The Giants broadcast showed a video of former Phillie Pat Burrell taking some casual batting practice before last night’s game against the Diamondbacks. Apparently, Burrell hasn’t lost much in retirement, as he hit a home run that “went out by a bunch”, according to the telecast. Burrell is currently serving as a scout for the Giants.
Jonathan Papelbon allowed three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning yesterday, allowing the Rangers to walk-off happy winners for the second night in a row. Papelbon allowed three runs on four hits and two walks. That Papelbon was in trouble again was not very shocking, considering how often he was found on the tightrope last season. What was concerning, however, was that his fastball velocity remained in the low 90′s where it was last season, when discomfort about his viability began.
Ryne Sandberg‘s managerial decisions in the second game of the season understandably raised some eyebrows, but his most egregious mistake wasn’t sending Mario Hollands out to make his major league debut in the bottom of the 9th of a tie game. While that move was hardly defensible, it was at least understandable if you squinted your eyes and tilted your head a little. No active manager in baseball would go to his closer in that situation and with two dominant left-handed batters due up in Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder, you can at least understand where Sandberg was coming from when he turned to Hollands, the only lefty remaining in the bullpen. What defies understanding, however, is Sandberg’s usage of Jake Diekman through the first two games.
When the Phillies replaced Charlie Manuel with Ryne Sandberg as manager last seaeson, no one expected a completely new modus operandi. Both are cut from the old-school cloth. But there was the hope that a changing of the guard would signal a willingness to adapt and modernize. To the Phillies’ credit, there has been some of that with the implementation of an analytics department and GM Ruben Amaro acknowledged a potential willingness to platoon Ryan Howard. Through the first two games of the 2014 season, however, Sandberg has shown the same flawed bullpen management that plagued Manuel during his tenure with the Phillies, particularly in the last few years.
Let’s face it, Ryne Sandberg as a manager is still a mystery. After 9 seasons of the thoroughly predictable managerial stylings of Mr. Charles Fuqua Manuel, it may be slight uncomfortable for Phillies fans to not know what to expect from their manager. With his first opportunity to surprise us with a lineup in 2014, Sandberg didn’t disappoint.
Not that you needed yesterday’s 14-run outburst against the Rangers to identify that. The premise of the title does requires some suspension of disbelief. No, this is not an April Fool’s Day article. Now that the legal stuff is out of the way…
The Phillies scored 610 runs last season, the fewest they’ve scored in a live ball era, non-strike-shortened season since scoring 597 in 1988. They scored double-digit runs in a game only five times and exceeded yesterday’s 14 only once. And as our own Corinne Landrey pointed out on Twitter, those 14 runs represented a whopping 2.3 percent of their total runs scored in 2013.
The reasons for the lack of offense, of course, are obvious: they were ravaged by injuries to key players (Ryan Howard and Ben Revere most noticeably) and were ill-equipped to replace them, and they also somehow forgot about properly addressing right field.
After an off-season that lasted for what seemed like an eternity, baseball returned to us this afternoon as the Phillies battled the Rangers in Texas. Cliff Lee opposed Tanner Scheppers, filling in for the injured Yu Darvish. The two teams combined for 24 runs, 31 hits, and 10 walks. With 14 of those runs, the Phillies set a franchise record in the live ball era for runs scored on Opening Day. While it was nice to see the Phillies’ offense come alive after ending the spring with three consecutive shut-outs, there weren’t many moments of comfort during the game.
ESPN asked me to participate in their expert panel to attempt to predict the upcoming season, not unlike the ones you saw earlier involving the Crashburn Staff.
The link above (or this) will take you to the panel’s picks for the standings and playoffs.
This link will take you to the panel’s picks for award-winners.
I tried to stay consistent with my picks for ESPN and here, but I didn’t have one while filling out the other, so let me know if you notice any discrepancies.
With the regular season just hours away from starting, it’s time for the Crashburn Alley staff to reveal their 2014 season predictions. We will pick over/unders, division standings, and end-of-season awards. Feel free to let us know where you think we’ll be dead wrong and where you think we got it right using the comments below.
The Phillies 25-man roster has been finalized: