Angels’ Prospect Nick Adenhart Killed in Crash

Los Angeles Times:

Angels’ pitcher Nick Adenhart was among the three killed in a crash in Fullerton when a driver ran a red light, an associate of the rookie player said this morning. The crash occurred only hours after the 22-year-old appeared in Wednesday night’s Angels game.

Obviously a terrible day for the victims’ families, the Angels organization, and baseball fans in general. He was one of the more highly-touted pitching prospects around, and he pitched six shutout innings against the Oakland Athletics in his season debut last night.

Phillies Beneficiaries of Braves’ Mets Impression

Ha ha, get it? The Braves choked. You know?

Well if that’s what it takes to get in the win column these days, the Phillies will take it. Down as many runs as seven after the top of the seventh inning, the Phillies pulled off one of their patented comebacks they’ve become so famous for these past two years.

Known more for their power, with a second-best .438 team SLG last season, the Phillies scored eight runs in the bottom of the seventh inning without an extra-base hit and without driving in more than one run at a time. The Phillies exploited the Atlanta bullpen’s wildness, working five walks and a hit-by-pitch, and finding holes with four singles. A recap of the carnage:

  • Shane Victorino: Grounds out (4 pitches)
  • Chase Utley: Soft single to center field (6 pitches)
  • Ryan Howard: Hit by a 90-MPH fastball (7 pitches)
  • Jayson Werth: Walks (8 pitches)
  • Raul Ibanez: Line drive single to left field, RBI (2 pitches)
  • Pedro Feliz: Line drive single to center field, RBI (2 pitches)
  • Matt Stairs: Walks, RBI (4 pitches)
  • Chris Coste: Walks, RBI (5 pitches)
  • Jimmy Rollins: Walks, RBI (4 pitches)
  • Shane Victorino: Line drive single to right field, RBI (2 pitches)
  • Chase Utley: Walks, RBI (5 pitches)
  • Ryan Howard: Groundout, RBI (3 pitches)
  • Jayson Werth: Fly out to right field (2 pitches)

The Phillies saw 54 pitches in the seventh inning, averaging 3 pitches per out, 5 pitches per walk, and 3 pitches per hit. The 8-run seventh wasn’t quite enough, as Eric Bruntlett knocked in the eventual winning run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. Brad Lidge showed chinks in his armor, allowing a ninth inning home run to Matt Diaz to bring the Braves to within one run but was able to save the game at 12-11.

Overall, the Phillies scored 13 runs in the three games and allowed 19. Of those 19 runs, the starting pitching has allowed 18, with 6 of those 18 runs coming two apiece in each of the three first innings in the series. Of those 6 first inning runs, Brian McCann is responsible for five of those runs with two 2-run home runs and an RBI groundout.

Phillies pitching allowed 8 home runs in the series, 6 of which are attributable to Brett Myers (3), Jamie Moyer (2), and Joe Blanton (1). On the other side, Raul Ibanez was the only Phillie to hit a long ball.

Although they allowed three runs in five innings tonight, the Phillies’ bullpen had thrown seven shutout innings in the first two games, including three perfect innings from the new guy, Jack Taschner.

Despite the mounting frustration going into the game, the Phillies’ struggles didn’t dampen their World Series ring ceremony, which you can watch by clicking here. Pat Burrell returned to thunderous applause and flew back to Boston to play in tonight’s game against the Red Sox.

The Phillies will fly to Colorado tomorrow for a three-game series with the Rockies, then make a trip to Washington for a three-game set with the Nationals that includes a visit with President Obama and Vice President Biden and their families. The Phils have an off day on Tuesday, April 14 which is when that visit will take place.

Phillies On Pace to Score 81 Runs

Game 1: 1 run (L, 4-1)

Game 2: 0 runs (L, 4-0)

One run in two games prorates to… 81 runs over 162 games. Agh! Time to panic!

Well, not really. If you’re in panic mode, here are some therapeutic guides to relieving that early-season tension:

Don’t fret. Shane Victorino will eventually get a hit. Ryan Howard will hit a home run. Chase Utley will make an outstanding defensive play. Phillies starters will stop allowing one home run in the first inning. It will get better, I promise — stick around.

BDD: Analyzing the Opener

At Baseball Daily Digest, I’ve analyzed in great detail the Opening Day — err, Night — game between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.

Slider, slider, slider. That was Derek Lowe’s mantra when he faced left-handers. Of the 53 pitches Lowe threw to left-handers, 22 of them were sliders (41.5%), 14 were sinkers (26.4%), 14 were fastballs (26.4%), 2 were curveballs (3.8%), and 1 was a change-up (2%).

[...]

Myers threw a curveball in 11 different at-bats and 18 total. Six were taken for balls, six were strikes (4 swinging, 2 called), four were fouled off, and two were hit but were ground outs. Perhaps if Myers had used his curveball as a proxy for a change-up, he might have enjoyed more success.

Phillies/Braves Opening Series Preview

With Cole Hamels tending to his inflamed left elbow, Brett Myers will get his third consecutive Opening Day start tomorrow night at 8 PM EST on ESPN2.

In ’07 against the Atlanta Braves, Myers went 7 and two-thirds innings, striking out nine and allowing only three runs. Last year, he went 5 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) against the Washington Nationals.

Myers will be opposed by Braves newcomer Derek Lowe. The Phillies certainly are familiar with Lowe given last year’s NLCS when he was with the L.A. Dodgers. In the ’08 NLCS, Lowe allowed four earned runs in 10 and one-third innings.

Here’s a look at how the hitters and pitchers stack up against the opposition…

Hitters vs. Opposing Starters, by OPS:

Pitchers’ Career vs. Opposing Team:

The Phillies dominated the Braves last year: in 18 games, the Phils won 14 of them (78%).

Phillies Release Geoff Jenkins; Park Wins #5 Spot

Per Todd Zolecki.

Jenkins is classy, though:

What’s there to be mad about? I picked a great year to be here. I wish it worked out better and I could be with them, but I don’t regret one minute. I wouldn’t change a thing being with these guys going through what we went through last year.

Thanks, Geoff.

The Phillies had two left-handed hitters — Jenkins and Matt Stairs — vying for a spot on the bench and with the left-handed Greg Dobbs guaranteed a spot, one of the two clearly wasn’t going to make it through spring training.

Due to Jenkins’ large salary ($6.75 million for ’09 and a $1.25 buy-out for ’10), he was essentially untradeable. Stairs is only owed $1 million through 2009 and will become a free agent after the season, thus he can be appealing to a team looking for a lefty masher at the trading deadline.

Gary Sheffield was also released by his team, the Detroit Tigers, as well and Zolecki thinks he fits in with the Phillies:

Sheffield is a right-handed, power-hitting corner outfielder.

The Phillies are looking for a right-handed, power-hitting corner outfielder.

[...]

the Phillies only would have to pay Sheffield $400,000. In essence, they would be paying Sheffield $8.4 million to get a right-handed bat for their bench compared to paying Jenkins $8 million.

Aside from Sheffield, there aren’t any other right-handed outfielders that the Phillies would be interested in, so the right-handed bat could be Miguel Cairo or John Mayberry. At this point, the chances of Mayberry getting that spot are slim. Although he impressed spectators with his power during spring training, he still needs a lot of polish (including better knowledge of the strike zone) before you can trust him with 150 at-bats.

Additionally, while Mayberry — offensively — would likely outperform Cairo, who has a career OPS+ of 75, he lacks versatility; he’s just an outfielder. Cairo can fit in at any infield or outfield spot, giving the Phillies plenty of versatility.

Back to Sheffield: whether you like it or not, his effect on the team’s chemistry will be a factor brought up with the Phillies’ brass. He’s been a troublemaker plenty of times throughout his career, and it may not be a wise move to import a player with such baggage. I’m not advocating this as a reason to keep him away; it’s just the elephant in the room.

Further, Sheffield is on the cusp of a career milestone and baseball history as he sits on 499 home runs. That certainly would be a reason that more fans would come out to the stadium, but with the Phillies, would that really have an effect? They just won the World Series and tickets have been selling like hotcakes. In other words, would Sheffield making history — which is dwarfed in importance by the Phillies’ World Series championship — give the organization a significant and worthwhile return on its $400,000 investment?

Elsewhere… Zolecki reports that Chan Ho Park has beat out J.A. Happ for the #5 spot in the starting rotation.

Happ’s fate with the team has not been decided, although Amaro said Happ, Gary Majewski, Jack Taschner and Bobby Mosebach are comepting for two bullpen jobs.

BDD: Phillies ’09 Preview and Ryan Howard

I have two articles up at Baseball Daily Digest today.

The first is a preview of the defending World Series champions. One of my bold predictions:

Don’t Be Surprised If…

A Phillie wins both the NL MVP and Cy Young awards.

Also, I have hopped back on the Ryan Howard bandwagon:

When it comes to Ryan Howard, we make a lot of assumptions based on not a whole lot of actual evidence. We pigeonhole the guy, calling him a one-dimensional out-of-shape tub o’ lard who is going to crash and burn in epic fashion.

The truth is that we really don’t have enough information — fancy that — to make a reasonable conclusion as to how best to project him. In other words, we are unable to reject the null hypothesis that Howard will be more like his 2005-07 self than his ’08 self.