizona scored a run in the fourth, the Marlins got that run back in the seventh.  Uggla’s RBI infield hit brought home Florida’s third run and ended the night for Haren (7-7).  Arizona answered with a run off of Nolasco (9-6) in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t bring home the tying run.  

The Marlins bullpen took control from there.  Clay Hensley struck out the side in the eighth inning, and Leo Nunez pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn save number 19 on the season.

6-3 NL East Recap

Filed Under (Daily Recap, NL East Chatter) by Chris Comando on 04-06-2010

Tagged Under : Atlanta Braves, Billy Wagner, Carlos Lee, Chris Capuano, Cincinnati Reds, Corey Hart, Cristian Guzman, Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, Jonny Venters, Josh Johnson, Kris Medlen, Lance Berkman, Leo Nunez, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Capps, Matt Lindstrom, Michael Bourn, Michael Morse, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, peter moylan, Philadelphia Phillies, Prince Fielder, Ronny Paulino, Russell Martin, Takashi Saito, Troy Glaus, Washington Nationals, Willie Harris

Nationals vs. Astros

The Nationals took on the Astros in Houston on Thursday afternoon looking to salvage a split of the four game series.  The Nats came within an out of doing just that, but poor defense and another blown save cost them as they fell to the Astros by a score of 6-4.

nats-64Down 3-2 heading to the ninth inning, the Nationals rallied against Houston closer Matt Lindstrom with two outs and nobody on base.  After a Michael Morse single, Willie Harris tripled to left field to tie the game, and Cristian Guzman followed with a single to give Washington a 4-3 lead.  However, Matt Capps suffered his second blown save of the series.  Guzman, a career infielder, was moved from shortstop to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning, and that move cost the Nats.  With two outs and Michael Bourn on second, Guzman misplayed Lance Berkman’s line drive into a two-base error, allowing Bourn to score the tying run.  Carlos Lee followed with a home run to left field to give the Astros a walk-off victory. 

The Nationals have lost three in a row and ended up with a 3-7 record on their 10 game road trip.  Washington hopes to turn their fortunes around when they return home to face the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.

 

Brewers vs. Marlins

Behind another strong pitching performance from ace Josh Johnson, the Marlins defeated the Brewers 3-2 in Miami to take three of four from Milwaukee.

marlins-64Johnson went seven innings, allowing just one run and striking out eight to improve to 6-2 on the season.  The Marlins built a 3-0 lead off Brewers starter Chris Capuano, who was making his first start since 2007 in his return from Tommy John surgery.  Catcher Ronny Paulino had two RBI, and Dan Uggla drove in one and scored two for Florida.  Leo Nunez came on in the ninth inning to protect a 3-1 lead and made it interesting.  Three straight singles with one out cut the lead to 3-2, but Nunez rebounded to retire Prince Fielder and strike out Corey Hart to earn his 12th save on the season.

The Marlins head to New York to open up a three game series against the Mets on Friday evening.

 

Braves vs. Dodgers

The first place Braves opened up a ten game road trip on Thursday night.   Atlanta extended their winning streak to nine games as they held on to defeat the Dodgers 4-3 in Los Angeles.

braves-64Troy Glaus homered and drove two runs to lead the Braves offense.  Starter Kris Medlen also got into the action with an RBI double in the sixth to extend Atlanta’s lead to 4-0.  Medlen pitched into the eighth inning, leaving with one out and the bases loaded.  Peter Moylan came in and allowed all three inherited runners to score to cut the Braves lead to 4-3.  With closer Billy Wagner unavailable after appearing in four straight games, Takashi Saito was called on to try to seal the victory.  Saito retired the first two batters and got ahead of Russell Martin 0 and 2 before departing with a hamstring injury.  Jonny Venters threw one pitch and struck out Martin to earn his first major league save.

The Braves look to make it 10 in a row Friday night in Los Angeles.

 

The Mets and Phillies were off on Thursday, but be sure to check out The Real Dirty Mets Blog and Phillies Phandom for the latest on both teams.

NL East Daily Recap from 9-20-09

Filed Under (Daily Recap) by mrose on 21-09-2009

Tagged Under : Adam Dunn, Atlanta Braves, Ben Francisco, Brad Lidge, Brett Carroll, Brian McCann, Centerfield Gate, Chase Utley, Cincinnati Reds, Cliff Lee, Corky Miller, Daniel Murphy, Fishguts, Florida Marlins, Francisco Rodriguez, Garrett Mock, Joey Votto, John Baker, John Maine, Kip Wells, matt diaz, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies Phandom, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Zimmerman, Sean West, The Braves Baseball Blog, The Real Dirty Mets Blog, Tommy Hanson, Tyler Walker, Washington Nationals, Wilson Valdez

Lidge gets anothe shaky save

Lidge gets anothe shaky save

The Philadelphia Phillies took the final game of the three game set, 4-2 yesterday in Atlanta even during a rain delay.  Ben Francisco started the scoring with an RBI double and Raul Ibanez, Pedro Feliz and Chase Utley added solo RBI’s  for them.  Cliff Lee had started the game but onlt went four because of a long rain delay and Tyler Walker(2-0) got the win going two innings while allowing just one hit and a walk while striking out three.  Brad Lidge got his 31st save of the year but his ERA continues to rise as he gave up a walk, a run and one hit.  Phillies Phandom will have more on this game.

Tommy Hanson(10-4) took a rare loss for the Bravos in this one and the Braves had five innings against relief pitching to get him off the hook.  Hanson went five innings allowing seven hits and four runs and also walking four in this one.  Matt Diaz and Brian McCann got the only RBI’s for the Braves in this one as they fail to gain ground in the division or wildcard.  Check out The Braves Baseball Blog for more.

Corky Miller? 3 run homer

Corky Miller? 3 run homer

The Cincinnati Reds beat up on the Florida Marlins yesterday in Cincy on the back of a couple big home runs.  Catcher Corky Miller hit a three run shot in the fourth and Joey Votto hit a two run shot in the seventh on way to an 8-1 route.  Kip Wells(2-4) went seven innings and allowed just five hits and one run to get the victory in this game.

Sean West is having a rough rookie campaign.  West(7-6) went 4.1 innings and allowed five hits and five runs while walking three and his ERA now stands at 4.85 for the season.  The only run the Marlins mustered was in the eigth on a Brett Carroll single scoring John Baker, check out FishGuts for more Marlins news.

Maine gets the W

Maine gets the W

In this weekend’s battle of the basement, the Mets came out ahead after taking two of three games with Sunday’s 6-2 victory over the Nats.  John Maine(6-5) went five effective innings allowing just three baserunners on two hits and one walk and no runs.  Daniel Murphy added a two RBI double and Wilson Valdez of all people had a two RBI triple later in the game to put it away.  Franky Rodriguez got save number 33 by getting the final out of the game via strikeout.  The Real Dirty Mets Blog has all the Mets info you want.

Garrett Mock didn’t pitch terribly in this one, but the Nats offense could not support him.  Mock(3-9) went seven innings allowing nine hits and four runs throwing 115 pitches and taking the tough loss.  Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn both had an RBI in a small ninth inning rally before K-Rod ended the threat.  Check out Centerfield Gate for a more in depth recap and all other Nationals news.

NL East Daily Recap from 9-19-09

Filed Under (Daily Recap) by mrnorthjersey on 20-09-2009

Tagged Under : Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies Phandom, The Braves Baseball Blog, The Centerfield Gate Blog, The Fish Guts Blog, The Real Dirty Mets Blog, Washington Nationals

Here is your NL East Chatter Video Recap Edition courtesy of MLB.

Just click on Thumbnail for Video Recap.

For more on the Nationals checkout The CenterField Gate Blog.
For more on the Mets checkout The Real Dirty Mets Blog.
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For more on the Phillies checkout The Phillies Phandom Blog.
For more on the Braves checkout The Braves Baseball Blog.
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For more on the Marlins checkout The Fish Guts Blog.
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NL East Daily Recap from 9-18-09

Filed Under (Daily Recap) by mrnorthjersey on 19-09-2009

Tagged Under : Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies Phandom, The Braves Baseball Blog, The Centerfield Gate Blog, The Fish Guts Blog, The Real Dirty Mets Blog, Washington Nationals

Here is your NL East Chatter Video Recap Edition courtesy of MLB.

Just click on Thumbnail for Video Recap.

For more on the Nationals checkout The CenterField Gate Blog.
For more on the Mets checkout The Real Dirty Mets Blog.
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For more on the Phillies checkout The Phillies Phandom Blog.
For more on the Braves checkout The Braves Baseball Blog.
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For more on the Marlins checkout The Fish Guts Blog.
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NL East Daily Recap from 9-17-09

Filed Under (Daily Recap) by mrose on 18-09-2009

Tagged Under : Anibal Sanchez, Atlanta Braves, Brad Lidge, Carlos Ruiz, Centerfield Gate, Cincinnati Reds, Cole Hamels, Dan Uggla, Daniel Murphy, Darnell McDonald, Elijah Dukes, Fernando Tatis, Fishguts, Florida Marlins, Francisco Cordero, Hanley Ramirez, Ian Desmond, Jair Jurrjens, Jay Bruce, Jimmy Rollins, martin prado, Matt Maloney, Nelson Figueroa, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Ross Detwiler, The Braves Baseball Blog, The Real Dirty Mets Blog, Washington Nationals

Hamels almost gets perfection

Hamels almost gets perfection

Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels had a perfect game into the sixth inning of this game against the Nats, although he lost it, the Phillies and he got the win, 4-2.  Hamels(10-9) went eight innings only allowing five hits and one run and striking out ten and looks to have found his form.  Hamels even helped himself with the bat as he had an RBI single in the sixth inning.  Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz also added RBI’s in this game.  Brad Lidge recorded his 30th save but he did give up yet another run in the bottom of the ninth.   Phillies Phandom has more on this and the Phils.

Ross Detwiler pitched well enough to win, but again, where was the offense?  Detwiler(0-6) can’t buy  a win as he went five innings allowing just four hits and one run while striking out six.  The Nationals got a run on an Elijah Dukes seventh inning single and he scored the only other run on an Ian Desmond RBI groundout in the bottom of the ninth.  The Nats hope a trip to NY will solve their problems, Centerfield Gate has more.

McCann with the big blow in the sweep

McCann with the big blow in the sweep

Brian McCann made sure that the Braves swept the lowly Mets last night, as the Braves took the game 7-3.  McCann hit a fifth inning three run home run off starter Nelson Figueroa to put this game away.  Jair Jurrjens(12-10) continued his mastery of the New York Mets as he worked seven innings allowing six hits and two runs (one earned) in another well pitched game.  Martin Prado added two RBI of his own in this one and McCann finished with four total RBI.  The Braves Baseball Blog is your place to go for everything Braves.

What more can be said about the Mets?  Nelson Figueroa(2-6) went five innings and allowed nine hits and six runs, and the big hit was the three run home run to McCann to make his stats look so bad.  Fernando Tatis had a two RBI single to tie the game in the fourth before it got away and Daniel Murphy hit his tenth homer of the year in the eighth inning.  Check out The Real Dirty Mets Blog for more.

Cordero shuts this game down

Cordero shuts this game down

The Cincinnati Reds last night put another blow on the Marlins playoff hopes with 3-2 win.  Matt Maloney(1-4) got his first win of the year going five innings only giving up two runs and seven hits with only a small margin of victory.  Darnell McDonald hit his second home run of the year and Jay Bruce added a two RBI single later in the inning and thats all they would need.  Francisco Cordero had a perfect ninth and recorded his 38th save of the season.

The Marlins sent Anibal Sanchez to the mound and he did not pitch that bad.  Sanchez(2-7) went five as well and gave up five hits and three runs but had a lack of offense behind him.  Hanley Ramirez had an RBI single and later in the fifth Dan Uggla doubled Ramirez home, but the Marlins could not salvage anymore.  Check out FishGuts for more on the Marlins.

Chatter Up! Nationals @ Phillies 9-15-09 through 9-17-09

Filed Under (Chatter Up) by mrose on 16-09-2009

Tagged Under : Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns, Brett Myers, Centerfield Gate, Chad Durbin, Chan Ho Park, Chatter Up, Christian Guzman, Cincinnati Reds, Clay Condrey, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Florida Marlins, Ian Desmond, Joe Blanton, Joel Hanrahan, Josh Willingham, Los Angeles Angels of Aneheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Cain, Mike MacDougal, New York Yankees, pedro feliz, Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies Phandom, San Francisco Giants, Scott Eyre, Shane Victorino, St. Louis Cardinals, Stephen Strasburg, Tim Lincecum, Tyler Walker, Washington Nationals

Nats Logo chatterup Phillies Logo
Welcome to another edition of Chatter Up! here at NLEC. This week will match up Mark P Centerfield Gate against Matt Smith of Phillies Phandom. Enjoy!
MrNorthJersey(NLEC): Do you want and expect Willingham back in a Nationals uniform in 2010?
Mark P(CFG): There was talk of trading Willingham all season, but it never happened — and for good reason. The guy proved to be the hitter that we anticipated (and that I anticipated) when we got him from the Marlins. I think he’s now untouchable. You know, nothing’s impossible: but it would be hard to name a guy who the nats could get for him that would be as good. The fans love him and the guy just hits the hell out of the ball: who knows what he might have done had he started the season in the outfield, instead of that other guy … what’s his name? Oh yeah, Austin Kearns. How the Nationals brain trust could have ever concluded that he was better than Willingham is a question so embarassing it cannot be asked: and gives the term brain trust a whole different meaning.
MrNorthJersey(NLEC): Do you think MacDougal will opt out of his contract and test free agency?
Mark P(CFG): Good question. I somehow don’t think so. The Nats front office seems to think he will be back, talking endless of getting a set up guy that will make him the reliever for the team in 2010. This scares me, because MacDougal is one of those 9th inning guys who just scrapes by — but barely. The last thing this team needs is another collapses bullpen in 2010. Th next to last thing it needs is placing its trust in just one closer. I wouldn’t hold an audition for the spot necessarily (Joel Hanrahan won the audition in the Spring, for pity sake) but I sure wouldn’t think that “Heart Attack Mike” is the only answer we have.
Matt S(PP): The Nationals have been a much-improved squad over the last several weeks. Adam Dunn has had a tremendous season. Are you surprised by Dunn’s production this year and do you view him as a vital piece to the puzzle for next year?
Mark P(CFG): Yes, I’m surprised. You know, Dunn came with baggage: that he was a good hitter but with an indifferent attitude. That turned out to be false, or rather, perhaps it was true because Dunn got bored in Cincinnati (which is more than possible). I thought he would come in with about 29 to 32 homers and make a mash of the outfield. I could see it in my dreams: Dunning chasing down a ball hit over his head, dropping a line drive, tripping over his feet going into the corner. But not only has he really hit the cover off the ball, he has made a real effort to get better as a first baseman. You can see his defensive improvement, which is key, considering Guzman’s boot em and throw em away capabilities. If his defense gets better and he keeps hitting I would expect that the Nats would try to extend him. There aren’t many guys in the majors who can hit 40 homers and drive in 100 runs. And for some reason (stop the presses) Dunn seems to love it here. Who knew?
Matt S(PP): Are Nats fans clamoring for Stephen Strasburg at this point? Can you explain how Strasburg making the team out of spring training would impact the franchise and its fanbase?
Mark P(CFG): I am surprised and gratified by the patience showed by Nats fans. We regularly draw 20,000 to games in which the late innings are so painful that people have to wish they were somewhere else. But they keep coming back for more, night after night. That same patience is being shown now by fans who realize that while it would be nice to see Strasburg right now — or early next year — it would be far better to see him in the post-seasons, with a healthy arm, in 2011. If Strasburg makes the team out of spring training I would advise the front office (they’re not exactly on the phone with me all the time, but there you have it) to pitch him during the third or even fourth home game — when they absolutely need to fill the stadium. My sense is that when Strasburg arrives DC will have to assign more cops for crowd control. The place will be packed. We’re patient, very patient. But honestly, we can’t wait to see this guy.
Matt R(NLEC): I read on your site that it seems the Nats have asked Christian Guzman to move to 2b, how helpful will this truly be for the Nats going forward or does it just shift his suspect defense to a different position?
Mark P(CFG): I think this is a bad decision that confirms the kind of decision making that baseball eggheads rightly criticize: which is based on the assumption that a bad shortstop will somehow improve when he moves to second. I don’t buy it. Not even a little bit. You know, I am such a fan of Alberto Gonzalez (for those who don’t know, a kid out of the DR) that I hope the Nats put him at second, keep Ian Desmond (our rookie phenom) at short — and work a trade for Guzman. He will command an $8 million dollar salary next year and freeing it up would help us to get some middle infielders who can do the job. Or, better yet, we can use the money to sign a guy like Jon Garland. But then, of course, we’d really need a replacement for Guzman, as Garland is a ground ball specialist. To answer your question: putting Guzman at second simply shifts his suspect defense to a different position
Thanks again Mark, now onto Matt Smith of Phillies Phandom
MrNorthJersey(NLEC): With names like Brett Myers, Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino, Chan Ho Park, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey, Tyler Walker, and possibly Pedro Feliz ($0.5mil buyout), becoming free agents this year who do you feel will they miss most if they do not resign them for 2010?
Matt S(PP): Well, most of these players are arbitration eligible. Blanton, Victorino, Durbin, Walker and Condrey won’t be free agents until after the 2010 season. In fact, I’m pretty sure Victorino has at least two more seasons until he can become a free agent. That said, I’m positive Victorino will be signed to a long-term deal in the neighborhood of three-four years. I have a feeling Blanton will ask for a lot of money, so he could go to arbitration. I don’t expect Myers back unless the Phillies feel he can compete with Brad Lidge for the closer role. At the same time, I don’t think Myers will turn down starter’s money in free agency, and the Phillies don’t really have a spot for him in the rotation. I think Chan Ho Park will re-sign, unless, of course, he’s hellbent on being a starter again. The Phillies should pick up Feliz’s option, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they let him go. And don’t be stunned if Pedro re-signs, too.
Matt R(NLEC): Continuing from the question above, I know the Phillies have bigger fish to fry (literally?) but do you think there are any obvious off-season targets?
Matt S(PP):Not at the moment. I’m sure they’ll look for a left-handed reliever and some bench help. If they part ways with Feliz, they’ll obviously be in the market for a third baseman.
Matt R(NLEC): If you had to choose today, rank what potential National League playoff teams you’d like to see the Phils play and why.
Matt S(PP): Dodgers, Cardinals, Rockies, Giants in order of which team I’d like to see them play in the first round. There is nothing the Dodgers are doing that worries me. I don’t think they have the starting pitching to win a playoff series. The Cardinals have an excellent lineup and an awesome one-two punch at the top of their rotation, but we’ve played them well this year, winning four of five games. The Rockies are hot right now, so they can be a scary opponent. If the Giants somehow get in, I fear facing Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in the first two games of a five-game series.
Matt R(NLEC): What about the American League? The Phils took two of three from the Yanks early in the year, but this Yankees team is very different now, what about the Angels and Tigers? How well do you see the Phils matching up if they get there?
Matt S(PP):I actually think they match up well with any AL team. It’s so far off the radar, I prefer not to think about any potential World Series match ups right now :-) In the AL, starting pitching isn’t as worrisome as some of those NL teams I mentioned.
Matt R(NLEC): Health check: Bullpen.. . after this weekend, are you more, less, or just about the same confidence in the bullpen?
Matt S(PP):Less. It’s been a struggle. It’s not a good thing having question marks at the back of the bullpen. It’s a different situation from last year, when the team was good to go in the pen. I know the offense has been hit-or-miss the last month or so, but the ninth inning is the biggest concern right now. Nothing will really change from now until October, either.

Please feel free to email any recommend questions or comments about the segment to this forum topic and post a reply. We need questions for our next Chatter Up! Those games are Nats @ Mets and Phillies @ Braves.  Thanks for everyone’s participation!

NL East Daily Recap from 9-5-09

Filed Under (Daily Recap) by mrnorthjersey on 06-09-2009

Tagged Under : Aramis Ramirez, Atlanta Braves, Brad Lidge, Braves Baseball Blog, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Derek Lee, Florida Marlins, Hanley Ramirez, Houston Astros, Jair Jurrjens, Josh Johnson, Kaz Matsui, Labor Day, Livan Hernandez, Nelson Figueroa, New York Mets, NL East Daily Recap, NLEastChatter, Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies Phandom, The Centerfield Gate Blog, The Fish Guts Blog, The Real Dirty Mets Blog, Washington Nationals

Labor Day Weekend is here but that doesn’t mean we here at NLEastChatter take a day off. Without further ado I give you the “Labor Day Edition” of the “NL East Daily Recap“.

Chicago Cubs Derrek Lee follows hits a home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Nelson Figueroa was a victim of the Long-ball as Home-runs by Aramis Ramirez in the 4th and Derek Lee in the 5th proved too much for the Mets to overcome as the Chicago Cubs beat the New York Mets 5-3. To read more check out The Real Dirty Mets Blog.

Kaz Matsui’s bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth off Phillie’s closer Brad Lidge helped the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4. It was Brad Lidge’s (0-7) 10th blown save of the year. To read more check out The Phillies Phandom Blog.

Jair Jurrjens (10-10) only gave up 3 runs over 7 innings but it wasn’t enough as Kip Wells (1-3) gave up 0 runs over 6 innings helping the Cincinnati Reds beat the Atlanta Braves 3-1 keeping the Braves 8.5 games back of the Phillies. To read more check out The Braves Baseball Blog.

Josh Johnson (14-4) gave up 1 run over 5 innings and Hanley Ramirez hit a 2-run HR in the 4th helping the Florida Marlins beat the Washington Nationals 9-5. Livan Hernandez (7-10) gave up 6 earned runs over 5 innings putting the Nats in a hole that they never dug out of. To read more check out The Fish Guts Blog for all your Marlins info and The Centerfield Gate Blog for all things Nats.