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In This Corner

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It's Media Watch Day on the corner so we answer the questions the media asks.

What did the Home Run Derby do to Bobby Abreu?
Why can't the Phils hit Aces?
Why does John Marzano have a job?

If you're too lazy to click on "Read More" then here are the short answers...

  1. Nothing that wasn't already happening
  2. Because they're Aces
  3. Scandalous Pictures
For the rest of you, read on...

I think Jim Salisbury may be the best writer in Philadelphia covering the Phils/baseball. That's why this article was so disappointing. Salisbury cites the struggles Abreu has had since the All Star break (he had hit only .217 from the start of the 2nd half to August 3rd) and how the Home Run Derby caused Abreu to adjust his swing and is responsible for his slump. It all sounds perfectly reasonable... until you factor in that he was 19 for his last 79 (.241 Batting Average) heading into the All-Star break which included a 3 for 21 (.143) in the 6 games immediately before the break.

If you must attribute a cause to this slump that sounds plausible and may or may not be true, why not the idea that he's tired and playing too many games? Abreu's power faded noticeably in the second half of 2003 and 2004. In 2004 he had 5 homers in his last 52 games after 25 homers in his first 107. In 2003, Abreu had 1 (ONE!) homer in his last 47 games after 19 homers in his first 111. The power drought is not coupled with a drop in batting average as he hit .315 and .312, respectively, during those spans. This year, even though he's 31 and not getting any younger and even though he had to participate in the All Star Game festivities, somehow he's been allowed to start all but one game to this point. Abreu wants to play every day, despite what you may have heard on local radio, and that's great, but the evidence points to a significant power outage as he gets tired. Abreu, and the team, would be better off, in the long run, getting a couple days off throughout the season.

Marcus Hayes does not enjoy Salisbury's sterling reputation. This game story, Phillies Have Trouble Dealing with Aces, doesn't do much to help the reputation. In the article, Hayes talks about the struggles the Phils have had dealing with ace starting pitchers. To be fair, as a beat reporter, Hayes has to report the game and also how the Phillies perceive the game and Charlie Manuel is quoted as saying:

"We need to show that we can beat the better pitchers. It's time for us to step up and beat some of these guys. It seems like we get to a certain point and we can't get over the hump."

The problem is Hayes didn't just stop with that quote but later in the article says that the Phils can't seem to match the elite pitchers even while allowing that the Phils have beaten up on some good pitchers. Now, I did some research that will get to in a bit but let's stop and think about this for a minute. "Aces" are "Aces" because they pitch great. You're not supposed to hit them around on a daily basis. If they were hit around, they wouldn't be "Aces".
Now, as for my quick-and-dirty research, I took the top 9 starters in the NL by ERA (the Phillies face starter number 10, Jake Peavy, tonight) and looked at how they did against the Phillies versus their overall numbers. Against the Phils, the 9 Aces pitched 115 innings and had a 2.88 ERA. Overall, these same pitchers had a combined 2.56 ERA in 1413 innings. So, the Phils seem to perform no worse (And it looks like a bit better) than the rest of the league against Aces.

One last point before I leave you to enjoy your weekends, John Marzano, on Comcast's Post-Game Live last Friday night, complained that the Phillies don't get on base enough. Now, really, I understand that it's not easy to talk off the cuff sometimes, but c'mon, the team's first in on-base percentage in the entire NL. This isn't the only dumb thing Marzano says, simply the most egregious. We deserve more from our commentators.

See you next time, on the corner.