Friday, June 12, 2009

Great Trip

First and foremost, the Phillies had a great trip- which coupled with the Met’s struggles last week and subsequent head-to-head Phillies series win- extends the Phillies lead from one to four games. On a trip featuring a swing out west to play the best team in baseball and then your big division rival, seven up and three down is very satisifying. Add in a pair of soul-crushing losses for the Mets, it is near delightful.

Ulitmately, the soul-crushing losses will fade (very quickly too- see the games Lidge blew last week back to back). You can’t dismiss the Mets. In fact, the series is sort of evidence that they are a worrisome crew. In a pinch, I’d take Santana over Hamels, Pelfrey over whomever is our second starter this week, K-Rod over Lidge. Arguably, the three most important pitching spots all break New York’s way- so they can hardly be buried.

Of course, the Phillies are better right now because they hit and hit and hit. The top two guys in the order aren’t going at all right now- Rollins (can we just bat him sixth where his occasional power would be helpful rather than his terrible OBP being a team wide-cancer?) and Victorino (looks hurt to me, no torque in the lower body, looks slow at the plate)- yet they are still a threat to go for six runs every night.

These back-to-back extra inning games are a case in point. There are so many guys you have to pitch well too or the ball leaves the yard. Brought on to deal with our left-handed power, Ken Takahashi has a brilliant sequence against Howard- then Ibanez takes a pretty good pitch, down at least, 400 feet into the gloaming. If you have three guys who go yard once in every eighteen-twenty bats, and another two with good-to-middling power, it is hard to go through then twice without a fifty-fifty chance of someone going yard.

And the Mets crapped out two nights in a row.

Also, I was struck by how much the Phillies outfield outplayed the Mets’ version defensively: Victorino catching everything, Jayson Werth making big plays and good throws, many other good throws, outfield assists. Folks who dump on Charlie for his in-game shenanigans need to acknowledge they play very hard for the guy. While Wright is loafing around the bases admiring a potential home run on an eventual routine double, the Phillies outfield is out there hustling to cut him down- that one game in fifty opportunity where the other team’s laziness gets you a big out in a tight game.

And how about a hand for Chris Coste- who seems to be turning his bat around? Earlier this week, the Phillies used an open roster spot to add a non-hitting catcher Paul Bako. I'm sure the Phillies added Bako in order to use Coste more as a pinch hitter, rather than saving him for emergency catcher purposes.

It is a worthwhile shot- and immediate returns are good as Coste had key hits in both Phillies wins. It is an existing roster option (always helpful) and Coste can hit. Maybe he just needs a couple dozen more consistent at-bats to get going. He wouldn't be the first bench guy just to need more work to get going. Just as important, it means Bruntlett gets fewer at bats- not more.

Coste's average is down this year... but his OBP for the year is still .356 (pretty darn good for a PH/spot catcher and above his career average- Bruntlett is .227). The guy gets on base (walks 1 per every 7 at bats). And his power number are right at his normal levels... how many back-up catchers project to hit 8 HRs and and 20+ doubles? For a team that desperately need a quality RH bat on the bench- particularly with some DH opportunites coming up, Coste is good option and hopefully finding a good time to get it going.

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