The New York Mets (11-14) will take on their “arch-nemesis,” the Philadelphia Phillies (16-8) for the second time this season. The Phillies are currently at the top of the NL East, a disposition most people believe will last the entire season. Despite the Mets nice winning streak over the course of the past three series’, the Phillies are a different animal (a topic Matt Kaufman tackled here). I had a moment to catch-up [again] with Justin Klugh, the lead blogger of That Balls Outta Here, for a little series six pack and discuss his first place team.
1. Given Blanton’s bad start to the season, do you anticipate Kyle Kendrick stealing his rotation spot at some point in the season?
If he was to be replaced, here are the things that should replace Joe Blanton before Kyle Kendrick:
- That pitching robot that bounced a pitch to home plate
- Mini Hip-Hop, the tiny version of the Sixers mascot
- The pigeon that hawk killed in Miller Park
- Sack of turnips wearing Phillies hat
2. Did you expect Antonio Bastardo to be a go-to option out of the bullpen this year?
No. Antonio just became part of the swirling blur of bullsh*t that often was the bullpen as one of those in and out guys who hadn’t been great enough to rise above the grain and didn’t stay around in the big leagues long enough to make a name for himself. He always had the potential, just not much of an opportunity. Its great to see this kind of work out of him. People you can rely on in that relief corps are few and far between. And then when you start relying on them, you up the chances of your newfound trust getting you burned. We have a complicated relationship with our bullpen. AND IT DOESN’T HELP THAT THEY NEVER CALL.
3. Does Ryan Madson as closer instill more or less confidence than Jose Contreras for Phillies fans?
The big deal here is that Ryan’s history of pitching in the ninth inning, as opposed to the eighth, is kind of eerie. Its also very small. So what basically is happening is Ryan has messed up a few times while trying to close in the past and everyone mentions that when talk of him closing comes up because it makes them feel all analyst-ish. Unless that became a long term trend, of course Ryan can close. I think he has the ability to be a lights out closer, whereas Big Truck is competent enough to perform the task, but he’ll probably let a few guys on base and blow a save now and again. And he’s old. Ryan Madson is the future. He has to be. Otherwise nothing makes sense anymore.
4. How much longer will the Phillies tolerate Raul Ibanez’s hitting (or lack there of)?
Charlie Manuel seems to think that keeping things the same is the best way to change them. Raul is a streaky hitter, but I don’t know how much longer he’s going to be a hitter at all. I’d have pulled him by now; 0-for-24 is the longest offensive drought of his very long career. But Charlie likes to make sure his guys know he’s loyal (e.g., “Brad Lidge is our closer.” Charlie Manuel, 2009) and assumes they can pull out of a tailspin. His confidence is always higher than our’s. Usually he’s right.
But John Mayberry’s right there. Wave at him. Hey, John. You won’t be playing tonight. Nobody knows why.
5. [Speaking of which] will John Mayberry ever get a chance to prove he’s a capable starting player?
No, because why let some young, hungry, capable talent break through when we can watch Raul Ibanez gurgle and die?
6. Cole Hamels has still not given up a home-run this season–did I just jinx him?
Yes. Cole is horrifically susceptible to jinxes, curses, hexes, voodoo, and black magic. He only won game three of the NLDS last year because I kept watching one of his Comcast ads with the sound off while singing “California Girls” by Katy Perry.
(You can catch my end of the bargain right here…)