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Closer Roundtable, Round II

As you may remember, I asked for thoughts on the closer situation last month on Twitter. I finally got around to posting it last week, but I didn’t really feel like I did it justice, since it was so late after the time I started it. So, I e-mailed back the participants, and asked them a few Phillies- and closer-related questions. Again, our players are David Foley and Kieran Kelly from Phinally Philly, author Allen Schatz, and tweeter Sara Scott. Jump to read the Qs & As. Continue reading


October 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Phillies Closer Roundtable

And now for another post that I should have put up weeks ago…

It has probably been the most debatable question regarding the Phillies this season. “Who should be the closer?” Everyone has a different opinion, it seems, and each opinion has its own fair share of valid points. But who is right? (BTW, most of these e-mails were written around September 12, so take that into account, too. We might do another before the playoffs start next week.) Click to read a wide array of thoughts on the hot topic going to the playoffs, at least here in Philly. Continue reading

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When the Spotlight’s On…

The Phillies closer situation is very much in limbo right now. If the Phillies have a 3 run lead or less going into their defensive half of the 9th inning, its anyone’s guess as to who is going to be coming into the game. Four nights ago it was Brad Lidge, but once he loaded the bases Uncle Cholly did the unthinkable and pulled Lidge out. He brought in Ryan “Mad Dog” Madson and the following night, he went to Madson as well.

After the game Charlie hinted to his “Closer by committee” theory, and that he didn’t care who it was in the role as long as they got the win. However, this theory can’t stand if the Phillies want any chance at winning the World Series again.

Last year’s playoff success was due to that amazing bullpen and that each person had a role and succeeded in their role. If the starters struggled is wasn’t that big of a deal. No starter needed to go longer than 6 innings because Romero, Madson, and Lidge each pitched awesomely. The Phillies were able to “shorten the game.” Basically the opposition had 6 innings to take the lead and hold it or they were in for a loss. It was no wonder the Phillies only lost 3 games in the whole 2008 playoffs. But if they want to be back- to-back World Fucking Champions, they are going to have to figure out this closer thing once and for all.

Now, my name is Tommy Weida. I have been a Philadelphia Phillies fans for all of my 23 years of existance. I have sat through closers like Mitch Williams, Heathcliff Slocumb, and Jose Mesa. (Side bar story: I once had Heathcliff Slocumb’s autograph. My dad took me to get it when he came to the area. I loved that thing. I had little baseball display case for it and everything. Then, like 2 weeks after I got it, I must have left it on my bed before going to school in the morning and my dog, Tigger, chewed the ball up. The autograph was ruined. I guess I own the smartest dog in the world. Okay, back to the blog).

I was excited when the Phillies got Billy Wagner and I saw his first save as a Phillie live. He hit 99 mph twice in a row. His 3rd pitch only went 98. This cool old guy in front of me turned around and said, “he must have thrown the change-up.” I was not quite as excited when the Phillies got Lidge, but he quickly proved me wrong.

So what’s my proposed solution to the closer situation? Well let me tell you:

This is MY ideal playoff set up. A four man rotation of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, and right now its a toss up between Martinez and Blanton. As of this moment, I would go with Martinez, but I feel really uncomfortable writing off Blanton, a man I have could argue should have won the 2008 World Series MVP. So whoever loses out will join Moyer, Condrey, Durbin, Park, Eyre, Romero, Madson, Myers and Lidge in the bullpen. I wrote that list in no particular order so don’t think I did.

Moyer, Condrey, Durbin, Park and the loser of the Blanton/Martinez battle will be the mop up guys. you know, the guys that come in the game when down or up by 5 or more runs. If the starter goes 6 innings and the pressure is on in a close game, I’d go with J.C. Romero in the 7th. He held that role last year and did a great job at it. In the 8th I would go with the pairing of Madson/Lidge. They would be used based on matchups with whoever was coming up to bat.

So if you have been keeping track, I have left out two guys. I’m gonna start with Scott Eyre. He hold a very crucial position in the bullpen; left-handed specialist. He’s there to get those tough left handed batters out. He’s earned that position and can be used pretty much anywhere between the 7th and 8th inning.

So now there is one guy left that I haven’t mentioned; Brett Myers. Yes folks, he is my choice for closer. If there is anyone in that bullpen that is only fueled by adrenaline, it’s Brett Myers. no one will get more energy from the spotlight. He’s done it before, and he’s succeeded. Is his hip good enough? Come October, that won’t matter. It won’t effect him once the spotlight is on. Kind of like the old lady lifting the car.

I love Lidge, and thank him for everything he did for us last year, but its clear to see that he just doesn’t have it this year. It is just like it happened to him in Houston, only this time he didn’t give up a monster home run to Pujols. I still feel he can greatly help this team, just so long as he’s not the last line of defense.

So this is how I feel about the closer role. I’m not sure if this is how it will shake up, but one thing I do know is that Charlie needs to set up for the post season and ditch the “closer by committee” theory. It was great to see Uncle Cholly prove he has balls when he pulled Lidge the other night. Now he needs to go one step further and finalize a bullpen without Lidge as the closer.

September 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Closing Time

There’s been a lot of talk about replacing Brad Lidge in the closer role for the Phils in recent weeks (Max has written about this extensively).  Well it’s time that I put my two cents due to my importance in the world.  Thus far this season we have endured Bizarro Lidge.  He’s blown 10 saves and looks a lot like the pre-2008 model the Astros traded away for a Phillies grab bag.  His confidence is clearly shaken, resulting in flat sliders across the middle of the plate.  But if the Phils don’t have Brad Lidge close games then who will?  Chan Ho Park?  More like Chan Ho Narc! (EDITOR’S NOTE: We realize that made no sense whatsoever, but Steve said he couldn’t think of any other insult that rhymed with Park) Ryan Madson?  No way, that guy needs to be out of the stadium by 10 pm because he has more important things to do.  Brett Myers? That drunken lunatic? Yeah right! While we’re at it why doesn’t he just wear a wife beater for a jersey and have a beer instead of a glove!?!?!?!

There is only one clear solution for closer: the Phillie Phanatic.

World F'in Champs

That's an intimidating sight on the mound!

First of all, the Phanatic has the right attitude to be a closer. You often hear about how closers have to be fearless.  The Phanatic fears no one, not even the terrifying Tommy Lasorda! You aren’t going to freak him out.  If anything, he’s going to freak the opponent out.  Between his absurd green form and his classic taunts there’s no way anyone can stay in the box and face the Phanatic in the 9th.  I’d like to see Albert Pujols try and intidimate the Phanatic.  All he’d end up with is a strikeout, a smashed helmet, and his head rubbed with a towel (naturally the Phanatic would be allowed strikeout celebrations).

The Phanatic also has spunk, pizzaz, clout, and other important sounding words associated with him.  The greatest thing the Phanatic brings with him to the closer role is the unwavering support of the Philadelphia sports fan.  I can’t think of anything the Phillie Phanatic could do to get booed.  That goes a long way in this city.

Now you might be wondering if the Phanatic can even throw the ball, let alone be a closer.  I will be the first to admit, his huge green form might be detrimental to the art of pitching. Well my inside sources have informed me that Jamie Moyer’s been spending time training the Phanatic for this very role.  If there’s anyone who can teach an odd creature rumored to be from Galapagos Islands how to be a successful major league pitcher after having been around for over 30 years it’s Grampy Moyer.

Yes, the Phillie Phanatic may not have been your first, second, or even twenty fifth choice to fill the closer position for Brad Lidge.  But you’ve got to admit the Phanatic’s got flair, style, and his own mode of transportation out to the mound.  Plus, he’s got to be better than:

– Billy Wagner

– Antonio Alfonseca (who might be a cousin of the Phanatic considering their resemblance)

– Jose “Joe Table” Mesa

– Eric Bruntlett

So don’t go with young and still has potential for the closer role or experienced and will probably work out great in it.  Go with your heart.  Go with the Phanatic.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Devil’s Advocate II: The Sequel

I want it written on my gravestone. “Here lies Max Gallner. He believed in Brad Lidge in 2009.”

Sure, he has 9 blown saves this season. That’s awful. It’s unacceptable. But the rest of the team always seems to find great, new ways to help him blow it. Last time, it was awful batting with RISP, as well as Utley not getting to a ball that he very well should have. This time it was more carelessness by Werth. Did he go to another UFC fight or something? Whenever he gets the day off, it’s as if he uses all that free time to take a nap and is still daydreaming when he comes back into the game. He’s gotta stop worrying about UFC and start worrying about WFC.

Plus Old Uncle Cholly did a horrible job of managing his closer, throwing him out there four days in a row, knowing all too well how awful he can be. Honestly, was there really any reason for Lidge to pitch in the 4-run game on Monday? Non-save situation. He had pitched in the past two days, both save situations. Using him on Monday essentially should have made him ineffective on Tuesday. But he wasn’t. And Cholly used him. Again. And he paid the full price.

One thing I’ve noticed very interesting about us Philly fans – and all Philly fans in general – is that we’re the first to get on your back when you’re great (see: Hamels, Cole, circa: 2008; Lidge, Brad, circa: 2008; Utley, Chase, circa: every single day) and the first to get on your ass when you’re awful. (see: Bruntlett, Eric, circa: until Sunday; Bako, Paul, circa: basically every time he plays; Eaton, Adam, circa: his entire life.) In some cases, that could be a good thing. But some of us severely over-react in situations like these. Take, for example, the people suggesting that the Phillies demote him, put him on waivers, or even release him. Allow me to reiterate my comments from my previous Lidge rant. What has changed since then that makes anyone else in the bullpen anymore of a reliable closer? Has Myers returned? Did Madson’s closer stint in June mysteriously disappear from both all records and our memories? No. In fact, he pitched Wednesday night, with a 1-run lead in the 9th and promptly blew a save opportunity of his own. HE IS NOT A CLOSER. HE IS A SET-UP MAN! We still don’t have any better options.

Let me go back to the over-reaction of Philly fans and give a couple more examples. In fact, let me go back to Cole Hamels. He was great last season, especially in the playoffs, winning himself both post-season MVP awards, in the NLCS and World Series. He threw a combined 262.1 innings in 2008, after throwing over 70 fewer the year before. My belief about Hamels this year has always been that he simply just threw too many innings last year. And I have been called crazy for thinking that. Even though it is a proven fact that pitchers who throw significantly more than 200 innings for the first time one year – and pitch well – one year after less than 200 IP experience a sever drop-off in that 3rd season. People always seem to want to blame “Hollywood Hamels” for letting the Hollywood get to his head. For example, that PuppyPack thing. But the over-reaction reached an interesting point for me on Tuesday night when I read a tweet (@uublog, @firebruntlett) from Tortured Fanatic: “What really sucks is that Hamels is on the mound tomorrow. That’s almost a guaranteed loss. We needed this win tonight.” Obviously that was proven to be factually incorrect. Not only did we win, but Hamels pitched 8 innings of dominant, scoreless ball. But, in any case, is that really where we’ve gotten with Hamels? Whenever he pitches, we just expect a loss? Even against the Pirates? Has he really reached Adam Eaton territory?

(By the way, Eaton was optioned by Colorado on Tuesday after winning their extra-inning game on Monday by giving up 3 runs in 2 innings, and getting really lucky when his offense hit a walk-off grand slam. Weird, I know. We never had to do anything like that for him.)

Anyway, back to Hamels, HE WAS OUR FREAKIN’ ACE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON! He suffered lot of freak injuries in early April! He was way over-pitched last year! Now, people are threatening to leave him off the playoff rotation! I’m not even complaining about how stupid it would be for the Phillies to use a 3-man staff with all of their pitchers. I mention to “J.A.(ace) Happ” on Twitter how people were comparing him to 2007 Kyle Kendrick during Roy Halla-mania, trying to justify trading him to Toronto. I also said how Kendrick was never a Rookie of the Year front-runner like Happ is now. I kid you not, someone asked me if anyone is comparing Hamels to Kendrick. I don’t know if this person or someone else – or anyone – was even thinking that, but I can not find a single comparison between the two, except that they’re both pitchers in the Phillies organization.

Another Philly athlete who Lidge can be compared to is Michael Vick. I know, I know… “But Lidge plays baseball. Vick plays football. Lidge is a closer. Vick is a quarterback. Vick killed dogs. Lidge has just been really bad this season.” Just stay with me here. Once I start ranting, it will all make sense.

Lidge has blown 9 saves so far this season. He’s 0-6. He has an ERA of 7.33. Phillies fans want to run him out of town. They don’t care how he leaves, that just want him gone. (Like our feelings on Beardo.) In one way or another, they’re totally over-reacting. Such is the case with Vick, too. Eagles fans are way over-reacting when they threaten to not be fans anymore. And they’re lying. I wouldn’t be surprised if any other team signed him and those fans said that, but not Eagles fans. That’s not us. Whether the team is actually good or not, we’re always still fans. Whether or not we actually like the players, we still stand by the team. Why else would we cheer when Michael Irvin was injured? Why did we throw batteries at J.D. Drew? Because we stick up for the team against those who screw us over. (Only Philly fans can bring up those events, no one else.) People say that Philadelphia fans are the most rude and obnoxious and whatever. I just say that we’re the most loyal. But the ones threatening to quit the fan base because of one acquisition they didn’t agree with are the exact opposite of that.

Fine. Don’t be Eagles fans anymore. But we’re like a gang. There’s only one way out. You can only become a Giants or Cowboys fan.

So, you still want to leave? Prove it. Don’t buy any Jackson or McCoy or Maclin jerseys. Don’t even go near the TV for fear of accidentally cheering for them. Burn all of the Eagles gear and merchandise you currently own. Hate us. Despise us. Cheer against us in any situation. But the most important rule is that you can’t come crawling back, begging us to let you back in again. Ever. If we’re in the Super Bowl. If we win the Super Bowl. Never. Because once you’re out. You’re out. And it doesn’t matter if Vick is a good person or not. You know damn well that the Eagles wouldn’t have signed him if he wasn’t still a good player.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Let’s play a game…

It’s called “The Devil’s Advocate.” It’s a very simple game to play. I’ll even be The Devil’s Advocate. You don’t have to do much at all to play. All you have to do is read my opinions and give your own in the comments after you are done reading. In this edition of the game, we discuss Brad Lidge and the Phillies’ closer situation.

Basically, you can go to any Phillies or Philly-centric blog and read hate spewed all over Lidge. Read the posts, read the comments, read the hate. Of course, everyone else’s comments are [sic]’d for highest stupidity.

By the way, the entire idea for this post came after I read the game recap on The Fightins. Of course, I decided to call myself “The Devil’s Advocate,” linking here, because the point of my comment was to question everyone else’s beliefs that we need to find a different closer. (I’ll explain my thoughts shortly.)

Over at The 700 Level, read all comments after 6:58 PM for ridiculous knee-jerk reactions and this piece of commenting gold from a guy calling himself Johnny Nas: “trade him for Smoltz.”

On Phinally Philly, Foley also suggested that he either demote (to the minors or a different bullpen role) or DL. He specifically pointed out, “Not Madson,” and said that Myers could potentially be interesting, but didn’t mention any possible replacements.

The Good Phight echoed Foley’s ideas about what to do with Lidge, but again, didn’t mention who would and would not work in the role.

At Phillies Nation, the commenters are once again sick of The Brad Lidge experiment. The following comment takes the cake for Comment of the Post, and honestly, I only needed to read 5 to decide that: “Admittedly, I haven’t been following the Phil closely this season. So can someone explain to me how a major league closer gets an era over 7 with 43 ip by August? Is he the owner’s son? Is he dating the gm’s daughter? How in the world do you fans put up with this?” Fittingly, the comment was from “dodger fan.” I would call him “not-a-baseball fan,” for apparently not being able to understand how Lidge is still on the roster. It’s called 2008, sir. It wants to know why you don’t remember it.

Carson from We Should Be GM’s wrote a post that wasn’t about Brad Lidge sucking. (Sarcasm very much intended.) But he also expressed a lot of disgust in Rollins’ lack of patience and the Phillies’ sudden and unexpected lack of a bench. I don’t know, maybe he’s just angry.

Crashburn Alley still stands by Madson as our #1 closer option, as of now, with Chan Ho Park as his #2.

In what easily wins the award for “The Most Knee-Jerking By Commenters in a Brad Lidge Post,” Beerleaguer‘s are either the stupidest, the craziest, or the best at hiding their sarcasm.

Finally, to wrap up the “first half,” the linkage of this post, if you will, of this post, Mike on the Phils also said that Lidge can no longer be the closer, but provided a very surprising suggestion: “The Phillies can get by with Jamie Moyer as the 5th starter this season, but they can’t get by with Brad Lidge as the closer.  Give Pedro a shot.”

Now for the part of this post where I actually give my opinions on this topic, after the jump, of course… Continue reading

August 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments