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Red, White & Blue
A blog dedicated to the Philadelphia Phillies
If you don't already read my regular LiveJournal page (a.k.a. mattapp), please take a look at my poll asking what to expect from the Eagles this year.
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From the overly optimistic department, headlines in today's Philly.com:

"The big news is the Phils are hot"
"Phils get something brewing"

Not to be a spoilsport or anything, but if you remove the Brewers from the results, the Phils are 6-14 for August, and have lost 10 straight to teams not from Milwaukee. Talk to me after the Labor Day weekend before we decide whether the Phillies are indeed heating up.
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Thoughout the year I've been praying for the Phils to fire Bowa. That's still number one on my list of off-season wishes, but I now have a new number two: fire Ed Wade.

After the Phils swept the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, they thought they might build on that momentum in Houston and return home on a hot streak.

Didn't happen.

Cory Lidle allowed five runs in six innings in an 8-4 loss Monday.

Todd Jones allowed two runs in the eighth inning in a 4-2 loss Tuesday.

Felix Rodriguez's two walks in the eighth inning led to four runs yesterday.

Lidle, Jones and Rodriguez joined the team just before or just after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

They are a combined 2-7 with a 6.62 earned run average since joining the Phillies.

Then there are the other mid-season pitching acquisitions: Paul Abbott and Brian Powell: 12 GS (& 14 relief appearances,) combined 2-8, with a 5.73 ERA. Let's not forget either the waste of space Roberto Hernandez has been out of the pen: 2-4, 3 blown saves, 5.14 ERA.

As a group, these Ed Wade acquisitions for the 2004 season have gone a combined 6-19, 4 blown saves, 170 2/3 IP, 5.75 ERA. This group is the reason the Phillies are now dead in the water. Thrown in Tim Worell for good measure, and suddenly you're looking at 9-24, 11 blown saves, 16 saves, 234 1/3 IP, 5.30 ERA

To be fair, Worrell wasn't hired to be the closer and of all the acquisitions, he was the only one with a recent track record that suggested he should have a decent season; blown saves aside, he has been a perfectly serviceable Major League-average reliever. Nonetheless, Ed Wade should be fired for this gross incompetence.
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You know, if the Phillies didn't exist, the gods of comic tragedy would have to invent them. Initially, the ghost of 1964 rears its ugly head in the second inning, but they show amazing resilience by taking a 7-2 lead in the bottom of the 5th. Not content with the reputation it already has as "destroyer of all Phillies leads" the bullpen made sure the lead didn't stick and now the Astros lead 10-7 in the 7th.

The ghost of 1964, once tracked down by a local reporter, was quoted as saying, "It wasn't enough to let the Astros score a run by stealing home. I had to make sure the Phillies blew a 5-run lead and give up an extra 3 runs as well. Excuse me while I go get a cheesesteak!"

I would, however, like to thank the Phillies for dashing all my postseason hopes in such a brutal and efficient fashion this month. It's making it a lot easier (and less painful) to transition to the football season. E-A-G-L-E-S Go Eagles!

Edit to Add: I was just reading the in-game box score, and apparently Todd Pratt, the only MLBer on Earth slower than Mike Lieberthal, hit into a triple play in the bottom of the 5th, when the Phillies had already scored 3 runs. Man, the Ghost of 1964 has been busy!
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... it's too bad you're way late for the party.

I already decided days ago that the Phillies chances for the postseason were officially kaput. Nonetheless, the ghost of 1964 just reared his ugly head and officially pronounced the Phillies dead in the game they are currently playing against the Astros. That's right, the Astros scored their first (and go ahead) run by stealing home plate.

Baseball's historically most inept franchise strikes again.
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John Sickles at ESPN.com has a Down on the Farm report on Gavin Floyd. The #1 draft pick from 2001 is looking more and more like the real deal. Check out what he has to say. My guess is that we'll see him in red pinstripes by the middle of 2005 at the latest. If he tears up AA and AAA hitting this year, we may even see him at the start of the 2005 season as a replacement for Millwood or Milton (depending on whom the Phillies decide not to pursue.)
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(cross-posted to my mattapp blog; my apologies to those LJ users who have both pages on their friends view)

Attention BoSox fans, I know you all love the fact you have Schilling now, and I understand how you feel. I wish the Phillies had traded some of their "untouchable" prospects this past off-season to get him back. However, there's already trouble brewing. While Schilling is happy to be pitching for Terry Francona again, the fact is that a Francona-Schilling combo is the worst thing that can happen to him.

Back in 1999 Schilling was shelved for a chunk of the season thanks to arm troubles caused by Francona's inability to properly monitor his workload. Those arm troubles required surgery in the 1999-2000 offseason, and as a result he missed the beginning of the 2000 season while he recovered from surgery. Apparently, Francona has learned nothing about pitch counts in the ensuing period as he has already left Schilling in a game for over 120 pitches -- something no starter should ever do this early in the season and which Schilling didn't do until the middle of May last year.

Look, I still love Schill and I'm hoping over the next few years he can put together the numbers necessary to make him a borderline HOF candidate. However, Francona looks dead set on finishing the job he started on Schilling back in Philly: turning that powerful right arm of his into slag.

Mark my word, if Francona continues to leave Schilling in for too long on a consistent basis, either his September numbers will show a significant decline or he will miss a few important starts due to "soreness."
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It's supposed to be the season the Phillies finally breakout, with the added bonus of doing so in a new park. It's still early -- we're only seven games into the season -- but saying that the season has gotten off to a lousy start is a tremendous understatement.

In fitting fashion given the team's inglorious history, the Phillies finished a cold, dreary and wet Grand Opening at Citizen's Bank Park with a 1-6 record, the worst record in baseball. They have scored only 16 runs in those seven games -- only Montreal with its 10 runs and two wins has scored fewer. To add insult to injury -- ironically, one of the few things this team is historically good at -- that 1-6 mark has come against the same teams who last September pummeled the Phillies out of wild card contention.

Yesterday was only the third time in 15 seasons I missed the Phillies home opener, and boy am I glad I missed it.

It's far too soon to run for the panic room and start watching the 1980 and 1993 highlight DVDs, but this pratfall out of the gate is disconcerting only if you have a penchant for sugar-coating bad news. For the second year in a row, I allowed myself real optimism for the Phillies chances this year, and it feels like the Phillies are well on their way to breaking my heart again.

While I don't think Bowa is really to blame for this fiasco, I'm hoping the owners are using this stumble as an excuse for giving him the axe. Going back to the end of last season, the Phillies have won only two of their last 15. While the manager can't physically make the players perform under pressure, it is his job to keep the pressure off of them as much as possible, and Bowa is obviously doing a miserable job of it.

The sooner that albatross is lifted from the necks of the players, the quicker they can get comfortable playing on the field again.
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I didn't really do a preseason expectation post about the Phils because this season has an expectation I haven't harbored about the Phillies since I was a kid: on paper, the Phillies are the team to beat in their division. I didn't think that in 1993 -- hell, no one thought that in 1993 -- but I have proof via the Rutgers-Camden student newspaper that I thought that the Phillies that year could exceed everyone's expectations, including my own. I didn't think it last year after the Millwood, Thome and Bell pickups because I wasn't convinced the Braves were down and out just yet.

The only time I really got my hopes up since the 1993 season was at the end of May, 2001, when they 34-18 and 8 games above the Braves in the standings. (Although, I think I hid my enthusiasm rather well in a comment I made on Baseball Primer on May 21 of that year.) Of course, I was given a rude reminder about what happens when you start expecting a lot from this team.

But this year has to be the year.

The Braves continued to hemorrhage talent and the Marlins, who only made the playoffs last year thanks to the fact that the Phils bullpen lost 14 games where they were tied or leading going into the ninth, experienced a downgrade as well. In contrast, the Phillies shored up their bullpen and improved their rotation by subtracting Duckworth and adding Milton.

There's no doubt the Phillies by all rights should win the division this year. Easily. I didn't really need additional proof, but the projection systems used by Baseball Prospectus and Diamond Mind show that the Phillies are the team to beat in the National League. The whole National League, not just the East.

I don't know if I can handle these expectations. I've never had them before.

We'll see what happens. Deep down, I still have this nagging feeling that Mt. Bowa will eventually be the ruin of this team. Hopefully, either he will remain at a low simmer or the Phillies have enough talent to overcome the damage he will inevitably do to this team.
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I was too depressed to post about the season opener any earlier. If the Vet still existed, I would be contemplating throwing myself off from the lip of the 500 level.

Okay, not really.

Still, seeing Jose Mesa of all people come in and save the season opener for the Pirates was a little disheartening. It was only the first game of the season, so there's no reason whatsoever for hitting the panic button just yet. The flip side of that coin was seeing Mike Lieberthal lay down a perfect surprise sacrifice bunt, even if it wasn't what Vuke gave him the sign for.

Game 2 is on the MLB Extra Innings Preview package tonight with the Wolfman starting against the Pirates' Kris Benson. I have every intention of catching it as well.
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