I just have some clerical things today, mostly because I don't know if I have the energy to wax on about the Cardinals' stunning, $4.25 million deal with right-handed pitcher Kyle Lohse.
Does the Phillies' shunning of Lohse and his reportedly high contract demands mean that the team is ready to go with Adam Eaton and/or Kris Benson at the back of the rotation?
How does one get a red stain out of a white shirt?
Perhaps we will never know...
Anyway, we will (and by "we" I mean I) be working on a number of projects over the next few weeks. Namely, there will likely be a semi-regular podcast produced, hosted, edited, coded and posted by moi ready to go in the coming week or two. The hope is for it to be a weekly thing complete with somewhat topical interviews, musical interludes and probably guests, but I suppose that was assumed when I mentioned the part about interviews.
Then again, I'm sure no one would put it past me to talk to myself.
Also, the weekly Phillies column-y type thing will return from a four or five (or six) year hiatus next Friday. The plan is for it to be a multi-media extravaganza instead of just a bunch of words... however, I like words. Sometimes they say just what I mean.
Since this is an Olympic year and sports of that ilk will be in the forefront of the American consciousness when the Beijing Games open in August, there will be a few stories about that kind of stuff on local folks hoping to go to Eugene for the Olympic Trials and China for the really, really, really big dance.
The final appeal in the Floyd Landis case will be heard next week in New York City, too. Surely some news or a few stories will come out of that... meanwhile, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the ridiculous story by Martin Dugard on Floyd in something called "Orange Coast Magazine." Surely Dugard's fanboy and jock-sniffing ethics have been unabashed if not questionable, and in this one he buries the ultimate lede... 15 grafs and perhaps three years too late.
Look, I think writing about writers is terribly tacky and hacky, but I'm sure I'll wade in over the next few days. In the meantime, Joe Lindsey of "The Boulder Report" pretty much nails it.
Also: his book Chasing Lance sucked.
Finally, Opening Day is approaching, which is always really, really mind numbing. I'd say Game 77 of the 162-game season is more important and exciting as Game 1, but whatever. No sense of me ruining people's fun just because they like all that Field of Dreams crap and Opening Day.
Tonight's pick for the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas is the great and heroic Billy Bragg. I think we all remember where we were and what we were doing the first time we ever heard Billy.
Meanwhile, word is The Pogues showed up for a gig in Philly last night. I haven't heard from anyone whether or not McGowan made it through the show upright and under his own power.
Finally, since I have a bit of bitch-fest going here, check out my entry into my daily running log:
Friday morning - 1st run: 13 miles in 1:22:59 Ran reasonably uptempo and was going to hit the last 5 in 29 until some idiot took her dog off a leash and allowed it to run me over. The damn thing slammed into my right knee, took out my legs and send my sprawling onto the Baker Field grass landing on my left hip.Needless to say, I wasn't too cool when I got up, especially since I was moving a little bit and there were at least THREE signs posted that dog owners had to keep their animals on a leash (as well as clean up the shit off the grass, but they don't do that too well either). Look, I owned dogs all of my life and I'm certain that the animals never ran over anyone. I never thought it was too difficult to be responsible about respecting certain rules as well as other people who may or may not want to be run over by dogs.
Here's a question and answer based on what I gleaned from most dog owners in my neighborhood:Question: What is the only creature more stupid than a dog?Answer: A dog owner.When the signs read, "Keep your dog on a leash," it really means, "Yes, even YOU have to keep YOUR dog on a leash."See, most dog owners can't even read.Idiots.splits:
1st 5: 32:58
2nd 5: 30:34 - slowed by dog attack
last 3: 19:27
Word on the street is that rubber-armed ex-Phillie Kyle Lohse has backed off his contract demands for the 2008 season. Actually, Lohse probably didn't do anything at all. My guess is that his uber-agent Scott Boras saw that there were no teams out there willing to offer the right-hander $10-12 million per season for the next half decade and decided to hold the human yard sale of sorts.
So if you own a Major League Baseball team and have an extra $4-to-10 million sitting around and need a right-handed starter, give Boras a call. It sounds like he will be able to help you out.
Boras shouldn't sit around to wait for a call from one of the Phillies' GMs, however. At least, it seems, he shouldn't wait for the phone to ring if his price for his client Lohse remains in the $4-to-10 million range for a season of pitching. After all, we're three weeks into spring training already and teams are starting to get things set up for when they head north at the end of the month. Yep, if Lohse wants to pitch this season he should call Crazy Eddie to represent him instead of Boras.
Everything must go!
At least that's the way it looks from assistant GM Mike Arbuckle's POV.
"I will say at those numbers we're probably not interested," Arbuckletold The Courier Post. "Let me change that. At those numbers, I know we're not interested."
Last season Lohse made $4.2 million, which isn't too bad for a remarkably average pitcher - statistically speaking. That's not to say the guy isn't without his intangibles, namely, his ability to start and relieve and not complain. Guys like that are hard not to like. But Lohse went 9-12 last season with a 4.62 ERA that was ever-so slightly below the league average. Plus, he's never had a season where he didn't allow more than a hit per inning.
So, should the Phillies shell out $4-to-10 million for one season of average pitching from a right-hander?
Who knows, maybe Kris Benson will come around.
If Lohse isn't your team's cup of tea, there are a handful of free agent pitchers out there that still haven't landed with a team. Maybe they're just waiting for spring training to end? Whatever the reason, Jeff Weaver, the post-season hero for the Cardinals during their World Series run in 2006 is available. He is, of course, a nine-year veteran, former first-round pick and has been to the playoffs with three different teams... that's not so bad is it?
Well, there is the matter of Weaver's 6.20 ERA for Seattle last season. That's a 6.20 ERA in Seattle's pitcher-friendly ballpark, no less. Make that a 6.20 ERA AND 11.66 hits per nine innings.
Speaking of yikes, portly old port-sider David Wells is available, too. Though Wells wasn't that bad for the Padres and Dodgers last season, or the Padres and Red Sox the season before that, Wells turns 45 in May. As it stands now, the Phillies have already cornered the market on 45-year-old lefties.
Clearly the Phillies don't need any help with their high-powered offense, but if they did there are some names out there that are just as intriguing as the pitchers. For instance, one hitter out there has 762 career homers and nearly 2,000 RBIs in 22 seasons, but then he also has been indicted by a grand jury for perjury and might have to spend the pennant race in the slammer.
A guy like that might not be worth the risk.
Another guy who might not be worth the risk either is local boy done good, Mike Piazza. Though he has slugged more homers than any catcher in the history of the game and owns a .308 lifetime batting average in 16 seasons, Piazza, at 39, is probably finished.
Is Ryan Klesko finished? Not yet 37 and with just 122 games played over the past two seasons, Klesko is coming off shoulder surgery. However, the 16-year vet has always been a decent hitter and seems as if he could do pretty well for himself and a ballclub as a part-time first baseman and left-handed bat off the bench. At this stage of his career, Klesko doesn't have any power, but it's hard not to like guys that can hit and get on base.
But if only he had some power and played third base...
So the free agent period is officially on. In fact, it's "on" on. Yesterday was the first day and it seemed as if everyone was freaking out trying to learn new information about who was talking to whom and where everyone was going the next couple of days. Everyone was in everyone else's business and had each other's names in each other's mouths.
Between hoping I could carve out my insides with a pie cutter and waiting for my head to explode with this damn sinus/migraine thing I got going on over here, I fielded an IM or two about all this free agent hubbub from guys closer to the situation (and more seasoned) than me.
They all wanted to know if the other shoe had dropped. Did I know anything? Had I heard anything? TELL US! TELL US NOW!
But just like... well... me on payday, I got nuthin'. Nada. But then again, I'm not one of those guys who goes running all willy-nilly for no reason. I don't go shopping the day after Thanksgiving (unless it's online) and I don't go doing a cannonball into the deep end without dipping my big, battered toe in first. Folks, you have to settle in and build a nice rhythm if you expect to go the distance.
In other words: simmer down. Now. Who goes out on payday and breaks the bank seconds after walking out of the check-cashing place? Not anyone sane or sober and certainly not the Phillies.
But then again, perhaps the shooting-from-the-holster approach isn't a bad one. Maybe if the Phillies jumped into the deep end they can get all of their wintertime shopping done before the crowds rush in. After all, trading for Brad Lidge kind of pushed the team onto a certain direction in completing the puzzle, which, truth be told, wasn't too difficult to decipher to begin with. Apparently, the Phillies believe they score enough runs as it is and can go with Shane Victorino in centerfield, Jayson Werth in right and Wes Helms/Greg Dobbs at third. How many runs does a team need?
I guess that has to do with the pitching, which is what the team (and every other team, too) will be looking for. It's also the reason why Kyle Lohse will likely sign a multi-year contract filthy with a bunch of numbers. Will it be $40 million? How about $50 million?
And yes, we're talking about Kyle Lohse. And Carlos Silva. Write the big check for Livan Hernandez.
According to some reportage and sleuthing by the local beat scribes, it appears as if the Phillies will not have the cash to break the bank this winter, which seems odd. It seems odd because the Phillies had the best attendance in the history of the taxpayer subsidized Citizens Bank Park in 2007. What's more, they made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, too. That means more exposure, more games and (probably) more cash coming in. Plus, chances are they will raise ticket prices for 2008, too. Yeah, why not... if the fish is going to jump into the boat, all they have to do is beat it over the head with an oar.
Still, it seems likely that there won't be enough petty cash stuck under the cushions of the couch to make a "competitive" offer to Aaron Rowand, the Gold Glove Award-winning centerfielder, who just so happens to be coming off a career year with the bat. It also appears that Messr. Rowand is heading for one of those contract deals that looks like science fiction, which is crazy. Could a team really be ready to offer Aaron Rowand $15 million per season?
Really? That's Kyle Lohse money.
It also reminds me why running, cycling, golf and tennis are superior to the so-called "mainstream" sports in the U.S. Why? Because you have to win to get paid.  I reckon I have run more than I walk during the past two decades. Therefore, my toes are all beaten up as if they were about to go into a mince meat pie. I have no idea what mince meat pie looks like (or even what it is), but I bet it's nasty... like my bludgeoned-by-running toes.
There was much hubbub this afternoon about Rockies’ closer Manny Corpas potentially doctoring baseballs in yesterday’s game. Apparently, Corpas intentionally dumped Gatorade onto the front of his uniform shirt before going to the mound to pitch.
The idea is that Corpas did this to make his shirt sticky and then when he touched the garment with his hand, he would be able to get a better grip on the ball.
You can’t do that. It’s cheating.
Besides, there are much easier and better ways to make oneself sticky. For instance, Corpas could have rolled around on top of a mix of Sugar Daddies or Sweet Tarts. Try throwing a ball as hard and as smooth as an egg with that crap on your hands – it turns a baseball into a wiffle ball.
Anyway, I watched the tape of Corpas’ outing and it seems like much ado about nothing. He did go to his jersey once, but immediately wiped his hand clean on his pants… then again, maybe he had stickum on his trousers.
The smooth right-hander Kyle Lohse relieved Kyle Kendrick with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth. Not only did summoning Lohse mean that he would not start Game 3, but it also meant that the Phillies had lost the lead. Four pitches in, Lohse gave up a grand slam to Kaz Matsui to make it 6-3.
I think the manager is being second-guessed here in the press box.
That will happen…
Kyle Lohse, the big deadline pick up by the Phillies’ GM Pat Gillick, delivered a pitching performance that could resonate deeper than just in the standings, after the 5-2 victory over the Braves. In turning in seven, efficient innings in which he gave up just two runs and only allowed one hit after the fourth inning, Lohse probably didn’t save the Phillies season, but he may have ruined things for the Mets.
By beating the Braves, Lohse not only gave the ragged and weary bullpen a rare short and easy (relatively speaking) night, he also helped drag the always fickle pendulum of momentum over to the Phillies’ side of things in the sprint to the finish in the NL East.
You don’t think the New York Mets and their fans don’t know what Lohse and the Phillies did last night? Guess again. The midnight callers to the late-night shows on WFAN weren’t as half as desperate sounding as the body language emanating from the Mets’ players during the last few innings of the loss to the lowly Washington Nationals.
Worse yet, how do the Mets get sweep by the Nationals with everything hanging in the balance? Seriously, the Nationals?
But perhaps more interestingly, Lohse very well could have earned himself a Brink’s truck full of money after beating the Braves last night.
Despite a 9-12 record and 4.63 ERA split between his time with the Phillies and the Reds, the 28-year old right-hander might be a sought after commodity on the free-agent wire this winter. For one thing, there aren’t too many pitchers Lohse’s age with six years of big league experience under their belt to go with three playoff appearances. Then – again, despite the numbers – Lohse just always seems to win games. At least that has been the case for the Phillies.
In 11 starts since joining the Phillies in the trade with the Reds in late July, Lohse is 3-0 with a 4.76 ERA. Opponents have hit a lusty .313 off him and he’s registered 39 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings. Nope, that’s nothing to write home about there. But in those 11 starts the Phillies are 9-2 and Lohse has taken the game to the seventh inning in seven of those starts.
In other words, you know exactly what you are going to get with Kyle Lohse.
“Looking back, getting Lohse is probably the best move we’ve made all season,” said Aaron Rowand, though his manager Charlie Manuel stated that the deal to pick up Greg Dobbs was a great move, too. “He has the stuff, the makeup and the intelligence to go and attack hitters. He’s been solid.”
But what do the Phillies think they can get from Lohse and his uber-agent Scott Boras this winter? After all, the Phillies did “rescue” Lohse from going through the motions and playing out the string for the lowly Reds this season, and put him right in the middle of a pennant race. Plus, admittedly Lohse enjoys his new teammates and the chemistry on the club.
However, if the Phillies want to talk to Lohse and Boras at the end of the season, they are more than welcome to extend an offer. If not, well, there are a lot of baseball teams looking for pitching.
“To be able to come here and jump in a playoff race with this group, it’s good to finish it off in this kind of atmosphere,” Lohse said after beating the Braves. “But I've kind of earned the right to go out there. I owe it to myself to see what's out there. This is a great situation, but we'll see how it works out. Every player, once he gets six years [of Major League service time] has earned the opportunity to see what's up.”
Undoubtedly, Lohse will get the chance real soon.
In the meantime, though, Lohse could be called on to make one more start for the Phillies this week. If that happens it would be in a playoff game for the right to go to the playoffs on Monday.
Victorino answers the call
Though he hasn’t started a game since Sept. 20, and has been in the lineup just three times this month since his late August return from the DL with a calf injury, Shane Victorino came through last night.
Pinch hitting for Lohse in the bottom of the seventh of a two-run game, Victorino turned on an inside pitch from the Braves’ hurler Tim Hudson and rocketed one deep into the right-field seats.
“It's exciting to hit a home run and all, but the bigger thing is that we won,” Victorino said. "Whatever opportunity I get I'm going to do what I have to do to help this team win.”
Hitting homers and helping the club is the easy part. The difficult part has been getting onto the field. After injuring his calf while running out a ground ball in Chicago in late July, Victorino has been hitting the brakes more than a car driving down a steep hill. In mid-August the right fielder returned to the lineup, only to tweak his calf again and miss even more time. Since then Victorino’s calf injury has flared up from time to time in such a way that he didn’t need to go back on the disabled list, but it was just enough to relegate him to pinch-hitting duties.
Plus, with Jayson Werth swinging a hot bat through late August and September, Manuel has opted to go with the right-handed hitter in right field.
Needless to say it’s been rather tough for Victorino.
“It was just frustrating. I tried to come back too quick and I just wasn't ready,” he said. “I just wanted to go out and play, but the next time I know to take my time.”
However, when Manuel gives the call, Victorino says he won’t be stopped.
“I'm ready. It's his decision to make,” he said. “But when things are going good like they are, it's kind of like you don't want to break your rhythm.”
Victorino’s homer off Hudson was his first since July 8 and just his 10th hit (in 34 at-bats) since July 31.
More coming later today ...
Despite telling everyone that they were sure if there would be any players on the trade market to deal for, the Phillies went out and added a little bit of depth to their waifishly thin rotation.
Just as a few of those rumors and rumblings and grumblings indicated, the Phillies snagged right-hander Kyle Lohse from the Cincinnati Reds for Double-A left Matt Maloney. From a quick gloss over it looks as if the Phillies didn’t really give up much to get a veteran pitcher who has been to the playoffs three times, but general manager Pat Gillick told the gang in Chicago that he wasn’t too jazzed about dealing away Maloney.
“We’re not happy about that. We liked the Double-A pitcher. But you have to give up something to get something,” Gillick said. “As I said, he’s got experience and he takes his turn and he’s been in the postseason with Minnesota. With Madson going down, we needed somebody to pick up the slack and give us a little more depth in our pitching staff.”
Incidentally, both Lohse and the newly acquired second baseman Tadahito Iguchi both can be free agents at the end of the season. However, in the long-term outlook for both players in Philadelphia, Gillick is living in the now.
“We’re concentrating on 2007 not about 2008,” he said.
That, of course, is a far cry from last year on this date when Gillick traded away Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, David Bell and Rheal Cormier and proclaimed the team was two years away.
At any rate Gillick made the trip with the team and is working on trying to add a reliever though says it will difficult to do so. In the meantime the Phillies have to subtract a player from the roster when Lohse arrives. My bet is that Clay Condrey gets designated for assignment and J.D. Durbin is shifted to the bullpen.