“One may know how to gain a victory, and know not how to use it.” – Pedro Calderon de la Barca
San Diego Padres: 11-21 (5/11-5/13)
Much like the Phillies, the Padres find themselves in the cellar of their division. Despite all of the Phillies hitting woes, they don’t have anything on the Friars. They bring in a team batting average of .220 to their weekend series in Philly. The biggest difference between the two ball clubs is no one predicted the Padres to finish in first. One of the few bright spots of the Padres season had been the pitching of lefty Cory Luebke. He posted a 2.61 era in his first five starts, and dazzled against the Phillies in their last match up. Unfortunately for the Padres, and my fantasy team, Luebke went on the DL and now looks like he could miss the entire season. The Padres still have a wealth of young pitchers to showcase, but the loss of Luebke really hurts. Why is it that guys always struggle or get hurt after signing big contracts?
When Last We Met:
The Phillies and Padres split their 4-game series out in Cali. The Phillies took the first two games of the series before the Fathers stormed back to salvage the last two. The highlight for the Phils was the pitching of Vance Worley. He dominated in his best start in a Phillies uniform, pitching 8 shut out innings while striking out 11. The team will need Worley to replicate that success again in the opener, as the bullpen is on shaky ground to put it politely. Despite the solid pitching the Phightins only managed 8 runs over the series, adding to their hitting woes. As previously noted, the team won’t have to deal with lefty Cory Luebke in the series, who made them look silly in their last meeting.
1) Vance Worley will dominate the Padres lineup again…only to see the Phillies patch work bullpen blow the victory.
2) Cole Hamels welcomes the Padres rookies to the big leagues with a few bean balls, but learns his lesson and blames it on the wind.
3) Amidst the challenge posed by management and the coaching staff the Phillies lineup finally wakes up and averages over 5 runs a game for the series…only to see another player go down to injury (Probably Polanco’s turn)
Fansided Perspective: Justin Hunter and I re-visit the most pressing issues facing the Padres in 2012.
1) I saw The Friars mascot for the first time when he came out for the Phanatics birthday celebration. Isn’t there supposed to be a seperation of church and baseball?
Baseball is religion to fans like myself, so it’s fitting to have The Swinging Friar as one of the game’s mascots. Don’t forget, though, the Padres unofficially have The San Diego Chicken as a mascot as well, and that is one of the most well-known mascots across baseball simply because he’s been used in so many other venues outside Padres baseball.
2) With both teams sitting in last place in their divisions, can either team get out of the seller?
The Phillies will absolutely get themselves out of the cellar. I think the question is how far can they climb up the ladder? The Nationals have an impressive, young team. The Braves were one game away from the postseason last year. The Marlins, Heath Bell’s implosion aside, are hot right now. It’s a tough division. Possibly the toughest on baseball. As for the Padres, I just can’t see them doing enough to finish anywhere above last place. It’s strange too because coming into this season there was so much optimism. I expected as much as a third place finish and a record above .500.
3) What are the feelings about the Matt Latos trade after the first 30-plus games?
The Mat Latos trade seems to be working out well for both sides. There are some in San Diego who just could not understand dealing the Padres best pitcher away, but I do not count myself among that group. That trade just made too much sense for the Padres not to make it. Yonder Alonso is the Padres hottest hitter right now, Edinson Volquez has been surprisingly good, and Yasmani Grandal will likely be called up soon. Latos has been very strong for Cincy too, as evidenced by his recent 11 strikeout performance.
Houston Astros: 14-17 (5/14-5/15)
The Houston Astros are making their farewell tour through the National League before they begin 2013 as the newest member of the American League. The Phillies and Astros have some shared history, dating back to their epic NLCS matchup in 1980. The days of recognizable names like Nolan Ryan and Jose Cruz are long gone, replaced by a whole lot of nameless prospects. Anyone outside of Texas, myself included, would be hard pressed to name the Astros starting lineup these days. Aside from veteran Carlos Lee, the rest of the lineup is 28 or younger. Some names though are recognizable to Phillies fans, such as J.A. Happ and Brett Myers. Happ was part of one of the many
deals that the Phillies and Astros made while Ed Wade was in charge. We have him to thank for Lidge, Oswalt, and Hunter Pence, but with Wade no longer pulling the strings that well has dried up. Sorry Phillies fans, but we’ll just have to find some other franchise to pilfer from.
Player to Watch: 2B Jose Altuve
The youngster that has the Astros most excited is young second baseman Jose Altuve. He measures at a meager 5’5”, but don’t let his size fool you, the kid can hit. He leads the team in hits with 40, and has an OPS of .869. In case you were wondering that’s better than every Phillies regular aside from Carlos Ruiz. The diminutive Venezuelan is quickly making a name for himself, and the rest of the league should take notice. With good speed, and an even better glove, expect great things to come for Altuve.
Most Hated Astro: Closer Brett Myers
I’m sure to catch some heat for this one, but hear me out. Brett will always be beloved in Philadelphia as an integral member of the Phillies World Series team. His gazillion pitch walk against CC Sabathia that lead to Victorino’s grand salami will forever live in Phillies lore. With all of the glory, it’s easy to forget the other side of Myers’s stint in pinstripes. He had an up and down career on the mound, even garnering a demotion to AAA. His volatile nature on the field went off the field as well, when he was involved in a domestic abuse dispute on a road trip in Boston. By no means should one moment of weakness define Myers’s entire career with the Phillies, but lets not let his World Series ring blind us completely to the rest.
Fansided Perspective: FAlex Sandoval answered my questions about the Astros, and graciously explained that Bagwell and Biggio have been retired for some time now.
1) The Phillies and Astros have hooked up on a lot of trades in years past, is there anyone left on the Astros that can help the Phillies?
Since Ed Wade isn’t here anymore, not so likely anymore. Seriously, I’m sure the Phillies would go for Wandy Rodriguez but the price tag is probably too high. A return to Philly for Brett Myers would be intriguing but again, hefty contract. One name that might interest the Phillies is Brandon Lyon. The guy has rebounded nicely from surgery and has pitched well. Stros could eat some cash and wouldn’t ask for that much in return.
2) New GM Jeff Lunhow seems to have a solid plan in place for turning around the franchise. Is there anyone on the field yet who has fans excited about the future?
Right now, most Astros’ fans are giddy about Jose Altuve. The kid has been fantastic at second. He has developed some plate discipline and it shows. J.D. Martinez is another youngster most fans are excited about although he is in the midst of a deep slump. He’ll turn it around and should be a nice productive player. Also Jed Lowrie, not young anymore, has been great at SS. Lowrie for Melancon has been a steal so far.
3) Was new management really strong armed into moving to the AL, and do the fans really care?
Fans hate…I MEAN HATE…the move to the AL. Crane pretty much had to move to the AL or he would get declined. Tough spot for the guy but fans are very bitter about the incident. Let’s say Bud Selig is not very popular around these parts.