To continue the theme from the last Phillies Notebook, the Phillies kept rolling this past week behind the strength of their starting pitching.
Not only did Roy Halladay go back above .500 (8-7), Cliff Lee posted his first home win of the season and Kyle Kendrick stretched his scoreless inning streak to 21 before finally giving up a run, but not before winning his third start in a row. Not too long ago, we questioned right here whether Kendrick was worth keeping at $4.5 million for next season, especially if Tyler Cloyd got the chance to pitch for the big club soon and ended up doing well.
While Vance Worley may yet be shut down due to the bone chip in his elbow, it’s starting to look like that won’t happen until/unless they are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention – which would probably give Cloyd only one or two starts to show what he can do.
Speaking of playoff contention, the Phillies had a good week, splitting a 4-game series with the NL Central-leading Reds and sweeping the NL East-leading Nationals. Their 5-2 week still leaves them 16-1/2 games behind Washington in the East, and 9-1/2 games out of the second wildcard, which is currently held by the Cardinals – with the Dodgers, Pirates and Diamondbacks all ahead of the Phillies and giving chase.
My PhillyPhanatics.com colleague Eric Fisher warns us not to create false hope in his Fish ‘n Chips column this week, while our radio colleague Josh Landsburg gave the Phillies a 10% chance of pulling it off.
We have said here repeatedly that it will take a minimum of 88 wins to grab the second wildcard and may take as many as 90.
To get to 88, the Phillies would have to go 27-7 the rest of the way. That’s nearly an .800 clip over more than a month. It may even take 28-6 or 29-5 to get there. While stretches like that are possible, they are highly unlikely. Check back with me around September 15 if the Phils are 4-6 games out and then we’ll talk about the stretch run.
Domino effect: It’s been nearly 2 weeks since the news that All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera of the Giants was slapped with a 50-game PED suspension. With Cabrera being a slightly above average major leaguer until his breakout season in Kansas City last year and his flirting with a batting title this year, it’s fair to say that Cabrera’s newfound abilities will now be viewed with great suspicion as he enters free agency this offseason. Respected baseball writer Jayson Stark estimated that Cabrera may have lost as much as $75 million in future earnings with this positive test and suspension.
The domino effect is that with the Giants, who lead the NL West, looking vulnerable and with the Dodgers not only giving chase this season but also looking to spend big money in free agency thanks to new ownership – and with the talent available in free agency taking a hit with the Cabrera news – the Dodgers and Red Sox worked out an unprecedented post-waiver deal this week.
L.A. GM Ned Coletti did his Christmas shopping early this year. taking on $270 million in contracts from Boston, with only a $12 million contribution from the Red Sox.
Going to the Dodgers are the injured Carl Crawford, the lambasted Josh Beckett and the mediocre Nick Punto – along with Adrian Gonzalez, a true star who was just starting to find his groove in Beantown.
Boston got back 4 young up-and-coming players in pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, power hitting outfielder Jerry Sands (whom I thought the Phillies might get in the Shane Victorino deal), and utility man Ivan De Jesus, Jr. – plus streaky first baseman James Loney, whose streaks this season have been mostly cold ones.
Speaking of Shane Victorino, who figures to be displaced by Crawford in L.A. next season, I have mentioned before and will reiterate now that it would not at all be far-fetched to see him back with the Phillies next season, especially if the Phils don’t land Michael Bourn and/or Victorino’s salary demands are driven down by the market into somewhere in the 3 years, $27 million range (which might be about $6 million a year and 2-3 years less than what Bourn gets).
Stay tuned…and if the Flyin’ Hawaiian has a Philly sequel, remember you heard it here on PhillyPhanatics.com.
What about the current centerfielder? It’s an open question whether John Mayberry Jr. is truly an everyday player and whether he will be called upon to play centerfield next season. Mayberry, who had struggled through much of the season – especially against right-handed pitching – has played a lot since Victorino and Hunter Pence were traded away.
With Nate Schierholtz on the DL, Mayberry is that much more of a go-to guy, and he is starting to show signs of heating up. After leaving Miami on August 15 with a .229 average, Mayberry has hit 3 home runs, driven in 9 and raised his average to .242 with a 12-for-34 stretch at the plate. After a 5-for-10 stretch, Mayberry found himself as one of only 3 righties in the lineup Sunday against NL ERA leader Jordan Zimmermann (a righty) and batting fifth. Mayberry lined a single off Zimmermann and finished 1-for-4.
Whether Mayberry’s hot streak will carry over into September could determine how the Phillies approach who will man their outfield in 2013.
This can only happen when you’re going well: After not using Jonathan Papelbon enough earlier in the season, especially in close games where they were trailing, the Phillies encountered an unfamiliar problem Sunday.
After pitching 3 straight days and 4 of 5, Papelbon took a seat when Josh Lindblom not only entered the game in the 8th inning – retiring two batters and stranding a runner at second – but also remained seated as Lindblom pitched a perfect 9th for his for career MLB save.
Meet the Mets: It may be small consolation, but the Phillies passed the Mets for third place this week, and can put some more distance between the two teams when the 10-game homestand continues Tuesday through Thursday.
After that, the Phillies hit the road to visit Atlanta and Cincinnati, and then begin a stretch of 13 consecutive games against teams with losing records. If there is any hope of stealing a wildcard berth, the Phillies will need to keep up their streak of having not lost a series in August, and sprinkle in a few sweeps like the one they just had against the Nats.