Thursday, December 31, 2009

Eagles vs. Cowgirls Preview

NFC East Divisional Champions
NFC Playoffs 1st round bye
Home field advantage until NFC Championship

While these three items were all on the Eagles checklist at the beginning of a season, they can now each be checked off with one task - beat the Cowgirls in "small d" this Sunday at 4:15pm. I cannot remember ever being this pumped up for a regular season game! Having the regular season end in Dallas, against our bitter rivals, with the division and a first round bye on the line...honestly, does it get any better than this?

Below are statistical comparisons between players and the match-ups that I see as the most important to the Eagles success or defeat. Bold shows best number in their field.


Donovan McNabb - 3330 Yds, 60.7 %, 22 Td, 10 Int, 94.5 Rat
Tono Romo - 4172 Yds, 62.6%, 24 Td, 8 Int, 97.0 Rat
LeSean McCoy - (Rush) 633 Yds, 4.1 Ave, 4 Td - (Rec) 303 Yds, 8.0 Ave
Leonard Weaver - (Rush) 321 Yds, 4.7 Ave, 2 Td - (Rec) 140 Yds, 9.3 Ave, 2 Td
Brian Westbrook - (Rush) 257 Yds, 4.6 Ave, 1 Td - (Rec) 161 Yds, 7.7 Ave, 1 Td
Marion Barber - (Rush) 841 Yds, 4.2 Ave, 7 Td - (Rec) 207 Yds, 8.3 Ave
Felix Jones - (Rush) 594 Yds, 5.9 Ave, 2 Td - (Rec) 116 Yd, 7.3 Ave
Tashard Choice - (Rush) - 349 Yds, 5.5 Ave, 3 Td - (Rec) 132 Yds, 8.8 Ave

Wide Receivers
DeSean Jackson - 1120 Yds, 18.7 Ave, 9 Td
Jeremy Maclin - 715 Yds, 13.8 Ave, 4 Td
Miles Austin - 123o Yds, 16.6 Ave, 11 Td
Roy Williams - 596 Yds, 15.7 Ave, 7 Td

Tight End
Brent Celek - 875 Yds, 12.7 Ave, 8 Td
Jason Witten - 954 yds, 10.8 Ave, 1 Td
Punt Returns
DeSean Jackson - 432 Yds, 15 FC, 85 Long, 2 Td
Patrick Crayton - 413 Yds, 22 FC, 82 Long, 2 Td
Asante Samuel - 40 Tot, 39 Sol, 1FF, 15 PD, 9 Int
Sheldon Brown - 51 Tot, 43 Sol, 1 FF, 17 PD, 5 int
Mike Jenkins - 48 Tot, 44 Sol, 16 PD, 5 int
Terence Newman - 56 Tot, 51 Sol, 3 FF, 18 PD, 3 Int

Not comparing these..Dallas simply dominates having two healthy LBs all year.


When you look over the numbers above you can see why this game means so much for both teams - they're both very good. It is weird how well these two teams match up offensively. I kept waiting for stats to show the position that we dominate in, but the stats show how evenly we match up across all of the positions.

With this in mind, I believe that there are a few positions that we need to pay specific attention to if we want to give ourselves a good shot at winning.
Miles Austin - He is the most important person on this team. We absolutely need to contain Austin. In the first meeting, Austin had one catch for a 49 yd TD. He seems to do this in just about every game..this is why he has 11 TD's and made the Pro Bowl.
Tony Romo - Romo has had a very good year, which makes me sick to say. Romo's legs are what will kill us. He can make a play out of nothing because he allows himself time to get out of the pocket and either run or complete a broken-play pass.
Felix Jones - Marion Barber does not scare me..he's getting slow and doesn't hit the hole like he used to - he'll get the ball in goal line situations, we know that. Felix Jones is an explosive back that can take a hand off or screen and turn it into a big play...easily. The 'Girls could use this speed to counter the coverages we will put on Austin, so it is important to shut him down early and get our hands on the ball...he fumbles.
Jason Witten - Dude always kills us.

We need LeSean McCoy to have a big day, which I feel he will have. More importantly, if Jeremy Maclin has a few big catches in the first half the offense will open dramatically, because you know the 'Girls are scared of DeSean Jackson and have been pooping their pants all week trying to figure out some sort of bracket coverage for him.
I'll save your eyes some stress and wrap it up here...
The Eagles have their playoff situation in their own hands. This team should be salivating at the opportunity that they have in front of them. We have no excuses if we lose this game.

Go Birds!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Adam Stanco's NBA Naughty and Nice

Adam weighs in once again before the holidays to help your fantasy squad..

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

NBA Fantasy Rookie Report - ESPN Video

Ladies & gentlemen...I present to you, Adam Stanco, the smartest man in the world of basketball.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Doc Halladay/Cliff Lee + 5,000 Minors Trade

Well, it was only a matter of time before the Phillies got their hands on Roy Halladay. The twists and turns of ironing out this deal seemed to be never ending - there were new players/prospects added to the speculation every hour. It does not surprise me to see a past Pat Gillick team (Mariner's) once again in the trading mix. Below is what each team received in the deal:

Phillies: Roy Halladay ('03 AL Cy Young), Phillippe Aumont (Mariner's #1 pitching prospect), J.C. Ramirez (Mariner's #2 pitching prospect), Tyson Gillies (speedy, on-the-rise OF prospect), $6M cash
Blue Jays: Kyle Drabek (Phillies #1 pitching prospect), Michael Taylor (Phillies #2 outfield prospect), Travis d'Arnaud (Phillies #1 catching prospect)
Mariners: Cliff Lee ('08 AL Cy Young)

The deal gives the Phillies an unbelievable Right-Left, 1-2 combination at the top of their rotation. It is important to realize that a performance like Lee's playoff run in '09 will most-likely not happen again....ask Cole Hamels. His playoff pitching will be studied down to every possible second by the next time that he is on the big stage. Therefore, I think that swapping Halladay for Lee is a great deal. You get a cheaper ace, who is right handed, to compliment Hamels, and a pitcher who has been salivating for 6 months to join this team. The confusing side for many fans is that the Phillies lost basically what the Jays wanted in the summer for Halladay. The deal maker for Ruben Amaro Jr. was that they were able to bring the Mariner's into the deal and take three of their top prospects along with Halladay.

The Phillies were not prepared to go past 3 years with Cliff Lee's contract where they would have had to pay him over $100M. They orchestrated a deal that gave them an equal or better ace, saved $40M+, and received three very promising youngsters. While the Phillies traded top pitching, outfield and catching prospects they received the Mariner's top 2 pitching prospects and an outfield prospect that many scouts say will be as good if not better than Michael Taylor. On top of it all, the Phillies still kept their #1 overall prospect in Dominic Brown who may not be MLB ready like Taylor, but will be by the time we actually need MLB outfield help! (Ibanez, Victorino & Werth are all staying put for at least 3 years)

In the end, I think that this deal was a lot of work for potentially a very big return. The Phillies have saved money while getting arguably the best pitcher in baseball. Our farm system did not take such a hit that we are left with gaps and we were able to keep Joe Blanton and J.A Happ. I never would have seen a deal like this happening, but this new style of GM that Ruben Amaro has brought to the organization is something to be happy about - he goes out and makes things happen any way possible. In a week and a half he has brought Placido Polanco and Roy Halladay to Philly. That is pretty impressive. The reason that I do not absolutely love the trade is simple because I have so much respect for players that carry a team on their back, and that is exactly what Cliff Lee did for us in the '09 playoffs. It is hard to just get rid of such a valuable member of a team, but this is professional sports - it is a business.

The Phillies obviously still need to pick up some bullpen help, and I'm sure that they will do this before spring training (looking at Fernando Rodney and John Smoltz heavily). The best part of this offseason is realizing that Ruben and the Phillies owners are making the moves that we have dreamed of the last 15 years. The Phillies are slowly becoming the Yankees of the NL and leaving every other team feeling that they're not doing enough.

Honestly, how painful must it be to root for the Mets???

IN THE FOREGROUND - Essentially, the Phillies traded Carlos Carrasco (#2 prospect), Lou Marson (#3 prospect), Jason Donald (#4 prospect), Kyle Drabek (#5 prospect), Michael Taylor (#6 prospect), Travis d'Arnaud (#7 prospect) and Jason Knapp (#10 prospect) for Roy Halladay and the '09 NL pennant. The Phillies traded all but three of their top ten prospects leaving the #1, #8 & #9 prospects in Dominic Brown, Zach Collier and J.A. Happ. (rankings from prior to the Lee deal last summer)

IN THE BACKGROUND - The Phillies kept great prospects, picked up a few phenomenal prospects from the M's, have an ace for the long run and save 40M+. This is how baseball trades work.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Riding on DeSean Jackson's Back

These days, when Donovan McNabb drops back, torques his body, and unleashes the deep ball I feel comfortable. Chances are, the ball will sore 30+ yards to a wide open DeSean Jackson who will make another breathtaking play. In all of my years of watching the Philadelphia Eagles I cannot remember a more exciting player to watch - I know you feel the same way. Each and every time that DeSean Jackson touches the ball I expect a touchdown, I'm not kidding.

DeSean Jackson is listed as a 5'10", 175 pound wideout. I would argue he's closer to 5'8", but none-the-less has rockets on his cleats and the city of Philadelphia on his back. This kid, and I say that because he's only 23, is simply unbelievable. This season he has 1481 total yards with 9 TDs, 8 of which have been over 50 yards. I'll repeat that again....8 of his 9 touchdowns have been over 50 yards! The DeSean Jackson mixtape for the 2009 season will certainly look a lot like Usain Bolt's...a lot of people in the dust and a nice little dance for the kids.

With 3 regular season games remaining, and most likely the playoffs, DeSean has an excellent shot at becoming the first NFL player to have 9 or more TDs that are 50+ yards. More importantly, 5 of the 9 TDs DeSean has had have come when the Eagles were losing. He is taking it upon himself to change the outcome of football games by simply evading the opponent any way that he can.

DeSean seems to figure, "why wait?", as he has scored 5 of his 7 offensive touchdowns on first down. His explosiveness and reliability are both carrying this football team and his fans in the city of Philadelphia, and I'm enjoying the ride.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

B-West & DeSean's Craniums

Well, the two most explosive Eagles have recently been sidelined due to their brains shaking inside their heads. When you think about it don't concussions just sound crazy!? Here's how you feel:

"Yes, I blacked out. I mean that guy hit me so hard that my brain was shaking (literally). Now, I feel like I'm going to puke and I have terrible headaches."

I don't know about you, but that sounds awful to me! We as humans seem to have figured out that our brain is our most important organ. Honestly, we have a think skull encasing our brain! There are no bone casings around our lungs, or even our heart! How has it taken doctors and athletes this long to figure this out and address this issue seriously? The NFL has been so worried about quarterback's health and good looks for the league's own personal revenue that they have forgotten to look at what happens to their retirees 10-30 years down the road. Now you've got players from the 70's and 80's who can barely remember past 2 days, are as depressed as Tiger Woods on Thanksgiving, and function like a 95 year old.

I believe Desean Jackson's concussion came because of a terribly unfortunate hit across the middle. DeSean is a deep threat that runs posts, double move routes, and end arounds all game. He has a much lower chance of getting another concussion than Westbrook. B-West is continually running through traffic, catching blind screens, and blocking linebackers running at full speed. On top of this, Westbrook had two concussions in 3 weeks, so he's obviously prone to this type of thing.

If I'm Brian Westbrook, I'm the next Tiki Barber and catching the express train out of the NFL. I wouldn't put my pads back on ever again. He has millions of dollars and can invest it now and be financially secure for the rest of his life. His career has been successful enough that he could work in sports or TV immediately.

Desean, on the other hand, dude just needs to run...stop cutting across the middle at flying linebackers 2x his size! He'll be just fine.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Allen Iverson Is Home

There is a reason that I have watched 2 full 76ers games since 2006...Because Allen Iverson was no longer a part of the organization. I could only see the trading of Iverson as a final destroy and rebuild attempt by Billy King and the terrible Sixers staff. This annoyed me to the point that I (and I assume you if you're reading) have payed attention to our NBA team, but have really not cared enough to watch a full game or even think about buying a ticket to a Sixers game. I wanted Iverson to retire as a Sixers - as a kid I thought it was inevitable.
I grew up watching Allen Iverson. I was 10 years old when we drafted him in '96 and was in the prime of my basketball career! While I was the farthest thing from a guard, Iverson's heart and consistent 'do whatever it takes' attitude made him one of the most amazing athletes I had ever watched. I wanted to emulate his style in any sport I played. I went to probably 30 Sixers game during Iverson's time in Philly - simply, I wanted to watch AI play, and hope the Sixers won..too. Essentially, in my eyes, Allen Iverson was the Sixers and they went as he went, good or bad.

Well, I promise that I will watch every second of the next Sixers game. Allen Iverson has finally returned to the Philadelphia 76ers. Amazingly, I have had the "what-if Iverson came back" discussion with friends and college roomates so many times that it makes me laugh to think it has seriously happened! We'd always joked about it and say, "ahh man, that would be awesome. Back to 2001 when we were legit!" My one pessimistic, idiot roomate would always tell me why it wouldn't happen. Well, idiot, it happened!

I don't care if the Sixers look terrible Monday. I don't care if Iverson gets two technicals. I don't care if Lou Williams demands a trade. I don't care if Allen says he will not practice...just please let my boy AI retire in the city of Philadelphia....he belongs here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Phillies Payroll in 2010

Below is the Phillies payroll for this upcoming season. Crazy what having a good team does to your situation financially.

C - Carlos Ruiz - $475K
C - Brian Schneider - $1.25MM
1B - Ryan Howard - $19MM
2B - Chase Utley - $15MM
SS - Jimmy Rollins - $7.5MM
3B - ? ($5-10MM)
IF - Juan Castro - $800K (estimated)
LF - Raul Ibanez - $11.5MM
CF - Shane Victorino - $3.125MM
RF - Jayson Werth - $7MM
OF - Ben Francisco - $421K
OF - John Mayberry Jr. - $400K
1B/3B/OF - Greg Dobbs - $1.35MM

SP - Cliff Lee - $9MM
SP - Cole Hamels - $6.65MM
SP - Joe Blanton - $5.475MM
SP - J.A. Happ - $405K
SP - Jamie Moyer - $8MM
RP - Brad Lidge - $11.5MM
RP - J.C. Romero - $4MM
RP - Ryan Madson - $4.5MM
RP - Chad Durbin - $1.635MM
RP - Clay Condrey - $650K
RP - Sergio Escalona - $400K
RP - Kyle Kendrick - $475K

Adam Eaton - $500K, Pedro Feliz - $500K, Geoff Jenkins - $1.25MM

With $ being spent on players like Ruiz and Victorino in the off-season the total will rise somewhere near $125-130MM as a team. This allows the Phils plenty of space to sign a big player at 3rd base (Beltre, Polanco) and some bullpen heat (Betancourt, Putz, Gonzalez).

I really like the Brian Schneider deal - he's been a little banged up in the past year, but there are two things I see as the catalyst to a good year for him. 1) He'll now be a backup that will play sparingly, which will keep his back/knees nice and healthy. 2) He's from the Philly area and took a pay cut and backup role to play for his dream-team - that says a lot for the heart he will put in for this team.

Besides this, it is fair to say that this team's line-up is only going to be better than the last season - which is scary! Pitching is the main concern in my book, especially that we're losing Eyre and Park, but with the way Ruben Amaro Jr. has handled signings so far I am not too worried about picking up some quality guys.

Random team info: The Phillies each received over $265K for winning the NL this past season. In total, the team was awarded over $14MM to divide amongst players on a pro-rated basis.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pat White is a Pussy Cat..

Pat White is right next to a camera..instead of saying Hi, maybe wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, this idiot decides to purr like a pussy cat..


Devin Hester Has Pimples On His Ass

Hester, honestly, Keep your pants on..

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Guy is Facebook Friends With the Phanatic..

Unbelievable mascot dance at halftime of a game.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pitt Men's Basketball Highlights 2008-09

Highlights from last year's unbelievable season. Watch this when you're at work I am now.

Shady McCoy, Boss.

Yesss...LeSean McCoy is my player of the week. One because he won the Eagles game last night after a late 4th quarter TD, and more importantly because he was a West Virginia KILLER in college and this is the week of the WVU game...I hate WVU.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

PITT Basketball 2009-2010

So the baseball playoffs put me in a serious funk. I didn't want to write about sports ever again. Anyways...
It is crazy what a year does...
The Panthers set all sorts of records last year and did not lose at any game I was able to attend (18-0 at home). This year's '09 team may make a lot of basketball fans forget about how dominating Pitt was last year. After ending one shot away from the Final Four last season, Pitt is left without starters DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, Levance Fields and Tyrell Biggs. Jermaine Dixon is out for the next few weeks or so with a broken ankle and Gilbert Brown is suspended until the second semester. Not having these 6 players means that right now the team on the court for Pitt does not include a single starter or the 6th man from last season. If you add all of these losses together it certainly looks to equal dissapointment.

Let's break down the games that the Panthers will win/lose strickly based on the fact that I know! Wins in BLUE, losses in RED.
1. Wofford
2. Binghampton
3. Eastern Kentucky
4. Wichita State
5. Iowa/Texas
6. Youngstown St.
7. Duquesne
8. New Hampshire
9. Indiana
10. Kent State
11. Mt. St. Mary's
12. Ohio
13. Depaul
14. Syracuse
15. Cincinnatti
16. Connecticut
17. Louisville
18. Georgetown
19. Seton Hall
20. St. John's
21. South Florida
22. West Virginia
23. Seton Hall
24. Robert Morris
25. West Virgnia
26. Marquette
27. Villanova
28. Notre Dame
29. St. John's
30. Providence
31. Rutgers

This would leave the Panthers at 18-13 on the season. They'll probably end up in the NIT if the season ends around this record. I'm certainly hoping that this is that pessimistic side of me that comes out every so often and instead this team somehow proves me drastically wrong...but I just don't see that happening.

I'll check back in March and see how right/wrong I was.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Señor Octubre & Jayson Werth

It must be pointed out that the play from Jayson Werth and Señor Octubre so far this post-season has been fantastic. Their offensive output has not only been impressive, but important for the success of the Phillies lineup. O, by the way, Carlos Ruiz is now Mr. October, but he speaks Spanish..

Let's quickly review the statistics from these two players through game 3 of the NLCS..

Jayson Werth - .250 BA (6/24), .400 OBP, .708 SLG, 1.108 OPS - 6H, 6RBI, 7R, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6BB.
Carlos Ruiz - .429 BA (9/21), .538 OBP, .619 SLG, 1.158 OPS - 9H, 7RBI, 3R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5BB.

What these numbers show..

Jayson Werth hits the ball hard. Werth has crushed the ball this post-season, and could very easily have 4 home-runs. As with any power hitter, pitchers have become cautious with Werth which has allowed him to accrue 6 walks - Raul Ibanez has been able to take advantage of this. It is simply amazing to see that Werth has 6 hits so far in this post-season - 3 of these hits were home-runs and another was a triple. Werth is hitting the ball like a clean-up batter and has gained the respect of one too.

What I see as the most important part of Werth's success is the fact that because he has hit the ball so fiercely, pitchers are forced to pitch to Ryan Howard. Albert Pujols was pitched delicately or intentionally walked in the NLDS by the Dodgers pitchers. Going into the NLCS, "everyone" said that Howard would be neutralized by the Dodgers left-handed pitchers...I'm still waiting to see what these experts are talking about! Howard is hitting the ball as well as he ever has this October, but a lot of this success is because he is seeing good pitches. He is seeing these pitches because pitchers know Jayson Werth is on deck and has the power and hot bat that will make them pay if they pitch around Howard.

Carlos Ruiz, or Señor Octubre, is the clutch performer of the Phillies post-season thus far. The 8th batter in the line-up has smacked the ball all over the field, and into Mannywood! The Panamanian Devil is out to show people that he's back this October with a vengeance, proving that last year's playoff showing was no fluke. Ruiz is leading the team in batting average (.429) and has stepped up to drive in 7 RBI's in 7 games. Ruiz is allowing players like Ibanez and Feliz to be more selective with their swings, since they know that if they get on base they have Señor Octubre just waiting to put a confident swing on the ball.

Some people would say, "With this offensive production, the Phils should move Ruiz up to the 7 spot and push Feliz to the 8 spot." Quite the contrary, because the success of Ruiz is allowing our pitchers at bats that do not lead off innings. Ruiz is therefore putting the pitchers in the position to end or prolong innings, instead of beginning them. In playoff baseball, these simple things win games and series.
P.S. Randy Wolf is going to get smacked around tonight..a not-so-welcome back to Citizen's Bank Park.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pitchers for Game 1 & 2 Set

The pitching match ups for Game 1 & Game 2 of the NLCS have been set..and they are certainly surprising. Below are the match ups for the the games with each pitcher's '09 NLDS stats and their season stats to look at..

Game 1 is a match up between two young lefties in Hamels and Kershaw. Clayton Kershaw seems to have been paved the path to becoming the Dodgers ace of the future. Hamels, on the other hand, was certainly the ace of the Phillies rotation but has had to learn how to become the number 2 since Cliff Lee arrived. In last year's NLCS, Hamels was dominant over the Dodgers while Kershaw was taken advantage of out of the 'pen. This year has seemed to change a lot...

Throughout the 2009 season, Kershaw has consistently allowed a low number of runs, but was not given the run support that he needed to win many games - very similar to the plague Hamels received in the '09 regular season. From listening to the pre-practice press conference yesterday, Kershaw seems unfazed by the Phillies potent lineup. He said he is not afraid to attack any hitter in the Phils lineup and that he is the kind of pitcher that does not shy away, but uses all parts of the plate. This should work well for Kershaw since he has only allowed lefties to hit .173 against him this year!

Hamels always talks about how he loves to pitch in California, and he certainly has backed it up against the Dodgers in recent history. It should help Hamels to get back in the "ace" spot of game 1 and also pitch in the LA spotlight. He has only allowed 1 run in 16 innings against the Dodgers this year..

Game 2 is an interesting match up between two veteran pitchers. One pitcher, Pedro, is a first ballot Hall of Famer and the other pitcher, Padilla, has been a so-so 10 year up-and-down pitcher. Surprisingly, both pitchers have performed well in the 2nd half of the '09 season.

Since Padilla's first start for the Dodgers on August 27th, he has gone 4-0 with a 3.20 era. Being a Phillies fan, I hate seeing that these numbers are better than any season he ever had in Philadelphia (best season was 2002 when he was an All-Star, 14-11, 3.28 era). We know he has had "stuff" in the past, and he certainly did against St. Louis when he pitched 7 shutout innings and only allowed 4 hits. The one good thing in the Phillies favor is that lefties hit .303 off of Padilla...Might be a good game for Paul Bako to get his first post-season start and see how he battles - can always go back to Chooch if you need him. In the last post I wrote that I thought Padilla would pitch in game 3...probably a good call by Joe Torre to have him pitch in game 2 so that he does not have to return to the Phillies fans that would surely rip him apart!

The most interesting pitcher for both of these games seems to be Pedro Martinez. He has not pitched yet in this post-season and has not pitched at all since September 30th. When Pedro was picked up by the Phillies numerous baseball analysts condemned the Phillies and said he could not pitch anymore and that he would not be healthy for a post season run even if he made it that far. Well, Pedro is healthy and has pitched very well for the Phillies with a 5-1 record and 3.63 era. This is great news, because Pedro has had great success in the post season and is well known as a "Big Game Pitcher". For his career in the post season, Pedro is 6-2 with a 3.40 era. Colorado's cold weather did not seem to be the right place for Pedro to try to start pitching, but the California temperatures and weather should suit his arm just fine tomorrow. It is 10 years since Pedro dominated baseball in 1999, but this 2nd half of the season has certainly showed he can still pitch. Hopefully this "big game" brings out the best in him again. Let's just hope he doesn't grab Larry Bowa by the head and throw him on the ground..

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NLCS Preview - Phillies vs Dodgers

The Philadelphia Phillies were the only team in the final four that did not sweep their opponent in the LDS round. With a 3 game sweep of the Cardinals, the LA Dodgers will host the Phillies for Game 1 of the NLCS this Thursday at 8:07PM. Below is a preview of who to watch for and stats from their previous series/season..

Phillies NLDS Best & Worst

Cliff Lee - 1-0,1.10 ERA - 2 GS, 1 CG, 16.1 IP, 11H, 2ER. Cliff was outstanding in his first two starts of the post-season. If Madson doesn't allow three runs in the 8th of Game 4 Cliff has a great chance at being 2-0. He proved himself as the ace and was able to give a huge boost of confidence to the team and fans in Philly. Now we just need Cole to do the same and we're set..

Jayson Werth - 357 BA, 5H, 2HR, 1 3B, 4 RBI, game winning hit in game 4. Werth made every hit count in the NLDS and was responsible for the series winning hit in game 4. He hit 2 home runs and had a triple that would have been long gone had it not been for 25mph winds - at worst, had he not thought it was gone from the get-go and had his trot going, Werth would have had an inside the park home run.


J.A. Happ - 0-0, 9.00 ERA - 2G, 1GS, 3.o IP, 6 H, 3ER, 2BB - Happ was brought in for one batter in Game 2 and was injured after getting drilled in the leg. Next, Happ started Game 3 in freezing temperatures in Denver. Happ really struggled in this game, as we see in the stats above, but mostly with his command. I believe that a lot of Happ's struggles were actually because of the weather, but I guess that is what you get for wearing short sleeves in 29 degree weather. C'mon Jay..

Jimmy Rollins - 19 AB, 5 H, 1 2b, 5 K, 0 SB, 1R - Rollins played well in Game 4, but was a terrible lead-off hitter in the other games. We cannot expect to win the NLCS, and especially the World Series, with Rollins only scoring 1 time, not stealing a single bag, having one extra base hit and striking out 5 times. Rollins must get on base and must distract the pitchers by stealing bases. I've said all year, as Rollins goes the Phillies go.

Possible Pitching Match Ups

Serious Speculation here...
Game 1 - Cole Hamels vs. Randy Wolf - in LA
Game 2 - J.A. Happy vs. Clayton Kershaw - in LA
Game 3 - Cliff Lee vs. Vicente Padilla - in Philly
Game 4 - Pedro Martinez vs. Chad Billingsley - in Philly
  • To be honest, I am feeling very confident about these match ups. While Wolf and Padilla certainly are not the pitchers they were in the red pinstripes, they will never seem any different to me because of how terrible they were on our rosters.
  • Cole Hamels is an interesting player...he has struggled this year and in Game 2 of the NLDS. The one team Cole did not struggle against was LA where he pitched his best game of the season against them on June 4th pitching a complete game shut out.

  • Like I said earlier, I feel Happ's struggles were mostly because of the weather and should have no problem in LA if he gets the call in Game 2. While the Dodgers hit lefties much better than the Rockies, the fact that Happ has actually started recently makes me think he is a better choice then using Blanton or finally bringing Pedro into a game.
  • Lee, I am comfortable against anyone - Vicente Padilla, Roger Clemens, Babe Ruth, Cy Young...I don't care at this point. What Cliff has done for us this year/post season has blown me away.

  • Chad Billingsley could be slipped in somewhere in the first three games since he did not pitch in the NLDS and was very successful earlier this year against the Phils.
Who to Watch for on the Dodgers

James Loney - Against the Phils this year Loney has hit .393 BA, 11H, 2HR, 6RBI. These numbers are certainly up from his averages and up comparable to other teams this season.

Andre Ethier - Ethier's numbers have been ridiculous so far this post season.... .500BA, 5R, 2 2B, 2HR, 1.333 SLG, 1.905 OBP. Along with the NLDS series that Either had, he has performed very well against the Phillies this year including the June 6th game when he had 2 home runs, 1 being a walk-off in the 12th inning.

Chad Billingsley - If he pitches anything like he did against us earlier this year we're in trouble. Billingsley threw 7 innings, allowed only 3 hits, 1 ER and had 9Ks. I wouldn't expect these numbers since he hasn't pitched like this all year, but some pitchers perform better against certain teams... like Hamels, hopefully.


I have to believe that this series has 6 or 7 games written all over it. The Phillies & Dodgers have arguably been the two best teams in the NL all season and it seemed in June that this would be the NLCS match up again. With this said, both teams have showed a lot in the last NLDS series - the Dodgers swept a good St. Louis team and the Phillies battled all series, especially in game 4 against the Rockies. Both teams are hot and if either team lets up the other will surely capitalize on them and could quickly dominate the series.

Honestly, I do not see either team dominating this series, although I think the Phillies pitching has the potential to be far superior. I would be very surprised to see anything less than 6 games in this series unless Hamels and Lee were to both dominate their games... which is unlikely. I do think that the experience and consistency through the Phillies lineup will be the deciding factor, as it was in the NLDS.


Phillies in 6, Ryan Howard NLCS MVP

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stairsway to Heaven '08

Anyone remember this home run..?

Matt Stairs became a Phillies legend with one swing of the bat. By the way, it was against the LA Dodgers in the NLCS...
Will get back with a NLCS preview shortly. Until then, just remember this swing..


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Game 1 NLDS Recap - Looking at Game 2

Honestly, I could not have drawn up a more encouraging win than yesterday's Game 1 of the NLDS. There were positives in just about every aspect of the game that should make everyone in Philadelphia even more excited about this afternoon's sequel with Cole Hamels on the mound. I want to point out many of the positives that I saw in the game and then quickly write about Game 2 and what could be important.
  1. We can steal all day on Torrealba - as we did (tried..RH) all game yesterday. When your starting pitcher steals bags you know there is a weak link. First post-season steal for a Phillies pitcher in the history of the team. Chris Iannetta will have to get time if we continue to steal as successfully as yesterday.

  2. Each of the 9 batters had at least 1 hit. This is incredibly encouraging especially with who was pitching yesterday and how our offense has been performing lately. As I wrote in the NLDS preview, if our offense is on, as it was yesterday, there is no stopping this team. I don't know if the rest the last few days helped or what, but all of the players were hitting the ball in good spots and hard.
  3. I watched the game on the MLB Corner feature online - this thing is cool! I had four views going - behind home plate with an awesome view of the strike zone, in center field, in the Phillies dugout which is hilarious to watch and along the 3rd baseline. I thought this thing would be stupid, but it was actually pretty cool if you're really into baseball....or at work, like I was!

  4. If the wind was not at 25mph there would have been at least 2 home runs in the game. Werth's would have been more left center and definitely way out and Howard's most likely would have been a bomb to left. Instead, we ended up with an RBI scoring triple and double off the wall - not complaining!

  5. We did not have to use the bullpen at all (thanks Cliff) which allowed the group another day of rest. We did see Happ up in the bullpen in the 9th which makes you think that Martinez will be starting game 4 and that Happ may have become the late reliever/closer - I don't know how I feel about this.

  6. Do Not Doubt Cholly! He decided to use Cliff Lee in Game 1, despite his recent struggles, and wow was he right! Now Hamels is coming into today's game with a nice 1-0 lead in the series and the chance to just about end the series. We can only hope he pitches like last post-season...

  7. Cliff Lee.

  8. Clifford Lee.

  9. C. L. - Whatever you want to call him, the man pitched amazing yesterday. He retired 16 in a row at one point. Allowed just 6 hits and 1 earned run in a complete game. Sounds awfully familiar (cough cough..last post!) to his first home start vs. the Rockies. Lee was one strike away from a complete game shutout but allowed an RBI double. No big deal. I have to say for this being his first playoff game, for a team and city he has been with for a few months, this outing was very very impressive. Yesterday's pitching by Lee is exactly what we hoped for the day that Ruben traded for him. I cannot wait to see him pitch again!

Game 2

Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32 era) will take the mound this afternoon versus Aaron Cook (11-6, 4.16). We all know what Cole is capable of doing in the post-season. Last year, Hamels was 4-0 with a 1.80 era in the playoffs - he shoud have been 5-0 but that 2 day delay messed it all up. Aaron Cook, on the other hand, has pitched his last 13 innings while allowing only 1 run. He was on the DL in August with shoulder problems. The last time the Phillies faced Cook was August 6th - Cook pitched 5.0 innings, allowed 7 hits and 3 earned runs. Cook left the game with a hyper-extended big toe. Cook was an All-Star in '08.

The weather forecast for today's game is 67 degrees, sunny, 9mph wind. Today's game will not be changed by anything other than the will of the players. It will be a beautiful October afternoon to kick the Rockies' ass.

Hamels was quoted yesterday as saying that he truly believes the playoffs are a time to "start over". I am so excited to hear him say that. If Hamels can pitch anything like last year, or Lee yesterday, then this game will be another breeze. The Rockies will be swinging today - their team is too good to have two silent days offensively. Today's game should be closer than yesterday's simply because the Rockies know they have there backs against the wall...already. If they lose today they have an incredibly small chance of pulling this series out. They will be swinging and aggressive on the base paths when they have the opportunities. With this in mind, Carlos Ruiz can be a huge part of today's success. He needs to be able to keep the ball in front and call pitches in running counts where he knows he will have a good angle to still throw down to 2nd or 3rd.

I think the crowd will be even crazier today then it was yesterday. I was really mad when I heard that the Phils had the two early games, but after seeing yesterday's record setting crowd it is truly obvious that this town does not quit on their teams...even when they're supposed to be working...I mean seriously, what recession?


I don't like doing this for playoff games, but I'm really excited about this one. Hamels should go about 7 strong, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 6 left on base. The Phils will win the way they know best and get two big home runs, 1 from the Big Guy Ryan Howard and 1 from Chase Utley. Phillies win 5-3.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Familiar Start for Lee in Philly

On August 6th, 2009 no one saw foreshadowing in a 3-1 Phillies win at the intersection of Pattison Avenue and Citizen's Bank Way. Instead, we were all mesmerized as Cliff Lee pitched his first game in Citizen's Bank Park since being signed by the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee threw 7 strong innings and struck out 9 batters in his home debut and left the field to a standing ovation. There might have been a few baseball fans that were concerned with other Philles that day, but they were certainly hard to find. I can assure you, though, that everyone was much less concerned about the team the Phillies played...the Colorado Rockies.

Tomorrow, October 7th, 2009, exactly 2 months and a day since Lee's Philadelphia home debut, Citizen's Bank Park will once again be the spot for a Cliff Lee home debut - this time it will be the first playoff game Lee has pitched in his career. Surprisingly, this game will feature the Colorado Rockies, again. In Lee's only outing against Colorado, the Rockies managed 6 hits with only one extending to extra bases. Lee's 9 strike outs came mainly from a delicately place fastball and an on-point curveball. Essentially, Lee was able to keep the Rockies off balance all day long with pitches that could not be lifted to the gaps.

While Cliff Lee continued to dazzle the Philadelphia crowd for a few more starts, things seemed to change around August 29th. Since then, Lee has had a 2-4 record and a 6.20 era. One can only guess as to what may have changed in Lee's pitching to allow such a difference in his numbers. "He has been leaving the ball up, he has been relying on his curveball, the NL has finally caught on to his pitching style." All of these excuses could be debated, but the important thing to realize is that it isn't important at all!

As we saw last year with Cole Hamels, the postseason is a new animal and can breed a new player. Cole Hamels was able to dominate through the playoffs winning a game in each series against Milwaukee, LA and finally Tampa Bay. Lee seems to be the one pitcher in the rotation that is really struggling recently. With this said, if he is able to take this "new season" attitude into tomorrow's game and feed off of the Philly Phaithful, there is no reason that August 6th, 2009 was not the perfect foreshadowing to October 7th, 2009.
Go Phillies!

Monday, October 5, 2009

NLDS Matchup: Phillies vs. Rockies

The NLDS and ALDS are all setup. The Phillies will be taking on the wild-card Colorado Rockies. The series will start Wednesday at 2:37pm in Philadelphia (thanks...I'll be at work). Below are important numbers to compare before the series begins. Better numbers for each category will be highlighted in RED for Phillies and PURPLE for Colorado. GREY for a tie.

Phillies - 93-69
Rockies - 92-70

Probable Pitcher Matchups: (Based on
Hamels (10-11, 4.32 era) vs. Jimenez (15-12, 3.47 era)
Lee (14-13, 3.22 era) vs. Cook (11-6, 4.16 era)
Blanton (12-8, 4.05 era) vs. Hammel (10-8, 4.33 era)
Martinez (5-1, 3.62 era)/Happ (12-4, 2.93 era) vs. De La Rosa (16-9, 4.38 era)

-Obviously, these are complete season totals in both records and ERA. I would say that the most important pitching stats for playoff predictions are numbers in the second half of the season and the last 7-8 games. Therefore, I compiled the stats for these pitchers over their last 7 games to be a better judge of how they may pitch in this series.

Last 7 Games:
Hamels (3-3, 3.78 era) vs. Jimenez (3-3, 3.95 era)
Lee (2-4, 6.20 era) vs. Cook (2-3, 4.86 era)
Blanton (4-2, 4.92 era) vs. Hammel (2-1, 3.67 era)
Martinez (4-1, 3.48 era) /Happ (3-2, 3.88 era) vs. De La Rosa (4-0, 2.99 era)

Observations - With the exception of De La Rosa (much better numbers the last 7), the Rockies pitching has been consistent throughout the season. I would think that this will benefit the Phillies because you would rather know exactly what you are getting, instead of trying to plan for a streaky or hot pitching staff. The Phillies will most likely get what they saw from the Rockies during the season, where the Phillies won 4/6 games. For the Phillies, the numbers over the past 7 games for each pitcher are close to the same for the season except for Cliff Lee. His numbers have been much worse over the last 7 games. This is a concern because Lee is struggling, especially with leaving the ball up in the zone, and is unfamiliar to pitching in the postseason. The home field advantage may play a huge part in the success of the Phillies in the NLDS because the pitching match ups, especially lately, are surprisingly similar.

Offensive Comparisons: (top 3, Total Team)
Hits: Phillies - Victorino (182), Howard (172), Rollins (168), Total -1439
Colorado - Helton (177), Tulowitzki (161), Hawpe (143), Total - 1408
RBI: Phillies - Howard (141), Werth (99), Utley/Ibanez (93), Total - 788
Colorado - Tulowitzki (92), Helton/Hawpe (86), Barmes (76), Total - 760
HR: Phillies - Howard (45), Werth (36), Ibanez (34), Total - 224
Colorado - Tulowitzki (32), Stewart (25), Hawpe (23), Total - 190
R: Phillies - Utley (112), Howard (105), Victorino (102), Total - 820
Colorado - Tulowitzki (102), Hawpe (82), Helton (79), Total - 804
2B: Phillies - Rollins (43), Victorino (39), Howard (37), Total - 312
Colorado - Hawpe (42), Helton (38), Barnes (32), Total - 300
3B: Phillies - Victorino (13), Rollins (50, Utley/Howard (4), Total - 35
Colorado - Fowler (10), Tulowitzki (9), Gonzalez (7), Total - 50

Hmm...this is encouraging! As shown above, the Phillies lead offensive categories over the Rockies in everything except triples. This may come as no surprise - anyone who watches baseball knows the potent offense that the Phillies have. With the make up of both fields (Coors & CBP) the offense has the potential to become a huge advantage (look back 2 years when the Phillies offense disappeared in the NLDS vs. Colorado). Worth noting is that the Phillies offense has been struggling over the last few weeks - we'll see if this rest helps them come out of their funk.

Bullpen: Listed All Pitchers
Bastardo (2-3, 6.46 era)
Condrey (6-2, 3.00 era)
Durbin (2-2, 4.39)
Escalona (1-0, 4.61 era)
Eyre (2-1, 1.50 era)
Kendrick (3-1, 3.42 era)
Lidge (0-8, 7.21 era)
Madson (5-5, 3.26 era)
Myers (4-3, 4.84 era)
Park (3-3, 4.43 era)
Romero (0-0, 2.70 era)
Taschner (1-1, 4.91 era)
Walker (2-1, 3.06 era)
Total - (30-30, 4.14 era)

Beimel (1-6, 3.58 era)
Belisle (3-1, 5.52 era)
Betancourt (4-3, 2.73 era)
Chacin (0-1, 4.91 era)
Daley (1-1, 4.24 era)
Flores (0-1, 5.25 era)
Flogg (0-2, 3.74 era)
Herges (3-1, 3.38 era)
Morales (3-2, 4.50 era)
Peralta (0-3, 6.20 era)
Rincon (4-2, 6.87 era)
Street (4-1, 3.06 era)
Total - (23-24, 4.50 era)

Statistically both teams have about the same numbers representing their bullpen - they win just about as many games as they lose and have around a 4.25 era. With this in mind, I have to say that the Rockies have a considerably higher advantage in their bullpen simply because the Phillies do not have a true closer. The Rockies have Huston Street who has only blown 2 saves all year. This makes me incredibly scared and shows how important our offense will become.


The Phillies are a better team than the Rockies and have a lot to live up to from last year. This is an interesting match up because statistically, aside from offensive stats, the teams match up very well. Additionally, these two teams have been the NL representative in the World Series the last two years - experience is not a factor for either team. I see this series really hinging on the offense that is I have said over and over again above. If the Phils play to their offensive potential this could be a quick sweep...if they are not firing on offense we will have to rely on our bullpen and the "closer" which is something that will not favor the Phillies. The offense must produce.

Prediction: Phillies win in 4.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fiorentina 2 - Liverpool 0

My Squad. Huge game. FORZA VIOLAAA!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Phillies Win 2009 NL EAST!

Well, the Phillies have now won 3 consecutive National League East Division titles! Hard to believe this day has come growing up as a Phillies fan where we have become accustomed to losing or getting close, but not close enough to the playoffs. We need to seriously look back on the last three seasons and enjoy what we have witnessed. Guys like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and Jamie Moyer have worked for years to bring this team where we are today. The Phillies have the most losses in sports history, but you would never guess it from watching the play of these guys the past three years.

This season has been a great one - but we have a new season now, and it better be a long month! The Phillies led the division for 123 straight days, which this team has not been used to doing. During these games the team had its ups and downs, but in the end were able to stay "the team to beat" in the NL East until the last day. Ed Wade, Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro Jr. have truly built a dynamic team through the draft, off season pick ups and trades. These three GM's will forever be remembered for the 3 NL East Division titles they manufactured in Philly - only the second time in team history.

I'm not going to lie, I am as proud to be a Phillies fan today as I have ever been. I am still running high off of last year's World Series win, but it is truly gratifying to know that this team has not laid back comfortable from last season. This team has capitalized on their talent, took the bull by the horns and won another title. They could have had a decent year, missed the playoffs, or just barely made it in as a wild-card.... and still have been loved in Philly because of last year -but they didn't. Instead, players like Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez had career years, Pedro Martinez made an incredible comeback to baseball, Pedro Feliz and Jimmy Rollins dominated the left side of the infield and J.A Happ, Jamie Moyer, Chan Ho Park and Kyle Kendrick battle as starters and relievers to get a win anyway possible. This team is not perfect, and they never will be, but they understand how to win and how to play as a true team.

One thing that really meant a lot last night were the two incredible decisions by Charlie Manuel. We all know Charlie is a player's coach, but he really showed why last night. With two outs in the 9th inning, Charlie brought in Brad Lidge to close out the division for the Phillies. This showing of confidence and respect for Lidge is something that few managers would do, especially with the year Brad has had. Charlie has said he would stick with Brad all year - well, he proved it last night. While Lidge was pouring beer and champagne all over his teammates, Charlie was nowhere to be found. We all know where Charlie was - sitting in his office allowing the players to enjoy the title on their own, focusing more on what the team needed to do next to win the NLDS. Charlie has vowed he will not celebrate until they win the World Series, and that is an incredible decision on his part. Charlie Manuel, you are the man!

Philadelphia Phillies - 2009 National League East Division Champions!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dissapointment to Excitement in 1 Game - October Tomorrow

The Phillies played well last night thanks to 6 strong innings from J.A. Happ, a grand slam from Pedro Feliz and Ryan Madson locking down both the 8th and 9th inning for his 10th save of the season. With the Phils win and a Braves loss, the Magic # is at 1 - a number that has finally allowed some people in Philly to relax and look forward to October.

Sitting in Citizen's Bank Park two nights ago was down right depressing. The team seemed slow and disengaged and the fans were certainly agitated and dissapointed - for the first time in probably 2 complete seasons I heard many EAGLES chants in the background throughout the stadium. Finally (only about 11 months later), I heard Phillies fans booing poor play from their newly beloved World Champions. This lack of a voiced opinion of dissapointment (which is a staple of us Philly fans) towards the team is something that Jayson Werth has noticed during this season. In a recent ESPN article by Jerry Crasnick, Werth was quoted saying, "I don't want to say (the Phillies fans) have gone soft after winning it, because I don't think they have. But they might have to be reminded. I don't want them to change. I want them to stay hungry and be the same fans who helped us win it last year." This "reminder" Werth spoke about seemed to come two nights ago in a seemingly hopeless loss to the Astros. These anxious fans were pissed about another poor performance. The Magic # remained at 3 with the red-hot Braves appearing to be on an unbeatable pace. People exited the stadium, and surely their couches across the Greater-Philadelphia area, wondering why this team could not win just a few more games and get some needed rest before the playoffs!

This mood certainly seemed to change about an hour before the game last night. With news that Charlie Manuel had held a meeting to discuss the team's play, fans and Phillies players seemed to all know that tonight would be a good night for the Phillies. A few hours later, the Phillies were back to their patented style of play, hitting home runs while playing excellent defense. Secondly, the Phils received a bit of luck from the Marlins, since they were able to beat the Braves and lower the Magic # by an additional game. Once again, Phillies fans are excited and looking forward to another NL East banner. It is crazy what one game can bring.

Fast forward to tonight's game. Pedro Martinez will take the mound and try to will his team to one more win. I find it fitting that we are allowing a once despised player from last year's Mets team to attempt to clinch the division for us this year. Just imagine how Pedro must feel to be on the Phillies right now and pitching in tonight's game. In the last 2 years, Pedro was a member of a team that had arguably the worst collapse in baseball history in 2007 followed by another late September collapse the following season. Not to mention, Pedro ended up on the Phillies this year, instead of the Mets, because the Metropolitans believed they did not need him! Pedro has proved a lot since joining the Phillies - not only to the Mets, but to all baseball fans. Tonight's game will be seen as a playoff game to Charlie Manuel, the one person left for Pedro to prove he has the stuff for a starting playoff spot. With this in mind, we'll see if Pedro can make tonight feel like October.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lidge & Phillies Concerns

Brad Lidge Concerns:
The regular season is down to the magic 5 (combo of Phils wins, Braves losses). Should have only been 4 after last night's game, but once again Brad Lidge blew the game in the ninth inning allowing two runs. Phils lose 6-5. Lidge's blowing of games has been an ongoing problem that has been well documented nationally throughout the year. I'm about as comfortable with Brad Lidge pitching as Rhianna is about going toe-to-toe with Chris Brown. Lidge started hurt, then he said he was healthy, then started blowing games and said he was hurt he says he's healthy! Give me a break.

Lidge is 0-8 with a 7.48 era and 11 blown saves. These numbers are alarming and something that cannot be overlooked, which I believe Charlie Manuel has, but his numbers in the past 7 games are down right scary. In these 7 games (1 HOU, 3 WAS, 1 NYM, 1 FLM, 1 ATL), Lidge is 0-2 with a 13.85 era and has allowed 8 runs. Out of these 7 games, Lidge only threw a shutout inning twice -he allowed at least one hit in every one of these games. Lidge has not pitched a 1-2-3 inning since August 30th - nearly a month back (9 games ago). Last night, I could have thrown my beer through the television screen, honestly. Holding me back were 3 things: 1) it was a Yuengling 2) It was my parents new TV, they'd be super pissed 3) I once threw a small glass table out of my college living room window during a ND/Michigan game (long story)...and have since realized throwing things over sports gets you nowhere but in your friends jokes for years to come.

But on a serious note, the Phils took the Brad Lidge train two stops past town on this one. We've gone too deep into the season to make any change at the closer position that would allow that player the amount of confidence he would need to pitch successfully in the playoffs. Myers is not healthy and has not pitched enough to be in the role, Madson has the arm to be a closer but has struggled with the closer role (confidence killer again), and any other option (CHP, Durbin, Eyre, Walker, etc.) leaves a player unfamiliar to such a critical pitching style and mindset. We have no other option than to stick it out with Brad. Therefore, pull out your Koran, Bible, Torah or whatever you swear on and start praying - otherwise, this next month (hopefully!) with Lidge could quickly remind us all of Mitch's struggles in '93, and then some.

Carlos Ruiz:
Another reason we need to wrap up this division quickly is to get Carlos Ruiz as much rest as possible. News came out yesterday that his sprained wrist was aggrivated and he will be missing some games. The last thing we want to do is use the Panama Prince (I like that!) simply because we absolutely have to, no matter what his health is. We saw how amazing and important Carlos was last October - I mean honestly, I was asking for the nice Chevy and an MVP trophy for him! If we can win these 5 games quickly and let Carlos rest until game one of the NLDS we will be giving him a much easier run at the October he had last year. This could turn out to be incredibly important in the series to come. We cannot afford Bako everyday - not that he is bad, I like Bako - but he certainly is not as good defensively or at calling a game as Ruiz, and we do not need another lefty bat in the lineup consistently.

Pedro vs. Happ:
Now on to a topic I have been giving a lot of thought - Pedro vs. Happ for the 4th spot. And by the way, did John Kruk really ask if Blanton or Pedro gets the ball in game three? Johnny Boy, you played here! You know about our loyalty..Blanton is the answer. Sorry for the deviation...Pedro has been awesome since we signed him. I have really enjoyed watching him and believe the chip on his shoulder, no pun intended, has brought him a long way so far (thanks Omar Minaya). Happ, on the other hand, has been sensational and is in the running for NL Rookie of the Year. Who do we choose for our 4th starter come playoffs? Luckily (I guess..), I had the chance to speak with Tom McCarthy about this the other day as a guest for dinner with him in the Phillies Executive Diningroom (no big deal). McCarthy said he would go with Pedro because of the experience factor and would probably use Happ in spot rotation depending on the match ups in the playoffs. I would put Happ in the bullpen, where we really need help right now, and throw Pedro game four. If Pedro runs into any trouble we have Happ right there to come in for a long relief appearance. Happ has never been a starter in the playoffs and who knows how he will react to the big stage. Additionally, he has shown that he can pitch well out of the bullpen, something that Pedro has not done for a long time outside of the WBC.

A lot of questions with a little amount of time remaining!

Next Series Predictions - Milwaukee for 4 games starting tonight.
J.A. Happ (10-4, 2.77 era) vs. Jeff Suppan (7-10, 4.76) - W, Happ
Cliff Lee (14-11, 2.99 era) vs. Manny Para (10-10, 6.42 era) - W, Lee
Pedro Martinez (5-1, 3.32 era) vs. Brad Looper (13-7, 5.12 era) - L, Martinez
Joe Blanton (11-7, 3.82 era) vs. Dave Bush (5-8, 6.22era) - W, Blanton

Wishful thinking - win 3/4, hope the Braves lose some and clinch the division!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

AK'SPORTS Weekend in Review

Notre Dame Football - 33-30 Win over Michigan State
Pitt Football- 27-14 Win over Navy
Eagles - 48-22 Loss to New Orleans
Phillies - 2/3 Wins over Atlanta

Notre Dame - Well, Notre Dame finally beat MSU in South Bend...since 1993. I was seven years old then, so this is basically the first time I remember seeing ND beat the Spartans at home. No matter how happy the Fightin' Irish fans may be about this win, the game came with a huge cost - Michael Floyd is out for the rest of the season after needing surgery on a broken collar bone.
-Jimmy Clausen is quickly showing why he was the #1 recruit in all of America. He is about 300 yards short of his freshman season total for passing yards after three games (remember how bad they were in 2007!?). He has thrown 9 TD"s and 0 INTs. Kyle McCarthy has three INTs this season, 1 in each game, and saved the game for the Irish this weekend with a redzone INT preventing back-to-back devastating losses for the Blue & Gold faithful. Armando Allen must have worked hard this off-season...thank God. So far, Allen has rushed for 326 yards and 3 TD's and is actually breaking tackles! Allen seems to have put in some work in the weight room - he is finishing his runs and getting past the first defender, something he has struggled with in the past.
-Golden Tate had a great game, 127 yards and a TD, but dropped another wipe-open TD..the ball hit his hands, giving him three dropped TD's on the season.
-The Domers take on Purdue next weekend who has the nation's leading rusher in Ralph Bolden. As always, Purdue should put up a great inner-state fight versus ND, but I really see a huge mismatch here, favoring the Domers. After this past weekend's devastating loss to NIU, Purdue will be hungry for a huge win...sorry, they won't get it. The Irish should be able to rush Armando Allen all day and destroy the Purdue secondary. Jimmy Clausen has another huge game.
Prediction - Notre Dame 41, Purdue 17.

Pitt - Looks like Dion Lewis is the replacement for the Panthers that they desperately needed after losing LeSean McCoy to the NFL draft. The Freshman ran for 79 yards and a TD - he has just under 500 yards rushing and 5 TD's in 3 weeks in the NCAA, very impressive. Bill Stull had a respectable game, throwing for 245 yards and a TD. Stull now has 6 TD's and only 1 INT so far this season - a great start to the season for a player who struggled down the finish last year. Another great showing by Jonathan Baldwin solidifies the Panther's offense as one of the best in the Big East - Baldwin had 6 catches for 111 yards.
-Next week the Panthers play at NC State who is 2-1. This will be the toughest competition that Pitt has seen so far, but the Panthers should be able to handle the pressure on both sides of the field.
Prediction - Pitt 27, NC State 17

Eagles - Ahhh..the worst 4 hours of my weekend - well, I guess I should say 2 hours. At the end of the first half, I really believed that the Eagles could pull out a win. But...about 5 minutes into the second half I was certain this "win" was not happening. While Kevin Kolb played significantly better than I thought he would, he still made some terrible decisions. He really seems to struggle throwing quick balls to wideouts near the sideline - two INTs on throws like this, one returned 97 yards for a TD...a great reminder of the Baltimore INT to Ed Reed last year. Essentially, the defense, special teams, and penalties killed the Eagles. Asante Samuel was abused by Marques Colston, (who would have thought? -sike) and Drew Brees picked apart the Eagles defense for 311 yards, 3 TD's and 1 INT. Every special teams play seemed like it was raining yellow flags - just giving the Saints yardage at every chance.
- I'd rather just forget about this game and hope that Donny is back next weekend. The defense better take a long look at themselves and hope Matt Cassel doesn't look anything like Drew Brees next week. I don't want to write about the Saints game anymore...too much to say at this point. Devastating.

Phillies - 14 games remaining/ Magic # at 6 - The Phils took 2 games out of 3 from the Braves and moved 8 games ahead of the Marlins for the division lead. Starting tomorrow night the Phils have a three game series in Miami with the Marlins. The Phils are 6-0 in LandShark Stadium this season and would love to extend that record with a series win. If the Phillies can win 2/3 or sweep the division is all wrapped up! We'll see how the bullpen can handle the next few games..
-More to come on Phillies in next post..

Weekend Rating - 3 1/2 out of 5 stars - only one loss overall, but a devastating loss! Otherwise, a great weekend in my sports world.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Talking Eagles - Eagles vs. Saints Concerns

So here are my main concerns for the Birds Sunday...

1. Starting QB - word from the Eagles is that Donovan is doing all that he can this week to play on Sunday - certainly not a surprise - Donny is as tough as they come. So..would Donovan playing on Sunday be a good thing? It could go a few ways here...

-As a wanna-be smart fan, I want to say "No" - Donovan needs to rest his ribs this week and let the defense try to win this game (bc we know Kolb won't win it)..then..hope that our team wins a "should win" versus the Chiefs without Donny which allows him an additional week during the BYE to rest and return for the Bucs game - healthy and ready to fire away. Depending on this weekend's performance by Kolb, next weekend could allow time for Garcia to know/remember the offense and Michael Vick to be fully up to speed for his anticipated return Week 3. I hate saying this....but..we cannot leave out the long stretch that Kevin Kolb actually plays half decent this week. Long Stretch.

-As an idiot want-to-win-now fan, I want to say allowing Donny to return is OK.. almost in the same respect that I wrote about why we should sit him. If we can get Donny through this game without making his injury worse, we can then rest/or not rest him the next two weeks depending on how he's feeling. We may be able to squeeze just enough out of him to get a win over the Saints. Obviously, This theory really depends on how our offensive line looks this week during practice (OL - to be discussed later). P.S. this theory is for argument sake!

-One way or another, Kolb is penciled in to be the starter and debating what will or will not happen is irrelevant. Fingers crossed...I'm praying - seriously.

2. Pressure from the Linebackers & D-line - Drew Brees...dude is an animal. 6-feet tall with spikes and a helmet on, and he still threw for 5,069 yards and 34 TD's last year - he led the league by over 500 yards passing last year. Ohh and by the way... last week he threw for 358 yards and 6 TD's with a passer rating of 137! Plainly stated, Brees is top 3, if not the best, QB in the game and we need to hit him, sack him, intercept him, but most importantly, put pressure on him ALL game. This is why my concern surrounds our defensive pressure on Brees..

-I will start by saying, last week's defense looked great - 5 int's, 5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 fumble return for a TD. Victor Abiamiri finally looked healthy/strong and I was really excited about this, but news came out today that he did not practice because of a pulled groin and is listed as questionable. Trent Cole and Mike Patterson looked dominant as always and Darren Howard played exceptionally well - 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble. The linebackers are a question, simply because of their inexperience and constant change throughout spring training. Last week, they played better than I had anticipated, but Jake Delhomme is certainly not Drew Brees and Delhomme looked the worst of all starting QB's last week.

-If the D-line can effectively open the lanes for the linebackers to fire then we stand a great chance at dramatically disrupting the Saint's flow of distribution to their many offensive weapons (Devery Henderson, Marques Colston, Reggie Bush, Mike Bell, Jeremy Shockey). As always, this pressure changes Brees' timing and speeds up all decisions and throws - exactly what we need with arguably the best DB's in the game. I would imagine that the Eagle's blitz will be turned up a notch this week from the linebackers, while keeping a constant eye on Jeremy Shockey for the short dump off (he played well last week with 2 TD's - I hate Shockey). Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown have struggled against tall receivers in the past (Plaxico!) and Colston's frame is fitting the mold - should be an interesting match-up for them.

3. Eagles Running Attack - So apparently Donny broke a rib and Kevin Kolb is probably going to start? Ohh Ok..that's fine, he can pass. HAHA SIKE. Dude is terrible! I wouldn't trust Kevin Kolb throwing a baseball into the Delaware River from a Penn's Landing pier, let alone throwing a real football in a real NFL game! Because of this, our running game must be on point this weekend. We will need to run the ball from all different sets and with as many different players as we can. Obviously, the Saints are looking for this and will be keeping their linebackers up on the line more than usual. I don't really care - we need to run BWest, Shady, DeSean and Weaver as much as possible. If we can mix them up with the occasional short pass we may be able to keep the Saint's defense off balance. Kolb better not throw the deep ball - especially if Darren Sharper is in coverage (2 int's last week).

4. Offensive Line - Since all sources seem to be saying Kolb will be the starter, this offensive line play is incredibly important. Winston Justice must play as well as he did last weekend because the test did not end with Julius Peppers. Stacy Andrews is in a three man rotation with Nick Cole and Max Gean-Gilles - understandable with the injury history that Andrews has had in the past year. Regardless, a three man rotation will not help the continuity of a line which has barely practiced together. I am concerned to a high degree about this offensive line. The Birds really need great protection for Kolb and also really need to open the gaps for Westbrook and McCoy to create an effective running game.

Conclusion: I am nervous about this game, which says a lot. I am almost never nervous about the Eagles, but this game will be a tough game for the Birds to win. I think that McDermott will have a prepared defense, much like last week. The offense on the other hand is a tough call. If we can get a run game going then we stand a chance. If we have to pass a lot then we will not win this game. I trust Andy and Marty to figure this out. The game will be closer than people think (although the line is only -1 Eagles). I really feel that the Eagles should lose this game, but I am going to say that the Birds somehow pull this one out 30-27...maybe a game winner by Akers??