Friday, April 10, 2009

3 comments Onegameonegameonegameonegameonegame

That could be the entirity of my response to this article, but in an effort to entertain myself and pass the time, let's dig a little deeper. And yes, the writer is generally incredibly overrated and most famous for a theory about young pitchers which has been found to be largely incorrect.

Phillies' Opening Night loss reflects ominous signs for '09 title defense

Jesus fucking Christ.

It took just the first of more than 2,000 games that await unwrapping this year to know this season is made of an entirely different DNA than that which just passed.

no it didn't. And it isn't so just because you say so. The Red Sox will probably still be good, so will the Cubs, Mets and yes, the Phillies. Some things, undoubtedly, will be different from a year ago, but there's just no way to say what those things will be, do you know why? Because it's one fucking game in 2,000. Generally when predicting results, people wait for more than 0.05% of the evidence to come in.

When opening night was over, Atlanta right fielder Jeff Francoeur walked out of Citizens Bank Ballpark with teammate Chipper Jones and told him, "Man, that was one of your best speeches ever."

So what's new? The Braves, with their franchise player laying down a new attitude -- "We're sick of being the laughingstock," was what Francouer recalled of Jones' pregame channeling of Knute Rockne -- Atlanta, fresh off 90 losses, beat the Phillies, fresh off their world championship dream season, 4-1.

so...what's new? I assumed when you said "what's new?" you were using a rhetorical device to make a point. That were you actually going to answer this question you posed. Instead you point to the fact that they don't wish to be humiliated (unlike the old Braves) and they...won a game. Great.

It's a whole new ball game. New Braves ace Derek Lowe, Atlanta's answer to letting John Smoltz leave, pitched a gem; Jordan Schafer became only the fifth player in 134 years of Braves/Beaneaters baseball to homer in his first at-bat, and Francouer (remember him?), with a swing rebuilt by the hitting coach from another major league team, reintroduced himself by whacking the first pitch he saw for a home run.

ok, they added Derek Lowe, a pretty underrated pitcher in my opinion, who pitched very well. Their offense still looks appalling to me, and one swing from Jordan Schafer won't change that, irrespective of how many homerless first at-bat's other Atlanta Braves have preceded him. Maybe 15-20 of those swings, but not one. I remain similarly sceptical of Francouer.

Such is the beauty of opening night, when dreams are built upon first impressions.

dreams and shitty columns apparently.

"Everyone talks about the Mets and Phillies, and rightly so," Francoeur said. "We want to get back into that discussion.

yeah I know, every athlete quote is the same. If he said "I really don't care if we rank with the Phillies and Mets to be honest", that's a fucking story.

We have eight guys in our lineup who could hit 20 home runs.

I, Jimmy Stewart, will give you, Jeff Francouer, the sloppiest, deepest blowjob any man has ever received if Yunel Escobar (who has never done it), Kelly Johnson (who also has never done it), Casey Kotchman (never) and Garret Anderson (who has not hit 20 dingers since 2003) all hit 20 home runs. You're delusional.

We may not have the 3-4-5 guys the Mets and Phillies do, but 1 through 8, we're as good as any team in our division."

I beg to differ. Is Jordan Schafer better than Dan Murphy? Who knows. Raul Ibanez is better than Garret Anderson. Carlos Delgado is better than Casey Kotchman. Shane Victorino is better than Jeff Francouer. So on and so forth.

Francoeur, after a miserable 2008 season in which he hit .239 with 11 home runs, sought help from Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo last November. It wasn't quite Charles Barkley using a lifeline to Hank Haney for his pantomine-of-a-heart-attack golf swing, but you get the idea.

he tried to improve in the offseason, I get it. It's pretty commonplace.

Francoeur did so on the advice of former teammate Mark DeRosa, as well as Rangers infielder Michael Young. "There are guys like Mark who say they owe their careers to him," Francoeur said.

With a revitalized Francoeur, the energetic play of Schafer (who joined Jermaine Dye, Chuck Tanner and Beaneaters Johnny Bates and Joe Harrington in the first at-bat homer club) and even a little bit of offense from Garret Anderson, Atlanta might actually have a productive outfield.

stress on "might". Sure, I'll humour you, but it will probably suck.

In Lowe, they also might have the pitcher come October that the Mets might be wishing they had instead of re-investing in Oliver Perez.

I have no issue with this actually, refreshing.

"When you give up two hits to the Phillies, in this park?" Francoeur said. "That's impressive."

Actually, Lowe did something no pitcher ever did before in the history of Citizens Bank Bandbox: He allowed as few as two baserunners while throwing as many as eight innings. The Phillies scored nothing off him.

that is impressive, I didn't know that. See? Actual journalism!

The Phillies, too, quickly discovered 2008 is so yesterday, though they proudly celebrated it before the game with pomp and circumstance

how dare they! Celebrating the first championship for the city in professional sport for 20 odd years.

which could very well be the names of their No. 4 and 5 starters before this year is out. Look at this way: The Phillies are built at the moment to give 90 starts to Brett Myers, Joe Blanton and Chan Ho Park.

that's really not that bad a trio at the back end of a rotation, especially Myers, who has genuine upside. Not great, obviously, but not Texas Rangers level awful. It's ok, especially with a sick bullpen and a top 3 offense. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Phillies starting pitching is their weakest area, as it was last year. It's still not that bad. But yes, the Braves have a better rotation, fine.

How you regard that kind of pitching depth depends on your view of Myers, whose track record includes stretches of great and awful pitching that add up to something rather ordinary.

Philadelphia saw the bad Myers last night, at least over the first two innings, when three mistakes cost him four runs on three homers -- which meant the end of the ball game because of the way Lowe threw.

wasn't a great start, but again, hardly "the entire season is doomed!" awful. The bigger problem was the offense in the first game, that's where the Phillies will live or die in games. Outside of Hamels, giving up 4 runs in the first six innings should be pretty standard - it's the last few innings of pitching and hitting where they will, presumably, shine; observe.

"I feel like last year if something like that happened I might have folded," Myers said. "I might have given up an eight-spot instead of a four-spot."

Well, that's progress. But here's the thing about Myers: He is 27, still working on a decent changeup, and since 2006 he has been in out of the bullpen, in and out of the minor leagues, and is 15-21 with a 4.52 ERA.

Other than the pregame ceremonies, the Phillies for one night offered little in the way of expecting the good times of 2008 to keep rolling. Manager Charlie Manuel said both ace Cole Hamels (elbow) and second baseman Chase Utley (offseason hip surgery) require "monitoring," especially in the early season cold weather. Hamels, he said, still is working on getting full arm strength and velocity.

so your concern is over their 2nd or 3rd best starter, their unashamedly weakest element of the team, who is kind of ok, and possibly improving, and two injuries that right now are not causing their players to miss time (pushing a start back four days doesn't count IMO). I mean if Ryan Howard broke his leg or something, fine, but this is just such a non-story.

Such stories are typical of the bills that come due for pennant winning teams in their followup seasons. None of the past 14 pennant winners have returned to the World Series. Half of them didn't even make the playoffs and the other half were 3-7 in postseason series.

the success or failure of different teams, in different years, is unrelated to the success of this team in this year. How many times do I have to type this? It seems somewhere, in every column I write about, this misunderstanding occurs. Enough.

Of course, no one dares to write off a rugged Phillies team on the basis of one game, other than maybe the few fans who booed Myers and Ibanez. ("That's Philly," Myers said, shrugging.) Indeed, the Phillies have turned slow starts into their own Philly tradition, having begun the previous three seasons 24-22, 26-28 and 24-24. Wake them up when it's June.

booing does not equal writing off. In any sense. And as for your claim that no one dares write off the Phillies? This article is titled "Phillies' Opening Night loss reflects ominous signs for '09 title defense". That may not be the same as "writing off", but it's a hell of a lot closer than booing.

But there was something specific about how Philadelphia faded out on Day One that bears watching. Manuel chose to bat left-handers Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez in succession in the middle of the order, thus handing opposing managers a room-service invitation to clamp down a game with one decent left-handed reliever -- a reliever such as the Braves' Mike Gonzalez. After Utley walked in the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate, Howard whiffed and Ibanez did likewise. Somewhere Pat Burrell was smiling.

so, if this is a problem, maybe he'll change the lineup later in the season. You remember that right Tom? A season? ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY TWO of these games. That's the great thing about a season, it's long, adjustments can be made, expectations exceeded, games won et al.

"We've played one game, man," Manuel said. "What would you suggest?"

Well, here's an idea, now that $31.5 million already has been spent on a soon-to-be 37-year-old left-handed hitter who has never played in a playoff game: Put Shane Victorino or Jayson Werth between Howard and Ibanez, with the other of the two hitting second.

"We can shuffle guys around more than likely wind up where it's at [now]," Manuel said. "Maybe we can find a right-handed hitter between them that gets hot."

It was only one game, as Victorino pointed out, "so we're not going to just shoot ourselves in the foot."

Tom Verducci is an island of insanity in an ocean of reasonableness.

Right. It was only one game, but, like one of those visual perception tests in which you might see a vase and somebody else might see two faces in profile, the Braves and Phillies could see something totally different from the same game. It was something to believe in, or it was something to discard. What it most definitely was not, was 2008 anymore.

the Braves and Phillies will never be the same again! The world is forever changed, it's like 9/11. Give me a break.


Martin said...

Tired of being a laughing stock? The Braves were a laughing stock part of teh 70's and 80's, but what the hell would Franceour know about the TEAM being a laughing stock? The only laughing stock is the way he played last year.

Bengoodfella said...

I find it ironically funny that you wrote Jesus fucking Christ on Good Friday. Good stuff. Our blog is now cursed to go to Hell. Also, I wish Jeff Francouer would not speak another word until he becomes an average outfielder. I have been waiting, just waiting in the weeds, wanting and needing him to go 0-for in a game this year so I can produce this article I have had bookmarked since early March...and in conjunction with that article I will tear him a new one.

Martin is right. The only one laughing at this point is anyone who saw him play last year. He was horrible and his new stance will be played out within two weeks and pitchers are going to figure out a way to pitch him again (here's a hint, just throw the ball over the plate...he won't hit it).

I love how Verducci writes the whole article about how the Phillies are in trouble but it is based on one game. Like one game means anything in baseball.

J.S. please don't ever mention the 12-11 game again. 4 straight bases loaded walks? Blowing an 8 run lead? Now that is a team that should be worried...not the Phillies, not yet.

Anonymous said...

" None of the past 14 pennant winners have returned to the World Series"

Yeah and now one has. WHAT NOW VERDUCCI???