Phillies Phoes of the Week: “Ahh screw it, let’s grab a brew”

San Francisco Giants

Ah those pesky Giants are at it again. Manager Bruce has steered the ship through rocky waters, from Brian Wilson going under the knife, Tim Lincecum going haywire, to the Dodgers getting off to an unreal start. Depsite all that the Giants find themselves atop the NL West, and it’s all thanks to Bochy. Sure, you could point out Matt Cain’s perfect game, or the suprising offensive output of Melky Cabrera (3.9 WAR) as catalysts of the team’s success, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The Giants pitching has been as expected, with a team ERA of 3.47. Everyone has been witness to Cain’s dominance, but Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong have been just as important to the staff. The one cog in the machine that isn’t working properly is Lincecum. The wiry former Cy-Young winner can’t find the plate at a consistent level, dumfounding experts and fans (even Barry Zito is having a better year!) If little Timmy can turn it around the Giants will really be a force to be reckoned with. One this is certain, Bruce Bochy will be cool calm and collected all the way to October.

"I don't know what's gotten into Melky, but Kansas City Gm Dayton Moore is regretting that deal."

When we last met: Yes, the Phillies and Giants have played this season already, way back in April. While most of the month was a fog of disappointment the rubber match stood out. The extra inning loss was notable for one reason; Cliff Lee pitched 10 innings of shutout baseball! It was remarkable to watch, and even more incredible that Charlie didn’t panic and yank him after 9. However, the Giants waited out Lee’s gem until Antonio Bastardo entered and won in the 11th. I challenge any Phillies fan to find a single game that’s more emblematic of this wretched 2012 season.

Series predictions: 1) Chooch outplays Buster Posey in every way, but still won’t get the national respect that he deserves. Where’s the love?

2) Saturday’s Hamels v. Cain matchup lives up to the hype and more. Cain goes 10 innings this time, only to have the Phillies win in 11!

3) Zito and Blanton reminisce about the good ol’ days in Oakland…until they remember they had to pay for the vending machine.

Fansided Perspective: Around the Foghorn editor Bryan Rosa explains why the Giants are just that good.

1. Did the giants know they would get this much out of melky cabrera when they flipped him for Jonathan Sanchez?
Honestly, no way, hah. There had been a growing sense within the Giants fandom that people were getting tired of Jonathan Sanchez, but even when he was flipped for Melky people were torn. I think a lot of the questions came from a rotational standpoint though, not so much Melky. There were still some concerns about Vogelsong replicating his season last year (not that we didn’t feel he couldn’t, just at the same level) and then Zito being, well, Zito. But, there’s no way they expected this. I’m still waiting for regression to catch him to him at some point. He’s been nothing short of amazing so far.
2. It’s been a lost season for Tim lincecum so far. What’s been the biggest problem, and can he turn it around?
At first, to me, Lincecum’s problem was his command. I know a lot of people have focuses on his velocity, but, it’s not that much removed from the last couple years – he hasn’t been that hard thrower for a while now. But when he was getting drilled in the early parts of the season, he couldn’t command any of his pitches not to mention the Giants’ defense was woeful in the first two months of the season. Then after that a lot of it became confidence issues. He looked like an abused dog on the mound, unable to figure out why he was getting smacked around. In the few good starts he’s had, he’s been able to command his pitches better, especially his fastball which he sets up his secondary pitches off of. I think he’ll turn it around – it’s just a matter of when, and it might not be this season. He’s too good not to though.
3. The giants players plate key roles in the all ate victory, what are the odds they rep the benefit in October?
They need to improve two things for them to have a successful postseason. Tim needs to be Tim, which isn’t going to be easy and they need to improve on their hitting with RISP. It’s woeful. They do have a much improved offense from years past, especially with speed, but if you continually strand the runners that get on – what good does that do? A typical Tim and some key hits and the Giants have the talent to have a fun run in October, but, if both of those issues continue to haunt them, it’s going to be a struggle.

Milwaukee Brewers

Not a lot has gone right for the Brew Crew this year. Their off-season was a precursor to the misery their fan-base has been subjected to. Fans were forced to watch Prince Fielder leave for big dollars, and then had to suffer through the “did he or didn’t he” Ryan Braun PED scandal. Braun wasn’t suspended, and is having another stellar year. The problem is he’s the only one. The team wasn’t able to replace Fielder in the middle of the order, and can’t find any semblance of consistency on the mound. Zach Greinke has been dominant, but is likely on his way out, with his contract expiring at the end of the year. Your heart goes out to the small market team that can’t just throw away money like the Phillies or Yankees, but then again that doesn’t always work out either.

"No crazy facial hair for pitchers with ERA's over 5!" Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

Player to Watch: SP Zach Greinke.

Greinke hasn’t been able to replicate his Cy Young award season of 2009, but he has still been very good. He is the most likely starting pitcher to be dealt before the deadline, so plenty of scouts will be watching him until July 31st.  His 115 ERA+ is solid, and he continues to rack up the strikeouts (9.1 per/9). The one asterisk surrounding the young righty is his anxiety disorder that precludes big market teams from really going after him. I understand that the pressure is increased playing for New York or Philadelphia, but is their really a difference pitching in front of 20,000 people vs. 40,000? C’mon Zach.

Most hated Brewer: CL John Axford’s mustache.

I don’t know if Axford’s hair style choice is just a redneck thing, or an ironic hipster mustache better suited for Williamsburg. The “Fear the Beard” campaign in SF was bad enough, but this wild unshaved closer epidemic has to go. My solution: place statistical qualifications on grooming. If you have an ERA above 5.00 with 6 losses you don’t qualify to cut your own hair.

Fansided perspective: Reviewing the Brew editor Colin Bennet hopped off Bernie the Brewer’s slide and answered all my Brewers conundrums.

1) Are the brewers set on dealing zach greinke, or will they hold out for the right deal?

Taking two from the Pirates, and then two from the Cardinals gave us a little momentum in the division, and including these first two series we have won four of the last five season series. It isn’t as sexy as racing back from the middle of the pack, but it’s the kind of momentum that might be able to secure Greinke for the rest of the season. I think he’s far too valuable to give up for prospects, and if you’re just going to trade him for another top-tier pitcher – why waste the time? I think he stays and the Brewers look elsewhere for trade deals.

2) Aside from Greinke who is most likely to be dealt by July 31st?

"Quit hogging the slide Bernie!" Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

I think you have some value in two back-up catchers, Martin Maldonado and George Kottaras you can look at when catcher Jonathan Lucroy comes back from his rehab stints in A-ball – there’s no need to carry three catchers and I think Kottaras could give some team a reliable back-up and some pop off the bench. It wouldn’t surprise me either to see some of our prospect list leave for greener pastures in a deal. My hope would be a deal for Corey Hart or Rickie Weeks, but realistically the value is not as high as it used to be.
3) Is there any way for fans to ride down Bernie The Brewers slide? It looks really fun.
You have just tapped into almost every Brewers fan’s dream. I know there’s a way to do it – without getting arrested when you hit the bottom. Every now and again the Brewers have a raffle/fundraiser with a prize that includes going down the slide. In my professional opinion, it’s easier to try to get inside the racing sausage uniform. Safer and less expensive, too.

 

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