New looks should wear well for Phillies, Giants

Updated: July 30, 2009

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Cliff Lee, acquired Wednesday, will make his debut for the Phillies on Friday at San Francisco.

With all the commotion that comes with the trade deadline, it can be easy to forget they're still actually playing baseball out there.

But in a twist of fate that any lover of wheeling, dealing and base-stealing can surely appreciate, the Phillies and Giants continue a four-game series his weekend that promises to feature each squad's newest acquisitions. (The Giants opened the series with a home win Thursday night.)

For the Phillies, they got the big-time Cy Young-winning starter they needed to fill out their rotation; it just wasn't the one we all thought it would be. I wasn't surprised when I heard Cliff Lee was heading off to Philadelphia, because it had become pretty clear that Toronto was simply asking too much for Roy Halladay. When the Blue Jays didn't give a little on their price, the Phillies looked in another direction, and I think Lee was that second option all along.

Already stacked with pitching, the Giants went out and addressed their issues on offense. Second baseman Freddy Sanchez is a useful little player who represented the Pirates at the All-Star Game this year. He's had some knee and ankle issues in the past, but he's a solid bat who has developed into a strong defensive player thanks to years of tutelage under Pittsburgh's infield instructor Perry Hill. First baseman Ryan Garko, like Sanchez, has to be happy about leaving a non-contender for the NL wild-card-leading Giants. Garko hit .342 in July before heading to the Bay Area, so San Francisco is clearly glad to have him.

Featured Series: Phillies at Giants
FRIDAY
Phillies at Giants (Cliff Lee) at Giants (Ryan Sadowski), 10:15 p.m. ET
SATURDAY
Phillies (Joe Blanton) at Giants (Tim Lincecum), 9:05 p.n. ET
SUNDAY
Phillies (Cole Hamels) at Giants (Barry Zito), 4:05 ET, ESPN

Neither of these deals was as big as the Cliff-Lee-to-Philly trade, but good for the Giants anyway. Extra credit to any team that makes an effort like this. As the illustrious Earl Weaver always used to tell me, "When you have a chance to win this year, you have to go for it. You can figure out next year next year."

It sounds simple and logical, and that's because it is. Given the heated competition for the wild card, San Francisco knows they don't have to beat just the Rockies; they must outlast about five different teams in the NL. With their talent, the Giants had a chance to pitch their way into the playoffs without making any moves, but they needed another hitter or two to shore up some issues and gear up for a serious push down the stretch. And that's exactly what they did.

Even though both teams were upgraded thanks to front-office maneuvers this week, the Phillies are still the better team here, especially with the way they've been playing recently. They're really swinging the bats, and they've gotten some pretty good contributions from a whole lot of people on the club. They are really close to full strength in the lineup now, and when they are, that's a really good club offensively.

But the importance of this trade cannot be overstated. Even with a healthy batting order, the one thing scouts and executives had told me was that the Phillies would not make it back to the World Series unless they added another starting pitcher. Well, they added the second-best one out there, so they have to be feeling pretty good about themselves right now.

Even if Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays are not.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: July 29 | July 28 | July 27 | July 26 | July 24

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR PITCHERSITUATION
Prince Fielder, MIL25MartinBot 4: 0-0, 0 Outs. None on.
Ryan Zimmerman, WAS19GallardoTop 4: 2-0, 2 Outs. 2 on.
Carlos Lee, HOU17HartTop 2: 1-1, 0 Outs. None on.
David Ortiz, BOS14BreslowBot 7: 2-1, 2 Outs. 2 on.
Milton Bradley, CHC8OrtizBot 3: 1-1, 0 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Thursday's homers

ON DECK: WEEKEND WATCH

Red Sox at Orioles

OK, so it's a series between a team 17 games over .500 against one 13 games under .500. Sure, not the most competitive series. But in light of the report that David Ortiz tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, it will be interesting to see how the Red Sox react this weekend given the all the attention and distractions. The struggling John Smoltz opens the series for Boston.

Angels at Twins

The Angels are looking to finish off a strong July. They enter play Friday with an 18-7 record this month. The Twins, meanwhile, have had an average month, going 12-11 so far. But then, that's been their pattern all year, posting monthly marks of 11-11, 14-16 and 15-12.

Dodgers at Braves

Atlanta remains within shouting distance in the NL wild card, and it sends budding star Tommy Hanson to the mound in the series opener Friday. The Dodgers will get another look at Jason Schmidt, who has given up eight runs in eight innings since returning.

For the rest of Friday's schedule, click here. To see what's on tap for Saturday, click here. And for Sunday's full slate of games, click here.


Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

BBTN ON THE AIR: FRIDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Tim Kurkjian, Buck Showalter, Buster Olney

BBTN ON THE AIR: SATURDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Tim Kurkjian, Buck Showalter

BBTN ON THE AIR: SUNDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
12:30 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Dave Winfield, Chris Singleton
7 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Dave Winfield, Chris Singleton

BBTN MINUTE: STEROIDS CLOUD STILL HOVERS

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, with an assist from the Elias Sports Bureau, he looks at David Ortiz, who had a far-from-boring day. It started with a report that he tested for performance enhancers in 2003, then continued with him hitting a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh inning of the Red Sox's 8-5 with against Oakland at Fenway. Ortiz's late-game dramatics are nothing new, especially since 2003:

Most go-ahead homers
7th inning or later (since 2003)
David Ortiz 24
Albert Pujols 22
Adam Dunn 21
Carlos Pena 16
Andruw Jones 16
Ryan Howard 16

WEB GEMS

THURSDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Michael Young• The Rangers offered a pair of choices, with Derek Holland tossing 8 2/3 solid innings of two-hit ball. But Michael Young gave the lefty the run support he needed, hitting a pair of homers and scoring three runs. Young went 3-for-4, giving four three-hit efforts in six games.
WORST
Russ Ortiz• Astros pitchers have to be thrilled to be getting out of Chicago. After a 5-1 win Monday, Houston pitchers served up 11 in a loss Tuesday and 12 in losses Wednesday and Thursday. Russ Ortiz was pummeled in Thursday's defeat, giving up nine hits and nine runs in 2 1/3 innings of work.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Jonathan Papelbon Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon has not been the dominant figure this year that he has been for the Red Sox the past two seasons. He's posting career highs in hits per nine innings and walks per nine innings since taking over the closer's role in 2006, and he has only recorded seven "perfect" innings in his 26 saves this year, one of the lowest totals among pitchers with at least 15 saves.

Papelbon's biggest problem this year has been his fastball, which he is not using as effectively this year as he has in years past. His batting average against and slugging percentage have risen in each of the past three seasons, while his strikeout percentage has fallen. Also, he is walking far more people with the fastball than he had in either of the two previous seasons.

Papelbon and the Red Sox head to Baltimore for a three-game series this weekend against the AL East's last-place team. Papelbon has converted five saves against the Orioles this season, more than he has converted against any team in the majors.

Jonathan Papelbon
Fastball stats (2007-09)
2007 2008 2009
BA against .113 .205 .227
SLG against .199 .285 .355
K pct of PA 35.3 30.7 24.5
BB pct of PA 6.9 2.3 11.0

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF FRIDAY'S GAMES

Fantasy Adam Madison examines the 15 games on Friday's slate.

Madison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Friday. Daily Notes