Lieberthal a deserving Wall of Fame member

Weather permitting, Mike Lieberthal will be inducted into the Phillies’ Wall of Fame today, an honor bestowed upon him by fan voting earlier in the year.  Lieberthal caught some of the most average (and by average I mean bad) teams in Phillies history, playing from 1994 to 2006, missing the playoffs by one year in 1993 and 2007.  He was no winner, and that seems to be the basis for a lot of the flak he has been catching (no pun intended) from Phillies fans that believe winning is everything–even for a catcher that couldn’t have possibly affected the outcome of the season by himself.

Numbers define baseball, and Phillies fans seem to be forgetting that.  Did Lieberthal’s stats make anybody’s mouth drop open in awe?  Of course not.  But all things considered, they were not half bad, and they could even be considered pretty good.   Continue reading

Phillies not just bad, but borderline unwatchable

From the start, this Phillies season was no fairy tale.  No Ryan Howard, no Chase Utley and an offense full of old, replacement-level players is not the way a 102-win team looked to come back from a disappointing NLDS loss.  But few people could have predicted the painful, train-wreck of a season the Phillies have had thus far.

After 63 games, the Phillies find themselves, miraculously, just five games under .500, but 9.5 games out of first place in the NL East.  But that’s not the worst part.  Roy Halladay injured himself in mid-May and Cliff Lee is win-less through 10 starts despite a 3.18 ERA.  But that’s not the worst part.  The Phillies are 5-11 in one-run games, 2-6 in extra inning games and the largest deficit they have climbed out of is two runs.  Throw in the fact that there is not a single exciting player on the offensive side of the ball and only one position player that is even close to deserving of being an all-star and you have nearly unwatchable baseball.

There are some bad teams that are decent or even fun to watch.  Take the Oakland A’s for example.  Are they nine games under .500?  Sure, but at least they have international import Yoenis Cespedes, a fun to watch centerfielder and Josh Reddick, who is having an all-star worthy year in right field.  On top of that, the A’s have one of the most promising minor-league systems in baseball, so at least there is hope for the future.

Unlike Oakland, however, the have no great minor-league system.  They have two truly all-star worthy players, but one is Cole Hamels, someone whose success relies on other players.  The other is Carlos Ruiz and neither he nor Hamels plays everyday.  To make matters worse, the Phillies just don’t have any exciting players that instill confidence at the plate.  Sure, Victorino and Pence are good players, but Pence has had major troubles both in the field and at bat, having already hit into nine double plays.  Victorino is not having a good year either, batting just .253 with an unimpressive OPS of .744.    But the most important difference between the Phillies and the A’s?  The A’s weren’t favorites to win their division and possibly compete for a World Series title.

That’s what makes this season the worst.  The Phillies had very high standards, rightfully so with some of the best starting pitchers in baseball.  But as the Phillies pitching has gotten better, so has the pitching from the rest of the league and at this point, a team of wash-ups and constantly injured players just won’t cut it.

There is no point in giving up hope in the Phillies; there is no place to go but up from last place.  But this team is tough to watch, never keeping leads, rarely coming back from deficits and finding themselves down in close games.  On top of all of this though, when watching a Phillies game, you have to put up with the unintelligible blabber of Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler.

While watching the Phillies will always be a priority, the Phillies losses and the way they have suffered these losses just makes the team worse and worse to watch.

It’s the End of the NL Central as We Know It

After this season, the National League and baseball as a whole will never be

Watch out for the Reds this season

the same. After this season, the NL Central will revert to a five-team division and the Houston Astros will move to the AL West, giving each division five teams and making the traditional one month of Interleague Play a thing of the past. But first, the 2012 season must play out. Here’s how things will go down in the National League Central: Continue reading

Ruben Amaro Jr is pretty sneaky

When the Phillies decided to sign Jonathan Papelbon over Ryan Madson, I admit I was pretty upset. Madson is younger, less expensive, and familiar with the Phillies Organization. In any case, at the time I thought Ruben Amaro Jr had made a bonehead play: I was so wrong.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr is one sly character. He’s well known for his lies, from “we’re not going to re-acquire Cliff Lee” to “we aren’t looking for infield help,” Amaro never tips his hand. Today, it was announced that Cincinatti Reds closer Ryan Madson needs Tommy John surgery to fix a torn ligament in his elbow, and that he will not

"Yeah, I knew. Get at me"

pitch at all in 2012. It could be that he tore the ligament sometime in a workout this offseason, but according to CBS Sports, Mad Dog has been experiencing discomfort all Spring, and he hasn’t thrown a pitch at all during Spring Training. Maybe our smugly sneaky GM knew something before deciding to sign Papelbon.

 

The only negative about this announcement is the ever-rising smugness level of Amaro Jr. A thing like this could trigger more lies, like “Chase Utley will be ready for Opening Day” (oh wait, that already happened). Speaking of, his adamant denial of the possibility that the Phillies will get some infield help seems to be turning, don’t be surprised if the Phightins have a new utility man within the next two weeks.

Is Victorino Worth Five Years?

According to Todd Zolecki of ESPN.com, outfielder Shane Victorino is looking for a contract extension with Philadelphia, preferably for five years.

At age 31, Shane-O would no doubt start to decline by the end of that deal while scoring the mega-cash associated with signing a deal while in his prime. As a point of reference, Torii Hunter signed a 5-year, $90 million deal after the 2007 season, when he was 32 and had stats very similar to Shane Victorino’s.
But is Shane Victorino worth $90 million and five years? More importantly, would the Phillies be willing to give him five years?

Continue reading