Six-Pack Exchange: An Inside Look at the Troubled Phillies and Rangers


The Rangers are coming off of two two-game series in which they split both series. Normally it would be unlikely that we could turn things around heading to Philadelphia, but this go around may be different since the Phillies find themselves with some offensive woes.

Justin over at That Balls Outta Here, a Philadelphia Phillies blog on the FanSided Network, to whom we can thank for this six-pack of questions and answers, thanks us for coming down to their level for this series. If only we had Hamilton and Cruz in the lineup…we may actually be better than them for the time being.

To keep you busy until the three-game series unfolds tonight in Philly, here is an inside look at the Phils and Rangers.

1. The Phillies had to make adjustments due to Brad Lidge being on the DL. Ryan Madison, originally a set-up man who hasn’t thrived in the closer position in past years, has really shown progress as a closer this year and seems to have really added depth to the Phillies’ bullpen. What is your take on the closer and do you think a new contract is in the works?

Ryan Madson is a stud.

Ryan Madson is the future of closing baseball games in Philadelphia.

Ryan Madson.

2. Looking at the past several games for the Phillies, the scored runs aren’t very high. In fact, in the past five games, Philadelphia has scored no more than two runs in each of those games. What’s the root cause of this and do you think they’ll be able to get in more than two runs against the Rangers in any of the games?

Injuries, slumps, old age, bad luck, and Kyle Kendrick don’t help a team get in a groove. The Phillies are a team that does everything together, whether that is winning championships or swinging at sliders that bounce in front of the plate. I also assume they’re all best friends.

No. The Phillies will not score more than two runs in any game of this series. And don’t say, “You’re just saying that because then if they do score more than that you can act all giddy and surprised and if they don’t you can say ‘Well, I totally called it'” because that’s so not what I’m doing right now.

3. It seems as though the Phillies can be linked to the Rangers when it comes to being attacked by injury. At one time, I thought we might actually have a decent chance of slamming these series out, but now…Anyways, Joe Blanton won’t pitch against the Rangers, but I’m still curious: since he is likely headed to the DL for a second time this season after just coming off on May 8 and making two starts since, how will the team do without him in the rotation? Is there a suitable replacement?

I like Joe. But a suitable replacement for him is the four other guys in the rotation. We’re supposed to have a decent starting rotation that keeps us in most ballgames, allowing Joe to titanically fuck up if he has to. Stick Vance Worley in there–he’s young, bespectacled, and proven he can hang tough.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but Kyle Kendrick is an awful starting pitcher.

4. Aside from Blanton making his way back to the DL, it looks as though Shane Victorino is headed there as well. His MRI results showed a Grade I/Grade II strain – who do you think his replacement in centerfield will be and how much will the team miss him?

Honestly, the carnival of stupidity that has been our DL trips this season is just a twisted, ongoing sideshow act. There’s always some bat or arm or both that’s injured right now, so to say we will miss Shane is accurate, but its also accurate to say that we’ve missed Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, and all the rest when they’ve gone to the Faraway Place for extended stays.

5. When is 2B Chase Utley expected to be back in the lineup? Will it be before this series is over? How much has the offense missed him?




6. Cliff Lee, who the Phillies acquired in the offseason after a successful season with the Rangers, hasn’t been his best this year. He is 2-4 and if you ask me, his ERA has been a little high all season long. And, his last time out, he allowed a career-high of six walks. Do you think he will struggle when he gets on the mound against the Rangers?

I keep waiting for the Cliff Lee start where he shows his stuff again. I don’t think he’s a guy who can drift too far from stellar, so its nice that he’s getting these losses out of the way early. I’m predicting 17 K’s against the Rangers. In a 2-1 Phillies loss.

Turning the tables now…

1. Did you see Kyle Kendrick last night? God he’s terrible.

Yea, five earned runs on seven hits in just three innings plus a walk? It’s a shame that he couldn’t have pitched like he did in his spot start earlier this month, huh? But wait, isn’t this supposed to be about the Rangers, not the Phillies?

2. Seriously, he’s just… wow. Anyways, the Rangers have been without Josh Hamilton for a while now. Like the Phillies, your lineup has been forced to work around the prolonged absence of a major offensive contributor. I can’t even tell you how many times have asked me how the Phils have fared without Chase Utley. Its like, “Its bad, okay? Sometimes real bad.” How sick are you of people asking how the Rangers are affected by Josh not being there?

Haha. The funny thing is, I asked you about Chase Utley. You know, that’s just what we do. But, the Rangers have been managing. Sometimes they are fine but other times Hambone is really needed in the lineup – and in the outfield. Thankfully, Josh will be back in the lineup soon since he is rehabbing with Nelson Cruz this weekend in AAA Round Rock.

3. I played as C.J. Wilson a lot in the demo for MLB 2K11: The Show, so naturally, I feel as though I know him personally. He seems to be helming the rotation solidly. Sorry, that was supposed to be a question. Let me rephrase: C.J. Wilson is helming the rotation solidly?

Coming into the season, there was a bit of concern surrounding C.J. since last year was his first year as a starter after being a relief pitcher. Many were fearful he wouldn’t have the stamina to pull it off and be as triumphant as he was last year; however, as you can see, those individuals were mistaken. Wilson has been quite solid this season and based on his performance thus far, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. However, I do think he is going to find a little bit of competition as the Ace with Alexi Ogando performing so well in the rotation…but that’s an entirely different story.

4. So what is the deal with Cody Eppley? Is this some sort of underground attempt to harvest our hometown talent, then recalibrate it to become our enemy in response to the whole Cliff Lee Thing? It is, isn’t? I’ve figured it out! Another conspiracy uncovered by this completely sane website.

That is so it, Justin. You know it! But completely sane website? I’m not so sure. Anyway, Cody Eppley. I like him. He has been doing a great job for the Rangers…and as for Cliff Lee, I’m not even going to go there right now. Damn trader! Really, though, that’s all I have to say – oh, and we’ve been doing just fine without Lee. Much better than anyone could have ever expected.

5. I heard your catchers are slumping? Here is where I would make them the target of ridicule but Your Catchers::Our Entire Lineup, so it’d be tough to pull off.

Hmm…good to know. Anyway, yes, they are struggling a bit at the plate.  Mike Napoli was smoking hot at the start of this season and Yorvit Torrealba wasn’t too bad himself but has only gotten two hits in his previous 28 at-bats. Napoli is still struggling and is only doing slightly better than Torrealba as he has three hits in 29 at-bats. Napoli did get his first stolen base for the season on Wednesday.

6. Looks like an epidemic of hamstring injuries–most recently infecting Endy Chavez–is sweeping through the Rangers clubhouse, which is now effecting your outfield depth. I just wanted to thank you for coming down to our level just before the series started.

Isn’t it always the hamstring? Ugh. The outfield is significantly suffering without our star players out there. Chavez was doing well out there but now he has been plagued with a hamstring injury causing us to put an infielder in the outfielder not even halfway through a game? Unbelievable. Oh, and you are not welcome for coming down to your level prior to the start of this series.