Yesterday I watched three different kinds of baseball games, two via the internet and one live. One was a very good game, Reading’s 4-1 win over New Hampshire while at the same time watching a very bad game the Phillies 9-4 loss to the Milwawkee Brewers. Earlier in the afternoon we watched the Tampa Yankees down the Clearwater Threshers in a game which the losing team again never gave up but just did not have enough to win it.
Reading’s game was one of the best played games you will ever see at any level. It was played the way baseball should be played every game. It had what every team strives for, a well rounded effort at the bat, on the mound and in the field. In the first inning leadoff hitter Carlos Alonso singled to set the table and with runners on second and third the clean up hitter Kelly Dugan drove them home to get the lead which they would never give up.
Then it was up to the starting pitcher Severino Gonzalez to shut down Toronto’s New Hampshire team the rest of the way and he did, pitching seven innings giving up only one run. The most important factor with Sevie is that he is a strike thrower so he can pitch deep into games. He pitches on the corners at the knees. He walked no one which set up the bullpen for the save. Ken Giles came on to get the final out in the eight inning and struck out the side in the ninth for his third save in three opportunities. It was a textbook played game that all teams at any level should be required to watch and copy. A tip of the cap to Manager Dusty Wathan and the guys.
On the other hand the Phillies game was difficult to watch. It was the polar opposite of the Reading game. It was long with misplays and eventually the Brewers won going away in the eight and ninth innings. The Phillies now lead the league in giving up unearned runs after the first week of the season. The problem with the Phillies is that too many of them are old, overpaid and many of them are not in their prime baseball years any longer. Fans, its going to be a long season at the major league level for the Phillies. I don’t care how much infield practice manager Ryne Sandberg puts them through, you “can’t teach old dogs new tricks”
On the other hand the earlier game I watched, the Clearwater Threshers vs. Tampa Yankees. The Threshers are like the little team that tries but just falls short. They have fallen to 1-5 to start the season but in a way are interesting to watch if you stay around to the ninth inning. For the second straight game they fought back to get the tying run at the plate when the final out was made. It’s going to be a long season for them but team plays hard and maybe the pitching will improve.
I can take watching left-handed pitching only so much. After the first six games of the Florida State League season the Threshers have face about twice as many left-handed pitchers than right handed. The Blue Jays and the Yankees just kept running out southpaws agains them in the first six games of the season. I have been impress how the Threshers left-handed bats are holding up against the lefties: Pete Lavin (.500 , 8 for 16 and hit a long home run on the berm yesterday), Brian Pointer (.375, 3 for 8, with a bunt single and a pin ball hit off the second base bag yesterday), Logan Moore (.364, 4 for 11, all of them line drives including one yesterday and a long fly out to the track in right) and Art Charles ( .250, 3 for 12 ). See Charles drive a single against a lefty from yesterday’s game HERE) No, that is not Ryan Howard batting.
A tip of the cap to Pete Lavin. With his home run yesterday he becomes the first player in the Phillies system to hit for the cycle just after the first six games of the season. He now has two doubles, a triple and a home run this early in the season. As we noted earlier he already has three outfield assists in center throwing out runners at second, third and home so far.
What would I do to get the Phillies back on the right track for the future? The future will probably tell us that it is already time to turn the page on the major league team. That won’t be easy to do since many of the players in their mid 30’s are still under contract for next season. So let’s focus on the minor league teams.
I would up load up the Reading roster for the future. Maikel Franco who is off to a slow start at AAA would be sent back down to Reading to play third base. Pete Lavin would be called up from Clearwater to play center. He has earned it. The Reading roster would be loaded: Joseph 2, Stassi 3, Alonso 4, Franco 5, Duran 6, Perkins 7, Lavin 8 and Dugan 9. The starting staff already has major league arms with a rotation built around Jesse Biddle, Severino Gonzalez, Hoby Milner and Perci Garner and Ken Giles coming out of the pen. That lineup would be loaded with major league prospects to build a future major league roster from. That’s all Phillies fans might have to look forward to this season, “hope for a better future”.