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Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Few Giants/Phillies Thoughts

 


    By Ross Newhan

    --Yes, Cody Ross was the obvious choice as NLCS most valuable player, but the stealth MVP was San Francisco southpaw Javier Lopez who continually nullified the left handed hitting Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and is one more example of why baseball minded parents should raise their sons to throw left-handed. Veteran left handed relievers are never out of work. Left handed bullpen colleague Jeremy Affeldt is with his fifth team. Lopez, 33, pitched for the Red Sox, Rockies and Diamondbacks before being acquired from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline. During the regular season, Lopez appeared in 27 games with the Giants, almost always facing a left hander, and struck out 16, walked two and allowed no home runs. He retired all seven of the first seven batters he faced in the post-season, and worked in five of the six games against the Phillies, striking out four in 4 1/3 innings and allowing one run and one hit. Utley batted .182 in the NLCS (he fielded almost as poorly). Howard hit .318, but he had no home runs and no runs batted in, and he struck out 12 times in 22 at bats, an NLCS record.

   --Bruce Bochy won't be the NL's manager of the year. The writers' award, voted between the end of the regular season and start of the playoffs, will probably go to Bud Black of San Diego or Dusty Baker of Cincinnati. However, Bochy always seemed to have the right lineup combinations during the post-season despite the absence of a regular third baseman, a briefly slumping center fielder in Andres Torres and an injured shortstop in Juan Uribe, who disregared his sore left wrist to hit the winning sacrifice fly and home run in Games 4 and 6 of the ALCS.

   --Of course,  Bochy had the combinations to work with because General Manager Brian Sabean, from the pre-season signing of Aubrey Huff (no one could have predicted his 26 homers and 86 RBI), never stopped, trading for Lopez and Ramon Ramirez, calling up Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner, signing and calling up the released Pat Burrell, landing Ross on waivers to keep him away from San Diego. The offense may be Torture, as telecaster Duane Kuiper first called it, but the Giants a way, and the pitching is special. The Phils batted .216 and scored only 18 runs in six games.

    --There will be a modest free agent crop on the market this winter, and Jayson Werth will be strongly pursued, but probably not by his Phillies, who will move top prospect Dominic Brown into the right field slot. The larger issue is in left field, where Raul Ibanez, at 39, is coming off a terrible first half of the regular season and a .211 NLCS with no home runs or RBI. Ibanez is owed another $11.5 million next year, and there is nothing the Phillies, who are aging throughout their lineup, can do about that.  The Phillies had MLB's fourth highest payroll at about $140,000 million, but we've learned that money doesn't always talk. Nineteen of the 30 teams have reached the World Series since the 1994 work stoppage, including 10 of 16 NL teams.

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