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5 questions on the eve of Phillies- Mets, Round 1

Posted by Kieran Kelly On April - 30 - 2009

406083EF-A7F4-48D6-9703-4F88F499D0E2.jpgOn the eve of May and the PHillies first series with the New York Mets, there are a few questions that I’ve been thinking about. (That picture from Newsday always makes me laugh. I love it)

1. How great was that Mets game last night? The Mets made such a big deal out of them getting two of the top closers from last season, only to go and watch their starting pitching collapse so far this season. The bullpen was the problem last season, but the starters aren’t pulling their weight so far this season. I tweeted about this yesterday, but I think it’s time for the Mets to learn that you can’t buy a World Series. The Yankees tried it for a few years until they realized it doesn’t work. Now they’re trying to groom their young prospects and get back to the World Series that way. As long as Omar Minaya is the GM of the Mets, they won’t learn that lesson.

2. How amazing has Raul Ibanez been? I know it’s been all over the place, including on this very site, but the start for Ribbie has been incredible. I’ll admit that I was skeptical when the Phillies signed him, but he has erased all the doubts that Phillies fans had. A few words of caution however. Pat the Bat had many a hot April before fading considerably down the stretch. Ribbie is also 36 years old and will be approaching 40 when his 3 year deal is up. I’m very happy that he’s started off the way he has, but can he maintain this pace, not only this season, but 2 years from now?

3. Can we officially tag Cole Hamels as “injury-prone?” It seems as if we can so far this year. First, he had shoulder issues in spring training. Then, he got hit by that line drive off of Prince Fielder’s bad. In his latest incident, he rolled his ankle fielding a bunt. I think the shoulder issues had to do with how much he pitched last year. He’s still relatively young and hasn’t really worked that much in his professional carer up until last season. The line drive and ankle roll were simply bad luck. Hamels was pitching well before he got injured against the Nats, so hopefully he is back to the form he was at when he was the World Series MVP.

4. What should be done when Carlos Ruiz comes off the DL? The Phillies face a roster decision this week when Carlos Ruiz comes back from the DL. Chris Coste and Lou Marson have been splitting the time behind the plate with Ruiz out. Marson has been doing a decent job while Coste has been terrible offensively. I think his offensive struggles are a result of his increased playing time. Coste is a backup catcher and pinch hitter. He’s not used to playing this much and the effect it has had on him is obvious. Marson is young and needs a little more time to develop, but I think he might just stick around, rather than being sent back down to Lehigh Valley. The best move, in my opinion, would be to cut Migue Cairo loose and let Marson stick around. That way, Coste could be the right-handed bat off the bench and 3rd catcher, while Marson backs up Ruiz and gets some playing time at the big league level. It might make more sense to have him play everyday at AAA, but it would also be beneficial to upgrade both the Phillies’ offense and defense at the same time.

5. Will the now “un-retired” Jimmy Rollins follow through on his claim to hit .400? At the beginning of the season, J-Roll said he was retiring from the prediction game. I was glad that he said that, because all of the stuff with the Mets was getting old and they needed to move on. However, Jimmy backed down from that statement by predicting that he’d hit .400 in the month of May Rollins made a similar claim back in August of 2005. He said that he would hit .400 for the month of September. As we all found out, he batted .402 and finished the season on a 36 game hitting streak. I really hope Rollins can at least come close to that next month because he is absolutely dreadful right now. If it wasn’t for his defense, he’d be on the bench right now. Charlie Manuel has already benched Rollins the past two Sundays in order to try and break him out of his slump, but it really hasn’t happened yet.

This series is going to be a big early test for both teams. The Mets need to do well in order to shake off the notion that the offseason acquisitions weren’t enough. The Phillies need to do well in order to firmly establish themselves as legitimate division contenders.

Neither of the teams’ ace pitchers are going during the series, but ti will be exciting nonetheless. Mets pitcher Oliver Perez gets one last shot to keep his rotation spot on Saturday, so here’s hoping the Phillies knock him around a bit.

As our guest poster rfom earlier said, Phuck the Mets.

-KK

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  • http://www.badnewsbloggers.com Justin

    Just a few notes:

    A) Cole Hamels had elbow trouble this Spring. And while I agree that he’s probably injury prone (Baseball prospectus also claims that in any given year, at least 15% of all pitchers who throw over 4,000 MLB pitches get hurt the following year…that number has been as high as 80%), the injuries so far have been the result of freak accidents (like you say)

    B) Major league baseball players don’t do worse when they’re forced into active duty (rather than a pinch hit/reserve role). I’m not sure where you get that idea, but Coste’s increased played and decreased production are more a result of him basically not being that good (hence the reason he was a 33 year old rookie) rather than adjusting to a significantly larger role. Last May he started 13 games (and played in 17) and batted .321 (.368 OB) with 3 homers and 9 RBIs – then again he played in 11 in July and batted .208 (.208 OBP) with 1 homer and 7 RBIs

    The fact of the matter is, Coste isn’t that good…he’s just a backup catcher – nice story, but there’s a reason he’s not starting over Ruiz.

    Regardless, I hope the Phils kick their asses and I’m not sure whether a 6-5 stunner in the 9th or a 13-2 drubbing is better, but I do know a Phils win is best

  • http://heardinthecheapseats.com Chris Iafolla

    Nice post Kieran, looking forward to the series. Justin, you are right that Chris Coste is little more than a backup catcher, but I disagree with the idea that increased playing time cannot sometimes have an adverse effect on production. It’s usually not a result of the added burden of playing time, but the fact that the player gets exposed. Matt Diaz of the Atlanta Braves is a perfect example. He flourished two years ago playing in a platoon role, but when he was forced into everyday duty, his flaws were exposed. Greg Dobbs is another solid example. If he was really the .301 hitter that showed up last year, he would likely see the field every day. But the fact is, Dobbs is an excellent situational hitter that would likely see a huge dip in production if he was forced into every day duty.

    Looking forward to the series!

  • http://www.twitter.com/kierankelly Kieran Kelly

    Thanks for the comment.

    1. I agree that Cole has been unlucky when it comes to the last two starts. Not many pitchers get hurt like that, so I’m hoping that it’s not a sign that he’s unlucky.

    2. I can’t remember where I read it, but Coste has actually said he plays better when he doesn’t need to focus on playing every day. He knows he’s only a backup and is fine with that. When he plays everyday, he’s not as good. He knows that. His strong suit is coming in to spell the starter every few days and pinch hit when needed. The more he plays, the more his flaws as a catcher come out. He’s good as a backup, but not so good as a starter. He’ll be out of that role soon anyways.

    I hope the Phillies take it to the Mets and put them out of the race of the division early. I know it’s only May, but sweeping this series could have a huge affect on their attitudes.

    -KK

  • http://www.twitter.com/kierankelly Kieran Kelly

    Damn Chris, beat my comment!

    I agree, Coste just isn’t a major league caliber starting catcher. His flaws start to show after he plays for long stretches, but he’s a very good backup catcher, in my opinion. I will stand by my story thought that he has said that he plays better when he’s not in a starting role. He knows it. He can just focus on doing what he does best and that’s being the backup.

    -KK

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    [...] first brought up the Cairo situation a few weeks ago when Chooch was coming off the DL.I was originally campaigning to keep Lou Marson around and cut Cairo loose. That would have left Marson as a backup catcher and Chris [...]

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