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The Tuesday 10: Cheese Me

Over the weekend, I made pilgrimage to the great lands of Milwaukee and Chicago, the former of which being close to where current penman extraordinaire Michael Baumann resides. We, along with another friend from the east, had been planning this trip for some time, and considering the poor guy has already been in the cheese state for more than five months, probably due.

I’ve lived in eastern cities my whole life, if you pardon a month-long stint in Lansing, Michigan, so every time I head halfway west I’m always struck by how clean and pretty lots of places out there are. It’s kind of a strange, non-quantifiable statement, I guess, but it’s a good impression to leave an area with. I’d still like to see more of Chicago – especially the north side – but what the troupe of us managed to see was almost universally positive.

I even managed not to get thrown out of a Milwaukee bar when I ordered a brat without kraut.

This left me mostly unaware of the weekend’s baseball action, save for the extra-inning madness I somehow avoided being in the office for. Nevertheless, let’s take a look back together and see just what the week held, and what I missed as I stuffed my face with Polish sausage at U.S. Cellular Field.

10. Sharing the Wealth

I saw Domonic Brown’s home run at Miller Park on Saturday, a right-center field shot that landed in the Phillies’ bullpen. That puts him at 19 on the season and marks the second of his homers I’ve been present for, neither of which being at Citizens Bank Park.

But that’s beside the point. Did you know the Phillies entered Monday third in the National League in home runs? They have 66, trailing Atlanta’s 85 and Colorado’s 83. You might have heard that Brown has 19 of those homers, and he’s the only one on the club with at least nine. Seven other N.L. clubs have one or zero players with at least nine dingers on the season:

The Rockies, on the opposite end of that spectrum, have five already.

9. Ben Revere, Man…Yeah…Wow…

Trades are easier pills to swallow when what your team gives up to acquire someone ends up being about as bad as what was brought over. Vance Worley has a 7.21 ERA in 48.2 Major League innings for the Twins (although a 2.84 ERA in a handful of Triple-A starts since his optioning) and Trevor May has a pedestrian 3.92 ERA and 1.74 K/BB in his first taste of Double-A action.

So maybe that makes it easier to read this lovely list on Revere:

I said MAYBE it would make it easier.

8. In Happier News

It seems appropriate to break the mood with a reminder that this .gif exists and, yes,baseball can be fun sometimes.


7. The Run On Runs

Back to Brown again for a second.

Prior to his Sunday goose eggs, Brown had scored at least one run in 16 of 19 games, including nine straight, for a total of 18. Brown is the first Phillies hitter to have a streak like that since Shane Victorino did it in 10 straight games in 2009. Brown’s 1.088 SLG in those nine games is the fifth-highest among the 41 streaks in team history of at least nine straight games scoring a run.

6. The Cliff Conundrum

One of the scariest thoughts around right now is the possibility that the Phillies could – somehow – position themselves as buyers at this year’s trade deadline, with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. once more at the helm of acquisition.

That’d be enough to scare me on its own, but add in perceived value bumps for Jesse Biddle and Maikel Franco – players who could fill needs on Philly’s roster sometime next season or in 2015 – and the looming sense of dread over the acquisition of (another) corner outfielder just feels like a non-zero-chance proposition, even with so many already on the current roster.

So, enter Lee. Cliff is pitching brilliantly once more, a 2.55 ERA and 5.19 K/BB to his name thus far, and certainly doesn’t seem long for the Phillies. Or does he? If Amaro sees the Phils as a legitimate playoff team (they entered Monday 8.5 games back in the division and 6.5 back of the second wild card spot), would he pass up the chance to trade Lee, and acquire talent plus salary relief, once more?

Frankly, I’m not of the opinion that the 2013 Phillies are a contending team, and little I’ve seen on the season to date makes me think otherwise. I don’t know what Carlos Zambrano can add to this team, even though I’m relatively certain it’d be more valuable than Tyler Cloyd’s efforts, but is that enough to make up the ground currently standing between the Phillies and their fellow postseason contenders? Will Chase Utley’s return spark a run? There’s little else to believe in, and I’m not sure that’s enough.

It’s safe to say that Lee’s presence will pose a quandary for weeks to come, and a resolution or scale-tipping moment seems far away.

5. Hamels and Playing Catch-Up

Cole Hamels got off to a terrible start, and his season numbers still don’t look great. But after his most recent start, a win over the Marlins, things seem to be looking up. Since April 13 (his third start of the season following two dreadful outings), Hamels has a 3.58 ERA, 70 K and 19 uIBB in 70.1 IP over 11 starts. Now that’s more like it!

What’s awful about that, though, is that despite Hamels’s return to above-average performance, the Phillies are 2-11 in his starts. Nine times he’s allowed three or fewer ER in a start; his record in those nine games is 2-5, and the club is 2-7. Those are figures that speak for themselves and need none of my hammering home.

4. Seeing the Sights

When I took that aforementioned trip to see Baumann, we made sure to check out popular tourist attractions and also act like 12-year-olds.

3. Catching Fire (And Also Pain)

Erik Kratz will require surgery for a torn meniscus in his knee, disabling him and requiring the Phillies to operate a catching platoon of, get this, Humberto Quintero and Steven Lerud for the forseeable future.

Here are the catchers the Phillies have used at some point in a season since 2010:

That’s seven catchers, but amazingly, 16 other teams have used as many or more catchers over that time period, led by Seattle and Texas with 11 apiece.

2. Guess the Slash

Player A: .229/.290/.436
Player B: .251/.294/.436

A is Erik Kratz, B is Ryan Howard.

1. Music Break

I don’t really have a 10th baseball point to make this week, so here’s a music plug for dance act Disclosure, who’ve made one of the more infectious tracks of the year to date.

That’s 10. Enjoy your Tuesday.